Sunday, October 21, 2012

Today's Long Island Reptile Expo held its Long Island Reptile Expo today at the Hilton in Melville, NY. I volunteered to help out, at the Long Island Herpetological Society table. The table was graciously given (as in for free) to the LIHS by Bruce L., the event organizer. I got there somewhat later than I planned, maybe about 8:35 this morning instead of 8:00. Since the show opens its doors to the public, I like to be at this and similar events at least an hour early but it did not matter much. There was very little to set up for our society table, just the LIHS sign and frame on which to hang it and a bunch of fliers for the upcoming LIHS show, membership applications and info sheets on the herpetofauna of NY State.

When I got there the LIHS sign was already up and Rich M. and Ann were already there setting up the papers. Rich H. was also there along with John H (all board members with the exception of Ann and myself). Vin R. the LIHS president had the next table over for his business, Cutting Edge Herp. The animals he sells live up to the name, they are definitely ‘cutting edge’. He mostly sells high end boas and ball pythons and his leucistic Ball Pythons are exceptional!

The doors opened to the public at 9, or were supposed to have opened then. I am pretty sure they opened a bit earlier than that and the crowd started to make its way inside. Truthfully it was not all that crowded once the doors opened, it actually about a half hour or so for it to achieve a pretty full condition. Once it reached that stage, it did not begin to thin out until about 2:30 in the afternoon, about a half hour before the doors were scheduled to close. For most of the day the place was packed with buyers and gawkers. While most of the people who come to herp (reptile  amphibian) shows come to buy, there is always a good amount of folks who come just to look at all the critters for sale. There is almost always enough variety of scaled and slimy creatures to rival the reptile house at any zoo. Today’s offering were no exception. 
A Lot of Variety On One Table
There were snakes - a lot of scaly, squirming, super-cool snakes. They ranged in price anywhere from about $15 up t several thousand dollars depending on species and morph (genetic color variety). These included Boa Constrictors, Rainbow Boas,  Green Tree Boas, Ball Pythons, Womas Pythons, Children’s Pythons, Green Tree Pythons , Corn Snakes of virtually every variety (and there are a lot of them), other rat snakes, Mexican Milk Snakes, Gray Banded Kingsnakes, Florida Kingsnakes, Puget Sound Garter Snakes, Western Hognose Snakes, and on and on.

Crested Gecko (source Wikipedia)
Then there were the lizards from: the gecko Rhacodactylus leachianus (a few varieties) to: Crested Geckos, Giant Day Geckos, Leopard Geckos, Gargoyle Geckos to: Green Iguanas, Mali Uromastyx, Argentine Tegus, Bearded Dragons and on and on. Bearded dragons are one of the most popular pet lizards and actually make a good pet in the traditional sense of the word. They are almost always calm, can be handled with a fair amount of frequency and like to be petted. Crested Geckos make great lizards for the reptile fancier as well but are not as much a traditional pet in the sense they do not like to be handled. 
My Female Hermann's Tortoise
from a few years back.
Of course, there were the chelonians that rounded out the reptiles at the show. Among them were tortoises such as: Hermann’s Tortoises (one I was displaying and only one for sale and I waited too long; it was gone when I checked on it with an idea of buying it if a male), Asian Box Turtles, Hingeback Tortoises, Russian Tortoises, an Indian Star Tortoise, and Redfoot Tortoises. There were also turtles including an Alligator Snapping. I have to say, I do not recall seeing many water turtles there today. There were a few but I think not any Red Eared Sliders which are usually at these shows in good number.
Blue Poison Dart Frogs (source Wikipedia)
As far as amphibians went, there were an awful lot of frogs such as the Blue Poison Dart Frog, a large number of Red Eyed Tree Frogs , also a lot of Argentine Horned Frogs and quite a few others. Too bad, I did not see even one salamander or newt. For some reason, they are not all that common at herp shows in this area although they are interesting animals and many are easy to keep for the herp enthusiast.

Ann and Rich M. at the LIHS table.
I helped man the LIHS table but Rich M and Ann took over most of those duties . I made sure to do some good for the society too though - I proactively handed out LIHS Show fliers to folks who were passing by our table and to those who stopped there for information. As for those people who stop at the LIHS table, We always are happy to answer questions that attendees have about things like: how good a pet a certain reptile or amphibian might be, how easy or difficult to care for a certain animal will prove, care tips, and so on. We had a good number of folks visit the table seeking just that kind of info. As for the fliers, I am guessing I handed out a couple of hundred of them. I also went around to the vendor tables, concurrently with Rich M, to hand out vendor packets for the upcoming Long Island HerpetologicalSociety’s 23rd Annual Herp Show (we have been at it for a long time as a herp society). Rich started on one side of the room and I n the other. We got a lot of positive feedback from vendors, hopefully a good number of them will attend our show. We don’t hold a purely commercial herp expo. Our show is slowly changing to being geared more toward educational exhibits but it still includes a judged reptile/amphibian competition and vendor sales. It will be held on Saturday, November 10th, at SUNY Farmingdale in Roosevelt Hall just off of Route 110 in Melville, NY.

I did mention, didn't I, that I could not go to a herp show without buying something. I am pretty much well passed the stage of buying herps on impulse and did not buy any today. I did see that Hermann’s Tortoise, I mentioned above, in which I had an interest. Too bad I did not check to see if the dealer would offer me a dealer price (one advantage of volunteering is having a vendor badge to wear, the other is getting into the expo for free). I figured I would ask at the end of the show if he still had it but it was gone about an hour before then! I am not even sure I would have purchased it but when I arrived at the show I was sure I wanted to buy a male Hermann’s Tortoise to replace the one I had that disappeared from my yard this past June. While sitting at the LIHS table, I became somewhat uncertain as to whether or not I wanted to buy a male all that much. The Hermann’s Tortoise I had on display was always believed by me to very probably be a female since the egg from which it hatched was incubated at temperatures that should have virtually assured it to hatch out female (sex can be determined in tortoises by egg incubation temperatures). Well, while showing it off to folks at the LIHS table and allowing kids to pet it under its chin while Ann or I held it out to the kids, it apparently peed a few times. Normally tortoises do not pass much liquid urine, it is usually more of a white chalky clump. Today though, the little booger squirted out liquid about four or five times. Then it looked as if it was pooping. As I put it down, I noticed that it was not poop sticking out of its cloaca (the single opening shared for urination, emptying the bowels and for reproduction) but was its tally-whacker (yes, as in male sexual organ). I guess it wasn’t urine!

I had just mentioned to Ann, a bit earlier, that this tortoise seemed to have a pretty wide tail for one that  thought would turn out a female. It is only about 1 year and 4 months old and I would have thought it too young to be sexed but there is no doubt after seeing it’s wiener, females just don’t have em. I now have to wonder if the other one, incubated along with this one but from the second clutch of eggs that my adult female laid, is also a male when I thought for sure it would be a female. I will give a look at its tail. If as wide as the now proven male, I will assume it is also a male. If its tail is much narrower, there is a good chance it will be a female but it also still could be a male that is maturing slower. Time will tell. While the little newly realized male (only just over 4 inches long) will probably not be mature enough to breed by next spring, there is a chance it will be able to do so by Spring 2014. Missing a year of them breeding will not be a big deal for me. Thus I was not all that anxious about checking on the Hermann’s Tortoise that was for sale at the show.

As I said though, it being a herp show, I had to buy something. I got a bag of Keeper's Choice red cypress substrate (used for substrate in the tortoise enclosure) and some tortoise food pellets (used as a supplement for the Hermann’s Tortoises’ vegetarian diet and for my sole Redfoot Tortoise’s omnivorous diet). In addition I picked up a couple of Exo Terra, Solar Glo, mercury vapor bulbs which I use to assure the tortoises get UVA and UVB radiation in their lighting (necessary for their well-being) and enough heat in their enclosures. I also bought a piece of cork bark to add to my Crested Gecko enclosure. This one basically forms a snug (for a crested gecko) hollow tube and they will love using it as a hiding place during the daylight hours; there are nocturnal. Oh, I actually did buy some animals but not any herps. I picked up a box of 500 small crickets for the three crested geckos and one small toad that I keep. I had best attend to them now and get a tank set up for them. They should last me a month or more if care for them right. The lizards will each eat several a day. The toad will eat them while they stay fairly small and will gobble down as many or more, in a day, than each lizard will eat. All in all I spent about $110. Had I sold the Hermann’s Tortoise, and I had plenty of people asking if  would sell it, I would have wound up with a net profit of $15 to $40 for the day dependent on a sale price. As it was, I figured I would keep him for now and anyway, sales from the LIHS table are frowned upon, a bit, since it is a society table and not really a vendor table. If I do decide to sell it, I will offer it up at the LIHS show next month (that is if I can attend, right now I am scheduled to work that day but I am looking to trade days with someone).

Well, that was the Long Island Reptile Expo, October 2012, in a tortoise  shell.

 All the best,
Glenn B