Keeping reptiles as companion animals?
Can I get some thoughts on the ethics of this? Thanks.
I've got no strong feeling on this topic, but here are some thoughts:
Adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter is arguably good. You are saving the animal from an early death, and providing the animal with a happy life (we hope).
Certain dog breeds are so domesticated that they can't survive / thrive in the wild - we humans are obligated to take care of them.
Cats are able to survive on their own. Certain cats might be happier living freely, if given the chance to do so. To prevent overpopulation (in the absence of natural predators), cats should be spayed/neutered.
On the other hand, reptiles are non-domesticated animals. When you buy a reptile, you are likely buying it from a breeder, not from a shelter. Reptiles are probably happier on their own, in their natural habitat.
Reptiles belong in the wild. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a "box" (terrarium, house, etc.) when every instinct and desire is to be yourself, living your life as it should be lived (free from human interference).
@David3 makes good points, above. I haven;t looked for info about this, but you might want to inquire around to see of there are any reptile rescue organizations. I know some people (irresponsibly!!!) turn pet reptiles loose- or maybe they sometimes escape- witness the Burmese Python problem in Florida.
I don't know what kind of reptile you had in mind, but you could investigate if you wanted to avoid breeders or wild-caught animals (I honestly don't know if pet reptiles are wild-caught). I do know that people have purchased, for example, Sulcata tortoises when those tortoises were young and cute (and... most importantly... small.) When the tortoise grew big and strong enough to plow through a screen door, they realized they were in over their heads. I think even common green iguanas are sometimes re-homed to someone willing to take them in.
It's possible that people sometimes just get tired of their pet reptiles, as some of them can be quite long-lived- even if they're not as unmanageable as a 12-foot-long python or 200-pound tortoise. You could always ask around.
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