If I say pet, most people think of soft, fuzzy critters like cats, dogs, and rabbits– but snakes and lizards are pets too and definitely do not get the attention they deserve.
From geckos to turtles to chameleons and more, there are many different kinds of reptiles, all with a wide variety of needs. UV lighting, heat lamps, special housing, and sanitation are all critical factors to consider when taking care of a reptile .
But, even though lots of people are prepared for the special responsibilities of a reptile, just as many people aren’t.
Keeping various scaly or hard shelled creatures – like a pet chameleon require more attention and upkeep than most people realize and sometimes this extra work results in these types of pets being dumped.
This is where reptile rescues come in. Yes, this is really a thing! You may even find some reptiles on some of the best pet adoption websites like Adopt-A-Pet or Petfinder!
Like any other rescues, reptile rescues take in reptiles that needs their help, and care for them until they’re adopted out. These rescues also cater to reptiles’ specific needs, like heat lamps and food, and help to educate the public about reptiles as a whole.
Reptile Rescues Profiles
Here’s a list of some reptile rescues that really look out for out scaly friends so you can get an idea of how hard these rescues work! We could not profile every single rescue – but these few will give you an idea of the type of work all rescues do.
Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary – Pennsylvania
Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary is one of my favorite reptile rescues. Their mission is to “give reptiles a chance, by rescuing reptiles that need our help, and by providing fun outreach programs to spread our love of reptiles”.
They’ve conducted more than 2,000 shows, in a wide variety of schools, libraries, churches, television programs, and more– all aiming to showcase reptiles and how great they really are. The “outreach” side of their website is chock-full of information about the study of reptiles (herpetology), and how to get involved with local herpetological groups if you’re in the Pennsylvania area.
If you’re interested in donating, or just reading a happy story, the “rescue” side of their website is complete with donation links, and a list of some of the reptiles they’ve helped find homes for so far.
The Gecko Sanctuary – Massachusetts
Like many local rescues, The Gecko Sanctuary is a small scale group. Based in Massachusetts, they are “dedicated to helping geckos (and other reptiles and amphibians) in need within New England”.
As the name implies, the Sanctuary mostly works with geckos– but this doesn’t stop them from helping bearded dragons, snakes, and a wide variety of frogs!
Most notably, the Sanctuary aims to rehabilitate reptiles surrendered by their owners, working closely with vets and willing fosters to ensure nice, speedy recoveries. They give care to reptiles with more severe needs, too, including geckos with metabolic bone disease, bearded dragons with parasites, and malnourished or otherwise mistreated reptiles.
They also work towards reptile education with educational shows and openness to questions from the public.
If you are interested in helping the Sanctuary, please be sure to check out their website to see how you can help!
Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue – Illinois
Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue is “dedicated to the care of the ill, injured, abandoned, and the aggressive/dangerous”.
As an insured reptile rescue, Friends of Scales is totally able and willing to take on a role in the promotion of responsible reptile ownership. They also promote reptile conservation efforts and help inspire the public to help protect the animals they love.
Volunteering is critical for Friends of Scales, and we cannot stress enough the importance of volunteering in the first place. If you’re interested in volunteering, you can find more information here.
Even if you can’t volunteer with Friends of Scales, please keep in mind all the other rescues on this list. Animal rescue takes a lot of work, and without volunteers, it’s hard to keep up!
Aside from volunteers, Friends of Scales also accepts surrendered reptiles from owners who can’t take care of their pets anymore. In the event that they are over capacity, or simply cannot accept a surrender at this time, Friends of Scales is also willing to connect surrendered pets with people willing and able to take them in.
As with all the other rescues on this list, be sure to look over the Friends of Scales website if you’re interested– and make a donation if you’re willing!
Colorado Reptile Humane Society – Colorado
Like all the rescues on this list, the Colorado Reptile Humane Society (CoRHS) focuses on education, conservation, and adoption.
Unlike some of the other rescues, however, CoRHS offers unique opportunities such as animal sponsoring and foster care. These programs are especially meant to help educate the public about reptiles and their needs, and fostering or sponsoring will both help warm your heart!
CoRHS aids in two important conservation efforts in the state of Colorado– wildlife rehabilitation, and the Colorado Box Turtle Project, which studies the effects of human activity on the native Colorado Box Turtle population. The information from the project, CoRHS hopes, will help establish “population viability and conservation needs before it becomes too late to prevent local extinction.” You can read more about both of these projects here.
On top of those massive conservation efforts, CoRHS also has volunteering opportunities, and internship opportunities with the Colorado Box Turtle Project. Altogether, CoRHS’s many opportunities make it a very unique rescue, and we definitely recommend checking it out!
As always, if you’re interested in supporting the Colorado Reptile Humane Society, you can find further information and details on their website.
American Tortoise Rescue – California
Although they’re based in California, the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) helps turtles and tortoises from across the globe.
Since its founding in 1990, ATR has rehomed more than 4,000 turtles and tortoises. They also sponsor World Turtle Day, an annual celebration on May 23rd that aims to bring attention to the plight of turtles and tortoises, as well as educate people about turtles and tortoises, and encourage action to help these beautiful animals thrive.
Even so, ATR no longer provides rehoming or assistance with adoptions, except in rare cases or for special needs turtles. Now, much of their time “is spent with a dedicated commitment to education, legal issues facing turtles and tortoises and expanding World Turtle Day® activities on May 23rd annually”.
Instead, they have a wealth of information regarding reptile rescues throughout the United States, Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere.
Run solely by volunteers, ATR relies heavily on donations, like most other rescues. Their focus on education, activism, and information for turtle owners is, all and all, fantastic. Be sure to donate if you’re willing, to make sure ATR is around to help for years to come.
A Few More Reptile Rescues!
Even though there are only 5 rescues on this list, there are many, many more throughout the U.S.!
Here’s a few smaller mentions:
Creepy Critters Rescue is in Los Banos, California, and focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming reptiles and arthropods. Above all else, Creepy Critters prioritizes healing, socializing, and finding forever homes for “amazing, misunderstood critters”. Their website can be found here.
All Reptile Rescues By State
Below is a comprehensive list by state of all the reptile rescues we could find. We will add to this list as new rescues come our way – if you have suggestions, we are all ears!
While we were able to find these websites and verify they are still active websites – we did not validate whether the people behind the site are still active in rescue – so you should definitely reach out!
Most of these reptile rescues are small organizations with limited funding and resources. If you love these animals – then helping any of these rescues is highly recommended!
American Tortoise Rescue
Beach Cities Reptile Rescue
California Turtle & Tortoise Club
Creepy Critters Rescue
Desert Tortoise Rescue
Reptile Rescue Orange County
San Diego Herpetological Society
San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society
Sonoma County Reptile Rescue
Trancas Turtle and Koi Rescue
Making The Decision To Adopt A Reptile
Lastly, if you need any more information before you try to find a scaly friend, I would recommend checking out ReptiFiles. ReptiFiles is full of comprehensive care guides for a variety of reptiles, from leopard geckos to corn snakes, to blue-tongued skinks.
Mariah Healey, author of the website, also keeps all her information as up-to-date and accurate as possible.
Beyond that, ReptiFiles has pages of resources for all your reptile needs– so, if you are serious about getting a reptile, be sure to check them out for anything you might need when caring for your new best friend.
Make sure you do a search – talk to experts and really do your due diligence to ensure that having a reptile as a pet is the perfect option for your whole family!
If you have any local reptile rescues you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below!
 Many sites like texvetpets.org review the special needs of reptiles. If you’re interested in keeping one as a pet, be sure to make sure you read up on how to keep your pet healthy!