Should you get a snake
Photo by Giu Vicente on

It’s time for you or your family to decide on getting a new pet! But what animal should you choose? Each pet has a specific diet, habitat, and care needs that must be considered before a decision is made. It’s important to make sure that adequate time, money, and resources are available before taking on this responsibility. You might be wondering if you should get a snake, lizard, or dog as a pet and what the pros and cons of each are? Read on to learn more about these animals and get the information you need to figure out which one would be best for you.

Should I get a Snake?

Pros: Most snakes make a great pet for compact living spaces since they are quiet and don’t need as much exercise as some other animals require. They also produce a smaller amount of waste and don’t need a large variety of toys, leashes, collars, or feeding equipment like having a dog or cat would. They require little daily care once their enclosures are set up and most small snake breeds are fairly gentle and enjoy being handled out of their habitat. Snakes are a great long-term investment since they can live between 12-25 years depending on the breed. In general, snakes are cool, calm, and collected amphibians that are quite beautiful and relaxing to watch.  

Cons: Snakes need an enclosure like an aquarium with a strong lid to live in, which can take up some space depending on the size of the snake. The bedding in the enclosure needs to be changed regularly and most snakes will require a heating pad or lamp on one side of their space to stay warm. Depending on the type of snake a consistent temperature of between 70-80 degrees and 10-12 hours of light per day is needed.

A healthy environment for any snake should also include a small hollow space like a log or plastic cave so that the snake can feel safe, clean water to drink and bathe, and something to climb on for daily movement and exploration. Snake owners must be ok with handling dead animals as most snakes have a diet of bugs, mice, frogs, rats, and rabbits. Discomfort with buying and storing dead animals for mealtime can be one of the biggest reasons why people don’t consider getting snakes as a pet.

It’s important to note that snakes can harbor salmonella which is dangerous for infants and small children to be exposed to. It’s not recommended to have large snakes in homes with children under the age of 5. 

Should I get a Lizard?

Pros: Lizards are also low-maintenance pets once their home has been set up. They require many of the same enclosure requirements as a snake including an aquarium with a lid, freshwater, bedding, heating, a place to climb, and somewhere to hide. However, depending on the type of lizard, they can be much smaller than snakes and only take up a minimal amount of space. Lizards may be more active than snakes at times and enjoy regular climbing and exploring the world outside of their living space. They are typically gentle, quiet, and chill creatures who are content with having their basic needs met and companionship with their owner.  

Cons: Small lizards usually have much shorter lifespans than snakes, some only living 3-5 years. However, the larger the lizard, the longer its lifespans, some live up to 30 years! Most Lizards still require some form of live insect as a part of their daily diets, however, the majority of lizards also eat green vegetables and some fruits. Lizards may be a better option for pet owners who still want the ease of caring for an amphibian but would feel uncomfortable with handling dead animals. It may be easier to store and watch their lizard consume live crickets instead. 

Most amphibians are at a greater risk of passing the salmonella harbored in their digestive tracts along to humans. This is why the same precautions taken with snakes, should also be taken with lizards. 

Should I get a Dog?

Pro: Dogs are very active and love playing! They are also typically very emotive and may be easier to build a relationship with than an amphibian. There are many different breeds of dogs that can be selected to best fit a specific living situation or lifestyle. Dogs are usually loyal and can develop into long-term companions that feel like a real part of the family.

They can also be trained to do a variety of tricks that range from fun to helpful. It may also be easier to take a dog out into social situations, even into some stores, than it would be to bring a pet amphibian. There are a variety of food options for dogs that do not require consuming dead animal carcasses or insects which may be a relief to more squeamish pet owners.  

Con: Dogs can be very loud and require a lot of space to move around. They also have fleas and ticks. Oh did I mention you need to get a Bordetella vaccine for your dog and I’m pretty sure that’s not required for a Lizard or a snake right? Daily exercise is a must for most dogs which means a lot of time and attention from their owners is needed. Dogs create more waste and also need a wider variety of food, toys, cleaning products, care items, and supplements than an amphibian would.

Extra costs for regular vet, boarding, or grooming visits can add up over time, making dog ownership an expensive endeavor. Finally, dogs can be more destructive in a home when they are acting out. Many rental properties may not even allow dogs for this reason. Depending on the breed, dogs typically live for a long time, some up to 18 years. However, unlike amphibians, dogs may require much more care in their old age including increased vet trips, medications, mobility modifications, and in some cases diapering. 

Dogs are a huge investment in time and money, requiring daily commitment, attention, and work. They may not be the best option for those living in smaller spaces or who don’t have the resources and energy to commit. 

No matter what animal you choose, getting a pet is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Talk to a reputable animal breeder, pet store owner, or veterinarian for more information on whether a snake, lizard, or dog would be right for you!

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