Owning a Pet Reptile
Dr Lorraine Pennea
Have you ever thought about owning a pet reptile? Many people think the reptiles that are kept as pets are ‘cool’ to own and sometimes after seeing one up close or handling one people get their hearts set on owning one too. Some of the more common pet reptiles that people keep are turtles, tortoises, non-poisonous snakes, green iguanas, chameleons, and various other lizards.
I too am a reptile enthusiast and although I am not a veterinary specialist in the exotics world, I am hobbyist. I want you to know that the single biggest ‘mistake’ people make when it comes to reptiles is not learning enough about which ever particular species they desire before acquiring it. Husbandry issues are the leading cause of illness and injury in pet reptiles. There are multiple websites where one can learn about how to care for a reptile but some of these sites are just a person’s opinion and perhaps not factual. The best place to learn is from your veterinarian. If your veterinarian does not take care of reptiles they certainly can guide you towards one who does or one who is a hobbyist like myself who would be more than happy to guide you. If you want your reptile to do well and thrive then you must know how to care for it.
Some simple facts: green iguanas will turn brown and stop being green if they are not kept at the correct temperature. Turtles will stop eating if humidity is wrong. Snakes will sometimes sit so close to heat sources that they will burn their own skin before moving away. Most reptiles can have zoonotic diseases – meaning a disease that is contagious to people! Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you are thinking about owning a reptile or if you have questions about reptile care.