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Calgary Reptile Expo slithers into town

By Sean Willett, September 24 2015 —

Are you looking for a new pet, but want something a little more interesting than a hamster? Are you okay with an animal that slithers, crawls or hops? Then you might just find a new best friend at the Calgary Reptile Expo.

Organized by the Alberta Reptile and Amphibian Society, the expo will take place from Sept. 26–27 at the Mid-Sun Community Centre in the southeast Calgary. Over 30 different vendors will attend, including reptile breeders, pet equipment suppliers, artists and educators.

Many vendors are long-time veterans of the expo, but Rebecca Thorn of Calgary-based Thorn’s Pythons is a vendor at the expo for the first time.

“I only started breeding snakes this year,” Thorn says. “I got into the hobby because of the snake I already had. He’s a super friendly, adorable pastel ball python and I wondered what kind of babies he could make.”

Thorn primarily breeds ball pythons, but also has several boas, blood pythons and carpet pythons in her collection. She will be bringing many of these animals to the expo, both for show and for sale.

“I’ll be displaying a few not-for-sale reptiles so I can show what I have and what kinds of snakes I’ll be producing next year,” Thorn says. “I’ll be selling a few breeding pairs along with some females that are proven breeders.”

Breeding is a popular hobby among reptile owners, as it can produce reptile varieties known as morphs that exhibit a

Maxine Power

Maxine Power

variety of colours and patterns. Breeders often give these morphs colourful nicknames like ‘bumblebee’ or ‘banana,’ and certain types can be particularly rare and valuable.

“You have to figure out which genes work well with each other,” Thorn explains. “For example, I have a world’s first in my collection — a pastel special champagne with a ringer. I can’t believe how beautiful he is. I’ll be bringing him to the expo as well.”

Thorn will also be bringing a snake she rescued after it sustained a serious injury.

“Her name is Temperance and she is a beautiful albino boa that was attacked by her family’s dog. She has pretty bad scars on her back, but now she is all healed up and is accustomed to dogs again. She’s feeling like a million bucks,” she says.

Thorn hopes snakes like Temperance, along with the other reptiles and amphibians at the Calgary Reptile Expo, will help show people that these animals aren’t as scary as some people think.

“The expo is a great way to educate people that may think that reptiles are bad or aggressive,” she says. “I can’t believe it when someone says they don’t want to hold one. Some organizations use corn snakes and ball pythons as companion animals to help treat depression and anxiety. Who doesn’t want to look at a beautiful snake? Who doesn’t want to hold a beautiful snake?”

And for some people, the expo might be the place they find a new companion.

“There are so many different kinds of lizards and snakes, all with different personalities,” Thorn says. “You just have to find one that really speaks to you.”

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