Some thoughts about keeping reptiles as pets

By Stephen Strichart
Associate Publisher

Recently I read about a family whose baby was diagnosed with salmonella. The article went on to say that this family had a pet iguana and that was how the baby got the infection. While the article failed to mention how the baby and iguana came into contact with each other (salmonella is transmitted through contact), I had to wonder why the parents placed the iguana in the baby’s playpen or put the baby in the iguana’s cage? Now, you know that neither of those things happened.
So, the only way that baby could get salmonella was if one of the parents failed to his or her hands with anti-biotic soap and water. That simple!
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, an estimated 11 million pet reptiles live in US households. That means about one out of every 25 households includes at least one reptile, and many have two or more. Reptiles can make great pets for “kids” of all ages, but some important facts must be taken into consideration before you go buy that cute turtle, frog, lizard or snake.
Reptiles are susceptible to infection and disease, and some of these can be transmitted to humans. Common sense must be used at all times when working around any type of pets, and reptiles are no exception. Cleanliness is of extreme importance when handling or cleaning up after any reptile. Anti-bacterial soap is a must-have product. It can save you a lot of headaches later.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a baby reptile bought at a pet shop or online will grow up to be something you may not be prepared to take care of. Some turtles obtain weights of 80-plus pounds, some frogs get over 12 inches across, and all large snakes start out about 14 inches long. Do your research before you get your pet. Read a book or go online and read a care sheet on the reptile you plan on buying. Remember, you can kill a pet in a matter of months, but you can’t kill a book.
If you plan on obtaining a reptile or amphibian, check or for care sheets and valuable information on how to house and care for your new pet.

Stephen Strichart is a member of the Southern California Herpetology Association and Rescue.

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