Tipping the Scales

Exotic-pet show encourages a change of heart .

Exotic-pet show encourages a change of heart .

ReptiDay Asheville is an opportunity to get acquainted with ancient-looking turtles, dragon-like lizards, big furry tarantulas, stupendous snakes, and to climb out of your nightmares — or at least your misconceptions.

“We try and educate away the fear,” says Steve Beamer of Reptile Collective, a leading seller of reptiles and a major corporate sponsor for ReptiDay Asheville. “Even if you don’t plan on walking out with one, you should come check them out,” says Beamer. “If nothing else, it may allay some of your fears.”

Naturally, plenty of established reptile fans make the scene. But for those still holding on to passé phobias, he notes that these are beautiful, often-maligned creatures.
“Reptiles, much like tropical fish, come in so many colors and varieties.” In fact, he says, “they are living, breathing works of art.”

That definitely hits the right nerve in WNC, where you can’t swing a lizard without hitting a gallery. But Beamer admits that professionals in his line of work do have to deal with many trepidations and false assumptions. “People who have never interacted with reptiles may be amazed to see the bonds between the keeper and the kept,” he says.

He believes that any child who shows an interest in taking one home should be encouraged to do so, because they make great pets that are super low-maintenance.

“What other pet can you leave for a week’s vacation with just some water and one feed before you leave?” he asks rhetorically. “If your child forgets to water their hamster, it dies. If they forget to water their snake, it was designed to retain and conserve moisture and will be fine for a day or 10 without water.

“If they forget to feed the cat for a week, it’s animal cruelty. If you feed a ball python once weekly, you are a phenomenal pet parent.”

Beamer knows all about reptile parenting. Once, an adorable newborn Kenyan sand boa — a “miniature species” that only grows to about the length of a yardstick — accidentally got loose in his house. “I also have cats, one of whom corralled the tiny escapee under a table leg in my living room, at three in the morning. The cat kept scratching at the floor and meowing until my wife had no choice but to get up and check.” Beamer says that soon he was awakened, too, because “my wife began to make her own noises.”

ReptiDay happens August 22 at the WNC Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher. 10am-5pm. 828-687-1414

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