The importance of connecting with other reptile hobbyists to save our hobby.
We face a pivotal time in the reptile industry. As the economy flounders and new restrictive reptile legislation looms on the horizon, I am reminded of the importance of connecting with other reptile enthusiasts. Not only can we exchange information and ideas about how to better care for our reptiles, we can also help support one another and stand as a united front against those who would limit, and ultimately cut off, our reptilekeeping rights.
Gone are the days when we could join a herp society or attend a reptile event and ignore the rest of the world’s distain for our hobby. It used to be that many people kept their appreciation for reptiles a secret and only got together with other hobbyists behind closed doors. Some even concealed their reptile pets from their neighbors for fear of persecution.
As good herp ambassadors, we need to be vigilant about responsible reptile ownership and take an active roll in educating a fearful public about our reptiles and amphibians. We need to come forward and show that many of us are well-educated and conscientious in the way we keep our reptile pets. Reptilekeeping doesn’t just provide the keeper with the pleasure of owning and possibly breeding a reptile, it also helps conservation, fosters a connection with nature and helps the economy.
Legislators, law enforcement officers and the public at large need to be shown the importance of the pet industry, and reptiles as a part of that industry. According to the 2007-2008 American Pet Product Association (APPA) National Pet Owners survey, 4.8 million households own reptiles. Many of those keepers have multiple herps. In fact, the APPA estimates that there were 13.4 million reptile pets in the United States in 2008, an increase from the estimated 11 million reptile pets the year before. What that means for the economy is that more reptile food, cages, substrates, medical care and other essentials are purchased each year and more money goes into the economy. Pet stores, breeders and product manufacturers provide valuable jobs that help everyone, not just reptile owners.
Read more about the importance of joining the Reptile Nation and fighting for your rights in David and Tracy Barker’s article about the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) in the December 2009 issue of REPTILES magazine. You can also read USARK President Andrew Wyatt’s blog right here on ReptileChannel.com.
I urge you to join valuable organizations, such as USARK and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), and lend your voice to the cause. It is time we all stood up to be counted.