Thinking about a Reptile Pet? Some Things to Consider!
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.
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!
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!
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!
Interested in Reptiles? Check Out these Forums
- Constrictors Unlimited
Constrictors Unlimited was one of the first snake forums I encountered after making my first purchase of a corn snake. I really enjoyed this forum until we gave up our reptiles due to pregnancy. These forums are very tight-knit!
- CornSnakes.com Forums
Cornsnakes.com is a great resource for those who are interested in owning (or who currently own) corn snakes, one of the most popular species. This site provides some of the most unique corn morphs and the forums are full of care information!
- Reptile Forums
This is my personal favorite in Reptile forums and is certainly one of the best. The members of this site are informed about the subject and genuinely want to help. Be forewarned, this group can be tough on newbies!
- NERD's Cold Blooded Forums
NERD is THE name in pythons! New England Reptile Distributors primarily deals with ball (royal) pythons, and if you haven't yet, check out their morphs! They have some of the most unique ball python morphs in the business! Great forums, too!