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Stop buying reptiles as pets: Yellowknife vet

Yellowknife veterinarian Dr. Tom Pisz is discouraging people from buying reptiles as pets after three snakes and a lizard have wound up at the Great Slave Animal Hospital's shelter in recent months.

Snakes and lizards require a lot of care and can live up to 30 years

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      Yellowknife veterinarian Dr. Tom Pisz is discouraging people from buying reptiles as pets after three snakes and a lizard have wound up at the Great Slave Animal Hospital's shelter in recent months.

      Two Yellowknifers are also trying to find new homes for their boa constrictors this week via social media.

      "I'm not supportive of people having reptiles as pets," Pisz said. "We have them because they're already here and we'll have them for the rest of their lives, but I do not support getting pets like that."

      A ball python named Tiny was surrendered to the shelter last week. At age seven, he's 1.5 metres long and Pisz says he's still growing.

      "People get these pets when they're smaller and they think it's going to be fun," he said. "But it takes a lot of time and they live long lives."

      Ball pythons have a lifespan of 30 years or more, and corn snakes, of which the shelter now has two, can live more than 20 years. The animal hospital also has a metre-long tegu — a species of exotic lizard — named Puff Puff.

      "They're not dogs or cats. You don't take them for walks," said Pisz. "They don't show emotion or affection to the owner. They're reptiles."

      Pisz says city council should regulate less traditional pets.

      "I do like them. It's good having them here when people come in. They can look at them, they can talk about them and learn about them. It's probably better than most homes." 

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