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Psychology in the News

Weighing In: Burghardt shares opinions on pet reptiles

Living lizard lapel pins were all the rage a century ago. People fastened chameleons to cushions or scarfs using tiny collars and chains. Women even wore them attached to their bodices. An 1894 editorial in the New York Times submitted by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals denounced the practice, but it did not stop future generations from developing a niche and profiting from the reptile trade.

In the 1970s, green iguanas became the go-to lizard for people who wanted a reptile as a pet. Since then, bearded dragons, ball pythons, boa constrictors, tortoises, and exotic salamanders and frogs have become popular pet reptile species for people all over the world.

The hitch? The growing controversy about keeping reptiles as pets.

Gordon Burghardt, Alumni Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, submitted an editorial to Veterinary Record, in which he discusses the challenges and rewards of keeping reptiles and amphibians as pets.

He was also quoted in a New York Times article about the debate on whether reptiles and amphibians should be house pets.

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