Reptiles: From niche to mainstream

It wasn’t so long ago that shopping for a pet reptile meant going to the local cat and dog store and having to choose from a tiny little corner section of unimpressive small lizards and snakes. The options were few and the knowledge of reptile care was even more limited.

If you had questions about the care of these reptiles, well let’s face it-- no one really knew what they were talking about at the pet store and you can’t help but wonder why every Internet page is giving you contradicting information.


Acquiring anything more than your regular corn snake, ball python, bearded dragon, or leopard gecko meant you had to venture into the realm of “herp hobbyists” and “basement breeders” as we call them. These herp(etology) hobbyists and basement breeders will surprise the unknowing with a plethora of reptile knowledge and then reinforce it with quite literally a basement full of live reptiles that they are independently breeding! They all have a towering passion for reptiles and an insatiable thirst for learning more about them.


The oh-so-dramatic stereotype of pet snakes being an interest only to the lonely, brooding, gothic, creepy neighbour is a thing of the past. Nowadays, reptiles are very popular and even regarded as common to our generation of young families and individuals. You will find them in your neighbourhood, in your condo building, and even as a classroom pet where they are steadily becoming favoured compared to the more traditional hamsters and guinea pigs. Chances are, if you were to ask around you probably know someone who has some sort of googly eyed, scaly, 4-legged, or no legged pet reptile in their home.


So why are reptiles so rapidly becoming mainstream? You see... you would never even know there was a reptile in your neighbouring house unless someone told you. Reptiles are generally very low profile and can be extremely low maintenance. They make little to no noise, there is zero odour, they never need to be walked, and most of them do not require daily feeding. This means you and your family can go away for a long weekend trip and never have to worry about boarding or feeding your pet!


The popularity of reptiles as mainstream pets has absolutely exploded in numbers all over Toronto in the last decade. The problem with reptiles in the past, in my opinion, is directly related to the lack of knowledge and experience the general public has about them but this is quickly changing. And then of course, Hollywood hasn’t helped in the years of antagonizing reptile qualities to induce fear and suspense into the audience. Most implied behaviours of reptiles on the big and small screen are not accurate representations of the reptile in question.


In the last 5 years, the reptile sections of all pet stores has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled in size to meet the staggering demand for the ultra cool, new, and scaly pet reptile. With it, mass producers of pet products has also doubled and tripled their research and development resources to come up with cool and new reptile accessories and heating elements. You can now outfit your reptile terrarium with a never before seen variety of decor and adornments!


Perhaps this means that you should head out with your family and start considering buying a cute little reptile pet for yourself and join in on the latest trend of pet reptiles!

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