Reclining with a laptop on my couch in Brooklyn, I searched “buy lizard online” and clicked the first link. I filled my cart with a flying dragon, a couple of caimans, a red-eared slider turtle, a poison dart frog and an albino garter snake. I agreed to the terms and conditions, certifying that I knew the laws governing reptile ownership (it is illegal for me to own some of these reptiles in New York), that I understood exceptions for baby turtles (I still don’t), and that I wouldn’t hold the company responsible. Now all I had to do was provide a credit-card number, and my new pets would be delivered to my doorstep the next day.
"Debating Whether Reptiles or Amphibians Should Be House Pets" is from the November 13, 2017 Science section of The New York Times. It was written by Joanna Klein and narrated by Kristi Burns.