Last Sunday my family warmly welcomed Hades into our home. No, not the ancient mythological god of the underworld, but an adorable baby bearded dragon by that name! Hades currently resides in my younger brother’s room. Also residing in that room, unfortunately, is a box full of obnoxious crickets. Every day, Hades feasts on crickets, ignoring the veggies in his food dish. The crickets are dusted with calcium powder to add nutritional value, but other than this they are the equivalent of beardie French fries. Hopefully when Hades is a little older he can branch out to some healthier foods – but don’t worry, you won’t be seeing any recipes for mealworm salad on this blog!
I mentioned in a previous post that we were getting a bearded dragon soon. The day finally arrived this past weekend, when my family went on a little excursion to ReptiCon. This is a convention my reptile-enthusiast brother has been looking forward to for months, at which reptile lovers and vendors are brought together. Though I have never been super interested in reptiles, I tagged along just because. My mom, aunt, brother and I piled into the car, leaving my dad behind to shiver in fear at the thought of scary snakes and slimy lizards.
The sun was shining and there was an aura of hope in the air as we cruised along highway, excitement building in the quiet morning air.
The moment we walked into ReptiCon, my brother made a beeline for the first vendor he saw. By the time I caught up with him and my mom, he was holding a tiny lizard in the palm of his hand. The next thing I knew, there my mom was handing over the money and the lizard was deposited into a plastic carrying container, which my brother clutched with trembling hands. I insisted on holding the container. You know, for safety’s sake. Wouldn’t want an over-excited child dropping the animal on the ground, now would we?
Even though we’d accomplished our main mission, we hung out at ReptiCon for another hour or so to check out all the other vendors there. For the first time, a fascination with reptiles was sparked in me. I loaded my camera with a ton of photos, but I’ll just show you the main highlights of out expedition.
This handsome guy is an adult beardie, so I got an idea of what Hades will look like in a year or so:
My aunt and I stood in rapture for several minutes watching the baby pacman frogs hopping around, giving each other piggyback rides and trying to escape their enclosure. If it were up to me, we would have brought home a few of these little comedians as well:
These snakes meditated serenely in their enclosures, probably planning their deadly strike at the next juicy mouse that came their way:
Of the snakes we saw, my favorite were the brightly colored green tree pythons, partly because they reminded me of Verdi, a book I read as a young child:
There must have been a billion different types of geckos, including the African Fat Tail (I was mostly charmed by the name):
There was this one vendor selling millipedes, and they seemed pretty intent on getting out and wreaking havoc:
Yeah…bugs really aren’t my thing. But to each his own, I guess. There seemed to be a market at ReptiCon for all kinds of creepy-crawlies. I saw scorpions, too, and several vendors with a wide array of tarantulas.
At one point, my aunt and I – both of whom are at least a little arachnophobic – came upon a free-roaming tarantula that was not safely ensconced in a plastic container. Fear and fascination battled amongst themselves as we both came closer, hypnotized by the creature.
We met a couple nice little boys who knew a lot about tarantulas – one of them owned several himself. The boys and the vendor at that booth assured us that this was a very tame, very socialized tarantula, and that she’d been held by thousands of people. Eventually, my aunt and then myself were each coaxed into holding this tarantula with our bare hands. Though it was a little scary, I found the experience awesome, and boast-worthy later. Moral of the story: do whatever an arachnid-obsessed child tells you to do, you’ll be thankful later that you did.
My dad thought I was crazy when he found out I’d held the spider, until I told him how one of the little boys had allowed the thing to climb onto his head. And I didn’t even tell him how close the creature came to running right into my aunt’s mouth before she ordered the boys to extract it from her shoulder. The moral of that story is quite clear: boys, take note that the ladies do not appreciate the taste of spider hair.
Apparently, however, they will wear jewelry inspired by all sorts of creepy-crawlies:
At long last, we proceeded home. We installed Hades in his new enclosure, where he set to work basking under his heat lamp and snagging the crickets we fed him. At first he was a little nervous to move freely about the enclosure, and would only attack a cricket if it practically walked right in front of his mouth. But after a couple days, he was much more lively, actively pursuing his cricket prey.
After he has acclimlated to his environment for one week, we will be able to handle him more often. I can’t wait to hold the cute little guy in my hands! Our cat Artemis would like some sisterly bonding time with him as well, preferably without a human in the room. However, that will have to wait until Hades is older. It is nice to see her taking an interest in her new sibling. But for now, Artemis will have to be content to stare into the enclosure under close supervision.
As for ReptiCon, it was truly a great experience, and I totally recommend it to anyone who is thinking about bringing a reptile into their home. Most of the vendors were friendly and they all answered our questions. It was inspiring to see a couple of reptile rescue places that adopt out abandoned animals. This whole event got me thinking about the cold-blooded inhabitants of our earth, and how they like a nice warm home just like us humans. I never thought a reptile could find a space in my heart, but Hades seems to have changed that for good. And if he ever needs a cold-blooded friend to keep him company, I know where to go for a wide selection of companions.
Pacman frogs, I didn’t forget you. We’ll reunite…someday…
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