How about a pet that doesn’t bark, scratch the furniture, dig up the yard or squawk and screech? How about a quiet, low-maintenance pet you don’t have to take for walks, don’t have to get a rabies shot for every year and won’t chew your shoes? How about a pet that will give you a glimpse of nature you won’t normally see in your everyday life?
People choose pets for a variety of personal reasons. Some want an animal they can cuddle and pet. Some relish being adored by a pair of melting brown/blue eyes. Some want an ever-loving animal companion. Others are attracted by the independence, appearance and personality of their chosen pets, and some just appreciate have an otherwise wild animal living with them.
Whatever your reasons or personal needs, if you appreciate nature and enjoy the thought of creating a mini ecosystem within your own home, a reptile may be the pet for you. Whether you prefer snakes, frogs or lizards (or maybe a combination of several), reptiles are really fascinating creatures. They come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments. Some are insect eaters and need to be fed live food. Others will take prepared foods. Still others are fruit and vegetable eaters. Beauty, moderate size, easy maintenance, and relative docility are qualities nearly all of them possess.
The difference between keeping dogs, cats, birds, etc., is that they live with you, sharing your living areas, maybe sleeping on the bed, eating in the kitchen, playing in the yard, while your reptile pets need their own environment to thrive. Therein lies one of the most enjoyable reasons for keeping them as pets. Depending on the species you chose, you get to create a mini desert, mangrove swamp or rainforest in a terrarium, aquarium, or combination habitat, and enjoy it in your own home.
Herpetology has come a long way over the years. Because of their specialized needs, many reptiles in the past were improperly kept; poor heat and light sources along with inadequate foods made it very hard to maintain a proper environment for them to thrive. But now there is a wealth of knowledge available on how to keep healthy, thriving reptiles and inexpensive equipment and foods to go along with it. (see Healthy Reptiles) Today’s amateur herpetologist has graduated from just keeping a few common snakes or lizards to attempting to breed rare and obscure species. As reptile habitats around the world shrink and disappear, and laws restricting the collection of wild species tightens, the major sources of many species will be captive bred animals. So, not only do you not have to have these pets spayed or neutered, you are actually encouraged to breed them!
Which ones to choose? There are reptiles for every taste; gentle or aggressive, friendly or reclusive, beautiful, exotic, common or rare. Many reptiles will tolerate handling, petting and the occasional embrace, while other prefer to be left alone and admired from afar. either way, reptiles are an extremely unique investment, and if you’d like a slice of the really wild life, you should consider becoming a reptile ‘parent.’ The Aquatic Critter has a large and excellent herp center staffed with knowledgeable enthusiasts who will help you make your choice and advise you on successful herp keeping.