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Reptiles as Pets: Hazardous to Your Health--And Theirs

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lyn'sSteve, Dec 26, 2006.

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  1. Lyn'sSteve

    Lyn'sSteve Elite Member

  2. Colleen

    Colleen Elite Member

    Every day I check out sites like craigslist, petfinder and kingsnake classified to see what types of reptiles are available. I know one week on craigslist there was about 20 reptiles up for adoption. Personally we have adopted about half of our reptile kids, from owner who got tired of them or weren’t committed to the long haul. Many people get reptiles with out the proper education, thus lacking the general understanding of the needs of the animal. Or they don’t take into account the life expectancy of a reptile when they get one. Another problem is parents who buy reptiles just to pacify their children’s demands of wanting a reptile.

    I personally feel that the Salmonella risk is over stressed. When I was sick, the doctors check to see if salmonella could be the cause of my sickness, this was don’t without the doctors knowing we had reptiles. We have a few reptiles, which I handle daily and guess what, salmonella wasn’t the cause of my sickness. The way the salmonella issue is stressed, I feel like message being sent is very time you touch a reptile your going to get salmonella.

    With the demand of having reptiles as pets increases, many dealers will look towards wild caught and import the reptiles instead of breeding them. “Alarmingly, the number of animals collected from the wild can exceed the reproductive capabilities of a species.” If the number of wild caught reptiles is depleting the amount in the wild then tougher import/export laws should be put in place. With tougher laws and health inspections at the boarders, the number of reptiles coming into the country and the health of the reptiles could be monitored.

    Ok, I’ll get off the soap box now……
  3. ajvw

    ajvw Subscribed User

    I think the article makes some important points, but that the conclusion should not be that reptiles should never be kept as pets. I think they probably should be kept as less far less often than they are, and that more research and care should go into the decision to acquire a pet reptile than most people are willing to do. But I feel that way about all animals.

    If a pet reptile is captive-bred from a lineage that is captive-bred for several generations; if it is purchased from a reputable breeder or adopted from a rescue organization or previous owner; if its dietary and environmental needs are met; and if the prospective keeper has done all the necessary research to understand what to expect in terms of the work involved in keeping the animal, the expense involved in providing appropriate housing, possible signs of illness and locating a qualified reptile vet; and if proper hygiene techniques are followed when handling the animal and cleaning its enclosure, then reptiles can certainly make good pets in conditions that are humane for the animals.

    It's true that seldom are all of these conditions met, but very few other pets are kept in ideal conditions, either. The keeping of pets in general cannot be considered 100% humane (except perhaps for dogs, which have actually been bred to depend on and live in relationship with humans).

    If the Humane Society would like to address the humane conditions of captive reptiles, they should begin, in my opinion, in pet stores, by advocating for humane conditions in the stores, proper staff education, and proper educational materials and information (as well as supplies) being supplied to customers. An educational campaign targeted specifically to the retail trade in iguanas would be a good place to start -- they seem to be the reptiles that are most often purchased by people looking for an animal that roams the house like a dog or cat, but that is more "exotic" and "unique." I would like to see more pet stores voluntarily deciding NOT to sell iguanas. Encouraging pet stores to purchase animals from local qualified breeders would be a great step as well.
  4. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    If you ask me it's an uneducated article. I've never heard of anyone contracting salmonella from a reptile. But, I do have a relative that contracted it from food. You have a much larger risk of getting it that way. What about all the zoonoses that cats and dogs carry but reptiles carry very few. I do agree with the what they said about wild-caught though. It is destroying the populations of some species in the wild.
    It seems like an article aimed at those who know zero about herpetology.
    Like having a dog is a small responsibility--yeah right.
  5. aztec4mia

    aztec4mia Elite Member

    I agree that the article was poorly written, and that there are other ways to deal with the diminishing populations, as Colleen stated "Stricter import/export laws should be put in place", as far as reptiles not being pets and being hard to take care of, i agree that they can be challenging for inexperianced people, but their is no way that i would give up my herps. i think the article should be changed to read reptiles not for the inexperianced and uneducated or those not willing to learn before they acuire a herp. just my 2 cents
  6. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    I must just stand on the different side of the fence on somethings lol. CB is good and all till you start breeding back to mother and son and so forth you dont have a pure animal anymore. Thats why we need WC animals. Most of the WC snakes ive seen id pay top dollar for them to get them. There hasnt been any produced like them. I know of some awesome looking BPs that were WC. Some Retics that would blow your mind. Some things I think should be fine to catch them. The more common ones, like corns and leos. No, they are well established in their own.

    When i first started my herp experience, that was the question my mother was most concered about...salmonella...I asked several questions about it, and the answers i got was you have to eat tier poop to get it. I dont know how many of you want some of that but i dont lol.
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    However in all seriousness, Salmonella IS a reality and it IS a serious problem to some individuals. It should not be written off as nonsense! I personally know of a couple of keepers that did develop it and it was NOT fun! Imagine the absolutely worst stomach ache, vomiting and diarreah that you have ever had and double it! It does occur when the bacteria which is shed in feces enters the body, either orally or when you rub your eyes or touch any of the mucous membranes of your body. It does NOT have to be something that is visible on your skin. A bit of water or dust can contain the bacteria. All you have to do to minimalize the risk to practically zip is to practice good hygiene principles. Wash your hands after working with the animals or cage fixtures, if you use a sink or bath tub for bathing the animal or cleaning equipment use a little bleach to clean it before human use, and no matter how cute you think kissing your herp is DON"T PUT YOUR MOUTH ON YOUR REPTILE!
    Salmonella is not a reason to ban herp keeping since as pointed out there are diseases and parasites that are transmittable to humans from basically any animal that we keep as a pet.
    But it can't be ignored,either.
  8. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    I think this is a great article - to give to any parent or potential buyer who has little or no previous experience with reptiles.

    The thing is that responsible herp keepers already know what was mentioned in the article. They know that reptiles have complicated habitat requirements and dietary needs. They already know that salmonella is a risk, and that they have to keep their pets and theirselves clean to avoid it. They are the first to get angry at careless people who own reptiles, or how reptiles are killed without thought on tv shows or by people who don't understand them.

    As responsible pet owners, they've done the research on the animals and they've done their very best to provide good living conditions at great expense to themselves. In fact some animals will survive much longer in captivity - where they will be getting regular meals, clean water and be sheltered from predators - than they would in the wild.

    That said, for every responsible herp keeper, there are likely three or four irresponsible herp keepers - parents who buy the cute little iguana for their three-year-old and keep it in a tiny glass tank so it won't grow. People who win hermit crabs and frogs from county fairs, and then throw them in a fishbowl and put it on their dressers. These are people that don't necessarily want to harm the animals, but they don't have time or money or the inclination to do research to properly take care of their animals. An article like this would be great for those people. It really would be better for them not to own a reptile if they aren't willing to care for it correctly.

    So I don't agree that no one should ever own reptiles, but I do think that this kind of article is good for scaring off potential owners who perhaps won't take good care of their pets.

    One thing I'd really like to see, though, is articles like this concerning other animals. We never see caution sheets like this for, say, birds or fish. Many birds and fish are taken from the wild to become pets. Their care can be as complicated as a reptile. Why aren't those animals being cautioned against?

    BRIZZY Banned User

    Yes i agree a great article!! Thanks for sharing!!
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