Our educational shows focus on conservation. Make mention of reptiles being raised in captivity, and the negative impact on taking animals from the wild. Also mention the hazards of letting a captive pet go in the wild, where they are not native to the area.
Kids always wonder if the animal bites, or is venomous. We let them know that all animals have the potential to bite, but that these were raised in captivity and are used to people, so they are less likely to bite. We keep posters of venomous snake bites to show why we chose not to keep those.
Dont forget to mention the appeal of reptiles as pets - most are caged, they do not have hair or feathers to be allergic to, and most snakes can be left with a big bowl of clean water when on vacation. They do not need to be taken for walks, and most landlords will allow tenants to keep an aquarium - some do not care to know what it is you KEEP in the aquarium.
When allowed, set out some rules for touching. Make sure they approach one at a time, and no touching onth head or face. At times, Ryan will have the kids touch the face of the person sitting next to them, to see how much THEY like it. They usually get it right away. Let them know that with all pets, they should wash their hands after touching or holding. It is not necessary to throw the salmonella issue out there, just a simple explanation that you do not know that the person who last touched the snake or lizard was not picking their nose, or used the washroom and did not wash their hands.
When the salmonella issue arises, we point out that every week people end up in intensive care, and some die, from eating improperly cooked or prepared buffet food and chicken from Safeway. But when a reptile causes salmonella, it becomes national news.
We have a few props, such as snake skins, snake eggs, fossils and taxidermy to let the kids have some hands on when there is no contact with the live animals.
Hope this helps
Ryan and Sheila