Have a Warm Heart for Cold-Blooded Pets
By Barbara Jarvie Castiglia
While some might recoil at the thought of sharing their home with a non-furry companion, ownership of cold-blooded animals is soaring. In the reptile category alone, total sales of products are expected to reach between $550 and $650 million by 2024, according to Packaged Facts.
So, what exactly are cold-blooded animals and what do you need to know if you want to make one part of your family?
The quick answer is all animals except mammals and birds are cold-blooded. This includes reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and worms. Reptiles include animals like turtles, lizards, and snakes, while amphibians include frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Cold-blooded animals cannot regulate their internal body temperature with any changes in their environment, so they cannot survive in extreme temperature conditions. This means they do require their own habitat that needs to be properly maintained. Be sure to take care of these unique friends, for 75 percent of reptiles from pet stores die within the first year, according to World Animal Protection.
Pros and Cons of Cold-Blooded Pets
On the pro side of owning one of these critters is that coldblooded pets need a small, dedicated homebase, making them ideal for smaller spaces. In general, food costs are also considerably less than for a dog or cat.
Many cold-blooded animals do not affect people with allergies. Also, many do not give off odors, which can be especially important for some families.
Owning a fish, turtle, or snake can be a great way to bond with your children in a pet-care partnership. Also, these fun creatures can offer an excellent learning opportunity for science lessons with your kids, and these lessons can introduce them to new, unique terminology and concepts, allowing your children to have fun and learn about their pet.
On the con side: These pets do require diligent attention. They can’t be left for days without care, so if you’re going away, someone will have to check in on them. A number of cold-blooded creatures eat live animals for food, so think twice if you are squeamish about providing them with live prey. Some are nocturnal and may make a lot of nighttime noise, which could cause significant problems for the light sleepers in your house. You will also need to be prepared to adjust their habitat as they grow and as the seasons change, being sure to regulate humidity levels in their spaces.
Some cold-blooded animals have long lifespans, as long as 20 years, so you must be prepared for a long-term commitment with these pets. Some animals do not like to be touched and may not be a good fit for children who want to be hands-on.
New Pet Checklist
It’s important to complete considerable research on the type of pet you want, so you will know all the specific care and feeding requirements. Be sure to find a veterinarian in your area who will treat your new family member because your pet will need regular checkups and immunizations.
Be sure to acquire a captive-bred pet from a reputable rescue organization or shelter and do not pick one up in the wild. Wild animals could be carrying diseases such as salmonella, and you could be contributing to the endangerment of some species.
Be prepared to have an initial cost outlay for items to set up a habitat specific to the pet. These will include a secure enclosure to prevent escapes, lighting elements to provide heat, bedding, water dish, and hideaway spaces.