Reptile keeping is different in many ways than keeping other kinds of pets. Reptiles have very specific feeding and environmental requirements that vary greatly from species to species. People who keep reptiles for pets are not rewarded with companionship as they get from a dog or cat. Instead, it allows people to observe and understand these creatures. Some of the most popular reptiles adopted as pets are turtles, snakes, and lizards.
Reptiles are often lumped by people with amphibians. This is because reptiles, which descended from amphibians, share some physical characteristics with their frog relatives. Like amphibians, reptiles are cold-blooded animals that lay shelled eggs. Unlike amphibians, they have scute- or scale-covered skin and don't go through larval stage. Reptile keeping is more formally known as herpetoculture, a word coined by Tom Huff. Because they are cold-blooded animals, they rely on ambient environment to maintain their body temperature. As with fish, the key to successful reptile keeping is in providing one's pet the same conditions they have in the wild. Recreating these living conditions in an enclosed ecosystem called vivarium can be a little more requiring than setting up an aquarium. To best simulate the reptile's ecosystem in a smaller scale, environmental controls for lighting, temperature, and humidity have to be in place.
Controversy: Certain animal activities and professional herpetologists feel strongly against reptile keeping as a hobby. They argue that the collecting of reptiles from the wild for pet trade adversely impacts wild populations and disturbs ecology in the wild. While many captive reptiles sold at pet stores and reptile shows are products of breeding, many are still collected from the wild.
Reptiles as mainstream pets: The popularity of reptiles as pets has grown immensely in the last few years. In some countries such as the UK, reptiles being kept as pets have even superseded the number of dogs and cats. In the US alone, there's as estimated 7.3 million reptiles kept as pets. In the UK, the number has grown to more than 8 million.
Reptile keeping as a hobby: What once was once a niche hobby is now part of the mainstream. Reptile keeping as a hobby is not cheap - there are upfront costs to be made towards the making of vivarium and ongoing costs for food. They have very specific food and environmental requirements that are often difficult to reach. Because of this, reptiles are the ones least likely to reach their natural span than any other pet. These have not keep thousands of people from getting their own pet reptile. After all, the enjoyment one gets from owning a pet reptile outweigh the disadvantages. Reptiles require less upkeep, making them perfect fit for modern lifestyles.
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