Reptiles people keep as pets
Thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of people keep amphibians or reptiles as pets. We understand this fascination with frogs, lizards, and other herps; however, because of it, we advocate observing them in nature and leaving them in their natural homes. We discourage anyone from keeping an amphibian or a reptile as a pet.
Our no herp-as-pet stance includes local as well as foreign species. We adopted this position in the early 1970s, largely because of the poor maintenance of herps observed in pet stores, in their commercial shipment and capture. We wish the situation were now different. It is not! Yes, there is some improvement but in many cases, amphibians and reptiles are still shipped in over-crowded and unsanitary conditions (see examples in Franke & Telecky’s Reptiles As Pets, cited below) and poorly cared for in most pet stores. Look closely on your next visit to a pet store; you will likely see malnourished, sick animals and, not uncommonly, dead animals in the cages. We cannot support such commerce that removes animals from the wild and subjects them to torturous conditions and death.
Contrary to the common misconception, an amphibian or reptile is not a low maintenance pet as commonly proclaimed by the pet industry. Herps require less attention than a dog or cat, but they are not properly maintained by occasionally throwing them a cricket or mouse. Some kinds of amphibians and reptiles need to be kept alone; others do better if kept in groups; some eat a variety of foods, and others will eat only certain food types. A few species can survive and even reproduce in small cages or aquaria, but you would not confine a dog to such restricted quarters, and we do not recommend it for an amphibian or a reptile.
If you must have a snake or frog for a pet, please seek the advice of a local herp club or society, or even an internet herp group. Their members can advise you on the appropriate species for your situation, and they may even have animals for adoption. If you decide to purchase a pet-herp, choose a captive-bred species; again, with the advice of a herp group. Choose wisely because many pet reptiles grow large (more than 1 meter or yard in length) and live a long time (more than a decade). Are you able and committed to the proper care of an amphibian or reptile for that long? Venomous species should NEVER be kept in any household. Keeping a venomous species in your home is equivalent to leaving a loaded gun on the kitchen table.