Reptile Awareness Day on October 21st is a yearly opportunity to learn more about herptiles, a category that includes land reptiles and amphibians. Here are three facts about reptiles, including guidelines for Hawaii residents. The state government prohibits keeping many species as pets to control invasive species in the wild.
1. Herptiles Are Not Native to Hawaii
Hawaii has no native amphibians, land reptiles or snakes. Anole lizards, skinks, frogs, toads and two species of Asian soft-shell turtles introduced for food back in the 19th century currently live wild on the islands along with 10 species of geckos.
Most wild reptiles originated as stowaways or eggs in imported products. Escaped pets also account for some of these invasive species.
2. State Law Prohibits Several Species of Reptiles
A number of species of reptiles are not legal to import to Hawaii or keep as pets. State law prohibits keeping any of the following species:
• African clawed frog
• Cuban tree frog
• Dwarf or siren salamanders
• Gila monster
• Suriname toad
A variety of land reptiles and amphibians are legal in Hawaii. Jackson’s chameleons, axolotls, fire belly newts, fire salamanders, green or grey tree frogs, turtles and tortoises can be kept as pets, and many of these species are bred in captivity on the islands.
Reptiles are far from being the only controlled species in Hawaii. Certain types of fish, birds, rodents, and hybrid animals are not allowed on the islands. The state government publishes a list of which reptiles can be legally kept as pets.
3. Each Reptile Requires Unique Care
No matter which reptilian species you would like to learn more about or keep as a pet, it is important to factor in every aspect of caring for ectotherms. Most reptiles are cold-blooded and regulate body temperature levels by moving to different areas of a habitat. Keep reptiles in an enclosure with light, heat and water. Arboreal species require climbing materials, whereas terrestrial or burrowing reptiles benefit from the right ground covering and substrate.
Many reptiles require exposure to full-spectrum light. Semiaquatic species should be able to submerge in water. Social species will still require sufficient room for each terrarium inhabitant. Incompatible species should always be housed separately.
These facts can help pet owners make more informed choices. Many herptiles such as axolotl, Jackson’s chameleons, tortoises, tree frogs and waterdogs can be kept as pets in Hawaii. Reptile Awareness Day encourages people to learn more about amphibians, lizards, and other land reptiles.