How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Have a Pet Lizard
You've decided you want a pet lizard but your parents aren't keen or you suspect that they won't be keen. Here are some tips which might help swing the balance in your favour and convince your parents to let you have a pet lizard.
The thing to bear in mind is that your parent's objections are generally rational and potentially valid, but if you can answer their questions honestly and in an adult way, you have a better chance of success of bringing them round to your plan to have a pet lizard.
It will help to settle on a particular species of lizard - there is a huge difference in size and care requirements between a green iguana and a leopard gecko for example. Some parents might be quite reassured if you are keen to have a leopard gecko if the first thing that sprang to their mind was a huge iguana. Being specific about which lizard species you want also shows that you have put some thought into the idea.
Why Do you Want a Lizard?
Typical parent objection - What on earth do you want one of them for?
To be fair to your parents you really should have a decent answer for this one which shows that having a lizard as a pet isn't a passing whim. So why do you want one?
Sensible answers are:
"I've been helping John/Jessica look after their lizard and it's really interesting."
"We've been learning about lizards in biology and I really want to get some practical experience of them."
"I really want a pet and having done some research into lizards I feel confident that I can care for one properly."
Typical parent objections - You/we don't know how to look after lizards. Who will care for it when we go on holiday? What will happen to it when you go off to university? You'll get bored of it and we'll end up looking after it.
Tactic one: Read up on everything you can about lizards. Pay particular attention to the species that you want to keep. Print out articles from the internet and keep them together in a file, borrow books from the library. You could even do a school project on lizards. By doing this you will be able to talk knowledgeably about lizard care and you will be better prepared for when you get your lizard. You could also join a local Herpetological society to meet up with and learn from other reptile enthusiasts.
Tactic Two: Find out if any of your friends would be prepared to look after your lizard when you go away on holiday and then double check with their parents that it would be ok too. Failing this you could ask at your local reptile shop whether they do holiday boarding or find out the rates of a reliable pet sitter.
You could also offer to care for your friend's pet lizard when they go away - this will help show your parents that you can look after one and if the vivarium is small enough to move into your house for the holiday they will start getting used to having a lizard around.
Iguana - 15+ years
Leopard gecko - 10 years
Bearded dragon - 8 years
Tactic three: What will happen when you go to university or leave home is a legitimate concern. You could pick a short lived species; female Jackson's chameleons live for around 4 yearsor you could pick a popular species such as a leopard gecko, which is easy to sell on if your circumstances change. You could say that you would look for accommodation which will accept pets, but failing that would arrange to board it with someone during the term time.
Tactic four: "You'll get bored of it." is a difficult one to refute if this has happened before with one of your enthusiasms. Time may be the only cure for this - either you will get bored of reading about lizards before your parents give in (which at least saves a lizard from becoming an unwanted pet) or your continued enthusiasm for all things lizardy will eventually persuade your parents that this is a serious interest.
Typical Parent Objection - Lizards are expensive to buy and look after. Once again this is where your research will stand you in good stead. Find out the cost of everything associated with buying and keeping a lizard and make a list of prices. Vivariums and equipment are often offered second hand so do check the classified ads and Craigslist. Then you can decide whether you want to save up the amount for the initial outlay or request it as a Christmas or birthday present.
If your pocket money or allowance won't run to the ongoing cost of keeping a lizard don't expect your parents to makeup the difference - after all it is you who wants this pet. Instead aim to get a part time job to cover costs. This will have the added bonus of showing how determined and committed you are to caring for your pet.
If your parents are very canny they might want you to contribute to the cost of electricity for running the thermostatic heaters and lights that are necessary for lizards kept in most domestic situations. So in your calculations make sure you could cover this extra cost allowing 1-2 dollars/week for safety.
Typical Parent Objection - we haven't got room to keep a lizard.
This is a fair point so you need to be prepared to keep the lizard in your room even if you think there is a perfectly good space for a lizard elsewhere in the house.
This is where all the research you've been doing will come in handy. If your room is small or you share it you may only have a small space for a vivarium so select your species accordingly - a leopard gecko for example could be kept in a 24" x 12" x 12" vivarium. Then clear a space in your room which is the appropriate size and show them that there is room for one.
What type of lizard do you hope to have?
- 37% Gecko
- 38% Bearded dragon
- 4% Chameleon
- 1% Uromastyx
- 7% Skink
- 3% Iguana
- 8% Other species
- 2% Not sure
Typical Parent Objection - We don't mind the lizards but we're not going to have crickets running about the house.
If they're adamant about this you could consider vegetarian species of lizard. Iguanas are the classic ones and can be fed on a combination of vegetables, a little fruit and commercial iguana food. But they are a big reptile to commit to. They grow to around 6 feet (72") and as a result they frequently end up outgrowing their owner's affections and becoming unwanted. Uromastyx species are smaller than iguanas most are 10"-18" long and eat a diet of green vegetables with some commercial reptile food, seeds and flowers.
Alternatively you could consider a more omnivorous species (because these are less picky eaters) and for the insect part of their diet offer meal worms, wax worms and a high protein reptile food instead of crickets. Bearded dragons could fit the bill here assuming that crickets are the only insects your parents don't want in the house.
Following these tips will increase your chance of convincing your parents to let you have a pet lizard. It could also start you on a fascinating hobby which you follow for life. At the very least it will make sure you are well versed in lizard facts and care so that when you leave home and have your own place you will be able to go out and buy a lizard and already know how to look after it.
Green Iguanas - not recommended as your first lizard
Questions & Answers
I have wanted a bearded dragon for a long time, but they are too expensive. My birthday is coming up, and I may get some birthday money. I know I would be able to look after it (I’m a massive animal lover, and find lizards very interesting) but how can I convince my family to let me put my money towards getting a bearded dragon?
If you've already shown that you are responsible when it comes to pet care, you could take that route. Let them know that you realize a bearded dragon is too expensive for one person to give to you as a gift, but if people didn't mind clubbing together, it is something that you really want. It could provide you with pleasure for years to come, as opposed to short-term gifts. Also, the fact that you would be able to tell each person what they had contributed to buying, e.g., the lights or vivarium, would help them feel reassured about their contribution, and they can feel as though they had 'bought' something of value to you.