Friday, April 24, 2009

My First Herps

There came a point where gathering reptiles from the swamp wasn't enough for me anymore. I wanted a reptile I could have in my room with me 24/7.

One day mom had to go out of town and I pounced. Dad was a sucker for my smile and I convinced him to get me a pair of Red Ear Sliders and an Iguana. Needless to say mom was not a happy camper when she came home. The turtles were dirty and smelly, and the iguana had a bad temper. We had made a common first time reptile buyer mistake. We didn't do any research first, we went into a pet store and picked out what looked good. We couldn't have selected two more difficult species for first time herp keepers. Mom eventually put her foot down after several turtle bites and a trip to the vet with the Iguana. To my dismay we returned the animals to the pet store. To this day I hope all three of them found good homes with experienced reptile owners.

My parents made me wait several more years until they thought I was responsible enough to get another reptile.

I did a lot of research both online and in the library and I decided upon a Leopard Tortoise. My parents took me to the pet store and I picked out Henry.

Henry was my faithful companion for many years. He loved coming out of his tank for walks, having his neck scratched and he especially seemed to like getting his weekly bath. Unfortunately, Henry has passed away. One winter we got a terrible snow storm and the power went out for days. I wrapped Henry's tank in a blanket and spent as much time holding him close to my body as I could, but I still couldn't save his life. I miss Henry to this day and have not yet added another tortoise to my her collection. RIP Henry.

My point is, reptiles can be a source of great joy in the life of a responsible keeper. Not enough people research the animal they're getting beforehand and are seriously disappointed when it doesn't work out. All reptiles have specific heating and lighting requirements, many have special nutritional needs. Some reptiles commonly available in the pet trade get enormous in size, others will out live their owners. Do the foot work and look into a pet before you buy.

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