As we are in the thick of the holiday season, many people are beginning to shop for gifts for friends and loved ones. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are on the hunt for the perfect gift for the special kid in their life. Too many times, the holy grail gift ends up being a new family member in the form of a new pet. More often than not, that pet is a small animal such as a rodent or reptile. Gifting someone a new pet can seem like a harmless way to show someone that you love them or even teach a young child responsibility. The reality is that gifting someone a pet can mean a hard life for the animal and unwanted stress on your loved ones.
When you give somebody a live animal, you are assuming that they not only want the pet but that they are physically and financially capable of caring for that pet throughout the duration of their life. Although you may think that someone wants a pet, it should still be their decision on when and where they get that pet. Getting someone a pet when they aren’t expecting it could lead to the recipient being ill prepared or simply not ready to care for a pet. Pets require a lot of time, money and knowledge and not everyone is cut out for the task of caring for something for the next 10-15 years.
That’s another huge factor in this conversation. Giving someone a pet as a gift is assuming that they not only have time and money for that pet now but that they will have time and money for the pet for years down the road! For example, if you give a 10 year old a bearded dragon, they will likely still have that beardie when they graduate high school or possibly even college. The little kid that wanted the lizard back then may not have that same interest as they mature into an adult. People’s situations have the potential to change a lot during the lifetime of their pet. On top of that, reptiles are not the best choice of pet for children. Reptiles require very specific lighting, temperatures, vitamins and supplements as well as many of them require live insects as food. Kids also lose interest in new things very fast. Unless you plan on assuming full responsibility for the pet should the child lose interest, it’s not a good idea to give one as a gift.
Before getting any reptile, there is a lot of research and preparation that needs done to get ready for the new pet. Reptiles can take up a lot of space in your home as well as a lot of time to care for them. They are not any less work than a dog or a cat. More often than not, pets that are given as gifts end up neglected, mistreated or homeless. So many pets end up in shelters and rescues following the holidays and it isn’t fair to the animals.
Pets are living beings that require care, love and enrichment. They cost a lot of money and are a very long term commitment. Buying pets should be a personal decision and the new pet parent should be able to choose the pet that they feel most connected with. For these reasons, gifts should be limited to socks, toys and other non-breathing things. There are plenty of gifts that will make the special people in your life just as happy, or happier, than a new pet!