Important Factors to Consider

Though reptiles and amphibians, or herptiles aren’t the most cuddly of pets, their beauty and very alienness makes them fascinating. Here are some things to know about them before taking them on as pets:

  1. Don’t Collect Them From Nature - Buy a herptile only from a reputable breeder. A person who tries to collect a specimen from the wild may unknowingly pick up a venomous snake, an animal that’s diseased or on the endangered list or an animal that is simply not going to thrive in captivity.
  2. Be Prepared for a Long Term Commitment - Reptiles can live a very long time. It’s not unheard of for a turtle to live 50 years or more or for a snake to live 20 years. The owner should prepare for a lifetime commitment, which might mean gifting the animal to someone in their will.
  3. Reptiles and Amphibians are Cold-Blooded - Their body temperature is determined largely by the environment. This means there should be areas in their enclosure or tank where they can warm up and areas where they can cool down.
  4. Find a Veterinarian Who Specializes in Herptiles - These vets can give an owner pointers on care, feeding and what to expect when it comes to reptile and amphibian behavior.

Turtles

Turtles can be Bad-Tempered

Even hatchlings can deliver quite a nip when they’re handled. The best way to pick up a turtle is by supporting the shell, with fingers well out of the way of the beak. Consider that some turtles can bend and stretch their neck a surprising length to get at offenders.

Many Turtles Don’t Like Company

There are turtles who do not like to live with members of their own species, despite all those photos of turtles basking together on logs. However, some turtles can tolerate living with a turtle of a different species. Ask the breeder or pet store owner about this.

Snakes

Snakes Don’t Need Live Food

Fortunately, snakes don’t need to be given live food. They’ll take provender such as frozen baby mice. Bigger snakes can handle frozen rats.

About Shedding

Check with a veterinarian to learn about snakes shedding their skin. Some snake owners are dismayed when this happens because the snake looks ill. A herptile veterinarian can help an owner help their snake through what is a stressful time.

Lizards

Neuter Male Iguanas

Male green iguanas can grow over six feet and are aggressive on both ends. They can deliver nasty bites and use their long, sharp tails like whips. If they’re neutered, they become calmer and easier to care for.

Geckos Don’t Make the Best Pets

Geckos are famous for being able to escape from any enclosure. Special structures on their feet make them able to easily climb glass. If an owner must have a gecko, they should consider the leopard gecko. This lizard doesn’t have the same type of pad on its feet that make other geckos such good escape artists.

Amphibians

Handle with Care

Some amphibians have toxins in their skin that can be dangerous if they enter an open wound. If the owner has a cut on their hands, they might want to put on gloves before they handle an amphibian such as the beautiful but potentially deadly yellow and black dart frog. Amphibians and indeed some turtles may also harbor the salmonella bacteria, so wash hands after handling.

Don’t Let Amphibians Dry Out

Amphibians breathe largely through their skin, which is delicate and must be kept moist. Misting them with water now and then is a good idea as is maintaining a good humidity level in their enclosure.

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