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Photo courtesy of Jamie Johannsen

Think exotic pets and kids don’t mix? Think again. You may be surprised to know that many amphibians and reptiles actually make great family pets.

It’s not your fault if you dismissed herps without giving them a chance. These pets can come with the stigma of unfounded fears. Learn why exotics actually do make good pets for kids.

Kids learn about differences...and similarities

Most kids are familiar with dogs and cats. Even if they haven’t lived with one themselves, they’ve probably interacted with one of these common pets at some point. Dogs and cats are popular in part because they provide interaction and a sense of companionship. You can play with them, and you feel like they enjoy your presence most of the time. They will even seek you out for interactions.

Many exotic pets are not like this, especially herps. They are not furry and cuddly. They do not play in the same way that dogs, cats, or bunnies do. And they’re often just fine spending time on their own, without your direct interaction.

Where they are the same is that exotic pets still depend on you to feed them, provide water, and make sure they have an adequate environment for housing and exercise. (And yes, that also includes poop scooping.) As your kids learn about the differences and similarities, you can help translate this into their interactions with other people, that whatever differences they perceive, they can also find similarities. It helps them build empathy for people who may behave or think differently from themselves.

Herps don’t usually trigger allergies

Allergies to cats or dogs are fairly common. And while it is possible to develop an allergic reaction to a reptile or amphibian, it’s much less likely. It’s well-known that keeping a pet helps to teach kids responsibility, so finding a pet that doesn’t make them feel sick all the time is important to kids with pet allergies.

This may also be useful for kids with parents or siblings who have pet allergies. It can be disheartening to tell a child they can’t have that dog because it will make dad or mom drown in their own snot and tears. But pulling out the option of a lizard or frog can make everyone happy.

No need for your kid to cross the street

If you have a younger child, a pet that stays inside is a bonus. Walking the dog is often a chore that goes to you when your kids are too small to walk down the street by themselves, or if the dog is bigger and stronger than they are. Snakes, spiders, and tortoises don’t need to be walked.

You can teach them to be fearless

It’s true that many exotic pets come with some negative baggage. But that is a learned reaction. Instead of teaching your kids to fear things that are different, teach them to embrace new experiences. Yes, herps are different from dogs and cats. Let them proudly show off their unique pet. Your kid may even get the opportunity to educate others.

Bring your kid into The Tye-Dyed Iguana to check out the exotic pets we have available.