Yesterday there was a young man in the store looking for a pet. I say “a pet” because it seemed to me he didn’t really know what he wanted. He asked about chinchillas. He asked about corn snakes. He asked about newts. He asked about geckoes without, I think, being very clear at all on what a gecko was, besides a lizard. (I did appreciate that he asked for a gecko, and not a geico!)
I don’t mind that he had questions to ask, and I don’t mind that he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted. Sometimes these things take thought, and I’d rather it was more thought than less. As the questions progressed, however, it became clear that the overriding concern, the one he kept asking about, was space. He wanted something that would fit in a small space. At one point he even asked if we had crabs of some sort, as they can live in a fairly small terrarium.
I really don’t think he actually wanted a crab. I think he wanted something interesting and cool, perhaps something he could interact with, that he could fit in a fairly small space. I don’t think he had a large enough space to get any of the things he obviously found interesting and cool, because he kept asking me if whatever-it-was couldn’t live in the slightly-less-than-one-cubic-foot terrarium for its whole life.
In the end I explained to him the usual amount of space required for a leopard gecko or beardie or corn snake, and the amount of money he could expect to spend on setting it up. He thanked me and left the store petless, which was a good thing for him, and for the possible pets he’d been considering.
I have seen far too many people cavalierly assume that they could keep a corn snake in a ten-gallon aquarium its whole life. Although the number I’ve seen try it after being advised to the contrary is smaller, it’s still too large a number. I was very happy that this young man asked the questions he did, thought better of his resources and went away, perhaps to think again and rearrange his space.
You can’t keep an animal in a too-small space and expect it to stay healthy and good-tempered. A too-small space also hampers your ability to keep the environment clean and healthy, and in the end cramps your enjoyment of the animal, as well as the animal itself.
Would I have liked to sell a snake or lizard, or chinchilla, to this guy? Yes, I would. Making a living in retail has become a nerve-wracking pursuit in the last few years. I may yet make that sale, and when I do, I’m sure that the animal will be well-housed and well cared-for, simply because this young man cared enough to ask questions, and to curb his impulses.
Really, it gives you hope for people.