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Should Our Family Get a Reptile or Amphibian?

Tessa Jurewicz

Family Pets

If your family is looking for a great pet that is unique, you may want to consider a reptile or amphibian. This category of fascinating animals–known as herptiles–includes frogs, turtles, lizards, and some snakes. Many of them are colorful, playful, and full of antics. Here you will find a list of pros and cons for owning these extraordinary creatures.

Pros of Herptile Ownership 

  • They are hypoallergenic. If allergies are a concern as you think of adding a pet to your family, herptiles offer an allergy-free option.
  • Most reptiles and amphibians do not require much space. A herptile will need an appropriately sized terrarium or aquarium, but you won’t have to worry about needing extra room to roam because it requires little to no time out of its enclosure. The space required is dependent upon the size of the variety that you choose, which could be as small as a tree frog (typically less than two inches in size) or as large as the green iguana (can grow up to three feet long).
  • Herptiles are quiet and odorless. One of the best things for many families who keep an amphibian or reptile as a pet is its unassuming nature. They tend to be calm, quiet, low-maintenance creatures.
  • There is a vast variety of options within this group. With thousands of species of frogs, salamanders, lizards, (and more!) to choose from, a bit of research will help you find a good fit for your family. There are even many “beginner” species that are very easy to keep.
  • They are beautiful, fascinating creatures. It is an amazing educational experience to have a piece of the South American rainforest or the African savanna in your home and to observe these animals going about their business.


Cons of Herptile Ownership

  • They don’t bond with humans. The majority of herptiles do not care about human interaction. Some, such as most snakes and bearded-dragons, enjoy being handled, but they do not offer a great deal of companionship.
  • Most vets have limited experience with reptiles and amphibians. The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians recommends that prospective pet owners contact their local veterinarian to ask about the practice’s experience with caring for reptiles and amphibians before committing to owning such a pet.
  • Amphibians and reptiles require precise care. A recent study published in the Veterinary Record found that three-quarters of reptiles kept as exotic pets die within a year. Among the reasons for this substantial death toll are improper housing, substandard care, and inadequate feeding.
  • The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians states that many reptiles and amphibians are suitable as pets, and when bred in captivity they can promote the well-being of both the breed and their owners. However the ARAV strongly cautions owners that “state rules and regulations are constantly changing and it is the obligation of pet owners to follow local, state,and federal regulations affecting the ownership and sale of these animals.”[1]

Reptiles and amphibians are a unique option in your quest for a family pet. After looking at the pros and cons, consider whether owning a herptile could be right for your family.

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Tessa Jurewicz

Tessa Jurewicz is an accomplished writer who is passionate about helping parents find joy in raising a family. She has honed her passion while teaching elementary-aged children for fifteen years and earning a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. She practices discovering joy daily in raising three young children of her own.