Having a pet is usually an experience that children remember fondly about their childhood, and most of us can remember either desperately wanting one, heart-achingly longing for a little furry companion to tend and love or, if we weren’t lucky enough to have a pet of our own, getting to play with our friends’ animals when we got the chance.

Today, it’s a lot easier to have a pet and as more options are made available to us, we can give our children that experience without breaking the bank or worrying about having a garden to keep the cutesy critters in. Setting aside the philosophical, ethical and political debates surrounding the keeping of animals, most of us at one time will have either longed for a pet or had the joy of taking care of one, and children today are still as enamoured with animals as they ever were. And this often manifests in wanting to have a pet at home. So what do you do, if you have limited space, a limited budget and perhaps, an even more limited understanding of how to care for animals? Why, you get a reptile, of course.

We know, reptiles carry a bad wrap, some are in fact quite expensive to buy and maintain and not all of them are suitable for pet owning beginners. They’re not cuddly either, and they’re not likely to be fluffy unless one accidentally gets into a fight with a chicken, but there’s lots to love about these scaly creatures and there’s one place we know which is by far the best store around, if you fancy dipping your toes into reptilian waters.

Global Geckos is an amazing shop. Not only is it the UK’s number one reptile shop, but it is run by qualified zoologists, who are extremely knowledgeable. You can ask them literally any question about the myriad animals they have in their store and about reptiles in general. And they clearly have a passion for what they do, because you can often find Will, Charli and Ali talking to the customers in the store, excitedly describing the latest batch of baby chameleons they’re taking care of (a fiendishly difficult species to rear from hatchlings, but they’re having a go, because, well, they can and they know exactly what they’re doing, and they love it), or the very sweet disposition of their resident Boa Constrictor, Little Boa Beep, who often visits the local schools in their area (accompanied, of course).

[From left to right] Charli, Ali and Will (and a very excited school pupil!)

But Global Geckos aren’t content with being a high-octane reptile store, staffed by real pros who stock some of the most exciting pets around, they also do talks and seminars, sharing their vast knowledge with schools and veterinary practices. Their on-line store is not to be missed either, so even if you don’t live in the area you can order everything you need and get it delivered to your door. From starter kits to care sheets, Global Geckos have you covered.

Global Geckos is an incredible store, but it’s no use to you if you don’t have a reptile, and for most of us, looking after a reptile isn’t something we even think about considering. But the benefits of having a reptile as a pet, are many.

Society tells us that ‘normal’ pets are cuddly, cute and furry and anything that falls foul of that description isn’t given a look-in. Often perceived as slimy, unfriendly, sometimes stupid and unresponsive, reptiles have to cope with the many stigmas society attaches to them, but there is a reptile out there for everyone (and you can check them out on Global Gecko’s awesome photo gallery). And what better way to introduce your child to the idea that conventional beauty is not the only kind of beauty out there?

We have to admit, we’re not mad about the idea of owning invertebrates (as a general rule the more legs they have, the more frightened we get), like tarantulas or scorpions (all available at Global Geckos if they take your fancy), but they might just be the pet of your child’s dreams, along with geckos, lizards, turtles and snakes, again all hanging out at Global Geckos waiting for a good home. But what of the health risks? Some of these animals may bite or sting and all reptiles carry Salmonella, but with careful handling and some basic hygiene rules, reptiles make brilliant pets. They are also great for teaching kids the importance of taking care of pets, learning to be mindful of hygiene issues and learning to balance a little risk with responsibility, which in turn yields its own rewards. In a world where risk is frowned upon, reptiles are the perfect antidote: a small amount of carefully managed risk can help boost a child’s confidence and reduce their fear of the unknown.

Reptiles can also be very budget friendly pets and Global Geckos run an amazing customer points scheme which effectively acts as a discount mechanism whenever you purchase something from them and after a while, you even get vouchers which convert into more money off whatever you buy, making it even easier to budget for. And being reptiles, they don’t need to be kept outside, you can keep them in your home. All you need is enough space to fit a vivarium or terrarium-style tank for your pet.

Taking care of certain reptiles couldn’t be easier; pets like bearded dragons require minimal upkeep and are full of character, intelligent and mischievous. And best of all, they have a range of behaviours that both delight and inspire. So go on, take a look at Global Geckos’ website, or their excellent Facebook page; we dare you not to fall in love with at least one of their reptiles (our personal favourites are the Australian water dragon and the male Yemen Chameleon……)