Unsuitable Pets

Green Iguanas

A very popular and readily available species, the green iguana is a difficult reptile to keep properly. Many people do not realize the size these animals can attain (over 2 metres) and the personality traits that can appear in adults (males can become very aggressive).

These animals require lots of room, specific heat requirements and sunshine. These can be difficult to provide in Canada in the winter!

It is also difficult to provide a proper diet for iguanas. They require a large variety of leafy greens, some vegetables and fruit, and they require it often. This can become expensive and it is very time consuming.

Green iguanas also are frequent carriers of Salmonella, a potentially dangerous bacteria.

Keeping these reptiles as pets can be a rewarding experience, but look before you leap! Green iguanas have become one of the most common “unwanted pets” and it is very difficult to find good homes for them.

Large Monitors

Large monitors, including species such as Nile, Water and Crocodile Monitors, all possess very large claws and strong jaws with sharp teeth. Although some individuals may be docile, they are all capable of inflicting serious injuries. These lizards also reach large sizes (two metres plus) and require large enclosures with stringent environmental requirements which few people are able to provide.

Large Constrictors

Many people, when thinking about acquiring a pet snake, will dream of a boa or python. The allure of these large snakes has drawn many a pet owner in, only for them to find in the future that the animal has become too much to handle.

It is important to be aware of what the baby snake that you may decide to purchase will grow into. Some boas may only get to be 1 metre long, but others may grow to over 3 metres. Python size can also vary greatly, some only just reaching adulthood at 3½ metres, with the potential to reach 9 metres long.

Because of the power and potential of these animals, a minimum of two people is required when working even with medium-sized adults of these snakes. These animals are often ill-tempered and difficult to care for. They are not suitable pets.

Many cities (including Toronto) and towns have by-laws against keeping large snakes.

Red-eared Sliders

The pet turtle everyone is familiar with. These animals were imported and sold by the thousands for very low prices, and were often sold with incorrect care suggestions.

It is a myth that turtles will stay small if they are kept in a small enclosure. Red-eared sliders, as many people have discovered, can have a shell reaching 30 cm or more in length. They require a large cage, with an exceptional filtration system, frequent water changes, a good basking spot, and lots of food. Like all turtles, red-eared sliders can carry Salmonella bacteria, so hand-washing is a must after touching them!

This often becomes more than a misguided pet purchaser bargained for, and these turtles have been "released" all over the world. This can cause havoc with natural ecosystems when this tough and unwanted intruder is introduced.

Populations of red-eared sliders have been established throughout the U.S., as well as Japan, France and Australia, to list a few. If you have an unwanted slider, please do not release it!


Crocodilians are not suitable as pets. Even dwarf specimens require large enclosures and specialized care, and can deliver a dangerous bite. Babies of some species may be quite small for a few years, but they will eventually grow up, and large crocodilians are undoubtedly a bad idea to have at home. Some people expect that zoos or other facilities will want a crocodile once it has outgrown their resources, but this is usually not true.

Venomous Reptiles

Venomous reptiles are not suitable pets.

Suitable Pets

Now that you’ve met some unsuitable pets, read about some reptiles that do make suitable pets, such as corn snakes, kingsnakes and milk snakes, ball pythons, leopard geckos, bearded dragons and blue-tongued skinks.