Friday, December 19, 2014

International Reptile Rescue

Piebald ball python, found on the loose. This is a rare and expensive color
morph, but laws punishing owners for escaped pets may have kept its owner
from seeking help in finding it.
Mary Esther Hart of International Reptile Rescue paid our homeschool group a visit.  She brought a huge array of amazing reptiles for our kids to see (and touch) up close, and told the kids all about them.  Her presentation has a different focus than others we've seen. Most reptile presenters like to discuss the different species and what adaptations make each kind of animal unique.  Mary Esther has been running a reptile rescue since the 1970s, and she wanted to tell families all about what kinds of reptiles make great pets and why others are surrendered, abandoned or even confiscated by law enforcement.  She is very dedicated to responsible pet ownership.  She explained that her rescue generally houses 50-75 animals at any time, some at their facility and some through foster homes. Many arrive in poor health, and reptiles can take a relatively long time to heal from injuries and malnutrition before they are given a clean bill of health and counted as adoptable. She expressed outrage that laws often punish pet owners instead of the pet trade that puts animals that are totally unsuitable as pets (and sometimes illegal) into the hands of people who are often ill informed about how to properly care for the animal, where to take it for good veterinary care, how large it will grow, how long it will live, how it will interact with other pets, and whether it can be legally taken to another state should the owners move.  Turtles, which are charming and fascinating as hatchlings the size of quarters, are a good example.  Some breed prolifically, and they can be purchased in pet stores for $30 or so.  But they grow into 300 pound critters with sharp claws that smash furniture, scratch floors, get their water dirty quickly, and are smart enough to plan ingenious escapes!  Alligators are another example.  She brought a young alligator with her, and it certainly charmed us all. The kids were really excited to pet it.  I can definitely see how anyone with a serious blind spot for foresight would be tempted to own one!
Bearded dragon.
Monitor lizard.
American alligator.
Jasper petting the alligator.

1 comment:

Mama Gone Green said...

I am fascinated by reptiles, but yes-- many of them don't seem like they would make good pets. But anything when it's small (and extra cute) is so tempting to bring home. Luckily I have only been a sucker for dogs and cats, which do make great pets.