you a parent or doting grandparent, aunt or uncle considering giving a
child that reptile she or he has been begging you for? Do you know someone
considering buying a reptile for their child or niece or nephew, godchild,
grandchild or cousin? Encourage them to talk to the parents first...and
to encourage the parent to do some research into the suitability and care
requirements before they approve of such a gift.
The holidays are a time
of giving, but please, don't make a present of a living animal, especially
to children. Instead, why not make a gift of a book about an animal they
are interested in, the latest iguana care video, give them a gift subscription
to a herp magazine, or a gift certificate for books or equipment and supplies?
Every year, unsuitable
mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are given to people as gifts without
those people knowing the first thing about them. These animals either
die or languish in inappropriate environments for months or years before
they are finally given to someone else, often someone equally unprepared
to care for them properly. Worst, thousands are dumped every year on shelters,
herpetological societies, and reptile rescue groups, especially green
iguanas, Burmese pythons, red-tailed boas, and box and aquatic turtles.
Don't assume that the
parents of a child are willing or interested in caring for any pet, let
alone whatever exotic species you decide to get for your favorite niece,
nephew, or son or daughter living with your ex-spouse. No matter how well
you think you know the parents or the child, always ask the parents first,
and give them time - and species care information to read - to carefully
consider it. If they say no, please respect their wishes. It really is
a matter of life or death.
Animals are not disposable
playthings. They are a lifelong commitment - both the life of the owner
and the animal.
to Live Animal Gifts
Individuals and organizations who do animal rescue, housing and rehoming
of pet animals, as well as those involved strictly with domestic wildlife
rescue and rehab, are always in need of funds, equipment, and supplies.
If there is an organization your giftee is particularly supportive of,
or you know of one in need (and there isn't one that isn't in need!),
then consider making a donation of money or goods. Most such organizations
have a "wish list" of items they desperately need, with entries
ranging from food for their patients and residents, to enclosures, heating
and lighting supplies, veterinary supplies, etc. You will find many herp
rescues listed in my Societies and
Rescues page. To find rescues and wildlife rehabilitation centers
in your area (or your giftee's area) check with the humane society or
SPCA shelters in your area, or with your local reference library at the
public library. While some of these organization have a separate facility
and so are listed in the phone book, many are completely volunteer run
organizations. Reference librarians and the local volunteer center (check
the County listings in the phone book) usually keep comprehensive
lists of all nonprofit organizations in the area.
Every herper has a wish-list of books. Good herp books range from the
relatively inexpensive to huge, lush, coffee-table book-size encyclopedias
and atlases. For those with an interest in it and lots of species and
numbers to care for, reptile veterinary books are generally included on
their wish list. If you aren't certain of what book(s) they want or need,
you can always get and wrap up a booklist from one of the herp booksellers,
and include a note or gift certificate with it, inviting them to have
at it. For prospective herpers, if you know what types of species they
are considering getting but aren't familiar yourself with good books on
them, check with some knowledgeable herpers to get their recommendations
If you are buying a
book for a child, be sure to check with the children's librarian at the
public library for reptile and amphibian-related books suitable for the
child's age and development.
One great thing about herps is that we have only just been scratching
the surface of care, natural history, breeding and more. There are still
new species being discovered, eco-trips to new places, new things being
discovered about the behavior and care of species we thought we knew well.
Giving a herp keeper or prospective herper a year or two subscription
to a good herp magazine
is literally a gift that will keep on giving. Not only will they find
the current issues interesting, and helpful in the keeping of their herps
or aid in the proper selection of future ones, but the issues will be
saves and referred to over the years.
Many herpers feel isolated, not realizing that they are part of a larger
community of fellow herpers. Here is a way to help them get connected
with local folks and resources. For prospective herpers, belonging to
a herp society is a way of not
only getting connected but of meeting other herpers who keep the species
they are interested in, which ultimately may help them make the best decision
as to which one is best for them. Societies also provide a way in which
people who are interested in doing so can get involved in educating the
community at large about herps. While society memberships are not very
expensive, for students and others on a limited budget, a gift membership
is a gift that will bring interest, challenge and enjoyment for at least
Sitting and Go-fering
Sometimes our hearts exceed the depth of our bank accounts and so we must
be more creative in our gifting. Consider giving a card entitling the
bearer to a weekend, or even a week, of quality pet sitting (by you!)
while they go on a much-needed vacation or business trip. Or, volunteer
to make pet store runs for food and supplies, or to chauffeur herpers
who do not have ready access to a car and who may have a problem lugging
a sack full of rats or crickets on the bus or subway, especially during
the icy, snowy winter months. Equally needful are rides to the vets for
sick animals when the keeper doesn't have a car or can't take their 10
ft python or 4 ft iguana on the bus and taxis, for some reason, never
seem to find their address on time...
There are many things
herpers and prospective herpers will welcome. Just use your imagination
- and common sense - and the holidays should prove to be happy and healthy
for both the herper and their herps.
Store Gift Certificate
If the store your gift recipient regularly goes to does not
have gift certificates, you can easily create your own, by hand or on
the computer. Tuck it into a holiday card, decorate the envelope, and
voila! a safe and sane gift! The nice thing is that pet owners can use
the certificate to buy something their pets need, or special treats for
them they wouldn't otherwise buy, or they can apply it towards the purchase
of a future pet or pet supply purchase.
warmest of wishes to you and yours...
Melissa, Mikey, Fang Shui, Treppie,
Chaca, Baby Atlas, Sluggo, Tobago and
the Box Boys
Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics