Madison Area Herpetological Society

Reptile Show and Event Suggested Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Reptile Show and Event Suggested Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Reptile shows and many other public and private educational events, seminars, and outreach serve as a public forum for the entire reptile and amphibian (as well as pet owning) community/industry. Many people, who may have previously been afraid of or disliked reptiles, are introduced to these animals and our hobby at these events or otherwise would have had limited opportunities elsewhere in being able to do so. The number of different shows and events and the attendance they attract continues to grow and become stronger every year. This document will be a listing of suggested best management practices/protocols (BMPs) for reptile shows and events. The purpose of these BMPs is the promote and ensure the humane care, treatment, presentation, and welfare of animals at all times during shows and events, to promote legal and responsible pet ownership, and to help strengthen our voice and level of legitimacy as a responsible community and industry. -Vendors must comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

-All vendors have the right to refuse sales or service to anyone for any valid reason.

-All animals sold must be accompanied by a care sheet and/or additional information and resources whenever possible by the vendor. Care sheets should include, but not be limited to the specie’s proper caging, housing, or enclosure requirements, maximum adult size and length, expected lifespan/longevity, proper feeding and diet, temperature, lighting, and humidity requirements, as well as other aspects.

-All transactions must be accompanied by a receipt of purchase, business card, and vendor’s contact information. A copy of the vendor’s return and refund policies should also be provided or made available.

-Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult or legal parent/guardian at the time of sale or transaction of any animal.

-Only captive born or captive bred and born animals are to be allowed for sale. Any animal that is found to be wild-caught, imported, or otherwise questionable should be removed from sale or display.

-All vendors must use their best discretion in regards to the sale or transaction of any animal.

-Animals should be thoroughly inspected before any show or event opens to the public. Any animal that is, or otherwise appears to be sick, injured/has visible wounds, has mites, ticks, or other external parasites, is an unlawful species, or is otherwise questionable should be removed or removed from display immediately.

-All animals should be displayed in appropriate containers, deli cups, or other enclosures and be able to fully turn around or make a 360 degree movements, as well as be properly ventilated and secure to prevent escape or unauthorized access/theft.

-Multiple animals housed in the same enclosure should be of the same species, and be provided appropriate or proportionally larger enclosures for each animal.

-Live rodent/mammal feeding during show/event hours is not permitted.

-Any live feeder insects, if allowed by the venue, must also be properly enclosed or contained at all times to prevent excess escape into the venue.

-Receipts may be checked at the door for proof of purchase/ownership of any purchase made at or during the show.

-No firearms or other weapons are to be allowed in the showroom area except for security and law enforcement personnel. No smoking is allowed inside the venue. All vendors, exhibitors, visitors, and guests must abide by all other rules and regulations normally set forth by the venue.

-Any live rodents or other mammals (if allowed by the venue) should appear healthy, active, alert, and be kept clean and sanitized.

-Frozen thawed rodents or other feeders offered for sale should be clean and free of excess urine, feces, and/or blood at the discretion of the show/event promotors.

-Carry in animals, walk in sales, or personal/outside pets are not permitted during shows with sales. Only pre-registered or approved vendors are to bring animals, products, or services. No animals are to arrive during open show hours. Any registered service animals are allowed, as required by law.

-To help reduce the overpopulation of some species that tend to flood herpetological societies and rescues and are difficult to house and rehome, sales of red eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), green iguanas (Iguana iguana), and African Spurred Tortoises/Sulcatas (Geochelone sulcata) are not allowed unless they are morphs of one of these species (i.e. albinos, pastels, “blue” iguanas, etc.), or otherwise are greater than $75 in value as babies/hatchlings.

– All indigenous species of reptiles and amphibians are subject to all applicable permits/licenses, and other state and federal laws pertaining to their sale and display/exhibition. All state and/or federally threated, endangered, or otherwise protected species are not allowed for sale or display without the proper compliance. A listing of indigenous species and applicable laws and regulations can be reviewed here:

-The above is also applicable to any skins, sheds, shells, eggs, skulls/bones/articulated skeletons, organs, or any other parts thereof.

-All animals housed and displayed during the event should be kept within their preferred optimal temperature zones regarding heating, lighting, and humidity.

-Hand sanitizer and access to nearby washroom facilities should be provided by each vendor and be available at the venue as well as near the entrance to the show/event. To prevent zoonotic disease, any person touching, handling, or otherwise coming into contact with any animal should be encouraged to properly sanitize their hands before and after contact.

-Vendor/exhibitor is responsible for using their best discretion at all times regarding each of their animals for any purpose.

-Any animal removed from its primary display container or enclosure for any reason must be handled appropriately at all times and be kept under proper control and supervision of the exhibitor/vendor at all times. Vendor/exhibitor assumes all responsibility and liability for any bites or other accidents. Animals are not to be allowed to roam or otherwise block or impede areas of foot traffic. Any viewing or touching areas on the floor must be visibly sanctioned off and approved by show/event promoters.

-All animals are to be displayed in clean and sanitary enclosures or conditions. Any animal that defecates, regurgitates, sheds, or otherwise soils its enclosure during the show/event must be cleaned and/or removed from display be the exhibitor as quickly as possible. Water in any enclosure or container (aquatic or otherwise) should also be kept clean, clear, and sanitary.

-There should be no chronic or prolonged, objectionable smells or odors associated with negligence or a lack of care of any animal, enclosure/container, or vendor/exhibit.

-All enclosures and containers used by vendors and exhibitors to transport any animals to, from or between any show/event must also be secure, escape proof, and be adequately ventilated and animals housed/stored/packaged properly and humanely.

-Certain rules and regulations may be waived for the duration of the show/event. Any sales or transactions conducted in parking lots, or other areas outside of or near the primary event venue are not the responsibility of the show/event promoters and are fully subject to all applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

-Turtles and tortoises under 4” are subject to all applicable state and federal regulations, and are to be sold for legitimate educational, scientific, or other bona fide purposes only.

-Tables and displays are to be kept as neat, clean, and organized/orderly as possible to present the most professional image possible.

-Any other animals other than reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates or feeder species are only to be allowed at the venue’s and event promoter’s discretion/preferences and must also be in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

-All show and event vendors, staff, and volunteers are required to wear name badges at all times and must also maintain a professional demeanor and appearance at all times. Additional vendor badges can be purchased at the front admission entrance at additional charge if needed. Badge sharing or swapping is not allowed.

-Table or booth sharing is allowed at the consent/discretion of each vendor/exhibitor involved and the show/event promoter.

-All crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caiman) and large constrictor species (Burmese/Indian pythons, reticulated pythons, green anacondas, yellow anacondas, African rock pythons, or other species) are only to be allowed at the discretion of each individual exhibitor, venue, show promoter, and/or any applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

-All out of state vendors and exhibitors of any animals must possess current certification of veterinary inspection as deemed or necessary or applicable by each state. Show promotors can be consulted and will assist with any questions or concerns.

-Any escaped, lost, or loose animals found at any time during or after the show or event and unclaimed will be subject to disposal, sale, or rehoming at the discretion of show promoters, the venue, and/or appropriate local/state authorities.

-Vendor/exhibitor setup and take down must be conducted only during designated times.

-Designated loading, unloading, and parking areas for vendors and guests may also be set forth by the venue and/or show promoters before, during, and after the show/event.

-For multi-day shows and events, professional security should be provided for off show hours. There is no admittance to the venue for any reason during off show hours.

-All tables, booths, and displays will be subject to inspection by the show promoters before, during, and/or after the show.

-Vendor/exhibitor cancellation must be made within the designated time frame set by the event promoter and may be non-refundable if not adhered to or for no showing.

-Additional hotel and lodging restrictions (particularly if adjoining to the event venue) may be applicable to any live animals or pets kept overnight or otherwise on the premises for any reason or length of time. Vendors, exhibitors, and guests are encouraged to check with their lodging’s policies or requirements, and be as discreet as possible without disturbing guests/others if any animals must be kept in hotel rooms or suites.

-Event promoters reserve the right to remove any vendor or exhibitor or refuse entry from the show/event for any reason.

-No items of storage, props, furnishings, or other parts/components thereof should block, impede, or obstruct entry/exit ways, other booths (if being used), or areas of foot and/or vehicle traffic. All show items/materials should be stored neatly underneath/behind each booth/table.

-Perhaps most importantly, to have a fun and enjoyable time/experience during the event.

Venomous Reptiles/Medically Significant Animals


-Venomous reptiles are only to be allowed at the discretion of each individual exhibitor, venue, show promoter, and/or any applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances. No further requirements below are applicable if venomous animals are not to be allowed.

-Vendors must comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws and ordinances.

-All vendors have the right to refuse sales or service to anyone for any valid reason.

-This section also pertains to all potentially dangerous or medically significant rear fanged species, as well as any medically significant insects, arachnids, or other invertebrates, amphibians, or any other medically significant species as determined by the show/event promoter or exhibitor.

-This section also applies to any venomoid, de-fanged, or otherwise de-venomized or surgically altered specimens displayed or sold at the show for any reason.

-All approved vendors with venomous reptiles must sign a liability waiver upon check in and require all customers and buyers to do so as well.

-Venomous “escorts” designated and approved at the event promoter’s best discretion are to accompany all vendor to customer sales, transactions, setup, and take down to and from the show.

-Venomous animals must be bought into the same containers, enclosures or displays they are to be displayed and/or sold in. Removal or transfer between enclosures/containers of any venomous animals during setup, take down, or show hours is not allowed.

-Red tape is to be used to properly seal ALL containers or enclosures containing a venomous animal. -No more than one venomous animal should be sold, housed or displayed per container or enclosure unless for Display only.

-All containers or enclosures housing venomous reptiles must either be contained in a rigid secondary display case or have adequate barriers preventing the unauthorized handling of any containers or enclosures.

-All venomous animals should be properly and correctly labeled and identified with the species’ common and scientific name, quantity, sex, and other relevant information.

-Any table or display with venomous animals must be attended by the vendor or exhibitor at all times. A venomous escort must supervise a table or display if the primary vendor or exhibitor must leave the table for any reason.

-Venomous animal sales or transactions to minors under 18 are not allowed. Vendor or exhibitor is required to check and verify the ID and proof of residency and legal ownership for all customers.

-The show/event promoter, as well as each vendor and exhibitor must have on hand appropriate bite protocols, anti-venom required and accessible location, and emergency first responder contact information for each species sold, displayed or maintained at the event in the case of any bite or accident.

-Venomous animals that are sold must either remain at the vendor’s table until the customer is ready to leave the show, and/or be accompanied by an escort at all times.

Additional event and show guidelines for venomous and non-venomous animals alike are also available at the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK):