reptile can become a good companion for your child, provided that he is old enough to understand how to treat the pet and take care about it. When can you buy a pet reptile for your child? What reptiles are best for him, and which ones can be dangerous? What are the main treatment rules for different species? You will find answers to all these questions below.
Many children ask their parents to buy a puppy or kitty, but some will ask for a snake, tortoise, or lizard. If you have never dealt with reptiles before, the thought about it may seem dreadful. How can a cool-blooded creature make your child happy? Yes, it can. Reptiles are actually more loveable pets than many people tend to think about them. But, before buying a reptile, make sure you don't feel uncomfortable taking care of it. Even though it's going to be your child's pet, you will be the responsible one: you'll have to teach your child how to treat, handle, and feed it, how to clean the cage, and so on; you will also have to attend these activities.
As well as with other pets, a child must not have a reptile until he realizes that it is a living creature and it is able to feel pain, hunger, fear, etc. Even though a small child can enjoy simple watching a swimming turtle or a resting lizard, you should not exclude a possibility that his curiosity will make him want a closer contact. Hence, reptile enclosures must be well protected to prevent your kid from sticking fingers into it. Before you allow your kid to handle a reptile, make sure his coordination is good enough. Most children aged 6 and 7 years are old enough to handle a domesticated reptile for some time, but the pet should not be too frail. In any case, you will have to attend the process.
Choosing a reptile for your child, remember about two important things: 1) your child's coordination level and 2) the reptile's vulnerability and temperament. It is important so that they don't hurt each other. Do not buy a reptile that can try to bite or hurt your child in any other way. It may scare him or lead to accidental injuries either of the kid or the reptile.
There are certain types of reptiles that experts find suitable for children. Usually, these reptiles are known as placid and submissive pets. However, there are always exceptions. As soon as you've made up your mind about the species, you had better watch several individuals and choose the most placid one. But beware of individuals that tend to be excessively placid and inactive: it is usually a sign of a sick animal.
The following reptile species are suitable for children and beginner reptile owners:Lizards: Chinese Water Dragon, Central Bearded Dragon, Leopard Gecko, Northern Blue Tongue Skink,
Snakes: Grass snake, Corn Snakes, King Snakes, Ball Pythons
Many people tend to avoid snakes as pets, but a snake can become the best reptile for your child. The only "disadvantage" of having a snake is that you have to feed it with prey. However, a snake can be taught to eat dead animals, and many pet stores train snakes to do so. Instead of buying an alive mouse and giving it to your snake, you will have to buy a frozen one and to defrost it in warm water before feeding the snake.
Experts do not recommend keeping large pythons and boas loose. Any large snakes have to be well-locked in the enclosure to avoid their escape and hurting family members. Even an ordinary medium size boa can strangle a child.
Central Bearded Dragons and Leopard Geckos can also become good pets, but they need delicate hands and delicate handling. For example, they should not be taken by tail to avoid its damaging.
Hygiene requirementsChildren must be taught to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after they have had contact with the reptile, and before the contact as well. It minimizes a risk of getting infections. Also, children must memorize it is not permitted to kiss the reptile or touch their face, lips, ears, etc until they have washed hands.
Note about turtles and tortoisesThere was a tendency to represent Leopard Tortoise, Red-eared Sliders, Eastern Box Turtles, and some others as perfect pets for beginners and kids. To be frank, no turtle or tortoise is suitable for children. It is not because they can hurt the kid, but because these species need very specific care and environment conditions, which makes them pretty high-maintenance animals. They tend to grow very large and harbour Salmonella. In addition, many children find tortoises boring.
Image credits: shexbeer, Bert Heymans, Rusty Dodson
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