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Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets

Over the years more and more people are keeping reptiles and amphibians. They are beautiful to look at and fascinating to watch. They don't bark and annoy the neighbors or claw your furniture to shreds. But many times people purchase a reptile on an impulse. They walk into a pet store, see a cute little iguana or snake and buy it. They don't take the time to find out about their new pet. They don't realize that the cute little critter they just bought can reach six feet, or longer, and might become aggressive.

Sadly, owners often end up trying to find a new home for their reptile; a task that isn't easy. The Los Angeles Zoo reports that they get several calls a day from people asking them to take their iguana. They can't take iguanas or other animals from the general public. To help you decide which reptile or amphibian is best for you please read the following.

Things to ask the pet store or seller before buying a reptile or amphibian:

  • What does it eat?
  • How big will it get?
  • What are its temperature requirements? (Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic. They can't regulate their body temperature the way mammals can so they need external heat.)
  • What equipment (tank, heating, lighting, etc.) do I need to buy to set up a proper home for it?

Things to consider before getting a reptile or amphibian:

  • Expense: One consideration is the expense of buying the proper enclosure, lighting, heating, and other materials necessary to set up a healthy environment for your new pet. These often cost far more than the original animal! Do you have room to house a six-foot snake or iguana?
  • Feeding: Feeding is another consideration. Snakes must be fed, depending on their size, mice, chicks, or rabbits. You can feed pre killed frozen rodents but some snakes won't accept them. Can you handle feeding live food? Iguanas and some other lizards are herbivores. They need a daily diet of fruits and vegetables. Green leaf lettuce does not provide adequate nutrition. Frogs will only eat live prey: insects and other food that moves. Can you stand to handle bugs?
  • Maintenance: Amphibian and reptile enclosures need to be kept clean. Do you have time to maintain a healthy environment for your pet?
  • Handling: Children usually want a pet they can handle and play with. Most reptiles will become stressed if handled too much. Amphibians are a "display" animal, like fish. Their skin is too delicate for handling. A dog or cat might be a better choice. There are many wonderful cats and dogs waiting to be adopted at your local animal shelter!

Certain reptiles and amphibians are illegal in California unless you have a special permit to keep them.

Reptiles such as alligators and crocodiles are illegal in California unless you have a special permit to keep them. While a twelve inch baby alligator may be cute, it soon grows beyond the capability of the average hobbyist to manage it. California and other states have had problems with animals being released into local lakes and streams. These animals, such as Reggie, can become a danger to general public.

Never release a pet reptile or amphibian into the wild! They often out compete native herps for food and habitat and can cause extinction of native species. They can carry diseases that kill off native species.

Care sheets for specific animals will be available soon.