Topic Of The Month: Reptiles!


Discussing Reptiles As Pets And If They’re The Right Pet For You

What is a reptile? It may seem like an obvious answer to some, but there are many people who don’t fully understand exactly what reptiles are and what they’re all about. This article will clarify exactly what makes a reptile a reptile, the basics of reptile care, should you own a reptile, and what reptiles are good for beginners. Keep reading to learn more about these fascinating scaly creatures. 

Definition Of A Reptile

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, reptiles are defined as cold-blooded, air-breathing, usually egg-laying vertebrates. They include animals such as alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, and turtles. Reptiles are typically covered in scales or bony plates and move on their bellies or on small short legs. Although alligators and crocodiles typically aren’t kept as pets, many people do keep snakes, lizards, and turtles as pets. Reptiles are very unique and intriguing animals as they are so widely different from mammals and other vertebrates both in appearance and overall anatomy. Reptiles are beautiful animals that touch the hearts of many pet lovers and often make a great addition to any household. 

Basics Of Reptile Care

Every reptile has different specific needs and living conditions in order to thrive and live a healthy life. The specific conditions needed will vary based upon the type of reptile and where that reptile is originally from. The most important being climate control. Reptiles require very specific temperatures and moisture content in the air in order to survive. When setting up your reptile cage, be sure to have both a hot side and a cool side as reptiles need a spot to bask in the heat and retain heat (as they are cold-blooded). They also need a place to cool off afterwards as well to avoid overheating. When setting up your reptile cage, install two thermometers to monitor the temperatures of both the hot and cool sides of the cage. The best way to keep the hot side up to proper temperature is to use a heat lamp. Having your heat lamp on a timer will also help you automatically regulate your cage temps. Most reptiles also need a reliable source of calcium to keep their bones strong and healthy. There are various powders out there that you can buy to “dust” calcium onto their food. Using a UV lamp is a good way to help keep your reptile’s calcium levels in check as this helps them better absorb calcium through the production of vitamin D3.

Reptile Cage Maintenance

Many reptiles also require moisture in the air and on their skin in order to stay healthy and for a proper shed. Keep a spray bottle of water near your reptile cage so you can regularly mist them or set up a mist machine in their cage to do it automatically and regularly. You should also use reptile carpeting on the floor of your reptile cage as opposed to sand. Reptile carpeting is simply a thin layer of cloth (usually green or brown) that is easy to clean and will collect most of your reptile’s droppings. Using sand can be messy and can also create a health risk to your reptile if swallowed, called impaction. For information regarding how to care for a specific type of reptile, check out some of the care guides that PetSmart offers by clicking here. The care guides offer basic set-up guidelines and tips on how to keep your new pet healthy!

Reptiles For Beginners

Many new reptile owners make the mistake of adopting a reptile that is both high maintenance and complicated to care for. If you’re seriously interested in owning a reptile, we recommend starting with a “beginner’s reptile” as in reptiles that are lower maintenance and easier to care for. Some beginner reptiles would include Long-tail lizards, anoles, or bearded dragons. While these animals still require specific environmental conditions, they are generally much easier to care for compared to other reptiles such as Chameleons and Monitors. Regardless of what type of reptile you decide to adopt, be sure to do your research beforehand and be well informed as to what specific conditions and treatments they need to thrive. Being a reptile owner isn’t always an easy responsibility, but it is certainly a rewarding one. 

Should You Own A Reptile?

This is a question only you can answer. Owning a reptile, or any pet, is a big responsibility. But if you’re up to the challenge, reptiles make wonderful pets and have surprisingly more personality and charm than most people initially think. Before you adopt a reptile, remember to do your research beforehand so you have a better understanding of what to expect. Know your limits and comfort levels to make a good assessment of what reptile is right for you. We hope this article helps you make a well-informed decision when it comes to choosing, preparing, and adopting a reptile as a pet. There is a perfect reptile out there waiting for you to adopt them, if you’re up to the challenge! If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other article National Pet Month to learn more about what it means to be a pet owner.