Myrtle Beach Reptile Expo out to prove creatures aren’t just slimy and slithering

07/25/2013 12:00 AM

07/23/2013 2:04 PM

Fans of reptiles ought to be ravished by an expo this weekend at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Anyone attending the third annual Myrtle Beach Reptile Expo, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, can check out and learn about the diversity in this part of the cold-blooded part of the animal world, which includes pet snakes and lizards.

The show coordinator, Jay Eaton of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said his fascination with reptiles, which also include alligators and turtles, began in childhood and bloomed into a profession with the start of a pet shop in Pittsburgh in 1995.

Question | How did reptiles open a whole new world for you?

Answer | I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, when I started breeding animals. ... Being from the Ohio and Pennsylvania area I had black racers, newts and corn snakes – anything I could get my hands on. My mom had no idea of everything I had in my bedroom ‘til I was leaving for college. Parents always say, one you move out, you can have whatever you want; I did.

Q. | How is Myrtle Beach expo becoming a growing, annual tradition in Myrtle Beach?

A. | Every year that goes by, more and more people keep talking about it, and more vendors want to be involved with it. Every year with the vendors, we sell out of space, and we have a waiting list. ...

We picked South Carolina because I wanted to put on a show where people could bring their families. ... Having a show near the beach, vendors can bring their wives, and it’s before school, so families can make a vacation out of it.

Q. | What special guests and demos will head the highlights this year?

A. | We have no special guests, just some really big-name vendors. One guy had the first morph ball python ever produced. ... Even us breeders and guys who have been in the business a long time find something new at every show. ...

With the ball python, they have so many color variations. What a lot of people don’t know about them is females grow to only about 4 feet. It’s a good beginner’s snake. ...

Also, people can see breeds that many people make their first reptile pets, such as bearded dragons ... and corn snakes – animals that make really good pets.

Q. | On the pet side, what’s trending among reptiles? Certain types of lizards or snakes?

A. | One of the more popular animals are bearded dragons. What’s nice about those is full size, they’re only about 18 inches, and it’s another animal with a lot of different color morphs, in solid red, yellow or orange, and they’re not expensive. ...

Also, some things are small, such as leopard geckos, which are only 8 inches long and another animal with a bunch of different morphs, different colors and everything. Snakewise, there’s such a large variety, such as your corn snakes, milk snakes and king snakes, and your regular boas and pythons.

Q. | What keeps reptiles so captivating with people, besides the creatures’ immense role in the cycle of nature they play worldwide?

A. | It’s once you get into them ... it’s a cool thing to have. Once people get past their fear, that’s what reptile education is all about. Our job is to get more people in the industry ... . That’s what keeps these shows going, and they’re so many different kinds of reptiles; it’s like you find it hard to have just one tattoo. ...

It’s also one of those things where it’s a hobby to have, and a hobby that can make some money.

Q. | What education do you hope people take home with them about all these amazing creatures?

A. | Just to know they’re not all about being slimy and slithering. A lot of people have that concept. It’s what your brain tells you that you need to know about them, and not going along with the hype that they’re going to eat you in you sleep; that’s all Hollywood. These are great pets. It’s not like a dog that will come to you, but it’s a lot easier to have than a dog. ... You can go away for a week, give a snake a rat, and it’s set for a week.

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