Mention the word REPTILE to anybody and watch their reaction. The odds are they will either shudder in disgust or you will see their eyes widen with fascination. Reptiles as a class seem to have the power to both attract and repel in equal measure. The same people who find snakes loathsome will queue to see a dinosaur film at the cinema. Others who know little of lizards will still have fond memories of a tortoise they had in childhood.
Reptiles are in the news nowadays, for good and bad reasons. On the positive side, more and more people are interested in them as creatures, if not as pets. Over the last twenty or so years there have been two revolutions, both in the way we treat living reptiles and the way we regard their extinct ancestors, especially the dinosaurs. To take the latter first, we no longer regard dinosaurs as stupid oversized brutes who died (as in the AIDS adverts) of ignorance. Now they are seen almost as victims of bad luck, an ever-advancing and evolving group of animals who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (if the catastrophist theories of extinction are true).
As for their still-living relatives, there is now no excuse for the well-intentioned ill-treatment of captive reptiles that so often usd to be the case. Both veterinary medicine and commercial equipment have come a long way, enough to allow most species not living in their natural habitat to lead healthy and comfortable lives. Unfortunately there are still too many horror stories, both here in the UK and abroad, of reptiles abandoned in parks or found dead by RSPCA inspectors. Just as some people who can't tell a corn snake from the monster out of Anaconda want to give all reptiles bad press, so some irresponsible keepers get reptiles a bad press by their own brand of ignorance.
By this time you may have been realised that I am a reptile keeper. I do enjoy the company of our lizards and snake, but that doesn't mean I think that all reptiles are suitable for captivity, or that anybody is suited to keeping reptiles. In these pages I want to share some of my own experiences, hopefully impart a few observations and a bit of knowledge and, equally if not more importantly, provide you with some links to some excellent sites on the Web.
Prehistoric Reptiles and Dinosaurs
European Reptiles and Amphibians
Food for Reptiles
Selected Reptile Bibliography
An index of reptile (and amphibian) articles
Reptile Issues - some problem areas for reptile keepers to deal with, involving both animals and people.
The Bible and Reptiles - a defence of both!
Beaver Water World - although there are quite a few animal sanctuaries in the West, few are equipped to deal with reptiles. Beaver Water World in Tatsfield, Surrey, UK, is one of those that specialises in looking after abandoned or rescued reptiles and rehoming them where possible. Please visit their new site as from a reptile/amphibian point of view this is a very worthwhile place.
Selected Links to Reptile Sites on the Web
Another large and often neglected minority, the Amphibians, get their own pages here.
More pages and links will follow soon....
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