Today marks National Reptile Awareness Day – a day for reptile enthusiasts of all kinds (including our final year Veterinary Nursing students) to share their knowledge on all things scaly and discuss some of the issues that reptiles continue to face.
Whether it’s a snake or a skink, a terrapin or a bearded dragon, every reptile has its own, detailed needs – and making sure you understand and appreciate them is crucial for the creatures' care.
Read this blog – and watch our video – to find out more about the day, our students’ experiences – and why raising reptile awareness is so important.
Reptiles are growing in popularity as pets – but owners may not realise the complex needs these creatures have.
As part of the week, the British Veterinary Association have blogged to highlight these needs – and asked anyone considering a pet of the tetrapod, cold-blooded variety to #ThinkTwice and seek advice.
Keeping reptiles happy and healthy requires owners to consider everything from nutrition to natural behaviours, and from the size of enclosure to its temperature and humidity.
Other considerations include the kind of company animals may – or may not need, and specialist lighting such as UV bulbs.
The importance of providing this correct care to reptiles and other exotic animals is evident to staff right across the veterinary professions – and the issue is one which students at Harper Adams have regularly encountered while developing their work experience or during their placement years.
Earlier this week, BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing students Georgia Gray, Kendal Lambert and Catriona Hendry and BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing with Small Animal Rehabilitation student Mary Philips met with Senior Veterinary Nursing Lecturer Rachel Baugh, who teaches on the Exotic Animal Nursing and Health module, to share their experiences of reptile care – and how owners can help.
See more from students Kendal and Georgia in this video:
Rachel said: " Over recent years the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association Pet Population Report has shown an increase in numbers of households owning pets.
“This increase relates not only to our more traditional species such as dogs, cats and small mammals but extends to our less familiar reptilian species. The reports show a steady increase in the numbers of snakes, lizards and tortoises now being kept as companion animals in the UK.
“Reptiles are fascinating animals however, keeping reptiles as companions can be difficult. Each species has extremely specific, complex and essential requirements in order to maintain optimum health and welfare for the individual.
“Reptiles originate from many different habitats such as arboreal, subterranean, aquatic and terrestrial such as our Blue Tongued Skink Bailey, who features in the video link.
“There are so many sources of information available and sometimes it can be difficult and confusing to find the right advice and yet it is so vitally important for the health of the animal.
“Anyone thinking about getting a reptile, or if they already own one, wants to feel confident in their source of advice.
“Speaking to veterinary nurses, with special interests in exotics, will ensure that the advice given is evidenced based and unbiased, ensuring optimal care for their reptile. Veterinary nurses can help ensure that potential health problems don’t occur as a result of an inadequate environment or nutrition, whatever the species.”