When people acquire a new reptile, or are planning to, there’s a lot of talk about “doing your research”. The implication is that the person acquiring the animal has learned enough to properly care for a creature that was previously unfamiliar to them. All too often, the more they speak, the clearer it becomes that, not only did they not “research”, they don’t even really know what “research” means.
First, a couple definitions.
Research means you are studying to make new discoveries. This could mean finding out things no one else knows yet, or confirming discoveries through your own hands on investigation. This word should be used for actual scientific study and observation — not for reading.
While “study” can mean the same as “research”, it also includes learning from reading, especially from books. I’m not trying to get too hung up on semantics here, but we should really be asking people if they studied, not if they researched.
With either word, however, there’s some work involved. Whether you researched or studied, you put time and effort in, finding information, reading, comparing notes… I’ve seen an alarming trend on Facebook lately, where people will post in reptile groups and say “I’m getting ___, please send me a care sheet.”
This is not researching OR studying. This is barely scraping the surface.
Studying to acquire a new animal should involve multiple sources and time devoted to learning the needs of the animal, not just a cursory glance. You should compare care sheets and look for inconsistencies. Depending on the species, there are many great books available. Be sure to take into consideration the publication date of anything you read, either printed or online. The reptile hobby is constantly learning new things and improving techniques. A book from the 80’s may not be as accurate as a current website. However, you can find gold in those old books as well.
Asking for help on Facebook groups isn’t a bad option, but it should only be part of your studying. Asking people to “send me caresheets” is just about the laziest thing I’ve seen in the reptile community. If you can’t manage to use Google for yourself, I question your ability to go to the effort required to properly care for a live animal.
If using Facebook or other social media for learning how to care for your animal, keep in mind that the popular opinion is not necessarily the correct answer. The answer you like also may not be the correct answer. Popularity and ego should not play a part in preparing for a new pet. The willingness to change your mind when presented with new or better ideas is an important part of ongoing learning. And you should always do your best to verify all info with multiple sources, especially if it’s word of mouth information.
Please, for the sake of your animals, when you “do your research”, make sure you actually do it. You will be rewarded with the health and longevity of your pet or collection.