Is a reptile the right pet for you?

For those of you who prefer scales over fur or have limited time to take care of a pet, a reptile may be an excellent choice. That said, reptiles certainly shouldn’t be seen as an easy option! Some species can live for over 20 years and most need very specific living conditions and care. To help you decide whether or not a reptile would fit into your life, carry on reading.

Compared to most pets, reptiles are fairly low maintenance in regard to their everyday needs and are great for those who are allergic to most other pets. With this in mind however, you must remember that reptiles are still living creatures and by taking them into captivity, we take on a duty of care for them.

Before purchasing a reptile, it is important to understand that they have various unique care and feeding requirements and whilst they are fairly low maintenance, the way you manage them is quite different to any other type of pet.

Ask yourself these questions before you go any further into the process of owning a lizard:

  • Can you afford to take care of a reptile, including feed, equipment and veterinary care for life?
  • Are there rules about keeping pets in your property?
  • Are the people you live with comfortable about having a reptile in the house?
  • Are you okay feeding reptiles the correct diet, which can include live insects and dead mice?
  • Do you have time to care for a reptile, and are you comfortable with cleaning out a vivarium?

Calculating costs

The price for a reptile can vary immensely, depending on the species, age, size and geographical location in which you live in. Good beginner reptiles such as corn snakes and leopard geckos can be purchased under £50, whilst bigger and more exotic reptiles can cost several hundred pounds.

Then you have to think about the cost of setting up a vivarium and all the other essentials you will need to house your reptile – with smaller sets available from under £200 and costing considerably more for the larger or specialist accommodations.

As well as all this you will also have to factor in vets bill, feed and on-going maintenance costs as well, so do make sure you are in the financial position to be able to own a reptile before purchasing one.

Thinking about time

As we’ve said, reptiles are generally considered low maintenance pets and tend to not require a large amount of daily maintenance and handling in order to keep them healthy. Many reptile owners enjoy handling and playing with their pets, but this is not necessary in order to keep them happy and healthy.

However, you do need to make sure you allow yourself time to pick up your reptile’s food as typically live insects and dead mice cannot be found in your local supermarket. Check to see if there is a local pet shop nearby that can facilitate your reptiles feed or alternatively buy your feed online.

Finicky feeders

The feed your reptile will need will largely depend on the species and it is worth researching your chosen breed beforehand or speaking to a specialist to make sure you get the best for your pet. The majority of reptiles need to be fed live food such as insects or specially prepared food such as defrosted mice.

Unfortunately, nicely packaged foods for reptiles cannot be bought and you have to get rather up close and personal with their food. Some eat whole insects such as locusts in which you will have to feed a mineral-rich supplement in order for your reptile to fulfil all your pet’s dietary requirements.

A negative of owning reptiles is that you will also need to keep live insects to feed to them subsequently meaning you have to keep the insects alive as well. It’s worth remembering that not all reptiles require live feed to survive, Bearded Dragons for example also eat vegetables whilst snakes need to be fed defrosted mice, which understandably is not to everybody’s taste.

Additionally, many reptiles require supplemental feeding of vitamin concentrates, calcium or protein. So, it is important to research what your potential pet will need in order to thrive in captivity.

Finding veterinary care

As with all pets, your reptile will need to see a vet at some point during their life. Finding a vet that is trained in the care of exotic animals can be difficult so have a search around for a vet that can properly examine your pet.

Reptiles can be insured just like any other pet against the cost of unexpected veterinary costs although you may have to contact a specialist exotic insurance provider.

Safety first

Unlike typical pets, reptiles do not normally display affection for their owners in the way that we usually understand. Some reptiles can offer a painful nip or bite if angry or scared, so it is important to handle your new pet with care and spend plenty of time getting them used to being handled, to avoid any injuries.

Reptiles can carry salmonella; so always bear this in mind when handling your reptile or any equipment that comes in contact with them.

Necessary equipment

Depending on the species, the equipment your potential pet will need will differ slightly, however there will be certain items that all reptiles generally need to live comfortably.

Here is a basic outline of what a reptile will need:

  • A vivarium
  • A lid or canopy
  • Significant light fittings with the appropriate bulbs for the type of reptile you wish to keep
  • A thermometer
  • Any specific supplements that may be needed
  • A suitable disinfectant to clean your vivarium, and any other cleaning equipment that may be required
  • The appropriate feed for your reptile
  • A good guidebook about your chosen reptile with a section on troubleshooting and signs of ill health
  • A heat lamp and reflector, depending on the species
  • A way of providing basking heat, such as a heat rock or a heat mat

It is worth mentioning that not all these things will be required for all pet reptiles, and you must research thoroughly what you chosen reptile will need.

We hope you have found this blog on reptile ownership useful and if you have any questions feel free to call and speak to one of our friendly staff or alternatively pop into your local Myhills store where we will be happy to help you face to face.