Reptiles and amphibians make excellent pets. The sheer number of species and variability of their behaviour and care requirements means that there is almost certainly a perfect pet reptile or amphibian for most people. While they are easily available and commonly kept they are still exotic pets and there are some things that need to be considered from day 1. In our Northampton store, we can talk through these considerations prior to the purchase but that opportunity isn’t always available online so we thought it would be best to write a blog to reach more people. Here are 5 top tips for considering, purchasing and keeping pet reptiles and amphibians.
Listen to experts local to you and seek multiple opinions.
Reptile and amphibian care doesn’t have to be difficult but when you get into the nitty-gritty there is a lot of experience and science that goes into decisions we make. One of the main mistakes we see is that customers have purchased an enclosure based on advice picked up on the internet without considering whether that advice is suitable. Many people will watch youtube videos or read articles written and produced by keepers in a completely different climate and make decisions based on them. For example, Americans from a state where corn snakes can be found wild will not necessarily need additional heating. But you will if you plan to keep that species in the UK.
When doing your research we would recommend getting advice from multiple places local to you. Look for experts, reputable forums or groups in your country to get the best advice. Once you have gathered a few opinions feel free to ask why that is the advice. You will be able to find out pretty quickly if the advice was considered or if they are just following someone else.
Pick a species that fits your experience level.
If you are picking up your first reptile it might be worth considering a ‘beginner species’. With enough research and good advice you can, of course, keep almost any reptile or amphibian but they might require a lot of specialist equipment, they might need a lot of manual intervention and there might not be a lot of advice available for that species. For example, if you plan to keep a bearded dragon you can be sure that there are a lot of resources on how best to keep that reptile, you know that the set up is going to be easiy to source and you will be able to figure out the dragons requirements pretty easily. If you plan to keep a more obscure species the resources will be limited and depending on the requirements of the animal you might find they are very difficult to keep healthy.
When figuring out which species would be best you should consider how much space you have, how hot or cold the room is likely to get, how much time you can commit to husbandry and how confident you are with the handling and care. Once you know what you can and can’t provide you can speak to someone who has kept a lot of reptiles, ask a forum or ask a shop like us for a list of recommended species. This should narrow down the search enough for you to make an informed decision.
Set up and husbandry are king!
The majority of all of the issues you or your pet reptile are likely to have will be caused by a poor set up or incorrect husbandry. As part of the previous two points, you must make sure that the species you choose has needs that you can meet and that you are able to keep up with those requirements. If you are able to provide the correct climate for your pet from day one and you are on top of the diet and cleaning it is very unlikely that you will have any trouble moving forward. Measure twice and cut once! Adapting a poor set up is a much more difficult and expensive endeavour than just getting a good set up to begin with. As reptile keepers, our main drive is to keep our pets happy and healthy. We understand that there is a difference between thriving and surviving and the difference is usually in how well you have managed to provide a natural climate and diet for your pet.
Don’t be scared to ask!
There are no silly questions when you are trying to learn! If there is anything you aren’t sure on or if you have heard about a new thing and are wondering if it would be good for your pet just ask and get some opinions. If you found a great forum, group or shop when doing your initial research feel free to reach out to them. For many of us we only know about the latest and greatest products, services and advice because we communicate and you should consider our collective knowledge as a free and available resource whenever you need it.
Enjoy the experience
At the root of all this we keep reptiles for many of the same reasons people keep more traditional pets. They enrich our lives and bring us joy. This blog ended up being a little heavy because I wanted to convey the importance of getting good advice and knowing how to process that advice. For the most part, keeping reptiles or amphibians is pretty easy. In many cases, they are much less demanding and time-consuming than dogs and cats. You are entering into this experience for the joy of it and you are surrounded by people that love the animals and wider hobby. We are here to help you avoid mistakes, to ease any worries you might have to help if things go wrong.
If you need to contact us about anything in this blog, for advice or recommendations please call us on 01604753823 or email us at email@example.com