Another expo has come and gone, and it’s time for the ReptiFiles’ official Wasatch Reptile Expo highlight reel once more! In the past our approach has been highly varied: sometimes focusing more on vendors, sometimes focusing more on animals, and most often doing some kind of hybrid between the two. This expo, and for future expos, the highlight reel will primarily rely on 6 evaluative criteria:
- Rarity of species
- Morph quality
- Market value
- WC vs CB
I would like to clarify that none of these criteria are objectively “good” or “bad” — these are simply the ruler by which I measure each animal’s contribution to the total expo experience. Using this rubric also helps make the decisionmaking process less subjective. If you have any suggestions on additional criteria to consider, feel free to use the comments below. 🙂
Prices have been scrubbed from the photos in order to respect the breeders’ and vendors’ special expo pricing.
Now let’s get to the good stuff!
10. Red-tailed green rat snake @ Pets & Such
Gonyosoma oxycephalum is a slender arboreal snake native to tropical southeastern Asia. It has a bright green body with smooth scales, a dark blue tongue, and most notably (and what attracted me to it) — a light red-orange tail separated from the green body by a line of yellow.
Pets & Such is a local pet store based in West Valley City, UT. They are arguably the most popular vendor at the Wasatch Reptile Expo, offering a variety of snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, amphibians, and invertebrates — as well as a wide selection of top-performing name brand reptile supplies.
9. Lake Chapala Mexican garter snake @ Don’s Garter Snakes
Thamnophis eques obscurus is one of the largest known garter snake species, native to the Lago de Chapala region in Mexico. It possesses unusually vibrant coloration for a garter snake, with lateral stripes of brown, copper, blue, and green. It is also quite rare in captivity, making it a natural choice for this expo’s #9.
Don’s Garter Snakes created a stunning display for a group of snakes often ignored for being “common.” They brought a range of different species, localities, and even morphs, including:
- Appalachicola Basin Eastern
- Bogalusa Louisiana Eastern
- California Red-Sided
- Lake Chapala Mexican
- Plains (melanistic, snow, albino morphs)
Most of this spring’s display were breeding stock, but I still look forward to when more babies become available!
8. Ilam locale Eublepharis angramainyu @ Ramsey’s Reptiles
At first glance, this gecko looks like plain leopard gecko. But it’s…huge? This isn’t just a giant-line leopard gecko — it’s actually a whole different species, Eublepharis angramainyu. Referred to as the the Iraqui Eyelid Gecko or even the Iranian Leopard Gecko, these 12” geckos are also much more muscular than their adorably chubby cousins. I fell in love on the spot, but Ramsey’s Reptiles only brought one of their breeders to the expo. I heard a rumor that they have eggs incubating, though…!
One of Ramsey’s Reptiles claims to fame is that they work with more than just Eublepharis macularius (the common leopard gecko). Aside from the abovementioned E. angramainyu, they also work with E. fuscus, E. hardwickii, and E. macularius afghanicus. Most notable among their leopard gecko morph projects is their work on the Black Night melanistic line. Most of the Black Night leopard geckos available on the current market are heavily inbred and almost entirely infertile. Ramsey’s Reptiles is determined to use strategic outcrossing to strengthen the gene. Good work!
7. Tangerine morph leopard geckos @ Gecko Daddy
Eublepharis macularius is one of the most popular species in the reptile hobby, with tons of different morphs. Gecko Daddy specializes in producing the best tangerine morph leos you’ve ever seen. I promise the pictures aren’t edited — their geckos really are that vibrant! They also offer a lovely selection of other morphs, including a pastel-colored tremper that particularly caught my eye.
Gecko Daddy hands out care sheets to help ensure that each of their geckos will thrive in its new home. They also created the Pet Owner’s Oath (you may have seen it floating around on social media):
“When I purchase an animal, I become responsible for its care. I am responsible to learn how to properly provide for its needs: its habitat, its diet, and its health. My animal wants to live, and I want it to live. I will do all in my power to ensure that my animal has a long, healthy, and happy life. I am ready for this responsibility.”
Isn’t that just beautiful?
6. Chahoua gecko @ Nightshift Exotics
Mniarogekko chahoua is an arboreal gecko species similar to the more familiar crested and gargoyle geckos. These geckos look something like a chubby, loose-skinned gargoyle gecko, and are characterized by a mottled pattern which evolved to help them blend in among bark and lichen. This breeder male from Nightshift Exotics caught my eye for his bold pattern and exceptionally vibrant coloring. Nightshift is definitely one to look out for as they expand their chahoua project.
Gorgeous chahouas aren’t the only geckos that Nightshift Exotics brought to the show. As a New Caledonian gecko specialist, they also brought a selection of specialty morph crested geckos and showed off a huge male leachie that will be used in future breeding projects.
5. Emerald tree boa @ WRIKS
Corallus caninus is a show-stopping arboreal snake with rich emerald-green coloring. They are well known for having a nasty temperament, so they are usually reserved for being display animals only. Richard Bilbo’s (you may recognize this name from previous expos) male named Elmer is an incredible exception — and the most laid-back ETB you’ll ever meet. He patiently endured many a handling session and curious hand over the course of Saturday without offering so much as a hiss — even many bearded dragons won’t do so well!
Although the WRIKS booth was present at the expo to represent the local Wasatch Reptile and Invertebrate Keepers Society group on Facebook, longtime member Richard Bilbo contributed all the display animals this May. He also brought an albino Burmese python, an eastern indigo snake, and mainland, dwarf, and superdwarf purple albino reticulated pythons. All snakes were available for handling, so there was a consistent crowd around the WRIKS booth as people lined up for photo ops and a quick education on the truth about large snakes.
4. Puma morph ball python @ Inked Up Reptiles
Ball pythons (Python regius) are another hot topic in the reptile hobby at the moment, especially because of morphs. Like leopard geckos, ball pythons can be selectively bred to display a variety of colors and patterns that look very different from the wild type — and thanks to the efforts of many passionate ball python breeders, there are over 6000 known ball python morphs. This can make picking favorites at the expo difficult, but Inked Up Reptiles’ table stood out again at this expo.
Puma is the flashy result of a cross between a Spark and Yellowbelly morph, demonstrating peach and lavender speckling with a butter yellow stripe down the spine. Inked Up Reptiles had many other flashy snakes out for display, including Champagne, Cinnamon Mojave, and a Cinnamon Pied with so much white that the only color on the snake was on its head!
3. Lilly White morph crested gecko @ Bertopia Geckos
Aside from leopard geckos, crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are the most in-demand geckos on the reptile market. Minimal heating requirements and a variety of prepared diets make them ALMOST as easy to care for as a mammalian pet. Like the other popular species, breeders have made a spectacular array of crested geckos morphs available — and the newest, hottest morph to hit the hobby is the white-walled Lilly White.
Lilly Whites are one of Bertopia Geckos’ most recent projects, so although she only showcased breeding stock at this expo, she is definitely a breeder to keep an eye on as she expands in this direction. It’s also worth following Bertopia on Facebook because her table at the expo is just a sampling of the beautiful geckos she produces. Some of the most stunning geckos I’ve ever seen from her have been purchased before they ever had a chance to debut at the expo.
2. Scaleless poss. Motley morph corn snake @ Prismatic Reptiles
Opinions on scaleless snakes vary within the hobby — some think they’re fascinating while others emphatically reject them. And while I’m not sure if scaleless ball pythons will ever truly catch on, scaleless corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) seem to be gaining traction. Like silkback bearded dragons, scaleless corns often manifest clearer patterns and brighter coloring than their scaled counterparts. But they are rarely truly scaleless; most still have their belly scales, which in my opinion is probably best for the long-term health of this morph.
It was a tough call on which snakes to feature from Prismatic Reptiles’ table this expo, because their selection of kingsnakes was also a real show-stopper. The three kingsnakes pictured below are Nuevo Leon, Super Hypo Greeri morph Durango Mountain, and an aberrant Nuevo Leon from a line aimed at producing crazy pattern and bright color (that one was actually my favorite!).
1. Super Super Harlequin morph crested gecko @ Gargoyle Queen Reptiles
There were many amazing animals at this May’s expo, but there was one reptile that simply creamed the competition: an unbelievably drippy Super Harlequin future breeder that Gargoyle Queen could only describe as a “really pretty gecko.” We may have a new morph on our hands, folks!
But that’s not the only gecko that makes Gargoyle Queen the “queen” of the expo. She also brought a very red white-tip empty back crested morph and a selection of mosaic gargoyle morphs that look like a cross between the usual reticulated and stripe patterns. She was also very excited to show off one of the newest additions to her breeding stock — a 21-year-old wild caught male gargoyle gecko that was imported back in 1997! (He is being shared between Gargoyle Queen and Nightshift Exotics.)
Mike Krick Books is a used bookstore with a unique focus: reptile books! This was their first time at the Wasatch Reptile Expo and I hope that they come again. They brought a table laden with books on a variety of species. Many of them were hobby staples, and offered for very reasonable prices. If you didn’t get to stop by at the expo, the books are also available for purchase via Facebook.
Clint Laidlaw is no stranger to the Wasatch Reptile Expo, but this was his first time touting his educational YouTube channel, Clint’s Reptiles. He did educational shows for the public in the morning and afternoon, discussing the basics of ball python genetics as well as introducing some of the most popular species. Clint’s channel focuses on answering common questions in the reptile community and helping people figure out which reptile species would make the best pet for them.
Voss Xotics is a local reptile rescue service that we are mentioning here doing something I wish I saw more often. There were two young savannah monitors available for adoption at his table, but unlike most retailers which sell savvies when they are skinny <6” hatchlings, Voss Xotics’ juveniles were well fed and a good 10-12”. He also brought a 32”, 28.5 lb adult male savannah monitor to help interested adopters understand just how big these little babies can grow. Large lizards are no picnic to keep, and are frequently turned over to reptile rescues (or worse, abandoned) by people who bought them as hatchlings with no idea of how big they would get. In my opinion, all large lizards should be sold no younger than this.
What’s the difference between snake skin and snake shed? One requires a dead snake and one does not. Simply Shed makes classy jewelry from undyed snake shed. Her booth offered a large selection of reptile-themed necklaces, bracelets, and rings, as well as some tee shirts (not made from shed). There were even several different types of shed from different snake species to choose from, which was fun to see.
What was your favorite part of the expo? Do you agree with our Top 10 picks?