Pets As Presents
At what point is it acceptable to give a pet as a present? We have all heard the saying ‘a dog is for life and not just for Christmas’, and it’s certainly true that the giving of puppies and kittens as presents is, in almost all cases, a terrible idea.
There are an awful lot of very well written articles on the internet about it, so we won’t repeat them here. Except to give one piece of advice, which is DON’T.
We, however, do not sell mammals. And it’s certainly true that the emotional needs of a reptile are very, very different from the emotional needs of a mammal or a bird; however, there are still several factors to take into account.
One: Does the recipient know about the gift?
We are often told ‘oh, this person has always wanted a tortoise, so we thought we’d get one for them!’
This is a staggeringly bad idea.
Every pet, from a horse to a hissing cockroach, needs to be looked after. And there are different levels of involvement; a snake requires less attention than a lizard, which in turn is not as complex as a tortoise and does not even approach the attention needed for a dog!
So to hand over an animal – even if you have bought all of the necessary equipment to keep that animal magnificently – and announce that you have just taken up several hours of a person’s time every week for the next fifteen years? Possibly not the best gift. Bit of a bind, really. Most of us don’t have a lot of spare time, and may well be quite miffed if someone takes up what little time we have, even if it’s an animal we have admired from afar for many years.
We might not have bought one for a reason. We may not want to spend time learning about the local native flora to feed our tortoise, or cultivate a big patch of spiky plants to give it a good diet. We may not have the time to handle a bearded dragon, or we may not want to keep frozen mice next to the ice creams in the freezer. (Safety tip – keep all frozen rodents away from your own food – a separate freezer is best, or if that’s not possible then use a separate drawer. See, this is what we mean!)
We will not sell an animal to you if you’re going to surprise someone with it.
(This includes spiders, scorpions, the aforementioned hissing cockroaches, and even land snails. Do not surprise anyone with anything alive.)
HOWEVER. If the recipient does know about the gift (‘I know you’ve been saving up for a bearded dragon, we thought we’d buy you one for Christmas’), then the situation can be very different.
After all, a reptile does not free roam around the house; it will come with its own safe space – with a lock, if necessary! – and after a quick handling session on Christmas morning it will, in all likelihood, be left alone in that safe space while you get on with your day.
This suits reptiles just fine. We will help you choose and setup your desired habitat, and give you all the information you need to help you and the recipient of your gift settle their new pet in successfully.
(As an aside, what can work extremely well is giving someone a full habitat for their desired species – and then coming to see us after Christmas to pick the particular animal to live in it. You can’t wrap a bearded dragon, but a vivarium is easy!)
Two: Have you run out of gift ideas?
Another favourite from the festive season – ‘I don’t know what else to get them, and they’ve always liked animals.’
If the recipient already has a reptile then consider buying decor, branches, or a new thermometer; offer to accompany them to come and see us so that they can choose their own gift!
We stock soft toys, badges, books, key rings and houseplants – any one of these things would make a marvellous present. If you’re not sure, drop us a line or give us a call and we should be able to point you towards a suitable gift.
Three: I need a cheap pet.
Don’t even go there.
fluffy and plastic toys – easy to care for, a limited commitment, and don’t need cleaning out!
In conclusion – it’s not always a terrible idea to buy a reptile as a present. But it takes just as much thought, preparation and care as at any other time of the year, and it should never, ever be taken lightly. We’re more than happy to talk the process through with you, and help you to select the right pet for your lifestyle; perhaps you really are ready for the eighty year commitment of a tortoise, or maybe a lovely tarantula is right up your alley. (Or your Christmas tree, if you’re not careful.)
But nothing is ‘only’ anything (as in, ‘it’s only a snake’, for instance), and no animal is disposable.
Keep that in mind, and it might just be the time to take that plunge into the wonderful world of reptile keeping!