Before taking in a lizard, a snake or tortoise, individuals must be

ready for a lengthy commitment.

While dogs and cats might be the first to come to mind when consideringcompanion animals, these furry friends are far from the only option.

In anticipation of National Reptile Awareness Day (Oct. 21), the Pet IndustryJoint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is spreading the word that, with informedselection and proper care, reptiles—including lizards, snakes, and turtles—canmake wonderful pets.

“More than 4.5 million American households own reptile pets, and, as morepeople recognize the benefits of pet companionship to help cope with socialisolation and stress during the pandemic, we expect that number to grow,” saysPIJAC’s board chair, John Mack. “We continue to urge prospective reptileowners to do careful research and consult with experts before making theownership commitment.”

Here are five considerations veterinarians should share with clients who areconsidering a reptile as a pet:

1) Legality
Like any exotic pet, individuals should check state and local laws to see ifthe specific reptile they are considering is permitted.

2) Lifespan
Before taking in a reptile companion, potential owners should understand thecommitment they are making. In captivity, frogs can have a lifespan of 10years, while some lizards and tortoises can live 30 and 50 years,respectively.

3) Habitat
Providing suitable temperature, humidity, and lighting to imitate areptile’s natural environment is essential for creating and maintaining ahealthy habitat.

4) Handling
Like most animals, reptiles may carry bacteria that can lead to illness inhumans. It is essential to follow equipment-disinfecting guidelines and towash hands thoroughly after handling a reptile, its food, waste, or habitat.

5) Diet
While some reptiles consume processed pellets or fruit/vegetables, othersrequire a live diet ( e.g. rodents for snakes, crickets for lizards andiguanas, etc.).

Source: Veterinary Practice News USA

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