There are pets of all shapes and sizes out there. Most people will opt for a cat or a dog, the two heavy hitters when it comes to pets in the U.S., and there’s nothing wrong with that; canines and felines have proven time and time again just how reliable they are as household companions, and they’ve been doing it for years. However, there are a number of other options out there for people who don’t mind thinking outside the box. And when it comes to an emotional support animal, it can really make all the difference in the world to broaden your pet horizons. If you don’t fancy an emotional support dog, how about an emotional support lizard?
It might sound bizarre, but lizards can make better ESAs than you think. Like pets, emotional support animals can also come in all shapes and sizes. Their main remit is to provide relief from the most debilitating symptoms of prominent mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder. As long as they tick that box, an emotional support animal can be whatever species you like! Unlike service dogs or therapy dogs, which are obviously of the canine variety, ESAs can be any sort of animal that the owner or patient desires. All that’s required is an emotional support animal letter, or ESA letter, which is given to a patient by a doctor or certified medical professional. Once you’ve got that, you’re free to choose your own type of animal to be an ESA!
Don’t discount lizards immediately just because they’re reptiles. They might not be as affectionate or lovable as a dog or cat, but they have their own advantages and ways of showing affection. If you’re currently weighing up which ESA to add to your life, then take a close look at a lovable lizard – they might just make a better emotional support animal than you think!
First of all, they’re a lot cleaner than many other mammals. Dogs and cats (especially the former) leave hair all over the place, like to paw around and claw furniture, and can generally make a nuisance of themselves. Not so with a lizard. Depending on what species you opt for, they stay in their tank for the majority of the time, and if they do come out for a run, they’re clean animals who don’t smell. They can even be toilet trained with a bit of effort, making them the perfect ESA for those patients who are concerned about keeping their house in order. ESA lizards also require minimum maintenance. Feeding can be as little as twice or three times a week; this is due to their metabolisms being much slower than a red-blooded mammal, making them able to survive off the bare minimum for a number of days.
For those patients who are intimidated by the responsibility of owning and maintaining a pet, lizards can be a perfect option. They still provide a strong sense of purpose in their owners, which can be valuable when fighting depression, but they don’t bring on enough pressure to heighten any anxiety issues a person may be suffering from. One important thing when it comes to lizards, though: you have to be alright with having bugs around! A lizard’s ideal diet consists of live insects such as worms and locusts, and they’ll love you forever if you can keep a constant tap going. However, if you just can’t face a box of hopping bugs, lizards won’t complain too much about commercially prepared food either. Some are even herbivores, and just prefer the greens. It all depends on what kind of lizard you go for!
Lizards are also quite content to be left at home all day. Though they will in time recognise their owners, and even seek out affection on occasion, they most certainly don’t require human presence on a constant basis. They can be a perfect ESA for people who have full-time jobs, and just want a way to take the edge off their debilitating symptoms. In this way, ESA lizards are a lot easier to manage than dogs, some of whom can’t be left alone all day without getting restless and causing damage to their owner’s house or apartment.
Speaking of damage, ESAs are allowed to accompany their owners into rented accommodation by law (the Fair Housing Act provides this). A lizard is a perfect pet to take with you if you’re renting, because you can be assured it won’t do any damage to the property. ESA lizards are also a really good choice to travel with. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, patients are allowed to bring their emotional support animals with them on planes. For larger, noisier species of animals, this can prove troublesome, but lizards are such low-maintenance that they’re unlikely to cause any hassle whatsoever on flights.
All in all, a lizard makes a great ESA choice for a patient who wants a low-maintenance animal that will still provide a sense of stress relief. Lizards are so calm that they can be perfect for relieving symptoms of anxiety, and the added responsibility of looking after a pet can help lift elements of depression. When you’re searching for your new emotional support animal, don’t discount an emotional support lizard!