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KEEPING HERPS AS PETS

What animals are traditionally considered pets?

Are you a dog person?  Maybe you are a cat person, a rat fancier,  rabbit lover, hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, guinea pigs, parrots, pigeons, doves,  the list is endless. People often keep different types, especially families, a cat, a dog and a rabbit out the back, all brought because they looked cute when there young. They have there own personality and become part of the family, in some cases a practice run for children or even a substitute.

But what of more unconventional pets, something a little different maybe.

The keeping of exotic pets is growing in this country, back in the day every one knew some one who had a tortoise but now there is a whole list of herpetiles (reptiles and amphibians shortened to herps) to choose from, all suitable as pets for people of various ages.

I'm not saying that all the herp pet species are suitable for everyone far from it. 

I have seen people with small children who let a 14ft python roam the house or the man who had a crocodile (without a dangerous wild animal licence) just to show how hard he is.

The alligator snapping turtle that went for a stroll in London after being released into a park lake is another example of a animal that really should only be kept by zoos or well equipped experts.

Just as there are more tabbys than tigers being kept in the UK there are more of the many suitable herp species than the monsters.

If you are interested in a herp as a pet for yourself or your kids, than the first step to take is to research what keeping these interesting creatures entails. Speak to the wrong people and you will be told that herps are unsuitable as pets, expensive, harbour diseases and parasites, don’t tame well and should be left in the wild.

  • The suitability of any animal depends on what you want from it, if you want a companion to stroke and play with get a dog if you have the room. If you want something interesting that you can stroke and handle, that is interesting and engaging and that you can learn from, get a herp, They are great if you have allergies as they are hypoallergenic; or have little time, they need regular cleaning and food and water but  most don’t need feeding every day and don’t make much mess.
     
  • Herps can be expensive with all the equipment you sometimes need but that depends on species and doesn’t compare to the expense of buying and keeping a pedigree dog.
     
  • Any animal can harbour diseases and parasites it depends where you get them and where they have been. Salmonella is said to be a big risk with herps but you stand more change of getting that from the sandwich you buy from  the street vendor than a herp if you keep it clean.  An animal only has the diseases it comes into contact with if its captive breed and you don’t pass anything on to it , it won't pass anything on to you. 
  • Some species of herps tame very well, some of the midsize lizards can get to know there owner, beg for food or a scratch under the chin, love sitting in your lap or on your shoulder and will include there owner in there social group. 

  • Getting wild caught animals as pets is never a good idea, they could have diseases or parasites, they don’t acclimatise well and don’t tame well either.

But captive bred herps like all other types of pets are infinitely better and don’t have any of these problems.

All but a few animals are hard pressed to survive in our changing and ever more urbanized world, so any in captivity increase the number of  a species in the world and ensure the continuity of a species when some experts have estimated that up to half of presently existing species may become extinct by 2100.

Having addressed the negatives with positives and expelled the myths I hope you agree with me that herps are worth a look when you are thinking of buying a new pet. I have been keeping herps all my life and have had all sorts iguanas, bearded dragons, skinks, pythons corn snakes, king snakes, tortoises, turtles, frogs toads newts, stick insects, beetles and even tarantulas - all that time I have enjoyed every minute and would recommend considering them whole heartedly.

 


 

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