A sensitive subject, this question which was put to you guys on our Facebook page and received some really intelligent and commendable answers, so let's take a look at what you guys thought about this ethical dilemma:

The Argument For Wild Caught Reptiles

As Sophie Malko Smith points out, "it depends on the reason", for instance "Crested Geckos were thought to be extinct, and wild caught specimens have helped to bring the species back in a huge way". There does seem to be evidence to support Sophie's argument: Crested Geckos were indeed thought to be extinct due to the introduction of the Little Fire Ant into its' New Caledonian habitat, until Cresties were rediscovered in 1994 after a tropical storm, and since then breeding programs using wild caught geckos have had some success at bringing numbers back up.

Helen MacCaffrey further illustrated the point: "Wild caught stock can be essential for conservation and introducing new bloodlines to certain species".

However, the export of wild geckos, such as Leopard geckos, into the pet trade is now prohibited to protect the growing population for a second near-extinction event, so wild caught crested geckos are no longer a legal option as the tables have now reversed: catching wild geckos will now simply bring down the wild population too dangerously, but we see Sophie's point about their initial capture being vital to the survival of the Crested Gecko as a species.

As Sophie said herself, "for hobby/pets, captive bred all the way".

The Argument for Captive Bred Reptiles

The arguments for Captive Bred are very strong and the vast majority of those of you who answered were 100% behind the captive breeding of reptiles in the pet trade.

The main crux of the argument for captive bred reptiles lies in the arguments against Wild Caught. Tanya Vennet looked at it from a health and wellbeing standpoint: wild caught reptiles "have had the taste of freedom, to catch and cage is very stressful for the animals". There were plenty of comments in support of this, stating that wild caught animals are more aggressive - a direct reaction to the stress of being caught and caged.

Alasdair Robbins came down quite heavily on the side of Captive Bred too, making the point that capturing wild reptiles "really affects wild stocks" and can therefore lead to the possible extinction of a species, not to mention affect the surrounding ecosystem. He also pointed out that wild caught reptiles "the risk of infecting other captive specimens with outside pathogens", which is also true - not all wild caught reptiles go through a rigorous quarantine procedure, and illnesses can be transmitted to your other reptiles.

Most of your comments seem to suggest that Captive Bred reptiles are by far the best way to go, holding the moral and ethical high-ground, but as Alasdair also pointed out, this isn't the end of the story: "captive breeding leads to mass production and therefore turns the animal into a product which is wrong and also breeding on a mass scale can lead to birth defects".

As this point illustrates, although Captive Breeding seems the way to go in most respects regarding the isolation of pathogens, the conservation of wild stock levels, as well as the mental and physical health of the wild animal, Captive Breeding is often not perfect either, with reptile farms springing up all over the world that use potentially less than ethical breeding and housing techniques in order to generate profit.

Perhaps the best way to do things lies back with what Tanya said: she prefers to use "breeding programmes and reputable breeders" to obtain the reptiles she takes care of.

As some of you pointed out, all reptiles were wild once (or at least their ancestors were), and because they are now somewhat domesticated, we as humans have a duty of care over their welfare that we need to take seriously.

As always, your answers were intelligent and thought provoking and it got us thinking - maybe humanity needs to look at the individual situation of each species to decide what the ethical choice is?

What do you think?