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Whether you’re looking to conquer a fear, get a new pet or simply learn something new, Repticon promises to cater to your every need.

Repticon is a nationwide reptile and exotic animal expo that features breeders, vendors and educators. The show features a wide variety of creatures including snakes, lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, rodents and almost anything else that can slither or crawl. Repticon Baton Rouge took place on Jan. 26 and 27 at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.

The event is family-oriented with seminars every hour to teach guests about animals not usually available in pet stores. These seminars vary in subject from lessons on a specific creature to tutorials on how to build the perfect home for your new or old pets.

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Breeder vendors are available to teach you about their animals, how to care for them and which one might be the perfect pet for you. Vendors are always ready to introduce you to the world of reptiles, no matter how apprehensive you may be. Many vendors will allow live interactions with their animals.

Erica Matherne is a former veterinary technician who used to work for Audubon Zoo. When she became disabled, she turned to her pets as a new hobby and soon began breeding crested geckos. Soon, her hobby expanded to include corn snakes and king snakes.

As her hobby grew, she partnered with her brother who has a business degree and created Crested Moon Reptiles. They use their business to teach kids about snakes native to Louisiana and what may be slithering in their backyards. They go to schools to teach and they also host parties. Matherne wishes to share with guests how amazing these animals can be as pets.

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“Come to the shows,” Matherne said. “Come talk to the people that actually care for the animals every day. We’ll let you hold them, we’ll talk to you, we’ll educate you, we’ll answer any questions that you may have. Be open, because while you may not think you’ll ever touch a snake or a chameleon or a bearded dragon, we’ll change your mind.”

Repticon is open to a diverse range of reptile lovers and enthusiasts from people who are just a little curious to reptile experts and connoisseurs. Repticon Baton Rouge even allows patrons to bring their own snakes, lizards and other creatures to join in on the fun.

Ebony Bethly and her red-tailed boa constrictor, Onyx, says that reptile conventions like

Repticon are great for those looking to one day purchase a reptile of their own. Bethly says it’s a great opportunity to be around these kinds of animals and get to know them a little bit better.

“At first I used to be deathly afraid of snakes but after doing my research and everything and then finally holding one, I was like, ‘They’re not bad at all,’” Bethly said. “You have to be one-on-one with it so you can know if it’s really something you don’t like.”

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For Bethly, a massive boa constrictor makes the perfect companion.

“She’s really easy to maintain. You don’t have to feed her everyday like a dog, you don’t have to take her outside,” Bethly said. “She likes people so I can pretty much take her anywhere.”

In addition to live interactions and informational seminars, Repticon also sells accessories for reptile owners including cages, accessories and live or frozen feed. There are also a free-entry raffles held throughout the day for guests to win prizes.

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There are three more chances this year to catch Repticon Baton Rouge at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center on April 13 and 14, July 6 and 7 and Dec. 14 and 15.

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