All About Animals: The Issues (Ages 11-14): ‘Exotic’ Animals
We know that dogs, cats and rabbits are intelligent and sensitive, but some people forget that “exotic” animals like snakes and lizards are intelligent and sensitive, too.
Research has shown that snakes quickly learn about their environment and that reptiles communicate with one another in a number of ways. But their intelligence is often overlooked, and many captive reptiles live alone, without one of their own kind to communicate with. Snakes, spiders, lizards and iguanas have very special needs and must have the right temperature, humidity level and amount of light.
Some snakes live for more than 20 years and grow taller than adults. They need lots of special care, along with fresh water, the right temperature, special treatments to keep them safe from bugs, like mites and large, spic-and-span tanks.
Green iguanas also need a lot of care. Many people find out too late that they can’t take good care of an iguana. When that happens, many lizards are given away or left outside alone. Iguanas can live for more than 20 years and grow to be 2 metres long! If an iguana is kept in a cage, the cage must be really big with controlled temperatures and ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is important for the production of Vitamin D which iguanas need to help them digest calcium. Iguanas also have a very special diet and if they aren’t given the right food, they can easily die. Do you think it’s fair to keep an iguana in a cage or should he be in a forest far away, where he belongs?
So you see, “exotic” animals have very special needs that many people don’t understand or appreciate. If you are keen to take care of an animal like this, think hard. Be sure that you are considering what is best for your new future friend and not just thinking about what you want. If you do lots of research and your family completely understands and accepts the special care a lizard, turtle or iguana needs, contact your local rescue centre to find out if the type of animal you want is available. Why not visit the following Web sites to see if they can you find the right rescued animal:
- Mitcham Reptile Rescue: www.budgetwebsiteservices.co.uk/mrr
- The Exotic Animal Welfare Trust, Co Durham, www.eawt.org
- South Wales Reptile Group, www.southwalesreptiles.org.uk
If they haven’t got the type of animal you hoped for, why not give a good home to a different kind of animal instead? They all need our help!