There is no doubt that having a pet can bring untold joy to someone’s life. When most people think about a pet, dogs and cats probably come to mind first. But, reptiles also make great pets. If you are among the people who would prefer to have a snake, lizard, turtle or other reptile as a pet, here are some great tips for caring for it and keeping it healthy.
1. Perform some Initial Research
Before you set out on your plan to be a reptile owner, it is wise to do some research first. Different type of reptiles have different types of needs. Before you buy your reptile and bring it home, you need to know all of its special aspects and needs and be willing to accommodate what your reptile needs to be safe and happy. If you are not willing to put forth the effort, then owning that particular reptile is not for you. So find out how often it needs to be fed, what it eats and what its other requirements are before you make your final decision.
2. Respect Your Reptile
Reptiles are living creatures, and therefore deserve the same respect as any other creature. If you are not comfortable caring for a larger reptile, start with a smaller one. Also, develop a relationship with a qualified herpetologist who has experience dealing with reptiles. Most herpetologists will be happy to work with new reptile owners to show them how to care for their pets properly.
3. Know Your Pet’s Nutritional Needs
Most reptiles need fresh food. Depending on the type of reptile you have, some require mealworms and mice while others need a diet that consists of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. Dubia roaches are a great addition to a pet reptile’s diet. They easy to breed and care for, which is great for the pet owner. They are also a great source of protein and other nutrients for your pet as well. Although there are some commercially-made reptile foods on the market, it is best to avoid those and opt for the fresh foods your particular reptile needs. However, you can opt to use roach jelly for your pet reptile. It is a convenient way to get the necessary nutrients to your pet reptile.
4. Handle Your Reptile with Confidence
Whether you are new to the world of reptile ownership or if you have had this type of pet for years, handling your pet reptile with confidence is a key factor in a successful relationship with it. When you are confident in the way you handle your pet reptile, it allows your reptile to be comfortable with you. If you are timid, it will show in your body language and your pet will sense it. If a particular type of reptile makes you uneasy, then stay away from it as a pet choice. There are many different types of reptiles from which you can choose, so do not use your pet ownership choices as a way of getting over a fear of a particular animal.
5. Let Your Reptile Know When There is no Food Involved in an Interaction
Reptiles, particularly snakes, bite for only two reasons: a feeding response or a defensive strike. Before you pick up your pet, it is imperative to let it know that it is not feeding time. You can accomplish this by gently poking its nose with an inanimate object or by removing it from its cage with a hook. These actions will “break the hunt” and let the snake know that you are not a predator.
6. Know Where to Touch Your Reptile
When you handle your lizard or snake, never grab it by the tail to take it out of its enclosure. This action will cause undue stress on the animal and makes the body unsupported, which invokes fear and causes them to go into defense mode.
7. Make Sure Your Hands are Clean
Reptiles have amazingly-good sensory organs. So, they can sense even the faintest scents. If your hand still has the scent of prey on it, your reptile will easily mistake your hand for a food source. So, it is imperative that you wash your hands after you handle the species you provide as food for your pet if you do not want to get bitten. Keeping your hands clean while handling your reptile will also help to prevent introducing bacteria and other contaminants to its living area.
8. Avoid Using Head Restraints
If you attempt to use a head restraint with your pet reptile, it is almost guaranteed that it will consider that to be a predatory move. It is a good way for your pet to become fearful of you, which results in an unenjoyable experience for both you and your pet.
9. Think of Your new Pet as a Loaded Gun
At first, this analogy may seem odd, but it is really just a warning to treat your pet with respect and caution. If you own an animal who has a past history of aggression, keep their heads pointed away from your body. Then introduce your reptile to yourself slowly and gently. Avoid quick and jerky movements that your reptile might interpret as threatening.
10. Buy Reptiles That Were Bred in Captivity
When you are choosing a reptile for a pet, it is best to buy one that was born and bred in captivity. Doing so will help to assure your new pet is calm and healthy.
11. Be Mindful of Temperature
Reptiles are naturally ectothermic, meaning they regulate their body temperature via outside sources. Generally, most indoor room temperatures are too cool for a reptile to maintain a proper body temperature. So, keeping it out of its terrarium for long periods of time can be harmful to your pet. To make sure your reptile maintains a healthy body temperature, limit out-of-cage exposure to 30 minutes or less. Also, check with your local pet store or contact a herpetologist to see if you need to get a heat lamp or other type of device to regulate the temperature of your reptile’s enclosure.
12. Be Mindful of Humidity
It is vital to the health and comfort of your reptile that you control the humidity level of its environment carefully. Environments that are too dry can cause serious health problems that can lead to death for lizard and snakes. Environments that are too moist can harbor harmful bacteria or fungi. In the wild, reptiles can control their exposure to humidity by burrowing or moving to a microclimate that is more to their liking. However, they cannot do this when in captivity, so it is up to you to do it for them.
13. Be Mindful of Lighting
The right lighting is another important factor in caring for a pet reptile. Since they are cold-blooded, they rely on the heat from UV rays as well as day-night cycles to function properly. So it is essential that you provide your reptile with the right type of lighting for it to remain healthy and vital.
14. Let Your Pet’s Food Settle
Digesting food can be stressful for a reptile’s abdomen, especially when a meal takes more than a day to digest. Excessive handling when your reptile is trying to digest food can result in regurgitation, which can be harmful to the animal. So, if your pet has a visible lump in its belly, avoid handling it unless it is absolutely necessary.
15. Always Supervise Children When They Handle the Reptile
For the safety of both children and the reptile, it is important to always supervise the children when they are with the reptile. A child can easily be too rough with the animal, which can result in the animal losing trust of all people. Also, if the reptile enters its defense mode, it can quickly bite, scratch or whip with its tail, all of which are painful and can scare children. Also, never let a child under 18-months touch a reptile, as their immune systems are not well-enough developed
16. Have the Right Kind of Housing
Reptiles need a lot of space. So, make sure you have an enclosure that provides enough room for movement. It also needs to be escape-proof for both the safety of your pet and your family.
17. Keep the Reptile’s Cage Clean
You must be willing to keep your pet reptile’s cage clean. Reptiles are susceptible to skin bacterial infections that can arise when they live in unclean environments. Further, their fecal matter can contain salmonella, which is harmful to humans. They best way to avoid both of these issues is to clean your reptile's cage regularly and disinfect it periodically.
18. Keep Yourself Educated
A smart pet owner is an educated pet owner. Reptiles of all kinds have the potential to be dangerous. The best way to keep you and your family safe is to know the dangers and how to prevent them. Do not let your ego get the best of you. If you are not confident in working with a reptile, then this is not the pet for you.
To buy some delicious and nutritious Dubia roaches for your pet reptile, you can check out some great options we have here on our website.