The statements below are based on both facts and our opinions. If you agree with them or not, we still wanted to put them out there in case anyone wanted to give them a read through. Thank you.
Any new reptile should be placed into quarantine upon arrival into your home. It doesn’t matter if you got it from a friend, a breeder, a pet store, caught in the wild, or even from us. Even if the new reptile came from the same source as your current reptile, it should still be quarantined. The purpose of quarantine is to isolate a new reptile from your established reptile(s) so it can be monitored for contagious disease.
Things to watch for when a reptile is in quarantine are it’s general appearance and behavior, defecation and urination, internal or external parasites, wheezing or gasping, irregular movements or unnatural postures, and that it is feeding properly. Weight should be monitored (measured with a reliable scale) on a weekly basis, and fecal tests are also recommended.
The quarantine area should be as far away from the established reptile(s) as possible. If at all possible, the best scenario for isolation would be a separate building, but in most situations, using a room on the opposite end of the house will suffice.
The accepted duration for quarantine varies. Some people feel comfortable with a minimum of 30 days of quarantine, others recommend that the minimum be 60 or 90 days. We recommend erring on the side of caution, especially if the reptile came from a questionable source or a location where it may have been exposed to lots of other reptiles (an expo, pet store, etc).
The established reptile(s) and those in quarantine should have a completely different set of tools and supplies – different cleaning supplies, feeding tongs, spray bottles, paper towels, vitamin supplements, etc. Reptiles in quarantine should be kept simply – enclosures, dishes, and cage furniture should be easy to disinfect. Using disposable items when possible is best. Substrate should be paper towel, newspaper, or similar as it is easier to monitor for mites and irregular feces.
Any tasks should be performed with your current reptile(s) before dealing with any animal in quarantine. This means feeding, enclosure maintenance, and even handling. This may help reduce the transmission of anything to your healthy animals. It’s a good idea to wear gloves and even a lab coat or something similar. Remember to take off any jewelry or accessories such as watches, bracelets, or rings. Clothes should be removed immediately after working with animals in quarantine and put in the laundry, or bagged until they can be washed. The established collection should not be handled (or visited) again until you have showered and changed clothes.
RELEASING AN ANIMAL
Non-native wildlife can become an invasive species, competing for food and resources with native species. Captive herps may be carrying micro-organisms which they have developed immunity against, but that wild herps have not.
Releasing reptiles and amphibians outside their home range, even if it’s a similar habitat, still usually results in the animal’s death. Keep in mind, most herps have established home ranges that they have imprinted on since birth. Year after year, they use the same resources in this home range and know where the resources are to keep them alive. When released in an unfamiliar environment, they may not be able to find food, water, shelter, shelter, a place to hibernate, or know how to avoid native predators. Studies show that as many as 80-90% of released herps do not survive through the first winter if released outside their home range.
Please, think carefully before “helping” a wild reptile by placing it into captivity. While many people have good intentions, their actions still may have dire consequences for the animal involved. Instead of releasing any reptile or amphibian, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center or rescue.
CAN YOU PROPERLY CARE FOR THE ANIMAL?
Different types of reptiles grow to varying sizes, eat different diets, and can have long lifespans.
Before you purchase or even “rescue” an animal, you need to make sure you’re prepared to provide for it properly. Some of the questions you should ask yourself are if you can spare the space for it’s needed housing, can you afford to keep up with it’s diet, will you be able to “stomach” dealing with what it may eat (bugs, rats, etc), and are you prepared to provide for said animal for it’s entire life? (some may live 30 years or more)
Please do plenty of research and use various sources. There is no “one stop” for all the answers, even we are constantly learning what we can.
ARE YOU ACTUALLY HELPING?
Seeing an animal in need of help may lead you to jump at trying to provide that help……but should you?
By purchasing a reptile at a pet store, classified ad, etc because it may have issues, are you actually helping the animal or just helping the place it came from by clearing up space for more “inventory”? Even if you turn it over to a rescue, or a rescue picks it up directly from the source themselves, is that helping? Guess what? There might not be a wrong or right answer to that, it’s just not that simple unfortunately.
One thing to consider however is this…..can you properly care for that animal yourself? Do you have everything it needs to survive or can you afford to buy everything if you don’t have it already? Can you afford any vet bills that may arise especially if someone mentioned that it was sick and that’s why they’re re-homing it?
RESCUE vs PET OWNER vs COLLECTOR
What’s the difference? It’s pretty simple in our opinion:
A Rescue will take an animal in due to various circumstances, rehab it, then find it a new loving home. Of course there’s a lot involved in those steps, but that’s what a rescue’s main focus should be.
A Pet Owner will buy an animal because it’s something they’re truly interested in. They’ll do their best to provide it with a spacious and sometimes lavish home, give it attention as much as possible, and make sure it’s fed a proper diet.
A Collector will usually buy or “rescue” an animal out of impulse. Sometimes they also only stick to certain types of animals and avoid others. They then house them in minimal conditions, might not give them much attention, and will feed them just what is needed for it’s survival. We understand that owning ANY type of animal can become a type of compulsive habit but we may need to stop and think “is this really good for the animal involved, or is this just for me?”