It’s a sticky question, and one that is made even more difficult by the amount of heartrending, passionate posts on social media. ‘Adopt don’t shop!’ is the cry, and it’s certainly a valid point of view.
After all, you wouldn’t be thinking of getting a new pet if you didn’t care about animals. And nobody likes to think of an animal suffering somewhere that they could help. You can change the world for that animal!
Not to mention the fact that there are a large number of dedicated people working very hard indeed to lessen the damage caused to living creatures by our throwaway society, and helping them is a hugely noble endeavour. So it must sound like the adopt route is the best one for everyone to take, all the time – right?
Well… not always. Like just about everything in life, it’s not as straightforward a decision as it might seem.
But it sounds like you don’t care!
Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. All of us here at Evolution got into this business because we wanted to make a difference. Not just a difference to individual animals, but to raise the standards of reptile keeping and overall welfare within the hobby, and thus (hopefully) not only benefit the animals themselves, but the people who keep them. Yes, we think about the welfare of the owner as well!
If you want to make a difference, you can take several routes. One is to volunteer at, work at, or run a rescue. The emotional cost of this is huge – you are dealing every single day with animals harmed by indifference, ignorance or neglect, and trying to help people who often have to rehome their animals due to terrible personal circumstances they have no control over. The toll this takes on any individual is immense, and I have nothing but admiration for anyone who takes this route. The sad truth is that whilst you are helping animals, you can struggle to make a difference overall.
Another way is to take the education route. Either as an experience or encounters organisation that visits schools and corporate events, takes in unwanted animals and restores them to health so that they can meet the public and act as ambassadors to their kind; hand out leaflets and dispense advice. A wonderful vocation, but wave farewell to your evenings and weekends!
Or you can try and fix things before they go wrong. That’s our approach. We try to help you find the right pet for your lifestyle, activity levels, home, level of engagement, and make sure that you are equipped with the correct housing and advice to go with it. When this happens you end up with a pet that is happy in its home, and one that you are happy to look after in order to ensure a long and comfortable life. That’s why we ask so many questions! Iguanas are wonderful lizards, but for most people a bearded dragon is going to make a much, much better pet.
That’s what we do. We make sure that you start out on your reptile-keeping journey armed with great information, ideal equipment, and a healthy, strong pet.
So… don’t adopt, is that what you’re saying?
Absolutely not. Adopting a pet that has had a hard start in life can be the most rewarding experience there is. You get an animal that might well be the pet of your dreams, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve saved a life.
Rescuing an animal can be the biggest achievement ever – or it can be the most devastating heartbreak. Now, we’re just talking about reptiles here; dogs, cats, small mammals and birds are all different, and each species must be taken on its own merit. We aren’t in a position to advise about those. But reptiles we do know.
The advantage you have with a rehomed reptile is that they do not form the same sort of emotional bond with an owner that a dog, say, or a cat does. Most snakes really don’t care who is on the other end of the rat, as long as there is a rat. Beardies like their routine, but a handful of locusts soon has them happy again. So you don’t have to deal with the emotional fallout of a new home; take it steady, and your new pet should soon settle in.
The trouble is that reptiles cannot tell you when they are unwell. Sometimes, the damage done by the previous owner lurks deep inside, and can cause you – who should be now enjoying a whole new relationship with their new companion – terrible worry and heartbreak. Vets bills are not cheap, second hand setups often require expensive upgrading, and what at first seemed an ideal solution to the wish for a new pet can become a very pricey nightmare.
But I want to help!
Compassion is never, ever wrong. But at the end of the day, you need to really think hard about what it is you are hoping to achieve.
If you would just like a nice family pet, trouble free and enjoyable to keep, you are likely to be better off buying pet and equipment from scratch from a reputable reptile specialist that cares enough to ask you a lot of questions. One that offers follow up advice, one that tries hard to give you the most up to date information from the most reputable sources. One that has an emotional as well as a financial investment in your satisfaction, and the overall welfare of your pet.
You can still volunteer for a rescue; donate money, raise funds or just raise awareness – all these things can really help! There are a huge number of organisations out there that are desperate for just this sort of assistance.
Please, please, be wary of the adverts on internet selling sites that offer animal and setup
very cheap – or even free. It’s not uncommon for individuals to rehome an animal because they don’t want to take it to a vet; we’ve heard a lot of excuses given to people to explain the animal’s under or overweight condition, lethargy, unwillingness to eat, or any one of a huge number of other symptoms that should ring alarm bells. If that ‘free to a good home’ animal is anything less than bouncing with health, bright eyed and happy – walk away.
Can you recognise a sick reptile
It’s hard. It’s awful. But taking on an animal in poor health is a huge commitment in time, energy, and ultimately – money.
Adopt, rescue, rehome. All very noble. But not always what they’re cracked up to be.
Buying a healthy new pet does not make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. We are not evil people out to take all your money!
Taking on a new pet is a huge decision. It’s an investment in time, energy and, yes, money. But take a little time to consider the options, and that new member of the family should be worth every bit of it.