“They’re gonna give daddy the Rainman suite, you dig that?” That line rolled through my mind as we sped across the desert heading to the Las Vegas Reptile Expo this past weekend. I think at least once I did the whole “Vegas baby! Vegas!” We arrived somewhere around 2 AM and pulled into the parking lot of what we thought was the hotel that our Multi-Media Manager had talked to previously. We were both tired as ever as we had both done our regular eight hours at school and or work. We quickly discovered that the “Rainman suite” was…out of our league.
After another exhaustive two hour search we finally pulled into the Motel 6 and no, Tom Bodett did not leave the light on for us. We checked into a room with no internet access and discovered that we had a roommate as well. We immediately named him Pepe and allowed him to stay in the bathroom. He wasn’t looking so well after all. We suspect that he was the victim of alcohol but we will never know for sure as when we returned from the show later on Saturday Pepe had left the room. We suspected kidnapping but have no grounds to prove anything. By the way did we mention Pepe was a roach?
The show was a hit as it was last year when we went. There were many people we were looking forward to seeing such as Ryan Jarosek of Jarosek Park Reptiles, Mark Romansky of the Southern Nevada Herpetological Society, and Tyler Stewart of Tortoise Supply. We took time to peruse all the vendors who were grinning from ear to ear as the crowd that showed up was lined up all the way out the door! From what we saw there were folks buying all sort of new pets and equipment from the show.
We were given an exclusive opportunity to talk with Ryan Jarosek about his new Pictus Gecko project which will air soon on the Reptile Living Room. As well as talking with Broncers Herpetologic’s Dustin Spencer on what makes a good Crested Gecko which will also air on Reptile Living Room later this week. Another interview we got which is one I have personally been trying to get was with none other than Ken Foose who is a regular contributor to Reptiles Magazine writing the Herpers’ Most Wanted Column as well as being the owner of Exotic Pets in Las Vegas and the Vice President of the International Herpetological Symposium. Not to mention he holds a degree in Zoology as well. Ken was very open and candid in his interview.
The biggest part of the trip for a few us was the field herping adventure we had after the show on Saturday. Now some of you may question the term ‘adventure’ I assure you, you will see below why this was such an adventure. So we started out after connecting up with Dustin of Broncers Herpetological and lo and behold we found out that Ciara Utech one of the writers here was with them. We had planned on getting together to go field herping but schedules etc seemed to not work out. Also on this venture were Dahlton of Tarantulas R’ Us and Mark Romansky of the Southern Nevada Herpetological Society.
We all climbed into the van and away we went. The particular spot where we were going was said to be hot spot and a closely guarded secret. So much so we spent the better part of an hour or so trying to find the damn place. Somewhere along the line there was mention of ethereal banjo music in the distance and something about alien abductions and other such maladies which might befall us given the distance we were outside of civilization.
The trip kicked off with our first herp being Blackheaded Snake Tantilla sp. which Mark Romansky gladly threw himself in front of to protect his fellow herpers from potential envenomation. This was of course after he finally released himself from the evil clutches of the seatbelt while informing us all that ‘Safety doesn’t take a holiday’. To put this into perspective, we were only going about 7 mph. After that we discovered that those small white lines we had seen while we drove up the road were in fact probably Desert Banded Geckos Coleonyx sp. which we ignored as we thought for sure they were just debris on the road.
The best herp prank ever played though came about halfway through our adventure and will live in my mind for many years. Herpers are naturally a funny group whether that be comedic or just weird is a matter of personal opinion. But I digress. At some point in the drive I leaned forward to Dustin and told him he should at some point slam on the brakes and yell out Komodo dragon and then Mark, myself,Austin, and Dustin could laugh as the other two herpers spilled out of the van and ran around searching for the animal in the Nevada desert.
Dustin being extremely fun loving himself agreed. He changed it a little bit but it was nonetheless one of the best pranks ever. He indeed slammed on the brakes and yelled out ‘Savanna Monitor’ and we all played along for effect and it worked like a dream. For those who don’t know Savanna Monitors are native to Africa and notNevadaso having two people jump out of the van and begin searching for the lizard was needless to say hilarious. Dahlton and Ciara were both great sports and were not upset by the prank and we all had many laughs and I think we made some truly awesome memories that night.
So if you can I would highly encourage you to attend the next Las Vegas Reptile Expo and see the incredible animals that are available there as well as make some new friends which will no doubt be long time friends. I would like to thank Ciara Utech, Mark Romansky, Dahlton, and Dustin for an incredible time. Thanks also to Tyler Stewart and Joe for putting together an awesome show!