Unfortunately for herpetoculture fanatics around the world, this is a common scenario: you’ve dreamt for years about getting your favorite reptile, you’ve invested the time to research its care requirements, and the right timing has come, or the perfect opportunity has presented itself.
There’s only one thing holding you back: your partner’s hatred, fear, or a general distaste for cold-blooded critters.
Our poor reptilian pals simply don’t have the inherent appeal and “cute” factor of puppies, kittens, and bunnies to most people.
Do not despair. Most hesitations, short of the most deeply-ingrained phobias, can be overcome through education, exposure, and communication.
Step 1: Find Out Why They Don’t Like Reptiles and Explain Away Myths
Communication is a vital part of any healthy, mature relationship. The first step in helping your partner to become more accepting of reptiles is to find out why they don’t like them in the first place.
Fears about being bitten, constricted, envenomated, and catching disease are not unfounded. However, if the reptile you plan on bringing into the home is a safe size and non-venomous, these fears are straightforward to explain away.
Anything with teeth can bite, including dogs, cats, and even human children! Depending on the size and type of reptile, most bites are not very serious. If it’s a small reptile, it can be constructive to search for “after” photos or even videos of bites occurring so that your partner can see that it wouldn’t cause serious injury. Even more helpful are videos of appropriate, confident, and incident-free handling of a tame animal.
Diseases are an ever-present risk with reptiles – and mammalian pets, produce, raw meat, indoor and outdoor pollutants, and public human exposure! Do your research and teach your significant other how to carry out proper hygiene and disinfection practices, which virtually eliminates the risk of getting sick from most reptile-borne pathogens.
Other issues that may come up include conflicts about resource usage such as money, space, and time.
Be honest and transparent with your other half about the cost of the reptile that you’d like to own, including the needed supplies.
If they’re unhappy with what you show them, consider deciding on a more common and affordable type of reptile, or waiting until one becomes available for adoption. Bargain shopping is a great way to showcase your interest and determination in making things work out.
Most of the time, enclosures, heating elements, and habitat decor can be obtained for free or extremely cheap. It’ll be harder for your spouse to say no if you already have all of the supplies you need – and easy to re-sell them in the worst-case scenario.
Luckily, many reptile species do not require a considerable time investment, especially compared to common pets like cats and dogs.
Issues on the usage of space are a bit more challenging to resolve, but it may help explain that reptiles grow slowly, and it could be a matter of years before they reach their adult size. Considering a smaller species of lizard, snake, or turtle is also an option. If you live in the right climate, you may even be able to consider an outdoor enclosure.
Step 2: Go on Reptile Dates
Reptile dates can be a fun and practical way to introduce your other half to your interests and passions without making them feel like they need to commit to anything.
Zoos, reptile parks, reptile shows, and even exotic pet shops can all make for interesting, novel date locations where your spouse can learn more about reptiles from experts who work with them for a living. They may also have the opportunity to watch how most reptiles can be handled without defensive or perceived aggressive behavior, and may even be brave enough to hold one on their own!
The world of reptiles is vast. If your significant other isn’t entirely sold on your dream reptile species, maybe they will find one that tickles their fancy at a reptile shop or show.
While it may not be the reptile you’ve dreamt of, it could be a great starter animal to get your partner’s foot in the door with reptile keeping in general. That’s an excellent middle ground to pave the path towards your bucket list animals if you ask me!
Step 3: Respect Your Partner’s Boundaries
There’s an age-old saying that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to seek permission.
While this may be an easier path, it’s not always the best path.
If you bring home a pet reptile without your life partner’s knowledge or consent, you could very well be setting yourself and your reptile up for failure.
This kind of action can leave your significant other feeling disrespected, and like their feelings don’t matter. This should be the exact opposite of how you want your other half to feel! Those feelings can lead to resentment towards the animal that you bring home and the hobby as a whole, which, at best, will make it more challenging to convince your partner to accept the animal or welcome new reptiles in the future.
At worst, your partner may feel like they should go behind your back to get rid of the reptile if you went behind their back to bring it into the house.
In Conclusion…Don’t Give Up!
Convincing your partner to change their mind about reptiles may seem like a daunting task. Indeed, it can be a lot of hard work. Do not give up! The reward of having your significant other fully on-board with your new pet may be well worth all of that hard work.
Beyond just accepting it, they may grow to truly enjoy the animal and the hobby. There’s no better reward than being able to share a passion, interest, and hobby with the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with.
Finally, if all else fails…a little bit of bartering and bribery never hurt anybody! Cook their favorite meal, go on a long-desired trip, and treat their hobbies how you want them to treat yours – showing the same interest and encouragement you desire can go a long way.