Did you know, that there are more than 8000 different reptile species on the planet? With so many different species, how do you make sure that you’re providing the best care for your reptile?
Now, whether you are the proud owner of a chameleon, iguana, snake, bearded dragon or gecko, you want to provide them with the best care. The first step in keeping your reptile happy and healthy is educating yourself on what your specific pet needs and requires. Luckily, we here at FPC have compiled a list of interesting facts about caring for your scaly buddy.
In captivity, reptiles rely on humans for all the essentials – like heat. Reptiles are ectothermic (coldblooded) which means their body temperature is obtained from their environment. Half of your reptile’s enclosure should be heated by the warmth of the heating pad whilst the other half of the enclosure should have a lower temperature allowing your pet to thermoregulate. You can provide your reptile’s enclosure with heat through a heat lamp or a heating pad. It’s important to regularly check the temperature of your reptile’s enclosure with a thermometer or thermostat to make sure it fits the requirements of your pet. Bearded dragons like it especially hot and should have a basking spot of about 38 degrees celcius. Heating pads or hot rocks are not recommended for Iguanas, as captive Iguanas often burn themselves when substrate heaters are used. This happens because Iguanas parietal eye is not negaged, which causes them to bask until they burn their stomach and legs as they don’t realize where the heat is coming from. Rather use a heating lamp.
FPC Tip: Remember to put a guard around your heat bulb if it’s placed inside the enclosure. Snakes tend to wrap around hot bulbs and suffer from burns.2Check the humidity level
The appropriate humidity level in a terrarium largely depends on the species of your reptile. Some lizards such as the Leapord Gecko or Iguana require 80 – 90 percent humidity. Some snakes, however, like a Corn snake or Ball Python only prefer about 30 – 50 percent. You can provide this by using a mister to spray water in their cage about 2 or more times a day or a few times a week depending on your reptile. Be sure to ask your vet about the humidity level your specific reptile needs.
FPC Tip: Check your species of lizards’ drinking requirements, as some may drink from a bowl which must be changed daily. While others, like a chameleon, won’t use it and would benefit greatly from misting the tank so droplets form inside the enclosure. A water bowl that is placed partially over the heating element will provide more humidity in the enclosure as the water evaporates into the air.3Identify their diet
Your reptile’s feeding requirements will depend on what type of reptile you have. Herbvores follow a strict plant-based diet, Carnivores rely on a meat-based diet and Omniviores require a mixture of both. Iguanas, for example are herbivores, Geckos are ominivores and snakes are Carnivores. Is your reptile an Herbivore, Carnivore or Omnivore?4Superworm binge
Superworms are often fed to Leopard Geckos and Bearded Dragons as a treat. However, they can be fairly addictive, so it’s important to give your pet these high in fat snacks in moderation. It’s important to note that these fat resevers may come in handy when female reptiles are hosting eggs.5Shedding
When you own a pet snake, shedding is a natural part of your snakes life. Usually snakes shed naturally with ease, yet at times it might be necessary for you to help with the shedding process. Be sure there are coarse textures in her living environment to help with shedding. This will help your snake’s skin to come off a bit easier when they move their body against it. Keep a close eye on your snake whilst they are shedding, if you see any abnormal amount of skin still clinging to their body, be sure to contact your reptile veterinarian immediately.
FPC Tip: Snakes should be bathed at least 3 times a week in luke-warm water to ease the shedding process.6Soaking pellets
It is important that you first wet the commercial pellet food for iguanas. This is because the pellets can swell up inside the reptile’s belly and cause colic or bloating. You can do this by mixing the pellets with vegetables which will increase the wetness of the pellets.7Feeding live prey
It is required by law that you feed snakes pre-killed vertebrate to avoid unnecessary harm to the snake or suffering to its prey. This includes feeding live insects to your reptiles.8They are what they eat
Insects should be gut-loaded. What is gut-loading? It refers to feeding insects specific foods in order to boost their nutritional value. Kitten pellets, full cream milk powder and calcium powder can be mixed in a blender. This powder-mix should then be fed to insects as gut-loading. Or, visit our store for commercial gut-loading powder. Do this about 24-48 hours before feeding them to your lizard. Furthermore, pieces of carrot or apple should be provided as a water source for the insects. A healthy insect is a healthy lizard.9Losing Teeth
Interestingly enough, reptiles such as snakes and crocodilians frequently lose their teeth. The thing is, however, that they carry these lost teeth out of their bodies through their droppings. Be sure to watch out for this as many handlers prick their fingers when they remove snake faeces from their pet’s enclosure.10Confidence is Key
Before you get a reptile pet, be sure that you are comfortable when handling it. For a successful relationship with your reptile pet, confidence is key. If you are comfortable when handling your pet, your pet will be comfortable with you, as your pet will sense it if your body language is nervous, scared or uncomfortable. If a certain pet makes you feel uneasy, it might be best to stay away from it.
FPC Tip: All reptiles require natural sunlight on a daily basis for at least 15 minutes. Sunlight provides them with the necessary Vitamin D production and calcium intake. This prevents metabolic bone disease.
For any more tips on #EverythingYourPetNeeds, read some of our other work here: https://familypetcentre.co.za/blogs/articles or visit our store. We can’t wait to meet you and your pet.
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