This is a collaborative post
Growing up the only pets we had were a goldfish (which unfortunately didn’t last very long!) and a guinea pig which was great until we discovered I was allergic to it. Looking after a pet can be a great lesson for any child, it teaches responsibility and can improve self-esteem, so getting a pet when Toby is a bit older is something we might look into. However, it turned out that not only was I allergic to our guinea pig, I’m allergic to all animals with hair, fur or feathers so our pet choices are rather limited! There are plenty of other reasons too that the fluffy variety of pet isn’t for everyone – toilet training, feeding and walking all take time and patience. Not always in great supply in busy households!
A reptile could be a great choice of pet for us for a variety of reasons. A key factor is that reptiles are great for anyone with allergies, due to the lack of pet hair. They are also very low maintenance, as they don’t need feeding or taking for a walk every day. Reptiles are quiet too, which is always an advantage! They will need some special housing and equipment, so a good retailer such as Swell Reptiles is ideal, to ensure you have the best kit.
There are a few things to bear in mind before getting a reptile as a pet – salmonella is a concern amongst reptile keepers with children. If you have children under 5 or anyone with a frail immune system, then a reptile is not for you (so we would definitely have to wait a few more years before getting a reptile as pet for Toby). Older children should be taught to thoroughly wash their hands after handling, to avoid contamination. Just as with any pet, you should do some research on the right one for your family. Children can get involved in this too and learn about their prospective pet.
If you are thinking about getting a pet then here are a few recommendations of pet reptiles for children:
These passive little lizards are great for beginners as they don’t require constant supervision.
• They need a terrarium, a heat lamp and mat to keep them in the right climate but other than that they are easy to keep.
• They can eat ready-made food, so perfect for those who don’t like insects.
• Crested Geckos live for around 15 – 20 years.
Another member of the Gecko family, Leopard Geckos are a popular choice due to their appealing looks.
• They can live a long time, some have been known to live for 20 years.
• They are happy to live alone or in pairs and will thrive with constant handling.
• This species eat live crickets, which are easily available on line from good retailers.
• He will need a heat mat and a thermostat to regulate the temperature.
Another popular choice due to their distinctive appearance, they are great for older children.
• They are small as babies, but they can grow to a huge size – needing a big enclosure.
• They can be kept alone, in fact most prefer it.
• They eat a lot, so the vivarium will need cleaning out regularly.
• They also thrive when handled enough, so set aside time to play with him.
• They can live for around 10 years, so they are a long term investment.
These snakes are great for families who are busy during the day, as they are nocturnal.
• They don’t mind being alone, as they live alone in the wild.
• A corn snake will need a basking lamp and a heat mat to keep him warm and healthy. This initial set up can be costly, but after this it shouldn’t cost much to maintain.
• To keep him active, he will need some logs and other equipment.
• They have a life span of around 15 – 20 years in captivity, so another long term pet.
These are just a few of the best reptiles for children, other lizards, tortoises and some snakes are great too. Speak to your local vet or reptile specialist for more advice. And if we do decide to get a reptile as a pet in the future then I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!