Reptiles are fun, interesting, unusual, and intelligent. While not as fluffy or playful as other household pets, snakes, lizards and turtles can bring a lot of joy to owners of various experience levels. 

For many people with allergies to feathers or fur, reptiles offer a great alternative to traditional pet ownership. Plus, when done right, it can be gratifying to take part in reptile care.

Reptile care can be challenging but gratifying. It is highly specific and requires close attention to detail. 

Here’s what any new or prospective reptile parent needs to know on basic reptile care.

Being Realistic About Reptiles

Reptile care presents certain challenges to inexperienced caregivers. Each reptile species is a little different, but the following components generally apply:

  • Habitat – Most reptiles need a certain amount of clean, dry space to call their own, while some reptile species are aquatic. As they grow you may have to upgrade their housing to accommodate them. Some snakes can grow several feet during their lives, and their enclosure is an important aspect to the long term health. Also, do not place your reptile’s cage in a place where the temperature will fluctuate, as many reptiles have specific temperature needs. 
  • Temperature – Since they cannot regulate their body temperature, heat and humidity must be carefully balanced in a reptile enclosure. There are some great kits that help reptile owners thermally control their pet’s habitat that include special UVA and UVB bulbs.
  • Nutrition – Depending on your reptile, you may have to supply live diets, such as crickets or mice. Some reptiles are strictly vegetarian, in case feeding live animals to your pet isn’t for you. Also, specific requirements in their diet must be carefully monitored to ensure they receive all their vitamins and minerals.
  • Cleanliness – Top notch hygiene is mandatory in reptile care. Unfortunately, because they can be asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella bacteria, it’s critical that their cage or habitat is washed regularly. Always disinfect your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Special Handling

Some reptile owners have worked closely with their pets in order to be able to hold them for long periods of time. As a general rule, many reptiles don’t appreciate this and it can be downright dangerous if you hold them high off the ground. Limited touching or holding may be accepted over time, but only when they don’t feel frightened or threatened.

Reptile Care, All Day Long

Always do the research on your reptile’s specific requirements before purchasing the animal and seek a qualified veterinarian to examine the pet as soon as you bring it home. We are happy to provide the highest caliber of reptile care. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding your scaly pet’s health, hygiene, diet or home. We’re always here for you at Dupont Veterinary Clinic.