The Inside Track On Adopting A Pet Reptile

Many people adopt dogs and cats but have you ever thought about adopting an exotic pet like a reptile or an amphibian? In this article we’re going to take a closer look at adoptions of exotic pets including why you might want to consider it, the downsides of adopting, my own experiences of giving exotics a new home and how you can get started yourself.

For the purposes of this article I will be interchangeably using the words exotic pets, reptiles, amphibians and herptiles to describe the same animals. Whichever word I use I’m talking about exotics in general but merely using a select of words to make the article more readable. Onwards…

Why Are Herptiles Put Up For Adoption?

Exotic pets may be put up for adoption for a wide variety of reasons. One common reason is a personal change of circumstances. One unfortunate consequence of he exotic pet trade is that typically keepers don’t build an emotional bond with their reptiles. They may enjoy keeping them and may be fond of them but there is rarely a bond and this can make getting rid of a reptile easier than a cat for example.

Sometimes people move into a smaller home. Sometimes people get a new partner who dislikes exotics. Sometimes exotic pet keepers decide to start a family of their own a don’t want the risk of a large snake in their home while they have a baby.

So the easiest solution is to offer the animal for adoption.

There are of course other reasons. Sometimes the animals have become too large or aggressive for the original keeper to safely keep in their home though of course you could argue they should have done their research before buying the reptile in the first place.

A few exotic pets get lost by their owners and are then found and taken to an animal shelter and even a few sneak into the country in shipments of fruit.

So why don’t these reptiles get sold on through the pet trade rather than put up for adoption? Sometimes the owner needs a quick solution and waiting for an advert to go out and for people to come round and make a decision would take too long. Sometimes an animal is realistically not suitable for sale because of it’s temperament or large size. Sometimes an owner simply decides they’ve had enough of their pet and want out.

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Whatever the reasons don’t make the mistake of assuming that either nobody puts herptiles up for adoption or that the only pets available to adopt aren’t worthy of sale. Some can be challenging but many have simply been unlucky.

Why Adopt A Reptile?

Adopting an exotic pet offers many of the same benefits of adopting a “standard” pet such as the ability to give a disadvantaged pet a new home and a new lease of life. It also means getting an exotic pet often for free allowing you to expand your collection without spending as much money.

But animal adoption also brings with it a number of potential downsides. Firstly exotic pets are put up for adoption for including the possibilities of behavioural problems or a large size.

Also don’t adopt an exotic pet just because it is free. It is important to realize that in many cases you will need to buy a new vivarium and kit it out fully so that the saving overall of being given an exotic pet is minimal. Even those reptiles that *do* come with a vivarium are often best rehoused as the old cage is too small, badly made, dirty etc. so always assume you’ll need a new cage and you won’t be disappointed.

Also appreciate that there are a vast number of different species and color-forms of exotic pet and when you’re adopting you need to take whatever you can get rather than being overly picky. Quite often the species available are the more common ones – corn snakes, bearded dragons and so on – because the rarer or more expensive species tend to be kept by more dedicated, experienced keepers who are less likely to get into a rehousing situation and who, if the worst happened, would be able to sell their pets for a significant sum of money.

But sometimes an unusual species turns up – particularly in the form of those that get into the country in fruit shipments and they may require considerable research before you can figure out what species they actually are and hence how they should be kept.

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My Own Reptile Adoption Experiences

Over the years I have adopted a number of exotic pets including a Moorish gecko that came in on a banana ship, an iguana that had outgrown it’s previous owner and most recently a Cuban treefrogs – once again a fruit shipment escapee.

I have been lucky enough to be able to provide quite a few homes to herps over the years but one thing I have had in my favor is that over the years I have built up quite a collection of exotic pet equipment so I always have spare cages, heaters, lights and so on sitting around unused and this means I have been able to quickly set up a new vivarium when necessary.

Overall I have enjoyed the experience of adopting reptiles and giving them a new home and if you’re considering buying an exotic pet then I would strongly encourage you to consider adoption as a viable alternative to buying.

Where To Find Reptiles To Adopt

There are many places to find potential adoptions. One of those is to look in the classified section of your local newspaper and in pet shop windows. Look on the “for sale” sections of reptile discussion forums. Make yourself known at your local zoos, vets and exotic pet shops as someone who may be able to help take unwanted exotics off their hands.

Lastly there are a small number of charities that deal with exotic pet adoptions. Many are privately-run by one or two passionate individuals though here in the UK I have been lucky enough to be involved with the RSPCA Reptile Rescue centre in Brighton a few times and have taken a few specimens off them.

If you’re considering adoption the most important thing is to get immersed in the hobby and then keep your eyes and ears open. It’ll only be a matter of time until an opportunity arises.

Have you ever adopted an exotic pet? If so what have your experiences been? Are you considering adopting a reptile right now? If so how is your hunt going and is there any extra advice you’d like to see here in this article? Please leave me a comment in the section below and tell me more about your personal experiences in this department.


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