Reptile Lovers Gather At White Plains Expo

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A.J. Gutman shows a customer a Uromastyx, a genus of lizard better-known as "spiny-tailed lizards," Sunday at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Photo Credit: Chaya Babu

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The New England Reptile Expo visited the Westchester County Center on Sunday, giving enthusiasts as well as first-time buyers a chance to check out different animals, purchase new equipment or just learn more about reptiles.

Maria Gearhart was with her son Ryan, 8, who was taking home a crested gecko. "We had some smaller lizards that we didn't have much luck with, so we did some research and decided to get one of these," she said.

Gearhart said she and her family came to the expo because of the breeders and other experts on reptiles.

"From what we've read, it's much better to purchase a reptile from a location like this versus a local pet store," she said. "They don't seem to take care of the animals quite as well there, and their staff is not as knowledgeable. And there are also vets who specialize in small animals here, which are hard to come by."

Ryan said, "You can buy reptiles, you can see reptiles, you can get new stuff for them, and there's food."

Vendors such as Gold Coast Geckos, Jungle Jewels Reptiles and Leapin Leachines were all selling animals. There was also the Reptile Deli Inc., which sells reptile food, including frozen rats and mice.

A.J. Gutman, from the Connecticut Iguana Sanctuary, was there to take in iguanas that owners may be giving up.

"I rescue iguanas," she said. "People can bring their iguanas to me here, and if they're in reasonable shape, I can adopt them to new homes. A lot of people give up iguanas for a huge variety of reasons. They're much more difficult to care for than people think."

Gutman said interest in reptiles as pets has been increasing. Most of the vendors spent much of the day educating customers and providing information on how to care for the animals.

Alex Finateri was there just to check out the animals. "I really like reptiles, and I have a few at home. It's cool to see all the different kinds of snakes."

He has a snake at home and was holding a tarantula that he had just purchased in a small plastic container.

"I've just been into animals since I was a kid," Finateri said. "This is always cool to come to."

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