With some 8 million such creatures living in Britain’s homes, herps now represent the largest non-aquatic sector in the U.K.’s pet population--ahead of cats (7 million), and leaving dogs well behind (5 million).
In the first survey of its type in the U.K., Practical Reptile Keeping magazine revealed that its readers spend nearly $1,620 annually on the care and upkeep of their pets. This expenditure is divided between buying new stock ($410), housing ($390), food and supplements ($335) plus heating ($200) and lighting equipment ($190).
As almost half of all respondents (49 percent) were aged under 25 years old, it is therefore reasonable to assume that parental contributions are being used in part to finance this increasingly popular hobby. Many enthusiasts are keen to develop herp communities, with 46 percent keeping between three and 10 animals, rather than just having one on its own.
Enthusiasts reading the magazine keep and breed a wide range of tortoises, turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, not to mention invertebrates such as spiders and walking sticks. The most popular pets are cornsnakes and bearded dragons (both 35 percent), followed closely by leopard geckos (32 percent) and royal pythons (27 percent).
Stephen Curtis, the publisher of the publication, reported he is in no doubt that the herp trend is here to stay "More and more people are fascinated by the idea of sharing their homes with such pets, which bring a new dimension and understanding to their lives,” he said. "In return for little more than the right living conditions, herps offer education, enjoyment and even companionship in some cases. There is a reptile, amphibian or an invertebrate to appeal to everyone, given the wide choice of lifestyles, colors and sizes which exist within this group of creatures,” he added.
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