Do Reptiles Make Good Pets?
For many years, there has been an ongoing debate between reptile enthusiasts and animal-welfare experts about whether it’s ethical to keep reptiles and amphibians as pets. Those who have successfully kept reptiles healthy with proper food, housing and medical care say it’s entirely appropriate, while people on the other side of the conversation cite concerns about the animals’ well-being and the sustainability of keeping exotic pets in homes.
At Canvas Chameleons, we are obviously on the side of the debate that says it’s entirely possible to keep chameleons as pets, and we’re dedicated to helping people who have chosen this lifestyle become more informed through this website. Yes, it’s true chameleons and other reptiles and amphibians have unique husbandry needs that are a bit outside of what an average dog, cat or fish requires, but that’s what makes it so rewarding to care for them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons chameleons can make good pets.
Chameleons Can Fit Your Lifestyle
Many people are naturally drawn to chameleons because they are fascinating to watch. You can learn a lot about their behavior just by sitting near their cage and observing their movements. A chameleon cage can be like having a living art installation in your home, especially if you choose to provide live greenery to create hiding places for your pet.
Chameleons are also quiet, odorless and don’t make a mess, so they can be a good fit for your lifestyle if you have always wanted a pet, but don’t like the idea of a noisy, untidy animal like a bird or a dog. Obviously, people who are allergic to pet dander may naturally gravitate toward getting a reptile, as well.
Exotic Pet Ownership Inspires Conservation
For some people, reptiles and amphibians come with bad reputations. Because they’re not cuddly creatures, it’s easy to assume they are dangerous or scary, even though chameleons are harmless. In fact, the animals aren’t nearly as destructive as the exotic pet trade that takes animals from their homes and threatens their habitats.
Unscrupulous animal traders are notorious for using unregulated and sometimes illegal methods of capture and transportation, all in the name of making money faster. Reptiles and amphibians who are unfortunate enough to get captured by these people experience illness, injury and even death due to overcrowding, stress and inadequate nutrition and hygiene.
If you are interested in bringing a reptile or amphibian into your life, don’t support these unethical practices. Seek out a reputable captive breeder who can guarantee your pet’s health history and is willing to work with you to ensure your pet’s fitness.
Is Chameleon Ownership Ethical?
When caring for a dog or cat, it’s usually relatively easy to tell when they’re happy and healthy. Humans domesticated both species generations ago, and they have evolved to live alongside us as companion pets for thousands of years. In contrast, reptiles and amphibians are still very much wild animals, which is another reason some animal-rights activists have questioned the ethics of keeping them as pets.
However, captive-bred chameleons don’t know any other way of life. Even if you could somehow transport your chameleon back to his native habitat and release him into the wild, that would certainly be cruel, as it’s unlikely he would be able to survive long.
If you’re a first-time chameleon owner, keeping your pet happy and healthy may indeed seem like a challenge when you consider their requirements for food, water, lighting, temperature and humidity. However, just as responsible pet parents provide a high standard of care for their dogs, cats, birds and fish, it is possible, with effort and education, to properly keep a chameleon in your home.
Your first step is talking with an expert, like your trustworthy chameleon breeder or an exotic vet who specializes in reptiles and amphibians, to learn about all the do’s and don’ts of chameleon keeping. If you’re just starting out, it’s not wise to rely on Internet research – even well-meaning people could unwittingly be providing misinformation that will steer you astray.