It still surprises me just what a small percentage of the exotic pet keepers I come across actually belong to one or more reptile societies.
It’s not through a lack of societies – most Western countries have a number of reptile-related societies as well as smaller niche societies dedicated specifically to groups such as tarantulas, tortoises and so on.
So today I’d like to take a few minutes to explain why you should you invest your hard-earned money on joining a reptile society rather than on buying more reptiles if you haven’t already….
Protecting Your Hobby
Exotic pet keepers have a lot of enemies. Despite the fact that exotic pet keepers are, on the whole, a dedicated, passionate bunch of individuals whose main priority is the health of their animals it seems everyone from well-connected animal charities to politicians to the animal health supporters dedicate huge resources to trying to outlaw the keeping of exotic pets like reptiles.
Bearing in mind how strong these foes are and the power that they have it is essential that reptile societies exist to act as a “union” and fight for our rights to keep exotic pets. A few recent examples include the way the International Herpetological Society recently took a case to court in order to prevent a reptile show getting closed down and how UK cosmetics company Lush was banned from showing an offensive and factually-inaccurate anti-reptile-keeping advert.
Remember that when you pay your annual membership fee at least a portion of this goes toward lobbying and protecting your hobby from interference.
Sharing The Latest News And Information
From recent discoveries in the field of reptile-care to captive breeding successes, from recently discovered species to new product releases these reptile societies act as conduits for distributing high-quality information to their members. Joining such a society adds a further level of interest to the hobby – as well as helping you to ensure you are using the very latest and most effective techniques for keeping and breeding your exotic pets.
When you take up reptile-keeping as a hobby you immediately start to stand out from the crowd. From my own experiences I have found I rapidly get known by nicknames like “spiderman” or “python boy” when new friends and associates find out that I keep exotic pets.
And while, in truth, I think many of us relish this sense of being a little “different” it can be hard to find other hobbyists that understand your passions and can share tips and advice (as well as care duties when you go on vacation).
Once again reptile societies help to build a sense of “community” and to connect their members. Through newsletters, online discussion forums and live events reptile societies help to bind us closer together, make new friends and provide an excellent opportunity to learn from the experiences of other people.
Thanks to their connections and the support they receive many of the reptile shows that are organized each year around the world are done so by these very same reptile societies. Despite all the cost and effort of arranging such events these really are part and parcel of being an exotic pet keeper.
These events can make up an important part of your social calendar helping you to meet new people, ask questions in person to highly-experienced keepers and also to pick up both livestock and equipment at competitive prices as a result of many hobbyist breeders displaying their wares at such events.
Once again, while some reptile shows allow non-members entry, quite a few offer members-only access or at least a discount for society members. Even more so, without the financial support from membership sales these societies simply wouldn’t have the resources necessary to arrange such events and I have no doubt the hobby would suffer as a result.
A number of reptile societies offer extra services to their members. This may be in the form of free reptile-care advice of you need it, or networking events or even down to a “breeders list” to either help you track down a certain species you’re dying to keep or a mate for one of your existing animals.
When you join a reptile society try delving deeper into these services to see just how much value they really offer you. And remember that if these services aren’t being used then they will soon stop being supported.
Furthering The Cause
On a wider scale many reptile societies further the cause of reptiles and amphibians around the world in a variety of ways. For example many of them freely offer impartial, educated advice to the media and animal charities on the proper care and maintenance of exotic pets. Others offer rescue services and help unwanted reptiles to find suitable new homes. Still others invest money in reptile and amphibian conservation thus helping vulnerable species and habitats to survive for future generations.
Whichever way you cut it, reptile societies not only make owning exotic pets more enjoyable and successful but also have wider effects that anyone who cares about herptiles should appreciate. As a result I would strongly advise you to join a reptile society if you haven’t yet done so, and if you are already a member of one or more societies then please leave a comment below with which societies you personally support.