Reptiles: The Bird Alternative


As the need increases for low-maintenance companions, more and more people are turning to reptiles as the pets of choice. Due to the fact that the apartment-style life is not always accommodating for the dog or cat, pet owners are more likely to resort to aquarium friends or reptile buddies. The gecko, iguanas, bearded dragons, boas, pythons – the list goes on and on.

However, while reptiles are often easier to maintain and require less attention than a dog or cat, their convenience comes at a price. Reptiles usually require specialized food and specific living conditions. Quite often, potential owners must have their cages custom built and have to monitor things such as lighting and heat within the cage at all times.

Reptiles have very specific husbandry needs and, if those needs are not met, are prone to a variety of illnesses and disorders. Some of the more common problems include ball pythons who are picky eaters and refuse food, iguanas who do not properly digest their food because of temperatures, boas who become listless and refuse food when it becomes too cold, and many reptiles run the high risk of calcium deficiencies.

Also, people often become un-enamored with their scaly friends when they realize that reptiles do not offer forth the same kind of warmth and affection as their warm-blooded cousins. With more instinctive behaviorisms and smaller brains, reptiles rarely wish to be handled and held and can be very unpredictable, if not dangerous.

Before rushing out to purchase a reptile, a potential owner must first ask themselves whether or not they are able to care for this animal in a way that they need to be kept, including proper cage requirements, lighting, heat and humidity, as well as the schedule many of them need to be place on. Have the potential owners researched this animal that they want? Quite often, reptiles are set free when they become too large for the owner to handle. Many lizards can grow to be 6 feet and reptiles such as the Burmese python can grow to b in excess of 12 feet!

Also, if considering becoming a reptile owner, be sure to realize that reptiles are a long-term commitment. Some reptiles can live up around 15-20 years and it is not uncommon for a turtle to live to be 50 years old.

Taking these things into consideration, prior to picking out your pet, will save both of you heartache and heartbreak down the road. Much like an alternative family’s version of a bird, the trend of reptile ownership continues to grow. Instead of having a cat, a dog and a cockatiel, modern families now have a cat, a dog, and a gecko.. or three.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).

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