National Reptile Awareness Day

National Reptile Awareness Day

National Reptile Awareness DayA lot of us go absolutely crazy for furry animals, but let’s be honest, oftentimes we overlook—or even avoid—reptiles. They may not be as fluffy as the creatures we’re used to, but they’re just as important and deserving of recognition as any other species. Some of us may not be aware, but reptiles play a huge role in the ecosystem, and sadly, many of them are already on the brink of extinction. That’s why each year, on October 21, we celebrate National Reptile Awareness Day, a holiday where everyone is encouraged to learn about these wonderful animals, educate others, and raise awareness about the threats that reptiles all over the world are facing. Together, let’s make the world a better place for our cold-blooded reptilian friends.


Top 5 Ecological Threats to Reptiles

1. Habitat loss and destruction

Habitat loss, degradation, and destruction pose the greatest threat to reptile populations around the globe. As the world advances, deforestation, land conversion, and construction of dams or water divisions follow. That means forests and bodies of water that serve as homes to several species of reptiles are continuously being destroyed and stripped of the resources (food, water, shelter, protection) needed to support life.


 2. Diseases

Disease-causing pathogens also contribute to the rapid decline in the number of reptiles. One of them is a type of Iridovirus known as Ranavirus. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the virus can affect reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. It causes systemic effects, such as severe hemorrhage, fluid accumulation under the skin, weakness, and swelling that may eventually lead to death. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes may also carry a form of malaria that infects lizards, causing anemia, breathing problems, and weakness.


3. Increased ultraviolet radiation

Because of all the pollutants present in the environment, the ozone layer is significantly thinner than it was before. It’s now a lot easier for harmful ultraviolet radiation, specifically UV-B, to penetrate through the atmosphere and reach the earth’s surface. Because of the damaging effects of UV-B, many reptiles die or are born with deformities.


4. Chemical pollutants

Pollutants, such as pesticides, fertilizers, untreated wastewater, fuels, and other dangerous substances, can accumulate in certain areas or bodies of water, like rivers, lakes, or wetlands, and cause harm to reptiles that accidentally ingest or come into contact with them.


5. Climate change

We’re not the only ones affected by climate change, reptiles are, too. Studies have found that changes in temperatures can affect the sexual maturation of freshwater turtles and cause them to age too quickly. It can also alter the hibernation period of some reptiles, which can cause them to wake up too early and starve to death.



Why Are Reptiles So Important?

Reptiles play an important role in balancing the ecosystem. They’re the ones that make sure there are enough resources for all the animals living within their habitat by preventing overpopulation and providing food for predators. Snakes, for example, help get rid of insects and reduce the number of disease-causing rodents. In the wetlands, crocodiles keep the fish population at bay so that other forms of marine life can thrive, and the aquatic ecosystem remains healthy. Many of them also help get rid of dead animals, which helps keep the environment clean and prevent harmful microorganisms from growing inside the carcasses.



How To Observe National Reptile Awareness Day

1. Learn about reptiles and educate others

One thing you can do to show your love and appreciation to reptiles on National Reptile Awareness Day is to learn as much as you can about the different species of reptiles and tell your friends and family about them. You can also post about reptiles on social media and educating people about them, especially the threats they’re currently facing.


2. Visit, or donate to, reptile sanctuaries or rescues

Another awesome way to celebrate National Reptile Awareness Day is to drop-by a reputable reptile sanctuary or rescue near you. You’ll have a blast seeing different species of reptiles up close and learning about them from an expert’s perspective.

If you want, you may also give a monetary donation. Like other animal shelters and rescues, organizations that dedicate themselves to caring for and preserving reptiles often struggle with financial burdens, too. Donating is a great way to help the reptiles under their care and show your support to what they’re striving to do.


3. Support reptile rescue fundraisers

On National Reptile Awareness Day, why not attend a reptile rescue fundraiser or support one online? Reptile sanctuaries and rescues may organize fundraising events in schools or hold local shows, festivals, and exhibits to educate people about reptiles and sometimes even find them forever homes. So if you’re interested, then make sure to keep an eye out for those! Other organizations also have online fundraisers, so if there are no events in your area during the holiday, you can always check those out.


4. Open your home to a rescued reptile

According to RSPCA, the number of unwanted pet reptiles being abandoned has drastically increased in the last three years. People are dumping reptiles in shelters or leaving them for dead in the wild just because they didn’t do enough research before getting them. It’s heartbreaking because it’s not even the reptiles’ fault, and yet they’re the ones suffering. Thankfully, sanctuaries and rescues exist, and they’re willing to take in, rehabilitate, and rehome the poor animals.

If you’re an experienced reptile-lover or interested in getting a pet reptile (after doing ample research, of course), then why not open your home to a rescue? You can find a reputable organization near you and let them know you’re interested in adopting. You’ll be saving a life!


What are your plans for National Reptile Awareness day?