Would you believe there are now as many lizards as hamsters kept as pets in the UK? The popularity of reptiles has seen enormous growth in recent years but the question animal welfare organisations are asking is if education and awareness about these exotic creatures is in line with their new popular pet status.
Reptile Awareness Day might sound a bit mad, however for reptile organisations, animal charities and amphibian enthusiasts alike this is no fluffy matter. There is evidence of a general misunderstanding and lack of knowledge on how to care for a reptile appropriately.
Libby Anderson, Policy Officer for OneKind said, “We aim to dispel the common myths about reptiles and make sure anyone who considers one as a pet knows how to effectively care for it.”
She also discussed the responsibility of pet shop owners in ensuring potential reptile owners have all the facts before making a purchase. In the UK there is a problem with abandoned reptiles. Iguanas can grow up to two metres long and “can appear far more intimidating and scary than when first purchased”.
In OneKind’s soon to be published Pet Origins report they include multiple cases of unintentional neglect, emphasising the need for education about these diverse and wonderful animals. The report states that: “Bearded Dragons are native to Australia but have become one of the most commonly kept reptiles in the UK.” This species appeared most regularly in the cases of neglect featured in the report, which also said the owners had purchased the animals in the belief that they were ‘easy’ to keep. This is one of the common misperceptions that OneKind are hoping to stamp out.
Edinburgh pet shop, Eden Aquatics and Reptiles, sell a range of our scaly friends, from delicate little Bearded Dragons to the more robust Bosc Monitor, along with a variety of snakes. When asked about responsible selling of these animals Kevin, the owner, explained how they spend a good deal of time with each customer and said, “if we’re not sure about somebody then we don’t make a sale”.
Most of their animals come from a local breeder, which OneKind advises as opposed to reptiles being wild caught and then imported. Kevin also spoke about the huge popularity of Bearded Dragons but that anyone looking to own one must make sure they know enough about the species and how to care for them. Kevin will provide information and care guidelines to ensure his customers leave with their new pet happy and well informed.