the past various veterinary authorities have made strong recommendations to
the public about where they should or should not buy pets from. These
recommendations followed scandalous reports in the '70's about the
neglect and abuse of puppies in so-called "puppy farms". As a result
many countries (including the UK) have now introduced legislation to control
establishments involved in the breeding and
selling of animals.
If you are thinking
about buying a reptile the first thing to do is to realise the commitment
you are going to have to make to look after it properly...to ensure that you
provide all the necessary :
- Environmental conditions - temperature,
are several possible places you can get a reptile :
- A neighbour, relative or friend - good idea
as you probably know a lot about the background conditions and care of the
animal. BUT see Guidelines below
- A specialist serious breeder - generally a good
idea - if anyone knows how to breed and rear reptiles properly a breeder should. Still, see Guidelines below
- A casual breeder - careful -
do they really know what they are doing ? Are they just in it for the
money. See Guidelines below.
- A pet shop (small private concern) - not a
bad idea if the reptile has genuinely come from a good source and the pet
shop is clean, well run and practices good basic hygiene - see Guidelines
- A pet store (large chain) - not a bad idea
if the Pet Store is well run, clean, practices good hygiene and they
can give assurances about the origin of the reptile. See Guidelines below.
Here are some Guidelines to follow before you buy an
you follow these Guidelines you should reduce the chances of disappointment
with your new pet.
a) Consider your situation first
- Do not buy a reptile unless you are sure that the one you get will suit
your life style, that you can afford to look after it properly, and
that you have the time to commit to it.
- NEVER buy on impulse - for example, when you see a stunning, giant snake
shop window don't rush in and buy it.
- Can you afford to look after a reptile properly ?
- Have you got the time to look after a reptile properly ?
b) The premises
It is important to be satisfied about the health standards of the
establishment that you are buying the reptile from :
- The most important single Guideline is this : Whenever possible buy from
a source that has been recommended to you by an independent person - a
friend, neighbour, a well known breeder or member of the family. Someone whose judgment you can
- Satisfy yourself that the premises are clean and tidy. Are the
animal's tanks clean? Ask to inspect "behind the
- Are the animals themselves clean ?
- Is there fresh, clean water available ?
- Are animals from different sources kept separately (advisable) or are
they mixed together (not desirable as this increases the likelihood of
exposure to disease) ?
- If you have not been given a personal recommendation about the
establishment - ask them to give you the names of three reference sites
where you will get a positive endorsement.
- Where appropriate satisfy yourself that the establishment is a registered facility and
that it satisfies all local registration requirements. Ask to see their
Certificates of Registration.
- Poisonous reptiles may be subject to local legislation controlling their
ownership eg in the UK the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 - check with
your local authorities
c) The reptile
Buying a sick reptile is the worst possible start for you and for your new
pet. There are plenty of healthy reptiles looking for a new home. Think
THREE times about the possible consequences before you commit to buying a pet
that is obviously ill. Signs to look for are :
- Not eating food
- Abnormal appearance - abnormal colour, sores on the skin
- Large number of surface parasites
- Signs of diarrhoea or other discharges
- Sores in the mouth
This is particularly true if you are going to introduce the
animal into a household with young children. They will be heartbroken if you
have to take the animal back because of illness or if it dies.
- Never buy a reptile that looks ill
- If you are buying an expensive reptile insist that the vendor has the
creature checked and gets a clean bill of
health from a veterinarian who specialises in reptiles before you buy it
WHEN IN DOUBT - DO NOT BUY !