REPTILE ROADSHOW 2010
Reptile welfare first came to the branch’s attention in late 2008/early 2009 when the RSPCA inspectorate working in the Manchester & Salford area investigated several cases involving reptiles.
What We Hoped to Achieve
Each time we delver a free pet health clinic our goal is to:
· help animals whose owners may not be able to afford routine health care
· help as many people and animals stay together during this time of financial hardship
· offer affordable microchipping and treatment for fleas and worms
· help prevent or alleviate illness and/or suffering
· help raise awareness about welfare needs and best practices
· offer further financial assistance with veterinary treatment, subject to availability and means testing
How We Achieved It
The branch is fortunate to have some very good friends in the reptile world, namely leading environmentalist and conservationist Crocodile Joe (www.crocodilesjoes.com) , tortoise expert and welfarist Debs Glanville, trainee exotic vet Sarah Pellet and one of the most prominent exotic vets in the country, Molly Varga. In fact, Molly is one of only four vets in private practice in the UK to hold the qualifications in exotic medicine that she has.
At each event Crocodile Joe held court; educating and advising visitors on best husbandry practices for their reptiles. He was able to easily demonstrate these practices with his exhibition vivariums and expert handling skills. Undoubtedly Joe stole the show each day and added a really vital dimension to the roadshow because we all -staff, volunteers and visitors alike - learnt so much from his infectious enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge and experience.
But of course the main draw was the free health checks and advice offered by the exotic vets. Over the two roadshow dates a total of 98 animals were health checked for free in just 8 hours! By far the most popular animals that attended were tortoises followed by bearded dragons. More unusual visitors included a chameleon, red headed aganas, a white tree frog and a pastel boa.
Attendance at each event proved surprising; the Saturday date in Stretford, South Manchester saw just 32 animals attend. Whereas the event that took place in Eccles on a Sunday saw 66 animals attend. If the funds are available for us to repeat the roadshow in 2011 we will head back to the Eccles event on a Sunday again, but this time in the height of summer, as the cold days would have definitely have deterred people from bring their animals out of their cosy, warm vivs.
As always, getting events publicised is the hardest bit but with the help of Practical Reptile Keeping and the local newspaper, Salford Advertiser, we received attendees as far away as the Lake District, Rhyl and Congleton in the heart of Cheshire. Hopefully, with having delivered this roadshow so successfully, word will get out about it and next time more people will feel able to trust our motivation and expertise.
Of course what this does mean is that we were not successful in reaching the people whose welfare practices may need some additional support, and to be honest, we are not sure quite how we reach these people in the future. In addition, as the vets said, it can sometimes be harder to tell if your reptile is ailing (than amore common companion animal) so people may not know there is a problem until it the condition has progressed or it is too late.