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Thinking about a Reptile Pet? Some Things to Consider!

Updated on March 24, 2012

I have had an interest in and a love for reptiles for most of my life. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I wasn't chancing after some slithering or creeping thing and bringing it home to show my parents. Lucky for me I lived in an area virtually devoid of any venomous snakes!

As an adult, I had my first opportunity to become the owner of a pet reptile, and I got a crash course in just how difficult and expensive caring for a reptile pet can be.

Iguanas are a popular reptile pet
Iguanas are a popular reptile pet
Nile Monitors are not for beginners!
Nile Monitors are not for beginners!

Reptiles aren't "Cool"

Take a walk through your local reptile show or step onto one of the various reptile forums on the internet, and you are almost sure to run into at least one individual in every setting who thinks that owning a reptile is "cool." Often these people are young children or even teenagers who have a reptile in their school classroom or who have a friend who owns a tarantula. Not wanting to be outdone, these individuals are seeking out a newer and more exotic pet so that they can show up their friends.

If you venture into the right environments, you will discover that these people are the ones who are making purchases of Nile Monitors or Anacondas. Some people are looking for the most unusual, or the largest, without taking into consideration the potential volatile nature of the animal and the specialized care that they require.

Reptiles aren't a "cool" pet. If you want a pet you can play with, and which your friends can enjoy, look into getting yourself a puppy instead.

Reptiles Require Specialized Care

Whereas your typical "fluffy" pet needs to be fed and kept clean, and perhaps taken for walks, a reptile requires a more specialized set of caring instructions. Most reptiles eat whole food (such as rats or mice) and many individual animals will only consume their food while it is still living or at least warm. Additionally, all reptiles require a consistent heat source due to their cold-blooded nature, and some require specialized ultravoilet lighting (A or B). The type of bedding used depends on the type of animal.

In any event, you will never be able to find a "generic" care sheet for reptile care. You need to take the time to learn everything you can about the type of animal you intend to purchase, and you must never make an impulsive purchase! Always ensure that you have everything required for your pet's vivarium at home before you purchase the animal!

Snakes have a lot of teeth!
Snakes have a lot of teeth!

Yes, It Bites

One of the most common questions asked of pet owners is "does it bite?"

Regardless of the type of pet you own, the fact of the matter is, if it has teeth, it can bite . And in the case of reptiles, chances are that it will bite at some point or another. I cannot count the number of bites I have had from my reptiles in the past. Most of them came from the smaller snakes and didn't hurt one bit. In every case, however, there was a considerable amount of blood that required cleanup.

As a handler, you cannot become afraid of your animal. No matter how many times you are bitten, you cannot develop a fear of being bitten. If you don't want an animal that will bite you as a pet, then opt for something that doesn't have a mouth (perhaps a worm farm?). If you own reptiles for long enough, not only can you be bitten, you will be bitten!

Watch to the End, Please!

No, It Is NOT Tame!

Something else that irritates reptile owners is when people claim that their reptile is "tame." No matter what you do, and no matter how docile your pet may be, your reptile is always going to be a wild animal and will never be truly tame. At some point, it will bite, and if it gets hungry enough, the larger reptiles might even try to eat you . And if you think I'm not serious, I am.

Your animal may have been captive bred for many generations, but a snake or a lizard (or other reptile) will never truly be tame. It isn't a "cuddly" pet and being handled causes your animal to become stressed. Reptiles do not make good companion animals!

Reptiles are Expensive

The food that you give your reptile is very expensive. You will be feeding at least mealworms and at most could be feeding your reptile very large prey, such as pigs. Substrate (bedding) needs to be replaced on a regular basis and your electric bill will rise due to the heating requirements for your pet. You will need to find a specialty vet in your area so that if your animal develops an illness you can have it treated promptly and appropriately.

Reptiles are an expensive pet, and the expense goes up increasingly based on the size of your collection!

Conclusions

Reptiles make great pets for someone who is interested in gaining insight into reptile behavior or who is interested in learning about biology and ecosystems. A great deal of knowledge can be gained through owning a reptile and it can be a wonderful experience if it is handled carefully.

I would love to see more people join the ranks of informed reptile owners, and I welcome any comments, questions or responses to this article!

Comments

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    • profile image

      Ashley 

      6 years ago

      Great hub! I agree that many people buy reptiles for the wrong reasons, and without doing proper research beforehand.

      I think the main thing that surprises people (who HAVEN'T done their research) is the initial start-up costs of owning a reptile. Maintainig a reptile really isn't that expensive, no more than maintaining a dog or cat, but it's the upfront costs that make the naïve owner's head spin. Aquarium tank, aquarium stand, lighting equipment, heating equipment, UV equipment, etc. all adds up to a large investment that I think many people are unprepared for.

      Reptiles make awesome pets, but only for those who know what they're getting into and are prepared for the expenses to come. :)

      -Ashley @ http://www.lizardfacts.net

    • profile image

      Jitendra 

      7 years ago

      Hi friends.

      I m a self .

      I love so much to reptiles and they my nearest friend always they r walking in my near home and some reptile live in my house. Thanks to all

      and pls add me to make a friend in facebook.

      Thank u so much to all of u

    • Spring Pace profile image

      Spring Pace 

      7 years ago

      The same is true for tortoises and turtles, so many die because of improper husbandry, general care sheets should not be distributed, but specific care sheets to the species involved right from the beginning whether the animal is bought from a breeder, chain store or pet store. I saved 2 that were bought from a pet store by a little girl, she gave them to me and when I researched and joined a chat group I understood why 1 died and the other had an upper respiratory infection and had to be hospitalized for 9 days. We all saved his life and 6 years later he's a whopping 60+ lbs. with no signs of MBD and great looking poops, exactly what any reptile owner want to boast about

    • ReptileRevolution profile image

      ReptileRevolution 

      7 years ago from California

      That python bite picture is insane!

      http://www.reptilerevolution.com

    • profile image

      thomas 

      8 years ago

      that was great but i disagree that handling reptiles ALWAYS stresses them

      just in the usual case

      i am holding a snake right now and i see no problems

      i don't mean to be arrogant or anything but i believe that some reptiles such as blue tongue skinks make pretty good companion animals and recognize you by sight. however, im not saying that im disagreeing with you so don't take it that way

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      The problem with Iguanas is that they are so readily available. At shows, monitors are the same way. Ball pythons are easy to find at shows as well and most of the time they are wild caught. Inexperienced buyers don't know what questions to ask.

      As for red-tails, I suppose I just always knew that they grew to be quite large. I don't think that they are a problem because their price is prohibitive to most new herpers. I would agree about burmese pythons, perhaps, which can cost as little as $25 at a show for a normal (I paid $250 for my granite at a show -- great price!).

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub. Too many people get reptiles without doing any research, especially with the larger pets, such as iguanas and red tails.

    • profile image

      badcompany99 

      9 years ago

      And there was me thinking females were reptiles : )

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