To instill an appreciation of herpetology in show participants while facilitating a greater understanding of reptile care and fostering empathy towards reptile conservation efforts through the use of educational displays, hands on interactions and reptile themed activities. With over 60 exhibitors, 200 species of reptiles and amphibians on display and hundreds of LIVE animals to interact with, ReptileFest offers a unique learning experience to novice reptile owners, seasoned herpetologists and animal lovers alike.
Once held at the University of Illinois Chicago campus and beginning in the mid 90s, ReptileFest has been around for over 20 years and has long been recognized as the largest educational reptile show in the United States. Created and put on by members the Chicago Herpetological Society, a registered 501(c)(3) and one of the largest herpetological societies in the nation, ReptileFest’s mission has always been to better educate people about reptiles and amphibians through live animal encounters and educational displays. And while other reptile shows are held each year in Chicago, ReptileFest distinguishes itself by being a strictly educational show, something that has been true since the first year the fest took place.
Many Chicagoland residents may remember walking into the gymnasium at UIC and seeing pools full of alligators, huge tortoises roaming the room and giant snakes adorning the tables alongside with the smiling faces of our many members and volunteers. 20 years later and many of the same animal ambassadors and volunteers are still joining us each year! And while we have added many new exhibitors and animals over the years, the endless fun and unique experiences ReptileFest offers participants has not changed.
Now in it’s 25th year, ReptileFest has more exhibitors and partners than ever, from local hobbyists and reptile breeders to conservation groups, museums and AZA accredited zoos. In 2015, ReptileFest experienced a venue change and is now being held at the spacious Physical Education Complex at Northeastern Illinois University instead of UIC’s gymnasium. Our new venue is highly accessible and in 2018, ReptileFest experienced it’s second largest show ever! With over 7,000 participants, 70 exhibitors and 180 species of herps on display in 2018, ReptileFest is more popular than ever. We are hoping the 2019 show is our best one yet!
Over its 25 year history, ReptileFest has not only welcomed over a hundred thousand people through it’s doors, but it has donated over $200,000 to reptile and amphibian research and conservation through the Chicago Herpetological Society’s grants program. Revenue generated from ticket sales and donations contributes to the conservation and study of imperiled herptofauna locally and internationally as well as research efforts occurring around the globe.
We thank you for your interest in ReptileFest. With the help of you, our volunteers, exhibitors, members and participants, The Chicago Herpeteological Society can continue to support reptile conservation efforts and continue to hold this wonderful show for years to come.
Did you know? ReptileFest not only features over 200 species of reptiles from around the globe, it also features the largest display of Illinois reptiles in the state! The state of Illinois has 103 native reptiles and amphibians. 17 species of turtles, 46 species of snakes, 19 species of salamanders/newts, and 21 species of frogs/toads.
In 1973, the Department of Conservation established an endangered and threatened species protection program because of the heavy industrial and sewage pollution, offering more protection to plants and animals of all kinds. While people think of Chicago as an urban metropolis, Illinois is home to many unique and fragile environments, home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. To learn more about the native reptiles and amphibians please visit our Herps of Illinois Page
*NO LIVE ANIMAL SALES OR ANIMAL TRADING OCCUR AT THIS EVENT*