published Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Snakes alives: Repticon hosts reptiles, smiles at Camp Jordan Arena

Carsyn Gautreaux, 2, peers at snakes while munching on popcorn.
Carsyn Gautreaux, 2, peers at snakes while munching on popcorn.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

IF YOU GO

What: Repticon reptile and exotic animal show

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today

Where: Camp Jordan Arena

Admission: $10 adult, $5 children ages 5-12, free for 4 and under

From the tiniest of deadly spiders to the world's largest captive reticulated python, hundreds of reptiles and rare creatures inhabited the Camp Jordan Arena on Saturday.

Don't be alarmed. They remained in their cages -- for the most part.

The animals, in town for Repticon -- a traveling show with vendors and displays -- attracted an equally diverse array of people, many of whom were brave enough to pet the animals. Repticon continues today.

Some, like 14-year-old Tyler Stanridge, even brought their own reptiles to show off. Tyler navigated the arena floor with his pet Burmese python draped around his neck.

He is an aspiring herpetologist who became interested in reptiles by watching Steve Irwin, the late "Crocodile Hunter" of television.

"This is kind of amazing," said Tyler, a freshman at Ivy Academy. "I've been saving my money for a while from as soon as I heard about this."

An example of the type of snake Tyler hopes to acquire next was on the premises, causing jaws to drop and flashbulbs to pop.

Princess, an 11-year-old reticulated python weighing more than 200 pounds and stretching longer than 20 feet, curled quietly in her customized glass cage, digesting a pair of geese she'd devoured last week.

She belongs to Patrick Robinson of the Tic Tac Farm in Morrison, Tenn., where she landed after being rescued from a negligent home. Her owners say she is the largest snake of her breed in captivity.

But living in captivity does not mean Princess isn't treated like royalty.

Her cage is custom built, and she's been booked for events like weddings.

At times, the python's handlers opened a panel and allowed visitors to pet her.

Six-year-old Joseph McGee is a blooming reptile fan. His grandfather helped cultivate his interest in the outdoors by teaching him which snakes are venomous and which are not.

But he had never seen anything quite like Princess.

"She's bigger than I thought she might be," McGee said. "I'm glad she's in the cage."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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