BILLINGS – The Big Sky Reptile Expo Series brought exotic snakes, lizards and scorpions to the Billings Hotel and Convention Center Saturday.
“It’s the unknown because they’re exotic,” Big Sky Reptile Expo Series Owner James Dvorak. “People wanting to see and hold something that is out of the ordinary. I think that’s what draws a lot of people in. I mean, they’re just cool looking.”
The expo has been going strong for seven years.
Reptiles available for purchase were put on display by 20 different pet vendors.
Kids could see and touch the creatures in an educational show put on by Dvorak, called James of the Jungle.
“A lot of people come just for that show,” Dvorak said. “It’s a fun, educational show for the kids that lasts about an hour. That’s our mainstay then they stay for all the other cool stuff.”
Some reptiles at the expo are pretty rare. Dvorak is the owner of a Caiman lizard named Groot, that he claims is the only one in Montana.
“To our knowledge, he is the only Caiman lizard in Montana. They’re very rare. They’re from South America. They have the body of a crocodile but they are in no way related to the crocodilian family. He’s probably our prized possession.”
Dvorak said all of the reptiles at the expo were raised in captivity.
“That’s a big deal for us to have captive-bred animals only. Pulling stuff out of the wild and trying to sell it is not good for the environment, and it’s not good for the economy. It might be good for the economy in another country where they are coming from. But we really focus on captive-bred animals here.
To learn more about the Big Sky Reptile Expo Series, visit their Facebook page.
Reporting by Mitch Lagge for MTN News