So, I'm sure you've heard of the old song, "how much for that dog in the window," right? What if I turned that song upside down for you? Or, at least, showed you a new way to hear it.
Man's best friend has always been along the lines of something furry, four-legged, and eight out of ten times, it barks. But have you ever considered something different?
If you're looking for a new, exotic pet family member, then keep reading. I'll help you find out if a reptile or exotic is right for you, and if they are, which one to get. The main things you should consider first when buying an exotic is your lifestyle, budget, space, and time.
Your lifestyle will most likely be the first deciding factor of whether or not an exotic is right for you.
If you, like me and many of my friends, are living the military life, you should seriously consider your overall circumstances. Living in barracks or going on long term deployments aren't things that support owning an exotic, or really any pet. The same thing applies if you travel a lot for work because you would need someone to be able to look after your new friend. However, if you are working a steady schedule, maybe in the national guard, or a college student with some extra desk space, you may find you have room in your life for something scaly.
Budget, space, and time are all fairly interdependent as each species of exotic can cost more upfront or long term, need more space, need to be fed more, or cost more to feed.
Most reptiles and amphibians are in many ways easier than dogs or cats because more often than not, they don't need to be fed every day and they live in a confined terrarium. That being said, if you fancy an exotic without legs like snakes or legless lizards, or something with legs, you can find yourself looking at a variety of different care requirements. Whenever you decide on an exotic pet, you always need to research the environment that animals originate from, their diets, and what their growth rates and full sizes are.
For instance, a hognose snake may only reach three feet and needs a fairly middle of the road enclosure based on size, humidity, and heat, but a reticulated python (retic) can reach well over 12 feet in length and not only needs a massive enclosure, but large meals and some major heating and lighting. Some reptiles can cohabitate, some need "living" enclosures, and some need several feet of a substrate to dig into. They can live less than ten years like chameleons, or live decades like tortoises. If you want to spend around a hundred dollars you have plenty of options out there, and if money is no object then you can get yourself something really rare or special. You have a literal world of options out there to fill that empty slot in your heart and home.
If you're looking for the perfect beginner reptile, I would have to say that there really is no such thing.
With the proper amount of research, preparation, and full understanding of what you are committing to you can start anywhere. While there are definitely exotics that most of the keeper community would suggest not to get, there are hundreds of colors, breeds, sizes, and temperaments to choose from. Don't think reptiles have enough personality? I could introduce you to over a dozen of my own reptiles that would change your opinion about that.
If you decide to take the incredible leap into the world of exotics make sure you do your research, and always ensure your new family member is coming from a responsible breeder or importer. Still want more information? Stick around for more articles breaking down the pros, cons, and all of the needs of specific breeds.