Reptile Awareness Day: Changing Minds About Reptiles

Oct 21, 2017
The Reptile Report
by Josh Jones

The Reptile Report - This Saturday is Reptile Awareness Day. Reptile enthusiasts and professionals across the country will be educating their families, friends, neighbors, and communities about the amazing nature of reptiles. With just four percent of American households keeping these pets, there is a lot of work to do.

As the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) liaison to the American herp community, I’ve seen many times that reptiles are misunderstood. One recent example was media misinformation about turtles being allegedly dangerous pets after a recent Salmonella outbreak announced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The outbreak consisted of 37 people getting Salmonella from turtles – out of more than one million pet turtles nationwide, according to the American Pet Products Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

A similar misunderstanding was corrected by companion animal advocates and experts in Arlington, Virginia, where certain non-venomous snakes common as pets were nearly banned as “exotic” animals. Some animal activists urged the County Board to consider these snakes, and other pets like hedgehogs and sugar gliders, as dangerous, despite a complete lack of evidence backing that position. In the end, the Board went with science and common sense.

Conversely, many parents and educators are unaware of the simple handling and sanitation practices that all but eliminate the Salmonella and other potential health risks associated with any pet, including reptiles. PIJAC is grateful to Brian and Bob of NARBC for letting us hand out over 100 Healthy Herp Handling posters to educate the public in attendance at the recent Arlington and Tinley Park shows.

For this week’s Reptile Awareness Day, PIJAC is pleased to be working with a number of industry partners to make sure the media accurately represents reptiles and their human friends. Let us know if we can help you inform your community of what reptiles do for you.

 

Thanks to Welsh Morphology Photography for the leopard gecko photo used in this post.

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