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Old 11-22-02, 06:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep-2002
Location: Lowermainland BC
Age: 42
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According to many people, including many legal descriptions reptiles fall under the category of wild animal.

Personally I think that is a terrible injustice. The reptiles we keep as pets are not the same as the reptiles in the wild. That being said they are also not the same as dogs and cats who have been domestic for much longer. What is really involved in the definition of "domestic"? Is it really just quantitative? Does it only refer to length of time or number of generations? Or does it instead distinguish the animals as different in some qualitative way from their wild counterparts?

Some reptiles have been bred for so many generations that they are beginning to approach that quantitative part of the definition of domestication--though they are a long way off from the level of dogs and cats. They fit into the qualititative aspect much better however.

True, most reptiles kept as pets could probably get along ok if released back into the wild, though you can never be too certain....for example that kingsnake who gets hooked on mice and would rather starve than eat anything else may not do so well in the wild if mice were not in plentiful supply. Reptiles who have not had proper human contact and handling may keep a "wildness" about their behaviour (though a kitten which never gets properly socialized with people will also be the same).

The biggest difference between a properly socialized pet reptile and a wild reptile is their acceptance of the human world as normal. They become accustomed to routines, feeding schedules, etc. They think it is nothing odd for a person to come along and pick them up. When we are gone (a break in their routine) they are often disrupted and displeased--they miss us! Like cats most are independant and fidget when handled when they do not want to be, but sometimes they will seek us out and try to be near us. No "wild animal" would ever be like that. If they are not domestic, then what are they? Must they forever hang in this limbo or can we at some point recognize that our pet reptiles are no longer wild. They have entered our world and become a part of it. They deserve to be recognized as such!
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