The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 27, 2007

Fairgrounds crawling with critters during Northeast Ohio Reptile Expo

JEFFERSON - - Fred Bruckman, of Ligonier, Pa., first took an interest in reptiles as a small child.

Bruckman was allergic to most animals with fur, so his parents bought him a small turtle at a five and dime store for a pet. Now, Bruckman has taken his reptile interest to a higher level by breeding them.

Bruckman was one of many vendors with the same interest at the Northeast Ohio Reptile Expo, Saturday at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds. The showcase was organized by a group of reptile enthusiasts and is the first one of it's kind held in the area, said William Beard, coordinator.

The event drew a substantial crowd of about 500 people. Beard said the group plans on conducting the expo four times a year.

"Vendors come from all over the country and offer captive born reptiles and amphibians," he said. "We just don't do the show for vendors to sell, but we make it educational for people to learn about reptiles and amphibians."

The leopard gecko was just one of the reptiles featured at the expo. Native to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the leopard gecko are unique in several ways. Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos will tolerate being handled. Most geckos are very skittish do not tolerate handling, Bruckman said.

Leopard geckos are easily recognizable by their markings and their tails. The tails have large ridges in them and is used for storing fat and water.

Like most geckos, leopard geckos typically lose their tails as a defense mechanism. If a predator attacks it by the tail, the tail will break off and wiggle, distracting the predator so the gecko can escape, Bruckman said.

They typically grow to be about 7 to 9 inches in length and are quickly becoming one of the most popular starter lizards for beginning reptile enthusiasts, he said.

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