0

Reptiles take center stage at the fairgrounds

Staff Photo: Camie Young — Taylor Kingsland, 23, of Acworth, holds an albino Burmese python. Kingsland considered buying the snake at the annual Repitcon event Saturday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

Staff Photo: Camie Young — Taylor Kingsland, 23, of Acworth, holds an albino Burmese python. Kingsland considered buying the snake at the annual Repitcon event Saturday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

photo

Staff Photo: Camie Young — Stinky, a 9-foot-long reticulated python rests on the floor of the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds during the annual Repticon event. Paul Lord, the owner of Rats and Snakes from Byron, said he hoped interest in the snake would help the company sell natural decor for terrariums.

photo

Staff photo/Camie Young — Two-year-old Otis Lloyd holds the tail of LaTiqua Williams’ green anaconda, as Jake Melancon, 9, looks on. The boys attended the annual Repticon event Saturday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

photo

Staff Photo: Camie Young — Ernie Delmonte from Only the Best Reptiles shows a display of snakes during the Repticon event Saturday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Shara Hamrick of Lawrenceville was shocked when she saw Misty Poffenberger pushing her snake Kiki around Repticon in a baby carriage on Saturday.

"I see some really weird stuff at these shows but I saw that baby carriage and I saw the size of that snake and I was like, 'that's the snake's baby carriage,'" she said.

Hamrick returned to the reptile show for the dart frogs and lizards as opposed to the abundant number of snakes.

"The snakes, people walking around with snakes on them, I am not a snake person. I love seeing people wearing their lizards, but snakes are not for me," she said.

However, the snakes were not without their fans. Terry Duffield of Bethlehem brought her three children to their first Repticon show because they are considering getting a pet snake.

"This is a good opportunity to see what's out there and talk to people who know about them and find out what kinds of things are required for reptile ownership," Duffield said.

With more than 50 exhibitors at the event, and everything from bearded dragons to sand boas and leopard geckos, there is a lot of knowledge about reptiles under the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds roof.

Jeff Chasin took his 11-year-old son to Repticon to buy his first pet snake, a black and white sand boa. Chasin feels the vendor they got their snake from was very professional and well versed.

"The guys who obviously do this for a living; they know about it," he said. "The guy actually wrote a book about how to take care of them."

Repticon holds shows across the country and is scheduled to return to Atlanta three more times this year, but for Robert Wright from AHP Exotics the crowds are the same everywhere they go.

"From show to show, city to city, we usually have people who do flea markets and pet stores and stuff like that come in and then just regular people who love pets, too," he said.

Ernie Del Monte from Only the Best Reptiles has participated in Repticon events in South Florida, but this is the first time he has come to Atlanta. He said there is one thing that sets the Atlanta Repticon apart.

"The only difference here is that, down in Florida, we don't have the ability to deal with the burmese, the bigger snakes, the anacondas and the retics (reticulated pythons)," he said.

Taylor Kingsland of Acworth posed with one of the large snakes casually draped around her neck. After overcoming a fear of snakes Kingsland now owns four and is considering getting a fifth.

"They're addicting," she said. "They have personalities and everything; people don't realize it."

Repticon continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12, and free for children 4 and under. Today will feature presentations of bearded dragons, sand boas, dart frogs, and leopard geckos, and Ken Panse the Reptile Wrangler.