Special guest writer:
Badman is a graduate student
at BGSU in Neuroscience. She is a member of the Toledo Herpetological
Society and President of our own BGSU HerpClub as well as a volunteer
in the Herp lab. Nikki is an avid advocate of public education about
Herpetology and participates in many Herp demonstrations through THS
and the Herp lab. She has collected the following information in an
attempt to share her knowledge in order to dispel myths the public
holds as truth about reptiles and amphibians.
Iguanas are easy to care for, and make great pets.
have a lot of very specific requirements. The need very carefully
planned diets, and highly specific heating and lighting sources. Iguanas
also grow to be quite large, with the males out sizing the females,
so they need large enclosures to grow properly. They also require
a high amount of humidity. Iguanas are one of the most abused and
neglected creatures of the herp world. They do not make good pets
Snakes are slimy
Fact: Snakes are cool and dry. Some are smooth and some are rough.
Lizards only eat fruits and vegetables.
Fact: Some lizards only eat vegetation, but some lizards are carnivores
or omnivores. Some herps eat crickets, meal worms, other insects,
pinkie mice, and even some birds and fish.
Snakes bite because they are mean.
Fact: In general, most pet-type snakes will only bite if they
feel threatened, hurt, or think they are being fed. Still, some species
and even some individuals are simply more aggressive than others.
Herps dont live very long.
Fact: Some herps, like the pictus and some other geckos and small
herps, have very short life spans, lasting only a couple of years
or less. Some herps, like most of the larger snakes and tortoises
can live for many years (25 and up), much longer than dogs and cats.
Snakes grow to the size of their enclosure.
Fact: Snakes will go to be the size their genes tell them to be,
provided they have accurate dietary and temperature/humidity requirements.
A boa constrictor will not stay small if you keep it in a 10-gallon
Geckos are easy to handle
Fact: Many geckos are very easy to handle, such as the pictus,
leopard, or the fat-tailed gecko. Some geckos are harder to keep hold
of. Some, like the crested gecko, have sticky pads on their feet and
can climb up walls and jump. Some geckos, like the today, have a very
mean and painful bite. Tokay gecko bites are often compared to the
bite of a bulldog.
Snakes should be fed live food because it is more natural for them.
Fact: Snakes should be fed food items that are pre-killed. Rodents
and other food items can be purchased frozen, and thawed at feeding
time. Live food has working teeth and claws that can harm the snake,
who has nowhere to run inside of its enclosure. It is also much easier
to keep frozen food for snakes.
Chameleons make good starter herps for kids.
Fact: Chameleons are another of the type of herp that has very
specific requirements. If these requirements are not met, chameleons
can be quite hard to keep alive. I would recommend an easy to handle
gecko (pictus) or a small, easy to handle constrictor snake (corn
snake). Even bearded dragons can make a good starter pet with the
appropriate adult supervision.
Snakes can be head-trained (if the snake does something wrong,
you "bop" it on the head).
Fact: Not only is this one untrue, but is considered abuse. Hitting
a snake on the head will only make the snake more defensive and, therefore,
Reptiles should be allowed to free-range for exercise.
Fact: Reptiles should never be allowed to roam the house unattended.
There are too many things in a humans home that re foreign to
the reptile world and our pet cold get hurt or even killed. It also
increases the risk of bacterial illness to humans, i.e., salmonella.