If you are considering getting a reptile as a new pet, you may have a lot of questions. Today our, Brookhaven Animal Hospital vets will provide you with a guide to caring for your pet reptile.
Choosing a Reptile:
Reptiles are becoming more common as household pets. Snakes, lizards, frogs, and turtles can make great pets if you know how to properly take care of them. They're relatively easy to look after, rarely smell, and are quiet. To ensure your reptile lives a happy and healthy life, there are a few things you need to know and consider like feeding and housing your new pet.
Note: Make sure to check with state laws on owning reptiles, not all reptiles are meant to be pets.
Reptiles are relatively cheap to feed. Lizards need to be provided with nutritional food to grow healthy and to help avoid any health problems.
Freshwater should always be provided for your reptile and will need to be changed at least twice a week.
Most pet snakes eat dead rats or mice which can be bought frozen. Lizards are generally omnivores so need different types of food in their diet. Your lizard should be fed fruit or vegetables, and either cricket, snails, or cockroaches. For more advice on feeding your lizard, contact our Brookhaven Animal Hospital vets.
Regardless of the reptile you own, you must be feeding your pet enough nutrients and vitamins, such as calcium and vitamin D3. You can always toss a banana or head of lettuce in their enclosure for added nutritional value.
Domestic reptiles live in vivariums and are available in various sizes. When choosing a vivarium for your reptile, choose a size that you have space for, and make sure it is escape and draft-proof. The vivarium should be heat and moisture-resistant too.
Your reptile will love to camouflage itself, so ornaments like plants, rocks, trees, and branches will allow your reptile to feel at home. Provide sheltered areas within the vivarium for a sense of security for your reptile.
When it comes to flooring, reptile carpets are a good, clean option. Shredded bark and sand look visually pleasing also.
Reptiles will shed their skin regularly to grow. Make sure old skins are removed from the vivarium and check closely on the feet of lizards for any bits of old skin that haven’t fallen off and remove it.
Handling your Pet:
Some lizards are more aggressive than others and will bite more frequently. Before handling a lizard, make sure you understand your lizard’s behavior and breed. The majority of pet lizards are small and won’t cause any harm when biting, but wearing gloves is always a good idea, especially if the lizard tends to bite often.
Never pick up a lizard by its tail as it causes discomfort. Some breeds of lizard’s tails will fall off but will eventually grow back, however not as long.
When it comes to handling a snake, you must understand your snake’s behavior and breed. Some snakes can be dangerous, aggressive in nature, and venomous. However, common pet snakes like the Carpet Python are not aggressive and non-venomous.
If your snake attempts to bite, or excessively struggles while you’re holding it, return your snake to the enclosure.
Your reptile will rarely need first aid but it is still important to know and have the basic supplies in case there is an accident.
- Gauze or Bandages -- to wrap wounds
- Nail clippers/ tweezers
- Lice Treatment (helps with parasites)
- Antimicrobial disinfectant spray for lamp burns, Dysecdysis, scale rot, and other injuries
Reptiles don't do very much besides laying around all day so it is important to clean your reptile's home to ensure that they have a sanitary place to spend their time.
Cleaning can be done in two stages:
- Daily Cleaning: This does not need to be a big clean, and shouldn't take much time. Wipe down any surfaces that you can see a mess on and remove any shedding or feces. This will keep your reptile happy and healthy.
- Weekly/Bi-weekly Cleaning: This cleaning is more of a full habitat cleaning. You should move your reptile to a second location and then remove all "decorations" from the habitat and disinfect/wash them thoroughly. Change any bedding, and wash out any feeding dishes.