If you have a child, depending on their age, you will inevitably be asked “Can I have a pet _____?”. Incorporating a dog or cat into your lifestyle, for many of us, isn’t practical for a variety of reasons. Dogs and cats need a lot of space, they must be fed and cleaned up after every day. The daily commitment to caring for a dog or cat can very quickly overwhelm your child until, eventually, they become your responsibility. Have you considered getting a reptile instead? Before you squeal or shiver at the thought of a scaly animal living in your house, here is a list of things you should know about reptile ownership:

1. Reptiles are allergy friendly. Yes, you read that right! You can’t argue the appeal of cute, fluffy critters, but many of us cringe at the thought of itchy eyes and runny noses. Well, reptiles are fantastic for a child who dreams of an animal companion but is allergic to fur and hair.

2. Not all reptiles need to eat everyday . Almost every other pet you can possibly think of must be fed every day unless you want to stockpile food somewhere they can access. Reptiles have slower metabolisms that enable them to eat every few days. A bag of dog food can run you between $30-$50. A frozen mouse, a head of lettuce, and a bag of crickets together will cost around $5.

3. Reptiles are easier to clean. Dogs and cats use the bathroom several times a day. Doggie bags and kitty litter are an added expense that can at times be pretty inconvenient. Not to mention the time when an accident occurs in the house! For many common reptiles waste upkeep will only cost you a paper towel every few days!

4. Reptiles take up less space. Most dogs and cats have the run of their house. If you’ve ever tried to cook, clean, watch tv, or do yoga with a dog in the house you know they are always in the way. While most of us welcome our companions with an affectionate eye-roll, many of us just don’t have the room. Most common pet reptiles can be kept happily in a large tank. While it’s still important to take them out and interact with them frequently, you know that you won’t have to lock them in another room when you have company over.

5. Reptiles are safe. The most common question with a reptile is “Does it bite?” Well, any animal can bite you or your child. From dogs, ferrets to rabbits, and parakeets to macaws- ALL animals can bite.. Have you ever trained a puppy or kitten to not bite, claw or chew the furniture, or jump up on people? It can take weeks of daily diligence. This being said if you work with and spend quality handling time with your pet reptile they will become comfortable with you and will enjoy your time together. They soon realize you are a friend and not a threat.

We could go on for hours listing more reasons to get your child a reptile, but ultimately you will have to do extensive research no matter what type of pet you end up with. As final thoughts we will strongly encourage you to be very thorough when researching how to care for your new pet. Well informed pet owners are happy pet owners with happy pets!