Recently we received an inquiry about whether visitors to WNYHS meetings should be allowed to bring their own animals with them, or if only the meeting speaker/presenter should be able to bring reptiles or amphibians.
Specifically, the concerns mentioned related to cold and inclement weather, which can be harmful to ectotherms, and the possibility of transmission of communicable illnesses or parasites from one animal to another. This was such an excellent question, we decided to answer it in a post available for all to read.
In general, WNYHS meeting attendees are welcome to bring their herps or invertebrates, with the following conditions: If you plan to bring your pets, please be sure that they are in good health, parasite free, and in compliance with applicable local, NYS and Federal laws. You must transport them in a safe and suitable container, carrier or snake bag, and have control of them at all times.
Beyond these basic guidelines, the Herp Society appreciates the concerns expressed about possible health issues that could be associated with bringing herps out to meetings, and takes suitable precautions to prevent problems from arising.
In regard to weather conditions, we rely on the good judgement of herp owners to decide for themselves if it’s safe to bring their animals to a meeting. Many of us occasionally need to take a reptile or amphibian out in poor weather, such as making a trip to the vet, or purchasing and bringing home a new animal, so the keeper would be best placed to determine if their herp can tolerate any such outing.
To help avoid the potential spread of communicable illnesses, we provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, so visitors can sanitize their hands in between handling different animals. This also provides a good teachable experience for newer herp keepers, who might not yet have learned this important aspect of everyday husbandry.
Visitors who bring an animal always have the option to leave it in its carrier, or, if they choose to take it out, they can request that other people not handle it. We have found herp keepers to be very respectful of each other’s animals in this regard.
Over the last 20 years of WNYHS meetings, one of the things attendees have consistently enjoyed the most is having a chance to “show off” their favorite herps or invertebrates, and discuss them with fellow herp enthusiasts. We believe it’s important to provide this unique opportunity to members and visitors who would like to participate in this way, while also following safe husbandry practices.
There is never an expectation or obligation for anyone to bring a reptile or amphibian with them to a meeting, of course. The goal is for all – experienced keepers and new hobbyists alike – to to able to learn and ask questions, share their herping experiences, and socialize with herp friends, new and old. Everyone is welcome to attend WNYHS meetings, regardless of whether they choose to bring their own animal with them.
To find out more about the WNYHS or its monthly meetings, you can visit our website at www.wnyherpsociety.org. We hope that we will see you at a WNYHS meeting soon!