Reptiles can offer companionship to disabled children — Scope | Disability forum
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Reptiles can offer companionship to disabled children

JohnathanDavid Community member Posts: 1 Listener
Having a pet is a staple of your childhood. Many adults look back on their childhood pets with fondness and love. For disabled children, this is no different. Many love to be around pets.

Though a reptile may seem like an unusual choice for a disabled child, they can be the perfect companion for the right child. Here are three reasons why you would choose a reptile.

Reptiles are low maintenance

Compared with a cat or a dog, reptiles are low maintenance pets. They do not need daily walking or feeding, and they do not need the regular grooming you see with furry pets.

Though it may seem complicated to set up their vivarium or terrarium correctly, once this is completed they are easier to look after than your average pet. Fresh drinking water (and bathing water, where appropriate) will need to be provided every three days and feeding schedules will vary depending on the species you have chosen.

A lizard on a piece of wood

Social Support

One of the main advantages of acquiring a mammal is the social support they can provide their owners with. Though it may seem unlikely, choose the right reptile and you can find social support here too!

There is an abundance of evidence discussing how pets can help to promote a happier lifestyle for disabled children. Research indicates that having a pet can promote more social behaviour from the child when playing with a pet over a toy. When spending time around animals, researchers saw more social behaviours, such as talking and petting the animals.

Bearded Dragons make a great choice for teenagers who are looking for their first pet. They are larger than a Gecko, so will need a larger enclosure, but more space means more love and support for them.

Leopard and Crested Geckos can be an excellent choice for a social pet. They are small, and so could live in a child’s bedroom, and have relatively simple needs. Leopard Gecko’s especially are known to be very social animals who thrive on handling.

Calming effects

Watching a reptile go about their daily business in a terrarium is oddly calming. This can have a similar effect on a disabled child.

When they feel stressed, it may be beneficial for them to have a place they can go to calm down. Sitting and watching a reptile bask or explore their environment can be a fun way to pass time!

Equally, spending time at the tank talking to their reptile can be equally soothing. Having someone to listen when your child feels sad, mad or happy can be a blessing. Reptiles, like all pets, are non-judgmental and are happy to spend time with you just listening.

A Leopard Gecko on a red sandy base


Though it may seem like an unusual choice, reptiles can provide emotional support. Not conventionally cuddly, these non-judgmental animals can provide social support. They are also relatively easy to look after, making them a great first pet for those looking for a unique support animal.

Have you ever had a reptile? What pets would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!


  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 9,767 Scope online community team
    I've never had a reptile (or touched one for that matter!) but all of my kids seem to find watching them (in the local pet shop) quite soothing in a way that the busy or frenetic pace of a hamster perhaps isn't.
    Community Manager
  • Roadrunner
    Roadrunner Community member Posts: 2 Connected
    This is so true my son has lung disease, copd and type 1 diabetes, amongst other life threatening fun things. We had a very very small dog but he wasn’t cool enough for a ten year old so I allowed my son to purchase a bower constrictor. After he learnt everything everything about them and assured me he would keep him locked away when visitor’s came and he washed his hands. When the time came he was overjoyed baby Derek joined the family eventually we confessed to Dad who turned green. The snake at first was so tiny and was handled correctly. 17 years later sadly Derek moves into my sons friend as he was over 11 foot and my sons wife was due to have there first baby. We often talk about Derek and the joy he bought my son. So I agree different animals make great pets as long as the child is educated correctly on there care etc.
  • davegregson40
    davegregson40 Community member Posts: 83 Pioneering
    The Reptiles and Amphibians Conservation Trust are a wonderful organisation and charity. I joined them and they have lots of fascinating information and do so much. The wildlife pond scheme is excellent, I have a wildlife pond, virtually no maintenance and plenty of enjoyment 
  • leeCal
    leeCal Community member Posts: 7,550 Disability Gamechanger
    Having a reptile is a great idea, I once had a tortoise and though they do need space they are surprisingly good company. Of course you need to slow down and not have too high expectations but once you hand feed them a dandelion an attachment forms which is hard to break! Lovely fellas.

    “This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.” 
    ― Dalai Lama XIV

  • gabriel336
    gabriel336 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
    Aww a wonderful post! A great option for people with allergies. Any advice or suggestions for 4 year old twins one whom is visually impaired and CP? Xx 
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Campaigns Posts: 12,462 Disability Gamechanger
    What kind of advice are you looking for @gabriel336
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  • gabriel336
    gabriel336 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
    Hi about an amphibian pet for my granddaughters please xx
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Campaigns Posts: 12,462 Disability Gamechanger
    Have you been to your local pet shop @gabriel336? They should be able to give you some advice on which pet may be the best choice for them in terms of level of care needed, how the animal behaves, and so on. 
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  • gabriel336
    gabriel336 Community member Posts: 24 Connected
  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Scope Campaigns Posts: 12,462 Disability Gamechanger
    That's okay @gabriel336. Has that helped? I don't know much about reptiles or amphibians myself, so I don't know which ones to suggest specifically.
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  • Fatibutt23
    Fatibutt23 Community member Posts: 1 Listener
    While it's probably safe to say that they aren't as sentimental or affectionate as dogs and cats, some reptiles do seem to get quite attached to their humans.

    Making friends with reptiles takes time and patience, but it's not impossible
  • Cartini
    Cartini Community member Posts: 1,108 Pioneering
    When I was a child we lived in South Africa; in one house we had on The Bluff (Durban) we had geckos dashing around the walls and chameleons doing their "shaking leaf impression" way of walking on the curtains.  We also had a particularly aggressive, and very colourful, iguana visit us in the garden but we didn`t get as much pleasure from him as we did with the visitors inside the house.
    They weren`t exactly pets, but we used to enjoy them "coming out to play".


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