This study of the patterns of the keeping of herpetofauna animals and associated animal welfare issues among secondary school pupils in the United Kingdom suggests that a large proportion of the animals kept as companion animals by this group are indigenous species. In comparison with purchased species, these captured animals, even those normally long-lived, appear to suffer a high rate of mortality. Relatively large numbers of escape- and food-related deaths among these animals imply that many are not furnished with suitable vivaria or adequate care. Traded reptile and amphibian species were reported to have been kept by nearly 40% of the students who said they had kept herpetofauna, and the proportions of most taxa reflected their availability in shops. Data concerning students' opinions about their own care-knowledge appeared to support the general conclusion that students have much to learn about keeping reptiles and amphibians. These findings are considered in relation to issues of animnl welfare and herpetofauna conservation. Their ramifications for school-based education about reptiles and amphibians are also discussed.