July 08, 2010

Excellent Info about Keeping Reptiles as Pets

I ran across this website about keeping reptiles as pets. It appears to be a joint effort by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Thompson Rivers University. It has lots of great info on the true responsibilities and issues involved with keeping reptiles as pets.

If you use the search function on this blog and enter "turtle" or "Midori" you'll find lots of entries about our pet Red-Eared Slider. When we bought Midori as a wee babe in Tokyo, Japan, we had no idea what we were getting in to. She was about the size of a toonie then,  so cute, scrambly and rambunctious. Or terrified.

Some 15 years later, she's close to the size of a dinner plate, and slowly, but steadily growing every year. And she could be with us into our 70s or 80s. . .

When we moved to Canada from Japan, we had to get an import permit for Midori and a possession permit, for technically she is a wild animal, and not native to Canada to boot. You may scoff at that, and say that you've seen dozens of red-eared sliders all over the lower mainland of BC, and you'd be right - and wrong.

Yes, they're all over, but they are still an invasive species. All those red-eared turtles you see out there? They are not native, and they are impacting habitat, and resources for native species. And they really validate the website I'm plugging in this post, because most likely all those red-eared sliders out there are dumped pets.

So while we love Midori, we aren't allowed to let her breed, and we aren't allowed to ever set her "free" in the wild. Because the wild here is not her native wild. She'd also be an invasive species. And because as a turtle raised and cuddled and regularly fed by humans, she might not last long in the wild. She's been acclimated to human touch, to human feeding. . .  And not all humans are as loving as we are. And if she did last in the wild, she'd be competing with species that shouldn't be facing her and her kind.

So you think a reptile would be cool for a pet?

I know now. I've been there. I'll be there for another 20-30 years! And I wouldn't recommend turtles, cute as they are.

Posted by Paul at July 8, 2010 11:02 PM