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Reptiles difficult to keep

THINK very carefully before buying a reptile as a pet. Have you decided on the species of reptile that you want to keep?

Bev Truss
Bev Truss

Read as much as possible about the different species available and talk to some local herpetologists and other keepers. Find out if there is a reptile club in your area that you can ask for advice.

Take into consideration the space you have for the vivarium, the animal’s home, and how much you can afford. A good set-up for a small animal can be around €200 to 300.

Many factors come into consideration; snake, lizard or amphibian? What size will it reach as an adult? Will it need high humidity or dry desert conditions? What size should its vivarium be? What do you feed it?  Where can you buy good quality food for it?

Start small, get used to having a small animal and get used to the equipment you will need. Some of the big snakes can reach 15ft or more and would take three men to handle. For safety sake, never put any snake around your neck and always have two or more people present if you are handling a constrictor more than 2ft in length.

Always take advice from a herpetology society or vet practice that deals with exotic species before you purchase an animal.

Housing depends on the animal you are thinking of buying. Fish tanks are no use for most species.

Whichever type you use, it should have heat, light, humidity and ultra-violet light particular to the animal you choose to keep.

Proper feeding is essential. UV light is also essential for some species to metabolise their food adequately to prevent diseases, such as metabolic bone disease. This causes the animal to absorb calcium from its bones, making them easily bent or broken.

Can you afford the veterinary fees to make your animal well, should you get the basic husbandry wrong? Would you be happy to defrost baby mice or rats to feed to your snake or live crickets for your gecko or lizard?

Remember, it is barbaric and illegal to feed live food to a snake. Mice and rats can cause serious damage to a snake. Some snakes eat fish; some lizards are vegetarian and live on dark green leaves, flowers, fruit and vegetables.

The very last thing you should do is buy the animal. Ask more questions and get lots of guidance from whomever you buy the animal from. They should be able to help you set up the vivarium and help with any problems after you take you pet home.

Reptiles do not make good pets. They are expensive to treat when they become ill and in general dislike being handled but for serious keepers they can be very interesting.


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