Due to restrictions and public health concerns related to novel coronavirus, all public-facing MHS events, including Hands-On educational programs, have been suspended until further notice.

Being a member allows you to represent the Society by displaying your amphibians and reptiles to the public in a positive manner. Through this type of education, we can bring a real ‘hands on’ experience in herpetology to the public and alleviate some of their misconceptions. After all, these are the people that we need to convince of the value of herps, herpetology, and herpetoculture.

Some of our educational events include the Renaissance Festival, local fairs, schools, nature centers, zoos, and other private or public functions. Before deciding to volunteer, please be sure to read the hands on policy.

  • MHS provides a public service by exposing the public to various reptiles and amphibians for the purpose of educating them about the natural history, the characteristics, and the biological value of reptiles and amphibians. This should be an enjoyable experience for the animal handler as well as the public. The following policy will ensure safety for the public, the handler, and the animal(s). For purposes of definition, a Hands-On Event is any event in which MHS members participate in the public eye with live animals that is sanctioned by the MHS Education Chair (otherwise known as Public Education Coordinator).

    1.0u00a0u00a0 General

    1.1 u00a0 The Public Education Coordinator will oversee Hands-On Events. The Public Education Coordinator reports to the MHS Board of Directors.

    1.2 u00a0 A copy of the current MHS insurance policy shall be at all Hands-On Events.

    1.3 u00a0 All events shall be supervised by the Public Education Coordinator or an experienced MHS member approved by the Public Education Coordinator and/or the MHS President.

    1.4 u00a0 A copy of this policy will be signed and dated by every participating MHS member for each year. Participants under 18 years of age will also have this policy signed by their parent or legal guardian.

    2.0u00a0u00a0 Participants of MHS Hands-On Events

    2.1 u00a0 All participants must be current members of MHS in good standing.

    2.2 u00a0 All participants will be in compliance with 1.4

    2.3u00a0u00a0 Participants 15 years of age and under will be under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.

    2.4 u00a0 Participants 16 to 18 years of age may participate as individuals under the direct supervision of designated adult MHS member and must have a written permission slip on file signed by a parent or guardian.

    3.0u00a0u00a0 Animal Handling and Personal contact at MHS Hands-On Events

    3.1 u00a0 No venomous animal will be used at a Hands-On Event. These include venomoid and de-fanged animal(s). Exceptions will be made only with approval of the Public Education Coordinator and the MHS President.

    3.2 u00a0 No sick or injured animals, animals in shed or animals with parasites should be brought to a Hands-On event. The event coordinator has the right to remove any animal that exhibits any of these traits. Animals under one year of age should not be in contact with the public.

    3.3u00a0u00a0 Any animal known to secrete toxic skin substances must be displayed such manner that the public does not come in contact with it.

    3.4u00a0u00a0 Public safety is of utmost importance. Animals used at events where public contact is involved must be under full control at all times. Animals exhibiting aggressive behavior shall not come in contact with the public.

    3.5u00a0u00a0 Participants will never allow the public to touch or come into contact with the head of a display animal(s).

    3.6u00a0u00a0 Participants will never allow the public to take control of a display animal.

    3.7 u00a0 Participants will always demonstrate safe handling practices when in public even if these practices do not necessarily apply to this particular animal(s). For example, handler shall not allow a snake to complete a full loop around the handleru2019s neck.

    3.8u00a0u00a0 All lizards capable of fast movement will be harnessed while in public so as to eliminate the possibility of escape into a crowd.

    3.9 u00a0 Participants will always handle animals with respect and dignity.

    3.10 u00a0 The public will be treated respectfully at all times.

    3.11 u00a0 Participants must recognize that some people are extremely afraid of reptiles and/or amphibians. At no time will a participant attempt to force their animal on a member of the public.

    3.12 u00a0 Animals will be on display only at the display site of the event. Participants are not to enter or leave the area without first concealing their animal(s). Preferred methods would be by bagging and/or boxing.

    3.13 u00a0 Display cages, if used, must be of sturdy design and capable of being securely locked if not attended.

    4.0 u00a0 Failure to Comply

    4.1u00a0u00a0 Failure to comply with MHS Hands-On policy may result in suspension of participation privileges at MHS Hands-On Events.

    4.2u00a0u00a0 Repeated violations of the policy may result in permanent loss of participation privileges at MHS Hands-On Events.

    4.3u00a0u00a0 Suspension for failure to comply with this policy will be enforced by the event supervisor of the Public Education Coordinator.

    4.4u00a0u00a0 Participation suspension may be appealed to the MHS Board of Directors.

    Adopted October 5, 1996
    Amended April 4, 1998
    Amended August 2, 2008

February 22, 2014 u2013 Twin Cities Pet Expo



HandsOn Event in Hastings



Other HandsOn Events



March 1 u2013 2, 2003 u2013 Twin Cities Pet Expo

Here are some pictures from the Twin Cities Pet Expo, March 1-2, 2003.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this event! Special thanks to Bill Moss for contributing these pictures to the website.



January 18, 2003 u2013 U of M Veterinary School Visit

On January the 18, 2003, eight members of MHS converged on the U of M Vet School to give a class of 25 students a brief synopsis on common pet trade amphibians and reptiles. Each MHS member displayed their animal and briefly covered its care and handling.

tudents asked questions during the lecture and were allowed to interact one on one with the MHS members and their herps in the informal session that followed. Both the class and teacher were impressed with the program and spent considerable time talking with the volunteers.

MHS was able to provide basic information on several species of amphibians and reptiles and provide an up-close and personal look at animals they may meet in their future practice. This is the second year of what is planned to be a continuing event.
Through events such as this, MHS will continue helping herpetoculture and veterinary medicine to cross paths encouraging more interest in a discipline that can only benefit both parties.