The Basics to Taking Care of A Pet Reptile
Sun, April 18, 2021

The Basics to Taking Care of A Pet Reptile

It’s seldom that you hear someone wanting to have a snake or an alligator for a pet / Photo by: blueseacz via 123RF

 

When people talk about having a pet, the first things that come to mind are dogs, cats, rabbits, and other furry and cute mammals. It’s seldom that you hear someone wanting to have a snake or an alligator for a pet. That’s because reptiles are not exactly the best definition of cuddly, and a lot of them belong to the protected species list so that owning them as pets will entail a lot of hassle.

But, believe it or not, there are some people who find reptiles cute and easier to maintain as pets. 

The Spruce Pets, a website that provides tips and guidance for pet owners, stated that there are an estimated 9,500 different species of reptiles on the planet. This will mean that one should do a lot of research before they get a reptile for a pet. For starters, they need to make sure that the animal is allowed by authorities to be adopted as pets and not some exotic type that’s on the brink of extinction. For another, know that these creatures don’t have a “one size fits all” diet, unlike mammals that are carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores. 

Different reptiles also require different kinds of habitat. Some of them only need a little space while some need something huge like your entire lawn in order to keep them healthy and active. There are also some species that are not child-friendly and can be dangerous to the young ones.

 

Reptile Diet

Unlike in the case of cats and dogs, there are fewer choices when it comes to the available reptile foods in the market. Fortunately, there are fresh food, pellets, and supplements sold in specialty stores to keep them healthy, but owners should conduct thorough research about which one is suitable for their pet reptile. Here are some examples of reptiles and their diet. 

Snakes – they are carnivores or insectivores. Most species prefer to eat meat although some do eat fruits or even vegetables. This is why it is best to prepare insects of all shapes and sizes as well as rodents. Make sure they are fresh or even alive as some snakes won’t take a bite unless their food is still moving. 

Lizards

If you can’t stomach feeding a live or fresh rodent to a snake, then it is best to get a pet reptile that is an insectivore or herbivore. Smaller lizards are mostly insectivores while others are herbivorous or omnivorous. In the wild, they usually feast on different kinds of worms, spiders, flies, and fruits and vegetables. 

There are pet stores that sell crickets for pet lizards. Make sure, though, that your lizard will have a variety of meals aside and not just insects because even though they are insectivores, they can still develop deficiencies in some nutrients. Examples of insectivorous lizards include anoles and leopard geckos. Iguanas, on the other hand, are vegetarians. 

Unlike in the case of cats and dogs, there are fewer choices when it comes to the available reptile foods in the market / Photo by: Ian Redding via 123RF

 

Shelter for Reptiles

Reptiles are extraordinary and unique creatures. Unlike our usual household pets, reptiles/amphibians such as turtles, snakes, and lizards require additional equipment for their shelter. As much as we want to believe that they only need a sturdy case and a bowl for water, they also need some other equipment that may be expensive and even hard to find. 

The Seattle Times, a daily newspaper in Washington, reported on their online article that turtles and tortoises can be a demanding pet when it comes to housing or shelter. Tortoises require strong UVB light, which is tricky to have indoors. If pet owners are unable to provide this kind of lighting for their pet tortoise, the animal’s shell might grow into a strange shape and its nervous system might function abnormally. 

Reptiles are extraordinary and unique creatures. Unlike our usual household pets, reptiles/amphibians such as turtles, snakes, and lizards require additional equipment for their shelter / Photo by: BlueOrange Studio via 123RF

 

Temperature for Reptiles

Based on the MSD Veterinary Manual, a guide that provides medical information to both human and animal healthcare professionals, it was mentioned that most reptiles are ectotherms, which means that they maintain their body temperatures by relying on heat sources from their environment. 

Their cage, therefore, must provide a range of temperatures that are ideal for each species. Keep in mind that there is a specific range of temperatures for digestion, immune system, and to increase the effectiveness of certain drugs when the pet is under medication. 

Reptiles that belong to tropical species prefer temperatures ranging from 80 degrees F to 100 degrees F (27 degrees C to 38 degrees C), while others thrive in a temperature range of 68 degrees F to 95 degrees F (20 degrees C to 35 degrees C). It is suggested that reptile cages must have a thermometer installed in order to monitor the condition of the cage. 

 

Enrichment for Reptiles

According to an article published by Healthy Pets, a company dedicated to providing quality pet supplies, enrichment is a term that many veterinarians use to describe activities that encourage the reptiles’ natural behavior. Cold-blood reptiles normally spend most of their time sitting around and soaking up in warm places. Even though they are not active like other pets, they still gain mental stimulation from their environment. Reptiles Magazine, a North American magazine dedicated to the reptile and amphibian pet hobby, explained on their website that some zoos hide food items in different areas within the reptile’s enclosure to encourage them to go on food hunting and make them physically active. 

They may not be like dogs or, to some extent, cats when it comes to displaying fondness and affection for their owners, reptiles nevertheless have their unique charm that makes owning them worth it.