Improving Husbandry at Reptile Expos

I was thinking about this today and I thought we could make a compiled list of ways to improve husbandry at expos. What are some easy ways that you think husbandry could be improved at reptile expos?

  • Larger deli cups, if necessary reptiles could be moved under the table for duplicates and taken out if anybody inquires about them. Or more could be kept with the following.
  • Utilize vertical space. Instead of stacking deli cups 5-10 high you can use shelves or pvc cages with the doors removed to have storage for more or larger deli cups. Milk crates stacked on their side work as an easily transportable inexpensive shelf.
  • Taping around the sides, that would make the deli cup act like a hide, ventilation holes would need to be poked through the tape.
  • Adding crumpled newspaper or aspen (depending on species) in the deli cup for cover.
  • Having an enrichment tank that animals could be moved to and rotated around for enrichment. This would also help buyers to see their animals behavior first-hand.
  • Not bringing snakes that have not taken enough meals (should be healthy enough to ship, expo stress is usually higher than shipping), are in shed, or that aren’t all-around healthy.
  • Not keep the animals under bright lighting except for when specifically looking at them for a short time.
  • Having a 2nd, tinted, lid on the container so it’s dark. The lid is taken off temporarily when viewing and offers more security to the reptile.

I think this a great topic, because last time I went to an expo I ended up not only not buying anything, but leaving early just beause I was so distressed by the conditions of some of the animals. I think I may have reached a point where I don’t want to go at all because I don’t want to play a role in promoting it.

A few thoughts:

  • A minimum size/age limit. I know a lot of people like to sell hatchlings and young stock at shows, but the last one I went to had some ball pythons that look like they barely had their first shed. There was no way those snakes had even had 3 meals in them, a few were super dehydrated, it just looked all around bad. This would be hard to enfororce, but just as we had a thread about reccomended size/age before shipping, I think it should be reccomended that breeders consider waiting until the next show for super young hatchlings.

  • The whole bright lights/acrylic boxes thing. I know people love to look at all the snakes, but it just seems so cruel and stressful to make to take an animal that is normally nocturnal/crepuscular and force it to sit under bright floodlights in a clear box with nowhere to hide for several days in a row. Not sure how to remedy this, but it just seems all around bad. I guess the same could be said for deli cups.


I do agree, these poor creatures are put into tiny boxes with no temperature regulation, so much light and minimal space to move and you don’t know how well they have been carried for.

I haven’t been to an expo in a few years ago I can’t say much (hoping to soon). But I did see a video on YouTube where someone had made proper little enclosures with 2 lids, the to bring tinted so the reptiles were kept dark, unless someone lifted the tinted one to be looked at. It looked amazing.

My first reptile was from a Reptile show many many years ago and she wasn’t old enough to sell (I didn’t know that at the time as they were all so tiny) and she turned out so small compared to what she should have been.

We’ve bought other Reptiles sl at reptile expos (still a long time ago) and they have all been smaller / thinner compared to others not from a Reptile show and have taken longer to get bigger.

Would be awesome to see improvements for the Reptiles. Although I don’t know that expos are like ATM


Great list!
Not been to a show yet, hopefully soon!
But I know of uk ones, and some breeders do have some behind the tables etc and bring out when asked or when one goes etc. Also darker containers of hides etc are done too here with some breeders! :blush:
When I even send a reptile (Cresties).
I send them in braplast or cricket tubs depending on size with substrate and leaf litter. And half the lid is tapped to be darker for them. And they can hide under the big leaves I put in also! Which is why I add them in!
I personally don’t like sending them with just kitchen roll and having them so ‘open’.
So I’ve been doing this for a while now!
I think I’ll be opting for the black braplast tubs next time! These would be great for people to use as the lid is clear but the bottom is black so they feel more safe! :blush:


This is really something that needs talked about. I enjoy supporting the good vendors at my local show, but the stuff I see there sometimes is a huge turn off. I feel like there should be a vet or some sort of neutral inspector at shows that give the yay or nay for obviously sick or underage animals.


Unfortunately I see a lot of animals that are in the middle of shedding (usually from one or two vendors). They’re trying to finish shedding while in a low humidity clear container with bright lights. I personally don’t see how that’s a good idea. If anything bring a picture of the animal and sell it later.


Some of those practices are law in European countries. At the hamm show in Germany for example, the containers for snakes must be at least 1/3 the length of the snake. There are also size requirements for other species that I don’t know off hand. Containers are also only allowed to have 1 transparent side and snakes must be housed individually. As far as the enrichment enclosure, I don’t think having a rotating enclosure is a good idea because you don’t want to be handling animals unnecessarily, and it’s a potential biosecurity risk, excessive handling on the animal etc. Also if you bring 30 animals to a 6 hour show, even 2 of such enclosures only gives each animal 20 minutes at a time, let alone the vendors that would have 50-100 or more animals at a show.

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I don’t think of an enrichment enclosure as handling, more of a break from being in a box. It could also be used on one per species (since most vendors only have a few species) to avoid pathogen risks.