By Karen Truong
It wasn’t so long ago that shopping for a reptile meant going to the local cat and dog store and having to choose from a tiny section of unimpressive small lizards and snakes.
The options were few, and the knowledge of reptile care was even more limited.
If you had questions about the care of these reptiles, well, let’s face it, no one really knew what they were talking and every Internet page offered contradicting information.
Acquiring anything more than your regular corn snake, ball python, bearded dragon or leopard gecko meant you had to venture into the realm of “herp hobbyists” and “basement breeders” as we call them.
These herp(etology) hobbyists and basement breeders will surprise the unknowing with a plethora of reptile knowledge and then reinforce it with – quite literally – a basement full of reptiles they are independently breeding.
These people have a towering passion for reptiles and an insatiable thirst for learning more about them.
The oh-so-dramatic stereotype of pet snakes being an interest only to the lonely, brooding, gothic, creepy neighbour is a thing of the past. Today, reptiles are popular and even regarded as common to our generation of young families and individuals.
You will find them in your neighbourhood, in your condo building and even in the classroom where reptiles are steadily becoming favoured over the more traditional hamsters and guinea pigs.
Chances are, if you were to ask around you probably know someone who has some sort of googly eyed, scaly, four-legged or no legged pet reptile in her home.
So why are reptiles becoming mainstream? You see, you would never know there was a reptile unless someone told you. Reptiles are generally low profile and can be extremely low maintenance. They make little to no noise, there is zero odour, they never need to be walked and most of them do not require daily feeding.
This means you and your family can go away for a long weekend and never have to worry about boarding or feeding your pet.
The popularity of reptiles has absolutely exploded all over Toronto in the last decade.
The problem with reptiles in the past, in my opinion, is directly related to the lack of knowledge and experience the general public has about them. And of course Hollywood hasn’t helped by antagonizing reptile qualities to induce fear and suspense into the audience. Most implied behaviours of reptiles on the big and small screen are not accurate representations of the reptile in question.
In the last five years, the reptile sections of all pet stores has doubled, tripled and even quadrupled in size to meet the staggering demand for the ultra cool, new and scaly pet reptile.
With it, mass producers of pet products has also doubled and tripled their research and development resources to come up with cool and new reptile accessories and heating elements. You can now outfit your reptile terrarium with a never-before-seen decor and adornments.
Perhaps this means you should head out with your family and start considering buying a cute little reptile and join in on the latest trend of pets.
Karen Truong has loved reptiles for 15 years and opened All Reptiles in Scarborough at Kennedy Road and Hwy. 401) at the end of 2008 to share her passion. She owns 12 snakes, eight geckos, two tortoises, two giant lizards and a collection of dead rats in her freezer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org