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Reptilian Nation Expo Visits Atlanta

Fynn Grindle

Boasting the status of the largest reptile expo in Texas, Nevada, and Utah, the Reptilian Nation Expo held a two-day convention at the Georgia International Convention Center on Sept. 17-18. The event promised live demonstrations and over 95 vendors extending even past reptiles to include amphibians, arachnids, isopods, and other bugs. Furthermore, a variety of non-live animal tables offered plants, hand-made crafts, pieces of art, collectibles, toys, and, of course, pet care supplies.

Attracted by the numerous sales folk, children, adults, independent breeders, hobbyists, and simple onlookers alike occupied the isles between tables. Some opted for a more hands-on experience, with a boa constrictor on their shoulders or a gargoyle gecko crawling up their arm, while others viewed the thousands of animals, most placed in covered dishes or tanks, from above.

Freshman Oliver Slappy attended the expo on Sept. 17, and, despite the traffic driving to and from the venue, ultimately enjoyed the experience, feeling comfort knowing others held a similar interest. “My favorite part of the expo was watching the reptiles bask in their heat lamps,” Slappy said. “They looked so content and cute– some were even smiling too. My expectations were definitely met, it was so much larger than I thought it would be, and I genuinely had such a fantastic time.”

Considerably, the creatures shown sported vastly more unique traits than those found in typical pet stores, even those not found at all, such as the orchid praying mantis, mere centimeters long and mimicking the flower of its name, or tailless whip scorpion, a flat, long-legged scorpion lacking the tail typical of its counterparts. Slappy also found himself impressed by the animals present. “[One of the most memorable moments] of the expo was the humongous Asian water monitors they had,” Slappy said. “I had never seen anything so big at a convention like that. Another moment was watching baby turtles flip themselves over when they were on their backs. I had to commend their effort.”

Though the Reptile Nation Expo moved past Georgia, other similar opportunities will exist next year. For instance, Repticon will be held on Jan. 7 and 8 in 2023 at the Gwinnett County Fairground. Slappy, reflecting on the expo and his past experiences, encouraged those interested to attend. “I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves animals, especially reptiles,” Slappy said. “The best part of the convention is you don’t have to buy anything and you can look at all the animals like it’s a reptile exhibit. [Also,] it was so sweet watching kids pick out their pet lizards and snakes, I could tell they were going to a good home.”

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