Snakes, rodents on hand for show

June 28, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

Hundreds of snakes, rodents and crickets made their way into the first floor of the Plaza Hotel in Halfway Sunday.

There was no panic, however, because they were all part of the first Hagerstown Reptile Show & Sale held there.

Many customers who turned out for the reptile show and sale said such events are rare in Maryland.

Baltimore resident Kevin Loeb, a Lehigh University (Pa.) student, said that is why he made the 90-minute trip to Hagerstown with two of his roommates.

Loeb said he has enjoyed getting more involved in the "lifestyle" of owning various reptiles and has become more of a collector in the past year. Loeb, who was eyeing up a two-foot python, among other critters, said he particular enjoys designing the animals' cages/tanks.


"I have a desert environment for my gecko, and I'm working on a new tropical one now," Loeb said. "Some people think it's weird, but I don't care. I just love the animals."

Sunday's Hagerstown Reptile Show & Sale was the first of three events scheduled for 2004 at the Plaza Hotel. Future reptile events will be held on Aug. 15 and Oct. 24.

At Sunday's event, more than 35 vendors brought various mainstream and rare reptiles, cages, decorative items and rodents, which are known to the reptiles simply as food, several vendors said.

Event organizer Herb Ellerbrock said he decided to organize it because there are few similar events in Hagerstown and Frederick, Md., although most in attendance Sunday were not from the Tri-State area.

Ellerbrock said the first time a reptile show and sale is held in an area, it is usually designed more for generating future interest in the events than for drawing large crowds.

"Word of mouth is better than anything you can get out there for the reptile people," Ellerbrock said.

Although vendors described attendance as sparse, especially by mid-afternoon, there were still some customers trying to get in some last-minute purchases at 3 p.m., when the show was scheduled to end.

Brian Hodge, of Germantown, Md., was the last sale of the day as he picked up a black tree monitor.

Hodge said he has been collecting reptiles for about a decade and enjoys finding something new at nearly every show and at prices much lower than in pet stores.

"This is the kind of stuff you wouldn't normally find in a pet store," said Hodge. "I always wanted one of these, so when the offer was good, I just decided to get it."

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