Sunday, January 15, 2012

Scales vs. Furry

When most people hear anything that involves the words "snake, spider or lizard" their immediate reaction is EEEEWWWWWWWWWW! and who could blame them? With society bombarded with the stigmata that these creatures are violent or bad or icky and slimy is a shame. Especially since a reptile or insect friend can provide fascinating companionship and endless adventures of learning and entertainment. We all know and love the small cute and furries, but it seems that other animals who are well deserving of our love and affection are being left out in the cold. Even rats with their long, scary ,scaly, naked tails are frightening. My very own mother would turn and say to me when i was growing up: "NO, you CAN NOT have a rat!", and then one day she met Melody, my very first rat, who was the sweetest little creature I've ever had the pleasure of knowing (R.I.P).

So how much of a leap is it to assume that we also underestimate that charming character of say....a snake? With my interactions with snakes they have proved to be friendly and inquisitive, and more interested in absorbing the warmth from my hand than being vicious little man-eaters. Though all snakes should be treated respectfully, certain species cannot be adopted without serious consideration for their size and temperament. Such as a python which only reaches a length of about 5 ft and boas which get far larger, with anacondas being the largest constrictor and reaching lengths up to 20 feet. My personal choice is the far more modestly sized corn snake, which being able to be found in most reputable pet stores, provide an active and beautifully colored companion.
Another point I would like to make is EDUCATION. I recently learned that the brother of a good friend of mine purchased a tegu (a South American lizard much like a monitor) from an Earl May's. He reported that the staff hadn't the slightest clue how to care for a tegu, and then sold the creature to someone who knew about as much as they did. Now to say that tegu's are a rather difficult animal to care for is putting it lightly. They are very spunky and beautiful with a reputation for being naughty, they are also a creature that should ONLY be purchased and cared for by an expert herper who has owned other large reptiles, and has the time and means to care for them. After proudly showing me his new friend I kindly informed him that tropical lizards don't hibernate (as he was informed it was doing by the employee who sold it to him), and that if it's not moving it likely has health issues that stem from being too cold. If you see a possible new friend at a pet store, my recommendation is that you GO HOME, and find all about their species. Then go back and purchase everything you will need to set up their new home, since most reptiles need a specialized environment that they live in most of the time when not interacting with us. Consider if you have the time everyday to spend with your pet, have to money to pay for the lighting and heating costs, to feed them and if you have the space for a large lizard or snake.
My own personal dream pet is a Bearded Dragon, who I feel are very sweet, intelligent animals. They are very relaxed and with sit with you and just chill, though they have quite a character which I suspect is a "little man syndrome", because they can get grouchy if they can't see you eye-to-eye.
A more compatible beginners pet would be the bearded dragon which is an unfinicky, easy to care for pet who can grow to about 2-3 feet in length and eat a wide variety of  foods.