How to Judge Reptiles

Image by Chandan Chaurasia

Overall Health

The most important criteria for judging a pet reptile is that the animal is physically healthy. Clear, bright eyes, a smooth, clean snout with no abrasions or unusual roughness. No scars and other injuries such as missing toes or damage to the tail. Healthy skin with no flaky or partially unshed areas and is a healthy weight.


Ideally the reptile should look comfortable, alert and allow itself to be handled without showing signs of aggression (with the exception of venomous snakes). Reptiles that are relaxed and show curiosity towards their environments will be considered more favourably than reptiles that appear torpid (sluggish) or stressed.


Colouration and patterns are often the deciding factor when judging between two healthy animals. Stripes, bands and highlighting around the head and eyes can all increase the likelihood of a high mark. In snakes high contrast patterns and striking colourations are highly regarded, while white, yellow and orange highlights are popular for lizards such as bearded dragons.

The above judging criteria and comments have been provided for the purpose of education and do not represent the views, opinions or position of judges, officials or the RA&HS. Any resemblance to actual persons, competitors, or exhibits living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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