Committing to any exotic pet shouldn't be taken lightly. Be it a Cockroach or Chameleon; you need to make sure you can provide the correct environment for the duration of your pet’s life. The first question to ask: how long does your chosen animal live?
Understanding your new pet is of upper-most importance. Find out everything you can. Don't just stick to one book, one website or one person’s advice - do your own research and make an informed decision. You will need to know at the very least the answers to these questions BEFORE you buy an exotic pet:
- How big will it grow?
- What is the life expectancy?
- Is it easy to keep in captivity?
- What kind of enclosure does it need?
- How easy is it to maintain?
- What does it eat?
- How much will it cost to keep?
Availability of Exotic Pets
A really important factor when buying an exotic pet is to understand where it has come from. Not it's country of origin (although you should know this from your research) - but how the pet you're going to buy became available. For example; was it Wild Caught/ Collected (WC), Captive Farmed (CF) or Captive Bred (CB)? This is a really important question, depending on the species - it can make a world of difference. Please Note: A lot of animals in the pet trade are WC; the general rule of thumb is: if it doesn't state it is CB - it is probably WC or CF.
Next step is to set-up the place you’re going to keep your pet, the enclosure. From all the research you've done, you'll have a good idea of what is needed. Always get your enclosure right before you introduce your pet. Make sure the temperature is correct and everything is working properly. Depending on the pet, the enclosure may need preparation from a few days to a couple of months before introducing your new pet. Now you are ready to buy from a reputable, fully licensed trader or breeder.
Fuelled in part by the resurgence of interest in dinosaurs and increasing numbers of families that have less time and live in smaller spaces, reptiles are a fast-growing part of the pet industry. As the guardian of a reptile, you get to learn about everything from adaptation, behaviour and the environment, to nutrition, camouflage and reproductive strategies. When it comes to reptiles, cold-blooded is a way of life, not a character trait. Reptiles are capable of recognizing people by voice, sight and smell; many are capable of learning. Some species actually benefit from interaction with humans. When cared for properly, all live as long as or longer than ‘traditional’ pets of similar size.
The highly efficient metabolism of these animals means that they can conserve energy resources by staying cool and eating less food, which also means that it can take them a very long time to die. This misleads people into believing that they are providing adequate care. Unfortunately, treatment that would kill a mammal or bird in a matter of weeks or months may take years to kill a reptile.
Most reptiles are inexpensive. Some are downright cheap. This is why many reptile owners are unwilling to spend the money necessary to properly house and feed their reptiles, or provide them with the veterinary care they require. As with other pets, buying the reptile itself is usually the cheapest part of keeping one. The initial outlay should also include an enclosure, special heating and lighting, substrate, essential furnishings, food and water bowls, nutritional supplements, housing and food, prey insects and veterinary visits with parasite testing and treatment. Ongoing monthly expenses include cleaning and disinfecting supplies, new substrate, food and electricity.
- Is a Reptile The Right Pet For You?
Keeping a reptile is a commitment to a living, sentient being that will last a long, long time depending on the species: lizards may live five to 20 years, snakes more than 40 years and turtles & tortoises 40 to 100 years or more.
The most common reasons for getting rid of a reptile include not realizing how large or fast the species grows, nor how much work is involved.
Learn first how to pick out healthy animals and resist impulse buys of species about which you have not done sufficient research.
If you rent your home, check your lease and housing agreement: keeping a reptile when it is not permitted could result in a quick eviction.
Frequently overlooked is good veterinary care. Very little time is spent in veterinarian school learning about reptiles, and with more than 4,000 species, there is a lot to learn! Have a good reptile veterinarian lined up before you bring the animal home. Make an appointment for an examination and faecal test in the 1st week.
Carnivores are easier than omnivores, and both are easier than herbivores. Dried insects and powdered/ pelleted/ canned foods are not appropriate for lizards, snakes and tortoises. Herbivorous diets are more complicated and time-consuming to shop for and prepare than carnivorous diets. Anybody who said to feed your herbivore just lettuce might as well have recommended styrofoam.
Never catch a reptile from the wild, and whenever possible, adopt. Many herpetological societies do reptile rescue and adoptions, as do independent reptile rescuers. Expect to be screened carefully by the people handling the adoptions, keeping in mind that they have the reptiles' best interests at heart.
- Learn About Reptiles
Pet stores are generally not the place to get information and most reptile pet care books at stores and libraries are outdated or contain a mixture of accurate and inaccurate information, enough to put a pet reptile at risk of injury or death. There is a tremendous amount of reptile care information on the World Wide Web, ranging from comprehensive and accurate to dangerously inaccurate. You will need to evaluate the Web site material, as well as the author. Recommended site: www.anapsid.org