Reptiles as Pets
As with all pets you adopt into your family, it is imperative you understand areas of needs your pet will require. There are many different species of pets classed as reptiles. They include snakes, lizards, and turtles.
Different species of reptiles require very different care. Proper research is important before adopting a reptile.
The following are a few facts you should consider before adopting a reptile and to help you raise a pet to live a long healthy life:
- Research what type of reptile would be most suitable to you. People may like the way iguanas or other large lizards look, but if you do not have much experience with reptiles this may not make the best first reptile for you. Certain reptiles take more time and care for them to be tame while others do not. Shop around and ask the clerks at the pet shop which reptiles will make good first pets to avoid bites, scratches or tail whipping, especially if you have children or other pets in your home.
- Understanding how big your pet will grow is vital. A 10 gallon aquarium may be suitable one month and cramped the next. Research the growth pattern of your reptilian companion before buying a rather expensive habitat that may be useless after a short period of time. This is especially true when buying snakes; it is vital to research how large a snake will grow before purchasing it or you can end up with a 15 foot snake you can no longer care for.
- Some enclosures hold humidity better than others, so be sure to research if the reptile you choose will need to be in a humid environment or a dry one.
- A properly secured enclosure is important as well. No one wants to wake up in the morning to the realization their pet has managed to escape.
- It's important to have its living area cleaned properly. Changing out the substrate bi-weekly or weekly, depending on the species, is important. Spot clean the entire cage at least once a month to prevent certain bacterial build up.
- Knowing the nutritional needs of your pet will ensure a healthy life. It is recommended to use a vitamin and calcium supplement for most reptiles. Do research or ask a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles for information about supplemental vitamins.
- Most reptiles require a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables; but some reptiles must be fed live food like mice, worms, water fleas, and/or crickets. It is important to note if the pet owner decides to feed live, the insects and/or mice should be purchased or raised for feeding purposes. Wild caught insects and mice may have been exposed to pesticides or other poisonous material that can harm or even kill the reptile.
- By adopting a reptile you must understand the reptile is now relying on you to regulate its body temperature. Providing adequate space to allow your reptile to warm up and cool down is the proper environment to make sure your pet stays healthy.
- Another way to help your pet stay healthy is by providing an area to bask for optimum heat absorption, and also an area in which it can hide. Reptiles use their hiding spots to sleep, get away from the heat to cool down or when they are feeling stressed out. Certain species will burrow in their substrate so be sure to check if your reptile likes to burrow so you can provide the adequate amount of substrate.
- Some pet owners like to keep their reptiles outside to roam; in most cases these pets are turtles. Be sure to make it safe for your pet by providing a proper caging environment especially if you have a species that likes to burrow. These burrowing reptiles may dig a hole and find their way out of the yard into the street. A tip to prevent this is to either bury cement blocks around the area in which the reptile stays or burying wood boards to make the walls of the area in which the reptile stays. These boards should be buried at least 12 inches underground to discourage escaping attempts.
- Specific and proper lighting is the way to provide your pet with the vitamins needed to regulate your reptiles' metabolism. A proper light source is essential to maintain your pet's health. You need to know whether your pet needs light or heat or both. If you choose to buy a heating rock or pad make sure to ask the clerk for proper instructions. If used improperly, it can cause burns to the underbelly of the reptile. Different species require different types of heat and lighting.
- Just like any other pet, regular veterinary visits are recommended to make sure your pet is healthy. Reptiles usually give little to no signs of illness until they are feeling fairly sick, so it is important to keep track of their eating habits and activity levels. If a reptile is not eating properly, check humidity and temperature levels and make they are appropriate. If they are and the pet still does not eat it is recommended to see a veterinarian.
- The health of your pet depends on you knowing how to care for it.
Remember when dealing with reptiles, they can carry salmonella. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet. Reptiles can make great pets and a good addition to your family. With these helpful tips your pet will be with you for years to come.
If you are ever in doubt about the habitat or feeding requirements of a specific species, be sure to check with a Veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.