Reptile owners, handlers and some former PetSmart employees say they are shocked by how the animals are cared for at large pet stores, saying they have seen obvious signs of malnourishment and that many of the prospective pets are in need of medical attention.
Once considered rare and exotic, lizards and snakes are now widely available through internet sites, trade shows and pet stores.
Joel Monfront of Ottawa owns a bearded dragon and calls it an affectionate pet.
"I love them, they are very nice and calm, and you can cuddle with them, they are surprisingly a nice pet," said Monfront.
But he and other people who met at a backyard get-together for Ottawa reptile owners in July said they've seen lizards, snakes and turtles in poor condition at pet stores.
Monfront said he went to the PetSmart outlet in the west-end Ottawa neighbourhood of Kanata earlier this summer to try to rescue a baby lizard.
"He was sitting in a pool of water and his head was dipping up and down below the surface, and I told my wife if we don't buy him he's going to die," said Monfront.
"We bought him but sadly he still died that very night, the very night we brought him home," he said. More....