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This is going to be my last post for my summer reptile series. But have no fear, I'll (of course) continue posting about reptiles, my reptiles especially, regularly just like I've always done. This summer I've already posted a general introduction to reptile care, then a more in dept look at the care needs of Leopard Geckos. Today I want to do something different, and write a bit about my experiences keeping reptiles as pets.
I've owned quite a few reptiles over the years. Everything from tiny anolis, to a giant iguana. I've kept aquatic turtles, a few different species of snakes, and many lizards. I was walking my iguana on a leash long before I ever had a dog! I've been a part of many reptile communities over the years, both online and off. Many people I've spoken too seem to take a pretty scientific approach to owning reptiles. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, especially when it comes to reptile care. However, reptiles are sometimes portrayed almost like little robots. The unique 'personalities' of the reptiles I've owned is something that continues to surprise and delight me.
I think the uniqueness of each reptile is something that can be easy to overlook, especially if they are not being properly cared for. A reptile that is kept too cold, or not provided with the proper food, for example, would probably make a boring pet. The same with a reptile kept in a plain, boring cage. Like any animal (humans included!), reptiles need things like optimal temperatures, healthy, species appropriate food, and stimulating environments to thrive.
As I've stated in many posts before, you need to do plenty of research before bringing any new pet home. It's important to have correct expectations about what your new pet is going to be like. You can't bring home a nocturnal lizard and then get upset when it spends its days sleeping where you can't see it. Some species of reptiles generally tolerate handling well, while others are much more 'hands off'. Figure out what you want in a pet reptile and choose your species accordingly to avoid disappointment.
It's true that keeping reptiles is very different than keeping other types of pets such as cats and dogs. Your python may not come when he's called, and my geckos won't snuggle with me while I watch tv, but there are plenty of ways you can enjoy living with a reptile. I taught both of my geckos, for example, to eat from tongs so that I can hand feed them. I really enjoy watching them explore their environments, and I always have a lot of fun setting up their tanks.
I'd love to hear from you! If you own a reptile now, or have in the past, what did you enjoy most about them?