Reptiles are amazing creatures. Whether you are interested in snakes, lizards, or turtles, there is always something different and fascinating to be learned. Children are also intrigued by the foreign looking animals, with scales and shells rather than skin and hair, and often convince their parents to let them have a newt or a snake to keep them company in their room, a turtle or salamander to study for a science fair project. It is estimated that there are over 11 million reptiles being held as pets in America, 11 million snakes and lizards and turtles that act as pets for our children, but bring many risks into our households that few realize.
Reptiles are not meant to be kept as pets. Like most animals, they are meant to be in their natural environment, usually in large spaces, with fresh water, variety of food, and predators to weed out the weak. In a domestic environment, reptiles are forced to live in small cages, in which they are in close contact with water that they are forced to eat and defecate in, creating a high chance that the reptile may become sick with bacteria or infection. Now if you asked the average pet owner how to tell if a reptile is sick or not, few would be able to answer. Therefore, reptiles may become sick, stay sick, and could get you and your family ill.
The biggest health risk in keeping reptiles is the threat of Salmonella, a bacteria which many reptiles carry and can transmit to humans. Salmonella can cause life threatening symptoms in people, including severe dehydration, through bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. In children and elderly people, this bacterium is not only severe, but can kill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 5% of all Salmonella cases were caused by exposure to some form of reptile. leopard gecko for sale
Because the risk is so great, it is important to take safety precautions when working or playing with reptiles in your own home. For example:
· Wash your hands with warm water and soap, or use a disinfectant after any contact with reptiles
· Keep reptiles away from any food or food preparation
· Make sure any open wounds or sores you have are covered if you come into physical contact with a reptile
· Avoid contact of elderly and infant with reptiles
Reptiles are meant to be in the wild. However, as reptiles become more and more popular, especially with children, it is important to keep health and safety in mind when caring for your reptile pets.