From geckos and skinks to pythons and even turtles, Tim Falk examines everything you need to know about owning your very first reptile.
If you’re an animal lover who adores all creatures great and small, perhaps a traditional pet like a dog or cat might not be quite right for you. Dogs and cats are great, no doubt about it, but you want something a little different — a pet that’s as interesting as it is beautiful. If this sounds like you, a reptile could very well be your perfect pet. “Reptiles are unique,” says Michelle Marks from Western Reptile Rescue. “I have no doubt that this is the fundamental reason for any owner’s interest in them.”
Having spent nine years working as a reptile specialist in a large pet store, and now running a reptile rescue organisation that accepts and re-homes pet reptiles and amphibians, Michelle knows why the prospect of keeping a reptile as a pet can be so attractive.
“For some it is the joy of having a native animal as a pet, for others it is the mysterious side of scaly, ‘cold-blooded’ creatures. Some just enjoy having something different from everyone else,” she says. Reptiles can be ideal pets for many reasons: they are quiet, clean, and don’t shed fur or cause allergies. “For these reasons a landlord may not approve dogs, cats or birds in their rental property but may be happy for a reptile. They do not require as much exercise and can be suitable for busy workers who do not have the time to spend with other pets,” Michelle says.
Western Reptile Rescue
Western Reptile Rescue specialises in the rescue and rehabilitation of reptiles. “We are one of the few organisations in Australia that rescue, rehabilitate and re-home unwanted, neglected or injured pet reptiles,” Michelle says. “We also provide rescue and rehabilitation of wild reptiles (and other wildlife) with the aim to release them back into the wild when they have recovered from their injury or illness.
“Our volunteers also relocate reptiles that are in a tricky situation, for example venomous snakes that pose a potential threat to family or pets, or any reptiles that are at risk of injury or death if not relocated.” While every circumstance is different, Michelle says that Western Reptile Rescue most commonly accepts reptiles from owners who no longer want them, cannot care for them or if they become sick or injured due to incorrect husbandry. “This is why I emphasise doing research prior to purchasing a reptile to ensure that their needs are met,” she says.
Other reasons reptiles need to be rescued may be due to the owner relocating interstate or overseas or reptiles that are too ‘aggressive’. Sometimes accidents happen and babies are born without the owner having the confidence, experience or equipment to raise them properly.
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