How To Shop For A Reptile: Part 1 – Pre-Purchase

So you think you want a pet reptile? Reptiles can make wonderful and rewarding pets, but there are several things to take into account before going to the pet store.

  • What type of animal are you looking for? Do you want a reptile you can take out and handle regularly or one that is more of a display animal?
  • Reptiles live longer on average than mammalian pets: many lizards can live 10 to 20 years, snakes can live 15 to 30 years, and turtles and tortoises can live for decades. Purchasing a reptile pet is a major commitment and one must be prepared to care for the animal its whole life.
  • Most reptiles are predatory and need to consume other animals (crickets, mealworms, mice, etc) to survive. If you cannot handle feeding one animal to another, a reptile may not be for you.
  • Reptiles are known to carry salmonella and should be avoided by those with compromised immune systems (children under 3, the elderly, pregnant women).
  • Always research the animals you are interested in before you consider making a purchase. It is vital to educate yourself and know what exactly you are getting yourself into.
  • Because reptiles are considered “exotic” pets, you have to take them to specialized vets and the bills may be pricey.
  • Because reptiles are cold-blooded, it is necessary to provide heat and lighting. This will result in an increase in your electricity bill.
  • Most reptiles do not bond with their owners in the way a dog or cat would. If you are looking to have a deep, two-way emotional relationship with an animal, consider a different species.
  • Reptiles require specialized habitats and lightning, which can be expensive. Investing in a pet reptile is in many ways no different from investing in a dog or cat.
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