, February 26, 2024

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Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets

  •   4 min reads
Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets
by Mariana Burgos

My daughter and I moved to my in-laws’ property in San Miguel, Bulacan, when the pandemic started and the lockdown commenced in March 2020. At the time, we believed it to be the safest choice we could make, and we were right.

Though the farm is quite far from the town center and my daughter’s school, it is the safest available place for us against this pandemic. Here, there is genuinely fresh air because of the abundance of trees and other vegetation. It is far from crowded places and there is enough space on which we can walk around outside if we get a little bored inside the house. We can bathe under the sun whenever there is good sunlight. And, the place is favorable for my daughter who is an aspiring veterinarian because there are various animal species to observe and study.

This is known as the red-eared slider turtle. (jose-ruales-IoR7WpZPNwM-unsplash. Photo from Unsplash Royalty-free images.)

Within the first seven ( 7) months in the farm, our pets increased in number. We had only one dog before transferring to the farm. Eventually, we adopted three (3) more dogs, and rescued two (2) kittens, a monitor lizard (bayawak in Tagalog), a sun skink (bubuli in Tagalog), three (3) eels (one of them is an albino eel), a snapping turtle, and a r ‘tiktik’ (the fabled type of bird that Filipino folklore says is used by an ‘aswang’ (Filipino version of a vampire) to lure its victims into its grasp.

We had quite a number of reptiles and amphibians. We set most of them free eventually. The ‘tiktik’ and the snapping turtle, though, did not make it through their recovery. They expired a few weeks after their rescue. Their injuries were too severe. But, at least, during their last moments, they saw and felt they were cared for. We did not just let them suffer out in the fields, alone and cold.

We are aware of the law about snapping turtles. We know it is already endangered and that it is unlawful to keep one as a pet. Here, at the farm, it is normal that you would see a snapping turtle every now and then. How can you not with the huge pond here? But that snapping turtle that we rescued did not come from our pond. It came from another area of the barangay. They got it from an area where there was construction going on. And that’s also why the poor turtle had some damage to its shell.

A green python is coiled up on a tree branch. (david-clode-vb-3qEe3rg8-unspalsh. from Unsplash Royalty-free images.)

According to Wikipedia, herptiles is a term used to refer to both reptiles and amphibians collectively. They are one of the pet industries’ fastest-growing subsectors both domestically and internationally.

Due to the fact that many people today lead increasingly hectic lifestyles and routines that frequently preclude them from being able to properly care for many more common domestic pets, reptiles and amphibians have also experienced a significant rise in popularity in recent decades. As a result, most reptiles and amphibians can be maintained much more easily than dogs, cats, or many other animals. It is necessary to maintain these advancements moving ahead to concentrate on all of these good improvements within the reptile and amphibian keeping hobby. This hobby is commonly known as herpetoculture, according to Wikipedia.

The ability to provide for the needs of each species in captivity is at the center of the moral discussion surrounding whether or not reptiles and amphibians can be kept as pets. Little is known concerning pet owners’ capacity to comprehend the conduct of their reptile and/or amphibian companions and to provide for their welfare.

A white-lipped tree frog is seen in the wild in Cairns Australia. (david-clode-UBN5a4IA3bk-unsplash. Photo from Unsplash Royalty-free images.)

According to Melanie Denomme and Glenn Tattersall in the article “Lizards, snakes and turtles: Dispelling the myths about reptiles as pets,” keeping reptiles as pets does provide some danger to the animals. It is simple to find inaccurate and contradictory information online, despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that reptiles have particularly poor welfare when compared to other pets. Thoughtful owners may end up keeping reptiles in poor surroundings, which can later result in a number of health problems that could have been avoided.

According to Denomme and Tattersall, interpreting the body language of reptiles and amphibians can be challenging because of their ectothermic (cold-blooded) nature, which makes it challenging to determine whether these species are in pain. Even worse, compared to mammals, reptiles frequently have a longer tolerance for serious health issues. In the end, this implies that reptiles can be kept carelessly for weeks, months, or even years.

This is called a forest dragon. (david-clode-cqlI1Xpki8E-unsplash. Photo from Unsplash Royalty-free images.)

The good news is that certain reptile welfare organizations on social media are working hard to compile and disseminate the most recent guidelines for caring for reptiles. The finest husbandry techniques and procedures for assessing the welfare of reptiles are always being improved by herpetologists, scientists who study reptiles and amphibians.

By properly caring for them as pets and dispelling myths about them, we might be able to raise awareness on reptiles’ cognitive abilities and better comprehend their unique appeal. And, more crucially, putting an end to harsh practices and achieving conservation goals for one of the poorest and least-researched animal groups.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard

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