Tag Archives: NARBC

Have A Great Weekend

Lots going on this weekend. My lovely and wonderful wife is showing jewelry at FenCon: I’ll be out at the NARBC reptile show in Arlington on Saturday morning, and then helping her with teardown on Sunday. I also hope to have multiple doses of good news by next week. Until then, music.

NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 4

Still more happy Triffid Ranch customers at the NARBC:
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And now some interesting stories. This gentleman and his son recently moved to Texas from South Africa, where he had exceptional results raising Sarracenia and Nepenthes before he had to move here. While discussing the best ways to bypass the insanely low humidity throughout the area, he mentioned that his Sarracenia were absolute magnets for the local mantids. Naturally, I was intrigued, not just because I’m looking for confirmation that predatory arthropods are viewing the ultraviolet-fluorescing structures on many carnivorous plants, but also because I’m still learning the bare basics of the fauna and flora of South Africa. Literally hours after talking to this gentleman, who else but Ryan Kitko should send me a photo of an American mantis camping out atop his own Sarracenia? To steal from cartoonist Sam Hurt, it’s not that it’s a small world, but a big world that’s folded over so many times.
Petra

Speaking of a big world that’s folded over a lot, let me introduce you to Petra. Year before last, Petra was an attendee at All-Con, where she purchased a spoonleaf sundew as I gave her grief about needing to come out the next year as an action figure. I usually don’t see a lot of crossover between different types of shows, so you can imagine my surprise at seeing her at the NARBC. You can imagine further surprise at discovering that she was working at the The Reptile Report booth across the convention hall with her mother Judy.

Judy and Petra

Okay, that’s cute but not surprising. What was surprising was realizing, as I was packing up at the end of the show, that I knew Judy from high school, and hadn’t seen her in nearly 30 years. Even better, she married one of my best friends from that time, so our personal game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” got even more surreal. Now to see if Dean still has the book I lent him in November 1983 that he wasn’t able to get back to me after I graduated…

Anyway, thus ends the first multi-day August Triffid Ranch show, with the Anime Fest in downtown Dallas still to come. As for a Triffid Ranch presence at the next Arlington NARBC show in February 2014, expect details shortly.

NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 3

Yet more happy NARBC customers:

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To be continued…

NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 2

More Triffid Ranch customers at last weekend’s NARBC show in Arlington:

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To be continued…

NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 1

NARBC Overview

August in North Texas is, under the absolute best of circumstances, an utter bear, and the weekend of August 10 was bad even by our already hellish standards. By Friday afternoon, the temperatures at the Triffid Ranch were around 40 degrees C, with anywhere between 15 and 20 percent relative humidity, making potting and packing plants an adventure. Even with plants literally dying in my hands as I’m potting them, and a late start due to logistics with the truck loading, the caravan heading to the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington made it, with a relative minimum of aggravation from traffic conditions. When it’s too hot for most attendees of Six Flags Over Texas next door to the Arlington Convention Center, the roads tend to remain nice and clear.

ZooMed Tent

This August marked the second NARBC show held in the summer in Arlington, with a lot of the usual suspects in attendance. The folks from ZooMed, as always, dominated the hall with their gigantic inflatable tent, and it made quite the gateway to the rest of the convention hall. Since this was a working show and not an opportunity to wander around, this meant I wasn’t able to see everything, but both the crew at ZooMed and at The Reptile Report were more than willing to come by and chat for a bit. With the crowds on Saturday, we were all lucky to see the outsides of our booths anyway. (More on the Reptile Report crew shortly.)

Triffid Ranch booth at the NARBC

And speaking of which, the Triffid Ranch booth was located this year behind and to the right of the ZooMed tent from the entrance. Five years after the first Triffid Ranch show, and it may be time to hire an assistant for larger shows such as this one.

(Oh, and a gag for a few friends. When taking this photo, the automatic portrait function in the camera focused on the head on the top shelf on the left. In the process, though, when actually taking the shot, the camera read “Blink Detected”. Should I be worried?)

Hex Tank conversions

Since this show’s dealer space had considerably more room than what is usually available, it made sense to bring out a pair of converted and repainted Nepenthes enclosures. While they were a bear to transport, they also gave plenty of kids the shocks of their lives when they realized that the tanks didn’t contain any animal life that wasn’t intended to be food for the plants. Combine that with the TCU fine arts student who went into shock herself when she recognized the Olmec head in the larger arrangement, and that led to a command decision: next year’s show needs an arrangement with a large Upland Maya backdrop, full of Mexican butterworts. Thankfully, I still have six months with which to set it up.

To be continued…

Upcoming events: August 2013

It’s been a bit busy at the Triffid Ranch as of late, and with good reason. Typical Texas summer weather hit this week, naturally occurring the week before the biggest show of the year, meaning that experiments with water-conservation-friendly cooling systems in the greenhouse just went from “urgent” to “designing and developing solar-powered liquid nitrogen generators to keep everything from bursting into flame”. The weekend was spent working with silicone and urethane sealers, to the point where what leg hairs aren’t permanently veneered into my flesh are now the length and strength of porcupine quills, and just as dangerous to pets and furniture. I even managed to get some of the urethane into my eyebrows, and I now know the familiarity of co-workers at the Day Job to Nineties-era cult science fiction television based on the number who ask me if I’ve seen Mistah Garibaldi as I walk by. In fact, the best part of the ongoing severe drought is putting freshly painted items out into the sun and having them dry almost instantly: I’m half-tempted to try applying metal enamel to see if that would work as well.

Oh, and today is the Czarina’s birthday. Cue the musical accompaniment.

Anyway, in previous years, August was the month where the Triffid Ranch went dormant, waiting until the rains returned in September to emerge and feed once more. Our surprising cool and (relatively) wet July means that rainwater rationing in the greenhouse isn’t as extreme, and that means that a lot of plants are ready for sale and already adapted to the heat. Because of that, this August is a month of ongoing shows, all new venues, and a lot of opportunities. Who knew back in 2008, when the Triffid Ranch first started, that things would get so interesting?

With mention of shows comes the big one: the North American Reptile Breeders Conference now runs at the Arlington Convention Center twice per year, and that means that the Triffid Ranch makes an appearance this weekend, August 10 from 10:00 to 5:00 and August 11 from 11:00 to 4:00. We’re going to be in good company with lots of friends and fellows from previous NARBC shows, so be prepared to have a blast. I might even pick up a crocodile monitor while I’m there.

One weekend after, the party moves to north Carrollton. Keith Colvin of Keith’s Comics in Dallas is an old and very dear friend, and the only reason I don’t bring out plants for the kids attending his Free Comic Book Day events in May is because FCBD usually coincides with the big Texas Frightmare Weekend show. This year, Keith decided to expand his usual summertime Sidekick discount clearinghouse event into a Summercon running every weekend in August, and that includes vendors with other, related merchandise. What this means is that you can expect to see the Triffid Ranch booth at the Summercon event on August 17, for the whole day. Any excuse to stay out of the sun in August in Texas is a good one, and if you get the carnivorous plant bug, well, Dallas North Aquarium is just down Trinity Mills Road from the Sidekick store.

Finally, my own birthday comes at the end of the month: I tried to have it changed legally, but the authorities point out that “February 30” doesn’t happen anywhere near as often these days as it used to. Some people celebrate their 47th birthdays with guns, explosions, and crocodile monitors in the streets. This year, it’s time to celebrate it with a combination of all of these, by showing plants at AnimeFest in downtown Dallas on Labor Day Weekend. We’ll be out with plenty of friends and cohorts from other local shows, from noon on August 30 until 3:00 on September 2. (Yes, it’s a four-day convention, much like next year’s All-Con a little over six months from then. Don’t let it scare you.) In between those times, it’s open season.

Oh, and with the mention of Texas Frightmare Weekend earlier, next May marks the fifth anniversary of the Triffid Ranch’s first show at Frightmare, and both guest announcements and advance tickets both saw release last Sunday. One of these days, I’ll explain exactly how The Creature From The Black Lagoon ties into my fascination with carnivorous plants, but both the Czarina and I have very good reason to look forward to TFW 2014. We’re definitely appearing as vendors, and it’s time for even more surprises.

After August, things go relatively quiet as far as Triffid Ranch shows are concerned, with the big highlight being the fifth anniversary show and party at FenCon in Addison in October. However, it’s time to start moving further afield through Texas, and the number of Houstonians who came by the booth at Texas Frightmare Weekend demonstrated a need for a touring plant show through the southern portion of the state. Details follow as I get them, but a trip to a Houston or Galveston show in October might be a necessity. And so it goes.

Upcoming Shows: the June 2013 edition

Five years ago, the Texas Triffid Ranch started out as little more than a hobby with delusions of grandeur, with a stock comprised of cuttings and offshoots from my own collection of carnivorous plants. This year has already seen more shows than in the Triffid Ranch’s first two years, and the fourth quarter of 2013 is going to be a blowout. In the meantime, not counting tentative shows or definite shows where entry isn’t possible right now, here’s the schedule so far:

  • The remainder of June and July are going to be show-free at the moment, partially because of the heat, but things start moving in August. That begins the weekend of August 10 and 11, when the Triffid Ranch makes its first appearance at the Arlington NARBC reptile and amphibian show in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium. Expect lots of good craziness with other vendors (several of whom are old friends), a tremendous variety of reptiles, enclosures, and supplies, and one carnivorous plant nursery trying to keep up.
  • For the last five years, I’ve received requests about two shows in the Dallas area. One is beyond impractical, for a multitude of reasons. The other, though, was an entertaining notion. Several fellow vendors at other shows kept nuhdzing me about it. “Lots of people out there. They’re fun folks. You really need to be out there!” This year, I listened to them, which is why Labor Day weekend marks the first appearance of the Triffid Ranch at Anime Fest in downtown Dallas. Among other things, this marks the first Triffid Ranch four-day event, which should act as a good gauge for next year’s four-day All-Con in March. Besides, where else should I spend a birthday weekend?
  • And then there’s the big one. The event that started it all, five years ago. Specifically, FenCon X in Addison. Not only will this be a revelation as far as plants and arrangements are concerned, but this year’s show features several arrangements normally too big to show. Specifically, one big one is going to be a charity sale for the Arlington Archosaur Site, on behalf of a friend who sadly won’t be at FenCon to give me grief.

Believe it or not, this isn’t the end of things. Obviously, there’s the big Funky Finds Experience show in Fort Worth in November, as well as the possibility of another show at the end of the month. In addition, after having long, fascinating conversations with people coming up to Dallas for particular events, it’s time to consider events in Houston and Galveston. As always, details will follow.

New Triffid Ranch show: NARBC Arlington

Ten years ago, when I picked up my first batch of carnivorous plants from a local Home Depot, I had no idea how far this was going to go. Even five years ago, when I first started doing lectures and showing plants, I had no clue. Well, it keeps getting better, as the Texas Triffid Ranch joins the list of esteemed vendors at this August’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference show in Arlington, Texas. As a longtime attendee of the NARBC Arlington shows, you can imagine the thrill of being on the other side of the register for the first time. Heck, this time, I might even work out a trade for a crocodile monitor.

It Came From The NARBC – Plants

Zoo Med tent

As stated before, this month’s NARBC show was not only its biggest, but apparently it had the largest turnout in the Arlington show’s history. Being on ground level, not only is this not surprising, but it makes me wonder “So what are they going to do if this gets any larger? Move next door to Cowboys Stadium and take over the whole field?” (Even then, that only buys the show a couple of years before we’re having to consider armed platforms in near-Earth orbit. This show is getting BIG.)

Anyway, before continuing, I wanted to share a few observations on the Zoo Med Laboratories display tent. The herpetoculture trade has come a very long way from the “boom” of the 1990s, and the displays confirm it. This beast is inflatable, with the ability to anchor it if used outside, with panels on the sides to give shade if outdoors and to advertise further if not. Either way, the dream is to have one of these for a future 35 Denton show.

Zoo Med tent - detail

Surprisingly, many vendors offering large planted display cages weren’t at this show, but I’m hoping that they’re simply rescheduling for the August NARBC show. The noted exceptions were Zoo Med and the crew at Exo Terra, who definitely give ideas on how it can be done.

Exo Terra demo tanks

Exo Terra demo tanks

Wandering around and viewing reptiles was all fine and good, but the real purpose of this quest was to look for reptile-friendly flora, and that started with haranguing the good folks at the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Bromeliad Society. What started as a minor inconvenience, trying to get all of their plants and driftwood into a single 10-by-10 booth, actually worked to their advantage when they started thinking laterally.

Bromeliad Society

Bromeliads, orchids, and driftwood: how can it get any better without adding carnivorous plants to the mix?

Shawn Crofford of the Bromeliad Society

And then there was the big reason I came out there: a serious need for cork. Most incorrigible antisociables only keep one particular plant in their grow houses. Me, I needed cork bark for all of the bromeliads I just purchased from the Bromeliad Society.

Lots of cork and driftwood

And with this, it’s confirmed: the Triffid Ranch will be a vendor at this next August’s show, if it kills us all. Five months to get ready…I just might be able to pull that off.

It Came From The NARBC – Critters

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Continuing previous coverage of last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference and Trade Show, the problem wasn’t having enough to do. The problem was trying to see everything before your eyes exploded in sheer joy. Among the highlights:

Kenyan sand boa

I’ve been a sucker for Kenyan sand boas since they first started showing up for sale in the US, and a very nice gentleman wandering down the aisles was kind enough to hold it long enough for a photo. As can be told, they’re extremely well-mannered, but the coloration? Whoa.

Carpet python and woma

Likewise, I have no interest in keeping my own carpet python (top) or woma (bottom), but I’ve made plans to visit Australia before I die just to see representatives of each in the wild. Of course, to see all of the reptiles I want to see in the wild in Australia alone, from shingleback lizards to brown snakes, I may as well just move there.

Alligator snapping turtle
Hailing from a little closer to home, here’s a seeming oxymoron: a little alligator snapping turtle. Not only are they so ugly they’re cute, but I speak from experience when stating that they’re actually extremely shy if given a chance to avoid human contact. As can be told, this one was used to humans, so this was a great opportunity for people to see an extremely misunderstood animal.

Speaking of misunderstood animals, one of the booths featured a collection of venomous and/or extremely threatened Texas reptiles, of which the alligator snapping turtle was practically a sidenote. Among others, we have…

Timber rattlesnake

…a timber rattlesnake…

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

…a Western diamondback rattlesnake…

Copperhead
…a copperhead…

Texas indigo snake

…and the nonvenomous but extremely large and impressively active Texas indigo snake.

Next: let’s get back to the plants, shall we?

It Came From The NARBC: Varanus salvadorii

One of the things that keeps my marriage to the Czarina so fresh and exciting is that she doesn’t know what will happen next. I’m literal in this: she doesn’t know, and she’s usually scared to death to find out. Take a look at this situation: she leaves me to my own devices on a Saturday morning, and I make a beeline for the big NARBC Arlington reptile show. As soon as I get there, I run into old friends who came out to observe the wildlife (reptilian and human), and one let me know “By the way, did you know about what’s around the corner?” He points around the corner, and there it is:
Crocodile monitor

Yes, at the show was one of my favorite reptiles: Varanus salvadorii, the crocodile monitor. Even better, for a species notorious for its aggression and savage intelligence, here was one that was pretty much dog-tame. Of course, he’s still small: believe it or not, he’s only about half the size of a fully-grown adult.

Crocodile monitor profile

In previous years, I would have been able to sneak something like this home and surprise the Czarina, probably with it curled up like a big scaly cat at the foot of the bed. However, modern technology has its advantages, so I let her know my plans. Via Facebook, of course, so all of our friends could get a comfy seat and pop an extra-large batch of popcorn. If I played my cards right, people would ask about the blood tornado spotted just east of downtown Dallas.

Crocodile monitor 2

The reason why this beauty was available was that its owner was incredibly fond of him, but an exciting business opportunity required selling him for capital. I understand, and did some calculations. The best thing about having a rainy day fund? It’s raining somewhere.

Big scaly kitten

To make matters better, this gentleman was selling two crocodile monitors, both of which with the same mellow disposition. I immediately had to let the Czarina know: “They’re a breeding pair. We could have HATCHLINGS.” Her immediate response: “NO, WE COULDN’T.” That didn’t stop me: I’d already picked names. “G’Kar” and “Na’Toth” worked, but then a friend suggested that “Paul and Caroline” would work, too. After all, these lizards were just like us: they alternated between cuddling and her demonstrating her superiority by gnawing on his head. (Apparently, crocodile monitors don’t have much in the way of Elbows, so teeth had to do.)

Crocodile monitor pair

Now, this big one was friendly, but see the one in the back? I was warned by her owners that this beast had the personality for which crocodile monitors are known throughout the world. That look says “Oh, I’m going to kill you, Sheriff, but I’m gonna kill you slow.”

Crocodile monitor portrait
The worst part is that I can’t understand why the Czarina has such an issue with keeping one in the house. All she did was yell and froth about “the damn lizard will eat the cats”. I really don’t understand. How could she possibly say “no” to such a cute widdle face?

Upcoming shows and ongoing events

Well, we survived ConDFW and thrived, and now it’s time to let everyone know about the next big Triffid Ranch show, All-Con 2013, two weeks from today. In addition, because of specific interest in a demonstration, I’ll also add to the planned “How To Murder Your Venus Flytrap” lecture on Saturday evening with a display of carnivorous plant fluorescence under UV light. Where else are you going to see a presentation like this?

Meanwhile, two weeks before All-Con means that the next two weekends are the usual pre-show bad craziness, but that doesn’t preclude the annual February trip to the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington this weekend. If you’re going to be in the vicinity, just look for the albino in the motorcycle jacket and the International Carnivorous Plant Society T-shirt. If you’re not able to get out this time, make plans for the August NARBC show, because that, if everything goes well, may be the big Triffid Ranch event of the year.

Triffid Ranch shows: the schedule so far

The day started with a reminder of an impending guest lecture for the Four Seasons Garden Club in Dallas this Thursday, and that’s when life intruded. Not a little intrusion, either: that’s also the day the Czarina’s dentist scheduled her for emergency dental surgery. Same exact time, too. Add to that the need for her to be under general anaesthesia, her general reactions to general anaesthesia, and her insistence that I didn’t have to be there to bring her home, and you might understand why one of our favorite date movies was The Whole Nine Yards.

That didn’t stop her from guilt-tripping me with exclamations of “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll just sit here in the dark, er, I mean, I’ll get someone to take me in. I don’t want to get in the way of the lecture.” I love her madly, but I knew better.

“No. And this isn’t just my fear of the Elbows of DOOOOOM talking. I am NOT going to skip out on you.”

“It’s all right. I’ll call my mother and have her drive me home.”

“Oh, and I can tell how this will work. Halfway through the lecture, I’ll get a call asking for permission to transfer you to the ICU because you had a bad reaction to the anaesthesia.”

“It won’t be that bad…would it?”

“Well, no. I’ll probably get a call asking for permission to harvest your organs. I’d definitely have to leave the garden club then. They’d probably get ticked off at me for not leaving at that point.”

Hence, because she knows how much I loathe cell phones and answering calls in the middle of lectures, she backed off, and the wonderful people at the Four Seasons Garden Club considerately rescheduled the lecture for next January. That should work pretty well: after the holiday season is over, it’s time to emphasize that you can’t feed family members overstaying their welcome to Venus flytraps. Well, unless you have lots of flytraps, and the person in question is minced, and at that point, the police are probably going to figure it out.

That doesn’t mean that other shows and events aren’t an option. October and November are booked, and let’s not get started with next year. To give an idea:

First Annual Reptile & Amphibian Day: Things snowball. With the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas closing and transferring to the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science, the annual Discovery Days event involving reptiles and amphibians won’t be running this November. With the temporary cancellation of Discovery Days until the new museum opens, the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society needed a new venue for an outreach presentation to show that reptiles and amphibians aren’t horrible things. I may be, though, so we have to question the wisdom of inviting the Triffid Ranch to display carnivorous plants for this year’s first annual Reptile & Amphibian Day at the University of Texas at Arlington. It’s too late, though, as they’re stuck with me all day on October 13. Depending upon this year’s turnout, we’ll see if the DFWHS wants to host a second one in 2013, but I have hopes. (As an additional notice, this event will have no animals or plants available for sale. This is educational, not commercial, but this might also be a great time to join the DFWHS, as well as some of the associated clubs and organizations showing plants and animals as well.)

The Shadow Society Presents The Vampire’s Masquerade Halloween Ball: Goth fashion. Carnivorous plants. Halloween. All out at the Crown & Harp on Greenville Avenue near downtown Dallas. Toby and Tracy, Shadow Society proprietors and DJs, already lined up a plethora of music and events, and the season should do the rest.

The Funky Finds Experience – Fort Worth: Right now, my garage resembles a set from an early-1970s episode of Doctor Who, and the living room is worse. That’s because I’m frantically building and planting arrangements and enclosures for this year’s Funky Finds Experience at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth on November 10-11. Artists and crafters already fill the entire allotted space, so come out to see the carnivores and wander around to see what else you can’t live without.

After Funky Finds, things should settle down a bit. The temperate carnivores go back into winter dormancy, the tropical carnivores slow down a bit, and we silly humans wait to see if we have a winter like this last one, or a winter like 2011. I, for one, wouldn’t mind one like 1998-1999: just enough cold to kill off the bugs, but not so much that it kills off everything else. We definitely don’t need a repeat of the 2010 record snowfall, as fun as it was at the time. That’s also because things start out lively early in 2013, and the last thing we need is another massive freeze in mid-February.

ConDFW: The first Triffid Ranch show of the year follows the cycle from 2012, with a show at the literary science fiction convention ConDFW in Addison, Texas. With it being this early in the year, the focus will be mostly on tropical and other non-dormant flora, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect some surprises.

All-Con: Three weeks later, prepare to return to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison, because now it’s time for All-Con, a more media-related convention coming up on its eighth year. With luck, we won’t be looking at sudden last-minute freezes or snowstorms, which means that it might be time to present a display of Sarracenia blooms if they’re cooperating at the time. As usual, details will follow.

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2013: Okay, here’s the big one, as in “so big, it takes up the entire Hyatt Regency DFW Airport.” Not only is Texas Frightmare becoming the horror equivalent of the San Diego Comic-Con or Dragon*Con in Atlanta, but I’m proud and flattered to become one of the draws for attendees every year. With this being the Triffid Ranch’s fifth show at Texas Frightmare, get ready for some extra surprises, and not just my using deodorant and mouthwash.

FenCon X: And here’s the other big show, scheduled for Texas-OU Weekend in Addison. (Just talk to the folks at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and let them know you’ll be at all three big shows, and they’ll probably be glad to accommodate you.) The new Web site is now live with guests and programming, and the Triffid Ranch jumps in with plans for a much larger space than previous years. The added joy? With it starting in October, out-of-state visitors can at least prepare for the end of summer temperatures. (Judging by last weekend’s cold snap as a precedent, bring a bathing suit AND a jacket. You’ll probably need both.)

Tentative plans: Not only does this year mark the largest number of Triffid Ranch shows to date, but it’s time to expand a bit into reptile and amphibian shows. Right now, tentative plans involve registering tables at both ReptiCon in Ennis at the end of October 2013 and the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington on August 11-13. As the comics used to say, watch this space.

As a final note, I’m regularly asked at shows “Do you have a physical address?” Until now, that answer is “no”, and not just because liability issues prevent me from opening up everything so people can “see the plants”. Up until now, opening a storefront to display plant enclosures and sell individual specimens hasn’t been practical or sane. In 2013, that may change. With luck, I’ll be able to share the news in a few weeks. With luck.

It Came From the NARBC: Other Denizens

Snake pair

Based on the previous sets of photos, you might think that the North American Reptile Breeders Conference shows were all about the reptiles. They are, but they’re great places for peoplewatching, too. Twenty years ago, the old cliche of the reptile enthusiast as tattooed motorcycle rider and general hooligan might have had a tiny bit of truth to it: the guy from whom I bought my late savannah monitor Afsan had big scars down one arm from where he’d admitted he’d lost a knife fight. Even considering that you’ve never seen anyone handle tiny reptiles with such gentleness, reptile shows today are as diverse as they come, and everybody out there has a great story as to why they’re out there.

Gopher snake and keeper

By way of example, this young lady was just part of the crowd that you simply wouldn’t have seen at many Texas reptile shows in the early Nineties. Her snake was just as intriguing, as I haven’t seen a gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer) since I was about seven years old. Best of all, our niece, ostensibly the reason we made the trip, was trying to get over an aversion to snakes, and this gopher snake gave both her and the Czarina the opportunity to hold a very gentle and very well-adjusted snake.

(A side-tip to those with snakes letting people hold their snakes for the first time, especially if the snake is a climber. Give them some advance warning that said snake will generally wrap its tail around fingers, arms, or any other protrusion. It’s an odd feeling if you aren’t prepared for it, and I’ve gone without holding snakes for long enough that I’d forgotten the sensation. This way, nobody has a freakout, including the snake.)

Czarina with gopher snake

And then we had the plant freaks. Namely, the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Bromeliad Society had such a great time at last February’s show that its members came out again for August. As can be told, they had lots of plants, lots of buyers, and lots of enthusiasm.

Shawn and Gail

Bromeliads

And then there was the hardest-working participant at the show. The NARBC crew was working itself to a nub, the security crew at the convention center was even worse off, and by Sunday afternoon, all of the vendors had the expression I knew so well from plant shows. That look said “We’re having a blast, and we love everybody here, but we know that there’s a bed or cot or spare couch at the end of this day, and Nyarlathotep help the first person to get in the way of it.” This guy, though, just finally couldn’t keep working, and passed out in the first available chair.

Sleeping dog

I don’t blame him in the slightest. That’s going to be me when the Triffid Ranch does its first NARBC show next summer.

It Came From The NARBC: Invertebrates 1

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

Of course, it’s not all reptiles and amphibians. Several dealers had quite a selection of invertebrates as well.

Millipede

Now, this character is an arthropod not often seen in the US, at reptile shows or elsewhere. It’s a vinegaroon, also known as “whiptail scorpions” because of the flexible telson at the end of the abdomen. That telson is about as long as a cat’s whisker and about as dangerous, and one theory holds that it’s used purely for display. The “whiptail scorpion” name comes from the two strong claws held to the front, and “vinegaroon” comes both from its ability to spray acetic acid as a defense when molested, and the strong vinegary smell when crushed. They’re active predators of smaller animals, but while scary-looking, they’re completely harmless to humans. I haven’t seen one since I was five years old, so this one was a long-missed delight.

Vinegaroon

It Came From The NARBC: Turtles 1

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

Pancake tortoises

The summer NARBC show didn’t have much in the way of turtles and tortoises other than the very common spur-thighed and red-footed tortoises (considering their size as adults, thankfully all of these were hatchlings), but a few dealers had some surprises. The biggest was this clutch of pancake tortoises (Malacochersus tornieri), which almost came home with me.

Albino red-eared sliders

While not as rare as they used to be, albinos of any type still gain recognition and notice at reptile shows. With this pair of amelanistic red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), who would have figured that their distinctive red ear spots are visible in albino forms as well?

Albino red-eared sliders

It Came From The NARBC: Caramel savannah monitors

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

Caramel savannah monitor

This little guy here is a surprise all on his own, because he’s a captive-born savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus). That’s a big deal in the reptile trade, because the vast majority of savannahs available as pets in the US are imported from Nigeria and Kenya. Even more so, he’s what’s called a “color morph,” raised specifically for a particular color or color pattern. Color morphs have been a standard in the snake trade for twenty years, but generally only leopard geckos and bearded dragons are raised for their various color morphs. I have no idea what color morphs are in the future for monitors, but I look forward to seeing what happens.

Caramel savannah monitor

It Came From The NARBC: Lizards 2

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

Frilled dragon

Blue-tailed monitor

Blue-tongued skink

It Came From The NARBC: Lizards 1

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

Unknown lizard

Stub geckos

Timor monitors

This last one was a particularly sentimental moment. This is a big female black-throat monitor (Varanus albigularis var.), a medium-sized monitor lizard native to southern Africa. The reason why this one melted me a bit is that V. albigularis is a close cousin to the savannah monitor, Varanus exanthematicus, and she was both the size and general temperament of my late savannah monitor Afsan. She would have been a handful at that size, but out of all of the animals I saw at the NARBC show, she was the one I would have tried to bring home.

Black-throat monitor

It Came From The NARBC: Snakes 2

Last weekend’s North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington may have been slightly smaller than the standard shows in February, but only just. With a specialty in captive-bred reptiles and amphibians, the NARBC isn’t just the biggest reptile show in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s the show you need to hit for exotic color morphs, cage ideas, and essential accessories. Oh, and it’s hard not to start impersonating Steve Irwin when viewing some of the stunning animals out here:

scaleless rat snake

Granite Burmese python

Blood python

Boa