Should I get a reptile for a pet?

Think before you purchase an exotic animal

Pet stores everywhere are filled with small, and somewhat large, creatures in cages and tanks.  People come in to our Simpsonville office and say they think it would be fun to own one.  “Ah, wouldn’t this one be so much company for Grandma?!”  Well, before you purchase, you should do some serious research and thinking.  The variety of exotics ranges from ferrets, rabbits, bearded dragons, guinea pigs, canaries…to turtles, reptiles and pythons.  Whatever  species you are considering, I highly recommend that you do your research before purchasing.   The care of an exotic pet can be strict and intensive, depending on the species.  Do not just do your research by talking to the pet store owner. Talk first to a veterinarian who works with exotic animals. Read  everything you can find about the species you are considering.  The internet is a vast store of information, but some online sources can be misleading. Checking with your Greenville, Simpsonville, or Travelers Rest, South Carolina veterinarian is the best place to start.

As veterinarians, we do wellness examinations post purchase.  After that, yearly exams are recommended.  When you bring your exotic pet in for a wellness exam, we go over important husbandry needs for that pet. We will do routine fecal examinations to test for intestinal parasites. This is very important because some parasites can be transmitted to humans.  As veterinarians we make sure you go home with adequate knowledge of common disease processes, proper care, and hygiene.

If you’re a veteran exotic owner, keeping up to date with new recommendations is important, as they can lengthen the lifespan of your pet.  When animals are taken out of their natural habitat and placed in artificial habitats in order to make them “pets,” it is our responsibility to create the best environment possible for them. It is also a duty to provide proper care for them and to meet their specific needs.


Dr. Jessica Traber