Reptile Shows


Reptile shows serve as a public forum for the entire reptile industry.  Shows are where new people are introduced to the world of reptiles and our hobby.  The number of shows held in the U.S. is increasing each year with attendance growing stronger and more diverse.  In response to recent opposition to our hobby on the federal level, we have composed suggested Best Management Practices (BMP) for Reptile Shows. The goals of these BMPs are to promote humane care and presentation of animals during the show, promote legal and responsible ownership, and reduce the risk of introducing potentially invasive species into our ecosystems. Establishing guidelines for shows will strengthen our voice as a community and show a concerted effort to address concerns on the national level.  These practices, if embraced by show promoters and vendors, will help present the reptile hobby as the responsible industry that we are.

  • Vendors must comply with ALL local, state and federal laws.
  • All vendors have the right to refuse service to anyone.
  • All show promoters must include a section on show application form to include vendor’s refund policy on animal returns.
  • All animals sold must be accompanied with a care sheet provided by the vendor. Care sheets are to include proper care techniques for that species, the maximum size attained, and lifespan.
  • All transactions must be accompanied with a receipt of purchase, a business card and contact information.  This helps provide a level of professionalism and customer service, as well as potentially decrease the amount of theft at shows/expos. A copy of vendor’s refund policy must accompany each receipt with sale of animal.
  • Receipts should be checked at the exit door to ensure proof of purchase.
  • Children under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at the time of sale of any animal. Vendor must use their own discretion in regards to sales. Not all animals are suitable for all keepers.
  • All animals should be thoroughly inspected before the doors open to the public. Any animals that appear sick, injured, imported (if all-captive bred show), have visual mites/ticks, are illegal, or questionable should be removed immediately. Animal conditions and health are to be determined by the show promoter.
  • Animals need to be presented in appropriately-sized containers.  Their bodies should be able to make a full 360 degree movement in the enclosure/display.  Enclosures should have proper ventilation and be 100% secure.  This also includes take-home containers.
  • Multiple animals in a single cage need to have additional room to prevent stress and also be of the same species.
  • Multiple species are not to be housed together.
  • Temperature sensitive and fragile animals should be provided with the proper amount of heat/humidity and care throughout the show.
  • Animals who defecate in the cage or container must be immediately pulled off the table to be cleaned and sanitize.
  • No live rodent feeding should be performed during show hours.
  • Live rodents at shows need to be healthy, and free of urine stains. Rodent bedding needs to be fresh the day of the show, cleaned and sanitized as needed.
  • Frozen rodents need to be clean (Discretion is with promoter).  No heavy urine stains, feces on the fur, or excessive blood on the face and body.
  • No personal/outside pets are allowed into the show/expo.
  • Boids over 6 feet long should be refrained from being wrapped around the necks of the public or any vendors (members of the family Boidae).
  • Hand sanitizer should be provided by each vendor as well as at the entrance door.  To prevent disease, any person handling or touching an animal should properly sanitize their hands before and after contact.
  • No red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) should be sold unless they are albino, pastel, two-headed, Rio-Grande or species from outside the U.S.

Venomous Shows

The following BMP section pertains to shows exhibiting and/or selling venomous species of reptiles. These guidelines only pertain to states where venomous species are permitted. It is imperative that venomous show promoters go above and beyond in enforcing these practices.

  • Waivers - All vendors with venomous reptiles must sign a liability waiver upon check in and have all customers do the same.
  • “Venomous Escorts” will be assigned and provided by the show promoter to accompany all vendors from the parking lot into the show.
  • Venomous reptiles must be brought into the show in the same containers they will be displayed and sold in. No venomous reptiles may be removed from containers and lids of such containers shall not be removed during the event. No venomous animals may be brought into the expo in a cloth snake bag and no venomous animals may be sold in a cloth snake bag. No exceptions.
  • Red tape is to be used on ALL containers that have venomous reptiles. This includes all potentially dangerous rear fanged snakes (determined at the discretion of show promoter). Only containers with venomous species are to use red colored tape.
  • No more than one venomous reptile in each container unless animals are for “Display Only”.
  • All containers of venomous reptiles must be enclosed in a rigid display case to act as secondary containment. Deli cups containing venomous reptiles will be housed in such a fashion that customers cannot handle them.
  • All venomous reptiles must be labeled with scientific and common name.
  • No container housing venomous reptiles will be unsealed under any circumstance during the event.
  • All venomous tables must have a person at the table at all times, and must never be left unattended. If you need to take a break, contact a Venomous Escort to cover your table for you. NO EXCEPTIONS!
  • No venomous snake will be allowed away from the vendor’s table without a venomous escort provided by the show promoter.
  • All venomous reptiles must be sexed and labeled prior to the opening of the event.
  • Venomous snakes are not to be sold to anyone under 18. It is required to check identification of all customers. Only customers possessing a valid ID from the legal states are eligible to purchase venomous reptiles.
  • Show promoter shall maintain appropriate written bite protocols to include emergency responder contact information, a bite management consultant and the location of anti-venom.
  • Venomous reptiles which have been sold will be tagged and remain at vendors' booth until buyer is departing from show. Customer is to sign a waiver and return to booth with Venomous Escort when ready to exit event. The vendor will give the waiver and reptiles to Venomous Escort who will escort the customer to their vehicle.
  • Any vendor not adhering to this policy and giving customers venomous reptiles without a Venomous Escort shall be ejected from the show immediately and no refund issued.