There’s a good chance you’ve thought about bringing in a wild snake, turtle, or lizard home with you to keep as a pet, whether as an adult or back when you were a kid. It seems like a harmless idea, what’s wrong with giving an animal a home, right? Well, when you bring a wild reptile inside from its natural habitat, you are usually doing more harm than good.
Risk of Salmonella
Even though reptiles such as frogs, snakes, lizards, and turtles are commonly kept as pets, they pose a high risk of exposing you and your family to salmonella, especially if they are taken from the wild. Salmonella from reptiles can spread through direct contact with the reptile itself, or through contact with its feces. Reptiles that are purchased from a reptile show, pet store, or reptile breeder still pose the risk of salmonella, so it is recommended to wash your hands immediately following direct contact with a reptile, whether wild or domesticated.
There are more than 500 endangered species of reptiles across the world. Granted, many of the reptiles on the list are either venomous or reptiles that may not be a great pet (ie. alligators), this doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance you could grab an endangered animal. Removing an endangered or protected animal frozen the wild is illegal plus you are further jeopardizing the existence of that species.
Feeding Snakes, Lizards, and Other Reptiles
Not all reptiles have the same diet. Some reptiles prefer insects and small fish, others have a diet that consists primarily of small rodents. For the reptiles that eat feeder rodents, you will need to consider the age, size, and species of your reptilian pet to determine the appropriate diet. It is wise to purchase frozen rodents, live feeders may injure your reptile.
Returning Reptiles to the Wild
Removing one reptile from the wild can do a lot more harm than you think. Not only are you removing them from their natural habitat, you are effectively disrupting their ecosystem. Even though you may rationalize the decision by asking yourself “what harm does one snake gone do?” if everyone thought that way, all snakes would be removed from the wild. Pennies add up to dollars just like every removed reptile adds up. Furthermore, many times wild reptiles are brought into a home, they are just there as temporary pets. With a temporary situation, many families will eventually neglect the care of the reptile, or try to return it to nature. While the latter shows good intentions, reptiles who are taken to improper environments often perish due to the change and not having the ecosystem it needs to survive.
There is nothing wrong next time you or your child with having reptiles as pets, in fact, we think they are the best kind of pet to have. But please, thinks about bringing in a wild snake, lizard or any other reptile, think of the harm you are doing and opt to go to your local pet store or reptile show. Not only will you be able to get the reptile you want, you will be able to get all the information you need about habitat, feeding, and general reptile care.