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Pets - hamster, lizard, or turtle? (x-post)


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While I was skimming through the supplies we'd need for Apologia Zoology 3, I was surprised to see "a turtle to raise" and "a lizard to raise"! Of course I realize that this is purely optional, but I thought I'd ask if anyone has attempted this. My 8 yo has a birthday next month and I thought about getting him a pet for his birthday - a hamster maybe? Then I saw this in the book and wondered if we should do a lizard or turtle. He loves lizards but I'm wondering how much work it would be. We've done hamsters so I know what's involved there. Any thoughts?

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Oh, he's so cute! :) My son would LOVE one like that! I'm so not crazy about the live cricket thing...but I guess you get used to it? Are you able to hold him or is he too squirmy, skittish, etc? I think my son would like a pet he can hold but like I said, he does love lizards...

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We will be visiting a friend who raises turtles, and we can go in our backyard everyday to see lizards (one lives right by our back door and he seems to get bigger everyday). Not a huge fan of pets that may smell lol! We are thinking of getting a hedgehog though. They are super cute, fun to play with and they DO NOT smell at all! Just a thought.

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We've had a fat-tailed gecko in the past and absolutely adored him. Fat-tailed geckos are slower than most other geckos and ours LOVED to be held. He would very nearly roll over to get his tummy scratched (and loved getting scratched between his eye/brows, lol).

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28894039@N04/3244974911/

 

 

 

Not a huge fan of pets that may smell lol! We are thinking of getting a hedgehog though. They are super cute, fun to play with and they DO NOT smell at all! Just a thought.

 

Have you been around hedgehogs much, or is this just from reading or online research? We had one as a pet for almost 2 years - PM me if you'd like a little more information about why we no longer have a hedgehog as a pet... :D (and our hedgie was a dear - he was very sweet - and we really hated re-homing him)

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If you do decide to get a pet, please contact your local humane societies. There are also animal rescues devoted to lizards as well - some humane societies & SPCA's don't do herps. We have a herp rescue here who does non-venomous snakes, geckos, turtles, tortoises, iguanas and spiders. Generally speaking these are not easy pets & vet care is very specialized and therefore expensive. They're not for everyone. Maybe see if there's a rescue nearby & apply to foster for a while? You can get a taste of what it's like. You do have to meet the fostering requirments ahead of time....

 

Hedgehogs can be iffy. I've pet sat one & I was not that impressed.

 

Hamsters you know about. Have you considered fancy rats? I foster those for a rescue & they're wonderful. Much more personality & way smarter than hamsters. They're social during the day, if they're raised well they'll be very tame, able to ride on your shoulder or sit in a pocket. They do need to be kept in pairs or more (same sex obviously or spay/neutered; do NOT do the babies experiment!) - a single one will be very lonely. They live an average of 2-3 yrs.

 

And my soapbox:

IMO you should be adopting the animal for the duration of its life - so do keep in mind it may be a long commitment (esp some herps). And pls consider adopting one through rescue or a shelter - because unfortunately there are many people who don't consider the commitment & end up dumping the animal when the kids get bored :-(

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I second the fancy rat suggestion. WAY more fun than hamsters, plus boys tend to love the "cool" (aka "ick" for some) factor of rats. One thing with lizards--the cost of feeding crickets can add up. Do your research first. My sister's son had a lizard and feeding it cost more than it cost me to feed almost all of my pets combined on a monthly basis. Iguanas and Mali Uromastyx (sp?) are plant eaters.

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I'd recommend a fancy rat too. They are much calmer than hamsters and can be trained to do things. I also found that they did not have the intense desire to constantly try to escape like hamsters do.

 

Is there still a concern with turtles about salmonella like there was years back? Okay, maybe it was actually a decade or more back when turtles were all the craze, but you had to be very careful to wash your hands afterward. My sister has a pet lizard and she tells the kids to be very careful to wash their hands afterward as well. Of course you want to wash your hands after touching a rat as well, but if there is still that extra concern with turtles and lizards, I wouldn't want to take the chance.

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We have 12 leopard geckos. They make great pets and are one of the reptiles that are always recommended for beginners, since they're small, easily tamed, and easy to keep in a small space (e.g. 10 gallon fish tank). They're also really cute (even people who consider reptiles really icky often say "Oh, those are really cute!) and they have more "personality" than you would expect form a lizard.

 

We feed mealworms, because I *hate* crickets (they're stinky, they always escape, they're hard to keep alive for long, and they're less nutritious than mealworms). The mealworms themselves make a fun science project, because they're easy to raise and you can see the whole life cycle in a few months. Once you get a self-supporting colony going, feeding your lizard is free!

 

If you don't mind a LARGE lizard, bearded dragons are the other reptile frequently recommended for beginners. They're very tame and are probably the most "interactive" with people. They can walk around the house, hang out while you watch TV, etc. Some people even take them for walks on a leash!

 

If you're interested in any more info about leopard gex, just PM me and I can point you to websites, care sheets, etc.

 

Jackie

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Is there still a concern with turtles about salmonella like there was years back? Okay, maybe it was actually a decade or more back when turtles were all the craze, but you had to be very careful to wash your hands afterward. My sister has a pet lizard and she tells the kids to be very careful to wash their hands afterward as well. Of course you want to wash your hands after touching a rat as well, but if there is still that extra concern with turtles and lizards, I wouldn't want to take the chance.

 

Yes, reptiles can carry salmonella (not that they ALL do, but that they can be carriers), so people should always wash their hands after handing any reptile. The ban on selling baby turtles (which is still in effect) came about because of the fear that small children might put the turtles in their mouths and get sick.

 

Jackie

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We have 3 blue rats and 1 russian tortoise.

 

The rats are awesome once I got past that long squicky tail!! We love that we can hold them and play with them. Because we have 3, we have to clean the cage every 2 days or the smell gets bad. Rats are actually very clean animals so a dirty cage is not good for them. They eat rat food we get from the pet store, and raisins as treats. We haven't found any other people food they like.

 

The tortoise just sits around eating or sleeping. When we put her on the floor, she does wander around but we have to clean up large puddles of pee. At least the poo is small and easy to clean up. Her tank, which is actually a large shallow under-the-bed type storage container, gets changed every few weeks. She's definitely not as high maintenance as the rats. She eats shredded cabbage, yellow squash, carrots, spinach, and tomatoes.

 

We only do herbivores around here. We're too squeamish. :tongue_smilie:

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We've raised hamsters. A "male" that ds got for Christmas had 13 babies 2 weeks later. :ohmy: . It was a fun winter, that's for sure.

 

We've also raised a tadpole to a bullfrog.

 

And a caterpillar to a butterfly (painted lady). We're doing that again now as a matter of fact - this time it's a caterpillar to a luna moth (dh found it in the park).

 

We've had an anole lizard for 2 years - those are cool, they eat live crickets (hmm, they don't stink and have never escaped - maybe because we get the really small ones and Godzilla's tank is a 10-gallon). Ds holds him all the time. It's pretty calm.

 

We also have goldfish, a snail, and a parrot.

 

Ds is begging for a bearded dragon next.

 

I would probably suggest you try a tadpole (these are just cool to witness them changing into a frog) or a lizard (easy maintenance).

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I gotta say I prefer having the reptiles to the hamster. If you're going the rodent route, gerbils, guinea pigs, or rats are better for the simple fact that hamsters are SOOO nocturnal, and those wheels are incredibly noisy.

 

From your original list, though, I'd go for a lizard. We've done turtles, and they're relatively boring. Lizards are a lot of fun, especially at feeding time (I do go for the live crickets since that is all my son's anole will eat), but they're still quiet!

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We've had a fat-tailed gecko in the past and absolutely adored him. Fat-tailed geckos are slower than most other geckos and ours LOVED to be held. He would very nearly roll over to get his tummy scratched (and loved getting scratched between his eye/brows, lol).

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28894039@N04/3244974911/

 

 

 

 

 

Have you been around hedgehogs much, or is this just from reading or online research? We had one as a pet for almost 2 years - PM me if you'd like a little more information about why we no longer have a hedgehog as a pet... :D (and our hedgie was a dear - he was very sweet - and we really hated re-homing him)

 

We have a friend who raises them to sell. Many of our friends have bought them from her, and the kids adore them. The biggest problem seems to be keeping dogs from using them as play toys lol.

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I second the fancy rat suggestion. WAY more fun than hamsters, plus boys tend to love the "cool" (aka "ick" for some) factor of rats. One thing with lizards--the cost of feeding crickets can add up. Do your research first. My sister's son had a lizard and feeding it cost more than it cost me to feed almost all of my pets combined on a monthly basis. Iguanas and Mali Uromastyx (sp?) are plant eaters.

:iagree: with the rats part.

We currently have mice, but I wish we'd gone for rats again. Rats are so much more fun because they are sturdier and not as skiddish. I used to carry our Rats around in my shirt pocket when I did dishes or things like that.

 

I also owned an Iguana, but unless you've had lizards before I wouldn't recommend it. They get very large, Mine was almost 6.5' long when she died. Her aquarium was 6' x 2' x 1.5' and very heavy, she also had a need to climb so we had to put a shelf around the top of the room. They are plant eaters but you have to watch that too, because just chucking some lettuce in won't cut it, they need veggies with lots of calcium and can't have too much broccoli etc. They also live quite a while. Mine lived for 15 years (which the vet said was a really long time for a pet iguana to live) but like parrots, iguanas will require a long time commitment.

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Oh, he's so cute! :) My son would LOVE one like that! I'm so not crazy about the live cricket thing...but I guess you get used to it? Are you able to hold him or is he too squirmy, skittish, etc? I think my son would like a pet he can hold but like I said, he does love lizards...

 

He is not a holding pet. He is very skiddish. You definitely get used to the live cricket thing. I catch them with my hands and put them in his cage. Before the lizard, I was hard put to even TOUCH a bug.

 

For others talking about turtles...did you know they are illegal to sell in North Carolina because of the extreme risk of Salmonella? We wanted a turtle when we went to get the lizard and this is what we were told. All reptiles can transmit salmonella, but for some reason, the risks are greater with a turtle.

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My 10 yo loves his Leopard Gecko. He is quite friendly and fun to hold. It is very Jurassic park to watch him stalk and catch his prey, just about the best kind of boy fun.

 

We are raising our own crickets in a box in the garage. They are easy to raise, and make such a pleasant chirping sound in the garage. We can raise 100 crickets in a month or so, just feeding them some cricket food, a little fish food, and small pieces of fruit or veggies.

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