Reptiles As Pets

A reptile owners guide

Introduction

 

Pet Reptiles and Amphibians are increasing in popularity due to their wide availability. Before getting such a pet you have a commitment to research first as each individual species will have its own specific requirements, if you fail to meet these requirements it may result in ill health and eventual premature death. You should also check for a veterinary in the area that is able to treat reptiles and join a herpetological society such as a reptile forum (e.g. reptileforums.co.uk /tortoiseforum.org /theamphibian.co.uk /captivebredreptileforums.co.uk /ssnakess.com etc...) as there will come a time when you will want to seek advice. It is good practice to put aside some money for emergency vet costs if needed, as you also have a duty of care and should make every effort to resolve any medical complaint that may arise. “I can’t afford it” is an often used excuse for neglect, precautions to have money on hand for such emergencies is a must. 

 
Many reptiles in captivity do not reach adulthood due to inadequate husbandry. Frequently new and uneducated owners make poor choices for enclosures, environmental temperature/humidity as well as food 
based on items that are sold in pet stores and advice from outdated text, well-meaning friends and “breeders”. Decisions are sometimes also guided by a wish for enclosures to look aesthetically pleasing without knowledge of species-specific needs or behaviours that should be considered when making choices concerning substrate, heat, light and humidity sources. It is extremely important to consider necessary enclosure size and husbandry issues such as light, temperature gradient, humidity (or lack of) adequate hiding and need for artificial full-spectrum light. 


You should also make yourself aware of the species life span and decide whether you are willing to commit yourself to the care of the animal for this length of time. Some species can live for 20 years such as Leopard geckos, Corn snakes and Blue Tongued Skinks, some for considerably longer with a lifespan that may rival a human’s. You should also place serious consideration into how large the animal will grow and decide if you have the space to accommodate the animal once it reaches full size. Furthermore, some species of reptile require complex and specialised care so you need to be sure that you are ready to commit yourself to provide for this care for the remainder of the animals life. Some reptiles are also carnivorous or may have expensive feeding requirements so when purchasing a pet reptile, do first consider the cost of feeding and whether you are able to feed insects or other animals to your pet as required.


For beginners you must be aware that some species are more suitable as a first time pet reptile than others. For 
instance, a Tokay Gecko may look very attractive but it is not recommended to beginners because of their aggressive nature. Some species also require very specific care in which basic knowledge will not be adequate. The most popular species which are more suitable for beginners include the Leopard Gecko, Bearded Dragon, Blue Tongued Skink, Corn Snake, Ball Python, Hermann's Tortoise, Horsfield’s Tortoise, Red Eared Slider and other such tame and hardy species. Snakes are perhaps the best animals for beginners, requiring less maintenance and do not require supplementing or a complex feeding regime. Lizards are a close second but have more complex nutritional needs than the snakes (varied diet and vitamin/mineral supplementation). Turtles and Tortoises perhaps require the most maintenance out of all the reptiles considered suitable for beginners.

  

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