A Burmese python
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Myth Busting: Size Matters in the Animal Kingdom 

Size matters! Have you ever heard someone say that fish or reptiles only grow to fit the size of their enclosure? Well, it’s time to set the record straight! This is a myth that needs to be dispelled for everyone’s benefit.

Fact Check

Both reptiles and fish keep growing throughout their lives. The idea that they only grow to the size of their tank is a myth. Reptiles grow to their maximum when they have a great diet and an environment that is set up correctly. Fish need the same, the water must be treated properly so they are not stressed. They need room to swim with plants and other hiding places.

Offering an appropriate-sized enclosure is crucial for the life of the pet. For reptiles, the rule of thumb is to have an enclosure that is 1.5 times the length of the animal minimum. Too many times rescues see animals in enclosures that are way too small.

When the Enclosure is Too Small

Your pets may experience symptoms of stress due to having nowhere to hide and no space to spread out for exercise. This can lead to stunted growth, but it’s not because they grow to fit their space. When pets are kept incorrectly they can have physical problems.

Many times animals, especially reptiles (and even dogs, sometimes), can end up in rescues because the owner doesn’t realize how large the animal will get. Get a book on your prospective pet before you purchase it so you know what the requirements are to keep that animal healthy.

When the Animal Gets Too Big

Arowanas are solitary animals and will fight with or eat other fish in the tank. They are not for beginners and can grow to three feet in length! Many pet owners are not prepared to have an aquarium or pond that is suitable. Some owners who can’t find a place to re-home their fish will illegally dump them.

Arowan care book by Kyle Faber

Get a book on Arowana care

The same is true with Burmese pythons. There is supposedly a 20-foot Burmese python on the loose in Southern Florida that reptile enthusiasts have been looking for to remove it from the wild. Often times, people buy these animals without knowing anything about their care.

Releasing a non-native pet into the wild is not only illegal, it can also make an impact on native species by outcompeting them for food and territory or they can spread disease. It is also unfair to release a captive-bred animal into the wild as it has never had to hunt for their own food.

Remember

Always provide your pets with an appropriate habitat that meets their needs for a happy and healthy life! Do research before you buy the animal and have a much better experience.

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