Lancaster SPCA seeing trend of reptile pet surrenders

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They’re cold-blooded, scaly, and they’re showing up at the doorstep of Lancaster County’s SPCA.

One of the shelter’s latest pet surrenders made quite a splash upon arrival. His owner contacted the SPCA last week.

“He had called us, and spoke to us about bringing him down, and when we asked him what type of pet he was looking to surrender, the last thing that we expected was a three-and-a-half-foot alligator,” said Jennifer Nields, operations manager for the Lancaster County SPCA.

The 12-year-old black caiman is now in the expert hands of John Fitzwater of Triple J Reptiles and Rescue just outside of Elizabethtown.

“He shouldn’t get much bigger than this, but as you can see, he’d put a hurting on anybody with those teeth,” Fitzwater said.

In all, Triple J Reptiles and Rescue has taken in four animals from the SPCA this year, the caiman, two small alligators and a small snake.

“A lot of people that actually get into the situations of owning a reptile don’t really realize what comes with it,” Nields said. “As far as the care they need, the special lighting, the food, the calcium on their food, all kinds of things. They’re not your average pet.”

That’s why Nields and Fitzwater urge anyone looking to take in any type of pet to thoroughly research the animal’s needs.

“Know that it’s a long-term commitment because most of it is 20 years plus that the reptile will be around for,” Fitzwater said.

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