October 21 is Reptile Awareness Day

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 36.5 percent of American households owned a dog and 30.4 percent owned a cat in 2012. While these two species have topped the list for years, people are increasingly choosing exotic and specialty animals as pets. In honor of National Reptile Awareness Day on October 21, we would like to take this opportunity to honor these unique creatures. Below is a list of reptiles and exotic pets that people own in order of popularity.

  • Fish
  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Ferrets
  • Gerbils

Since these pets are less mainstream, it’s important for people who are considering bringing one home to learn as much as they can about them. People who are accustomed to having a pet live approximately 15 years may not understand the huge commitment that comes with adopting a reptile. They live longer than any other species on earth. A large tortoise, for example, may live as long as 150 years. The ball python, which is a popular breed of pet snake, has an average life expectancy of 40 years. If you take in a pet that you expect to outlive you, be sure to make a transition plan for its care as early as possible.

Fascinating Facts About Reptiles

Many people misinterpret the description of reptiles as cold-blooded to literally mean that their blood is cold. However, the blood of a reptile is not naturally cold. Rather, it is ectothermic. This means that the reptile heats itself from external rather than internal sources. This is different from humans whose bodies regulate their internal temperature automatically.

If you’re planning to get a lizard or snake, you should know about their unique smelling ability. Although these reptiles have a nose, they don't use it to smell in the traditional sense. Lizards and snakes take in information about the scents around them by flicking their tongue and then collecting scent particles on them. These particles pass over the reptile's organs and interpret whether a food source is nearby.

We already mentioned that reptiles have an extremely long life span, but did you know they are the oldest animal species on earth? The turtle, which has existed on the planet for 200 million years, has changed little in form and size in all that time.

Another misconception about reptiles is that they are slimy. This is incorrect. Reptiles don't have sweat glands as humans do, which means their skin is usually dry and cool. That means you can go ahead and pet your reptile if you know that he or she will tolerate it well.

Reptiles Need Regular Veterinary Care

Reptiles require routine preventive care and prompt treatment of illness and injury in order to thrive. Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo is happy to partner with you to help achieve that long life reptiles are so famous for living. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have specific questions about the best way to care for your new non-traditional pet.

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)