Reptile Awareness Day is October 21st. Reptiles will probably never knock Fido and Fluffy off the top spots of most popular pets. However, they are gaining ground, as more and more people realize how fascinating and beautiful they are. A study based on Google trends was recently published by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. This new data reveals some interesting trends about reptile sales and ownership. You’ll read some fun facts about our reptilian friends in this article from me, your Marion, IA area veterinarian.
Reptiles have been around for more than 350 million years, having first appeared during the Carboniferous period. The reptile family tree is pretty large: there are over 10,000 reptiles that we know of so far, with more being discovered every year. This includes lizards, turtles, alligators, crocodiles, and snakes. All 10,000 of them have scales of some sort, which are made of keratin, just like our nails and teeth, and over a third are actively being traded.
Reptiles live on every continent except Antarctica, and can thrive in a variety of environments. A few noteworthy ones? The Saltwater crocodile is the heaviest, and can weigh over a ton. The smallest is the Brookesia Nana lizard, which is under a half-inch long.
The bearded dragon is officially the most popular pet reptile here in the West. In Italy and Turkey, the adorable Leopard gecko takes that top spot. The Ball python slithered to the top of the list in Mexico, India, and Indonesia.
What does the future hold for our reptilian friends? A few specific types of pet reptiles are becoming more popular. These include the Blue-tongued skink, Crested gecko, Ball python, and tegu. However, some, including Chameleons, Red-eared sliders, and Ball pythons, have become less popular.
Reptile breeding has definitely grown in recent years, moving from a niche/hobby to a huge industry. There are now at least 10,000 breeders out there! The US is both the top importer and the top exporter of reptiles.
Improvements in captive breeding and increased restrictions on selling wild animals have helped curb black market trade of wild-caught reptiles. That’s great for conservation efforts! Another factor? Customers are becoming more interested in captive bred reptiles with interesting colors or patterns.
Do you have questions about reptile care? Contact me, your local Marion, IA area veterinarian, today!