Study: Better education for reptile pet owners could reduce number being rehomed

Nearly half of pet reptiles in England are given away or sold

Helen Tedds, a lecturer in animal welfare and program manager at Hartpury University, is researching the pet reptile trade across England as part of her doctoral studies at the University of Northampton. Part of her research has involved sifting through tens of thousands of classified ads selling reptiles to better understand the reasons behind giving up a pet, according to a university news story.

Over the last three years, Tedds found that out of 21,000 reptiles advertised by their owners with a reason for sale or rehoming, more than 44% of owners cited reasons that could have potentially been avoided.

Tedd’s investigation is part of her wider research into the pet reptile trade, identifying what kind of advice is available to potential owners when buying a reptile as well as acquiring a better picture of how many species are available to buy in England. She has identified over 500 different species, so far.

In the U.S., millions of people own at least one reptile — a turtle, lizard, or snake — or an amphibian, like a frog or salamander, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rescue organizations across the country help to rehabilitate sick animals and find new homes for them.

Tedds is working with lawmakers in the U.K. and the Companion Animal Sector Council to launch a new initiative “Pet Know How,” which aims to help educate prospective owners before they buy reptiles.

“Reptiles, like so many other pets, can be extremely rewarding for their owners,” she said. “However, they often have specialist needs when it comes to things like housing, nutrition, and enrichment. Rehoming reptiles can be unsettling for the animal and is often upsetting for the owner, who with the right guidance and support, may feel more confident and empowered to keep the pet and provide a good home.”

Hartpury University has an online postgraduate degree designed to meet emerging animal welfare challenges linked to the U.K. legal system. Students learn how animal welfare legislation is developed, what it means when put into real-world contexts and how scientific developments may change the way it is applied.

Hartpury is home to an animal collection with over 70 species, research laboratories, access to a commercial farm and equine center, providing students with a chance to gain work experience and a better understanding of animal welfare, behavior and management. Learn more about the university on its website.

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