Buying anything at a reptile expo can be daunting. Many people don’t ask the right questions when they buy a reptile from a breeder or reptile business. I have compiled a list of very important things to consider, they are as follows:
1. Do your research! Make sure to read up about any species that might interest you beforehand. Find out what you need to keep the animal happy and healthy. Find out about caging and general care. There is nothing like quizzing a seller to see if they know their stuff. Compare what they are saying to what you already know. It will soon become clear if the seller/breeder is competent. Make sure to research pricing before you hit the expo. Deals that are “too good to be true” are usually just that. Sometimes breeders will attend expos with animals that have not been established properly. These animals will then be sold quickly, only to never be seen or heard of again.
2. Check for mites! Look around the snakes eyes and around the holding container. Mites are parasites that live on snakes and can be very difficult to eradicate from your collection ones you contract them. Expos are known vectors for mite distribution. Thy look like tiny ticks and usually crawl around on the surface of the snake or holding container when disturbed.
3. Exposed pelvic bones! Healthy lizards do not have exaggerated pelvic bones protruding just above where the tail joins the back legs and body. This area needs to be rounded and fleshy. Healthy lizards are alert and have open unobstructed eyes. Sticky eyelids are a sign of disease. Avoid at all cost. Don’t buy a lizard or reptile because you feel sorry for it. It could end up costing you dearly. There are many highly contagious diseases floating around in the hobby at the moment, it’s best to avoid taking a risk.
4. Health guarantee! Ask for feeding charts or get something in writing from the Seller/breeder in regards to the animals health. Reputable breeders will never hesitate to give you a guarantee on their stock. A python shouldn’t be blowing bubbles, active tongue flicking should be observed. Ask the seller/breeder to open the animals mouth if you’re interested in buying it. A healthy reptiles mouth should not have an inflamed gum line. Small visible capillaries along the gum line is a good indicator of illness. There should also not be any stringy mucous present. Make sure to observe if the seller/dealer disinfects their hands in between the handling of different animals. This is usually a good indicator of how serious they take their hygiene protocols.
5. Genetic guarantee! If you’re serious about your mutations, make sure to get a guarantee in writing. Usually mutations can take many years to reproduce. There is nothing as disappointing as raising an animal with a specific genetic trait to adulthood, only to have it prove out to be a normal wild type. Usually the animal won’t be replaceable or exchangeable at this stage. Ask lots of questions about the genetics of an animal. Breeders will know exactly how these mutations work if they have put in the long yards to make them. Many people think they have a grasp on genetics when they really don’t have a clue. Read and understand, ask multiple breeders to compare their information with the facts.
6. Sex Guarantee! Reputable breeders will be able to give a fairly accurate assessment of a reptiles gender. Gender can be a grey area as some Reptiles can be hard to sex at a young age.
7. Don’t rush! Take your time to talk to the seller/breeder. A google search can quickly give you access to reviews or additional web links to other details and history of a seller/breeder.
8. Facebook sales groups! Use sales groups to access information in regards to pricing and general trends in the reptile hobby. Asking about a seller/buyer in these groups can give you quick feedback of necessary. Facebook seems to be the place to sell Reptiles these days.
9. Enjoy yourself! If you stick to these guidelines, you won’t be disappointed. Remember that expos only happen once a year.
10. Before I forget, make sure to quarantine any new animal away from your collection. Six to twelve months seems to be the norm.
Remember to have fun at the expo.
Thank you for reading!