Reptiles and amphibians, otherwise known as herps, are a definitely love em or hate em pet! Some people find them creepy, others find them beautiful. I'm definitely in the latter camp!
Reptiles and amphibians, in my opinion, are an ideal pet for modern lifestyles. They do not require a lot of social attention like dogs, cats, bunnies, birds and a lot of other common pets do. Quite frankly, if they are fed well and kept at the right temperature in a big enough environment, and see the vet when they have to, they are generally happy. That is not to say that neglecting to care for your reptile is any better than neglecting a mammal, sadly their low maintenance has led a lot of people to think that they do not feel pain and suffer, when they do.
Although they may seem like "dull" and "pointless" pets to some, a lot of reptiles, and a fewer number of amphibians, are actually very friendly. We know so little about how their brains work that its hard to tell how much they feel for and recognize their owners, but they have a charm and appeal all their own, especially some of the friendlier lizards such as leopard geckos, bearded dragons and crested geckos.
All reptiles take heat from their environment rather than having a body heat of their own, so almost all require some sort of heat source in their tank. For cooler climate creatures such as corn snakes, a heat mat will be perfectly sufficient, whereas a desert lizard such as a uromastyx or a bearded dragon will require a spotlight. All heat sources should always be used with a reptile themostat such as Microclimate or Habistat, otherwise your lizard can be literally cooked...their habits are such that they can get serious burns before they realise they are in trouble.
Most lizards and certain snakes also require specialist lighting. The type will depend on the animal, tropical rainforest species may only require a general spectrum or 2% UVB bulb, whereas a desert lizard may require up to 10% UVB. You MUST use a bulb designed for reptile use, fish tank lights are not suitable. The bulbs should be replaced around every six months to a year as the UVB wears out even when the bulb still appears to be functioning.
Most snakes require a diet of mice and rats. Most people buy frozen from their local reptile shop. People with large amounts of snakes may breed their own. This might seem cruel but the mice and rats are killed harmlessly in a CO2 chamber which knocks them out before they feel anything. Live feeding is not technically illegal in the UK (though many think it is) but it is VERY much frowned upon, not only is it cruel for the mice, or rats but there have been cases of snakes being seriously injured by the prey animal. Unless there is no other choice, pre-killed food is best.
Most lizards and amphibians eat insects...these are available in tubs in specialist pet shops, or can even be delivered to your door! Generally, good choices of insects are crickets, locusts, giant mealworms, roaches, butterworms, silkworms and cut worms. Maggots from the fish shop (these are usually dyed) shouldn't be used and keep waxworms to a minimum as they are fatty. Normal mealworms are a subject of much debate, some people think they are very bad for lizards, others think they are fine. Either way, everything in moderation and its best to feed at least three different species. Livefood must be fed prior to feeding to your reptile, as they are not fed in the shops and will be void of nutrition before being fed. They should also be dusted with a good reptile supplement like Nutrobal or Repashy...the frequency of dusting depends on the species being fed.
Some lizards are partly or entirely vegetarian. For these species calcium rich veg should be fed. Healthy choices include alfalfa (plants not sprouts), escarole and endive lettuce, prickly pear and cactus pad (you can buy cacti to grow these for yourself), papaya and butternut squash. So as you can see, NOT exactly iceberg lettuce from the supermarket!
Most people keep reptiles in wooden vivariums in the UK, some people use glass tanks, some people even use Really Useful Boxes with ventilation holes added. All species have different tank requirements...for example crested geckos like to climb and need tall tanks, and royal pythons need relatively small tanks for their size. The tanks should be kitted out with hides for the reptiles to hide from view (important for stress levels), decor for them to climb (although some people keep tanks very spartan), water bowls, and if necessary, food dishes. Thermometers are important to monitor temperature as thermostats aren't always accurate, and hygrometers are needed for humidity loving species.
These are the basics of reptile keeping but it is important to do thorough study on the species you want as a pet...they all have specific requirements of their enclosure, heating, lighting and humidity to thrive.
Its also important to choose a suitable species if you are a novice...ie, no green iguanas or giant pythons! Generally, anything large is a bad choice for beginners as you need to learn to handle smaller snakes before you move on to larger! Giant burmese pythons are generally very docile in temperament but they are still massive and capable of killing their owners in many circumstances.
Good beginners lizard choices include crested, leopard and fat tailed geckos, blue tongued skinks and bearded dragons. Good first species of snakes are king and corn snakes, and in some cases royal pythons (although these can be fussy feeders). Horned frogs, White's treefrogs and clawed frogs are good beginners amphibians. But if you want a different species, there is no reason why you can't have it so long as you do the research and it isnt a very large or aggressive species.
Reptiles are excellent modern-day pets for many reasons. Their general low maintenance makes them great for busy people. Not ALL reptiles are low maintenance however, tortoises are deceptively hard to care for, as are green iguanas. However, most of them are easy to cater for, so long as you pay attention to the thermometers and feed them correctly.
They are fascinating, too in their own way. A pair of dwarf clawed frogs are great fun to watch as they swim about in their tank, watching bearded dragons eat is downright cute, and watching a snake consume its prey whole is absolutey amazing. Some are very friendly, and will come right up to you when you open the tank doors. Bearded dragons are notorious for being incredibly friendly. They are also incredibly beautiful if you are into that sort of thing, and holding a pet snake is just wonderful (so long as they are tame).
A reptile display tank also looks wonderful in the home...naturalistic rainforest or desert displays can create a tiny microclimate in your home. They are of course, naturally a good talking point too.
Most reptiles are fairly cheap to keep, although setting up the environment usually costs up to a few hundred. Snakes only eat once every 5-14 days depending on the species, and a single rat costs a few quid to buy. Similarly, a few boxes of crickets and mealworms weekly or even monthly will be enough for a single pet lizard, or you can even breed your own livefood.
They mostly live a long time, which is always a plus for people who really love their pets!
Because they have not been inbred for generation upon generation like hamsters and the like, and also because of their naturally longer lifespan, reptiles tend to be healthy pets. Most health problems with pet reptiles arise from the wrong amount of heat or humidity or a poor diet...and if you do plenty of research beforehand and join a reptile forum you can easily avoid these issues. Some more exotic species, those that are still largely caught in the wild, and fancy colours of more common species, do tend to have more health problems though.
A great upside to reptiles is the relatively small amount of cleaning needed. A snake will poop a couple of times a week, as will a lot of lizards. Some are more frequent but most dont poo daily. You can just spot clean a vivarium for some species for a few weeks then do a full clean every few weeks. They also have no odour unless they have just done a poo, which is a big plus to some people.
You are also very unlikely to be allergic!
Reptile keeping often turns into as much of a hobby as the keeping of a beloved pet. There are so many things to learn about them, and one pet reptile normally turns into more than one!
On the other hand, reptiles CAN become expensive if they do need veterinary treatment as they need a specialist vet and it can cost quite a bit. Because vets are just learning about them often nothing can be done for some serious conditions such as IBD in boid snakes.
They also don't "do" much in comparison to mammals. Some are much more active than others and are in fact very interesting to watch, but many generally stay quite stationary in their tanks. However they are great to watch when they do move, lizards have a funny flailing way of running and watching a snakes muscles propel itself along is quite fascinating.
Some herps cannot be handled...most frogs have very delicate skin, as do some sorts of gecko like day geckos. These should be seen as like keeping fish, one to watch and make a great naturalistic display for so they can indulge in natural behaviour, but no touching!
Those are about the only downsides I can think of to reptiles and amphibian pets. You are either into them or you aren't but personally I think they make wonderful pets. Even for people who move about lots and still are not settled, most landlords I've met don't really mind about a lizard or snake so long as its not a massive one, and you don't need to worry about smells or messes! They really are beautiful, fascinating creatures.
Reptiles and Amphibians are excellent animals as they clearly have evolved from the dinosaurs and they bare a lot of resemblance, even today. You can admire them at the zoo or even keep them as pets as they are relatively easy to look after but some cost more than others. Amphibians don't resemble dinosaurs much, but they are still fantastic creatures and make really unusual pets.
I think tortoises are perhaps the best reptile pets as they are quite easy to look after and have great personalities. They can grow to quite a large size too and even live outside, but beware that they can dig very well! They live on a vegetarian diet of fruit and vegetables and can easily be let out in a hatch for some exercise. Most tortoises do hibernate in the winter months.
Lizards make great pets too. There are many different varieties such as Bearded Dragons, Iguanas and Chameleons. Bearded Dragons are common lizard pets as they aren't too expensive and look really great with their spiky appearance and large beard. Iguanas are usually the name of any lizard according to people, but not all lizards are iguanas - so don't just say it because it's the only name you know. Chameleons are really cute too but a bit harder to look after as they only drink from a drip and must eat live insects with nutritions on them (you mix the insects in a bag with some nutritional mix).
Snakes are good pets as they are really unique and cool. They aren't all violent and you can tame them and handle them too. They tend to eat larger things such as pink mice and other animals including rabbits when they get larger. Frogs and Toads are good pets and some of the toads have fabulous bright colours on them but some can be poisonness. Overall, I'd recommend a reptile or amphibian as a pet as they are different to all other pets, small and not all too hard to look after but some cost a lot to upkeep them.
Thanks for reading,
Tortoise are truly great pets, but don't rush out and get one on the spur of the moment, because a lot of research is required.
I guess like people, different tortoises need different care.
I have 3 Hermans tortoise- mediterranean variety, but there are so many tropical, and even some temperate varieties that need other requirements.
SO NOTE THIS IS JUST ABOUT HERMANS TORTOISES.
The biggest change recently, is in their housing. It was always thought tortoises should be kept in vivaruim, but as you can imagine for med. tortoises, who come from hot, arid areas, it has been found the humidity produced in vivaria is bad for them, causing all sorts of problems. So house them on a tortoise table or indoor rabbit cages. They should not have a glass barrier as they will forever try to get thru it- very frustrating for them.
As a substrate, the best appears to be a 50/50 sterilized top soil and play sand mix.
Food is a big bone of contention, but cetainly, garden weeds are best, dandelion, clover are mines personel favs, but also plantains, a little bindweed (its a hallucnigen in large quantities)
petunias, pansy, nastursuims, rose petals, fuschia, and geranuim leaves all fine. The odd bit of tomatoes, strawberry or cuc is ok, but only as a treat. They also need calcuim and minerals added to diet
NEVER, EVER FEED A TORTOISE DOG/CAT FOOD, their bodies can't cope with level of protein.
They must have a good UV light source to bask under, but also should have access to outdoors, you can build a tortoise run easily, but remember, they are at risk from predators- dogs, cats, birds of prey. So always make sure they are safe.
My 3 have a choice of the outsdoor run or the greenhouse plus there indoor home.
Its a really good idea to bath them at least 2-3 times a week. Warm water in a washing up bowl, not to deep, up to level of the bottom of shell. They need some depth to drink properly, but also absorb fluids through skin and back passage.
I certainly reccmend looking at the "shelled warriors web site/forum", that has tons of tips and advice.
happy tortoise keeping
Hello and welcome to my RATHER LENGTHY review on Reptiles. In my opinion, they are the greatest pets that one can buy, making great companions, and being so unique from any other animal. They originated from millions of years ago when the dinosaurs were around, so it is quite amazing that similar creatures are still around today. This has been proven with the strong relationship between dinosaur and modern-day reptile bone structure. I hope I can teach you a few things about these outstanding creatures in my review.
Background on Reptiles
Reptiles are unique for they are cold-blooded vertebrates, but they respire the same as humans with a heart and lungs and all the other organs. Modern-day reptiles inhibit every continent on the earth excluding Antarctica, as it is too cold there for them to survive. Reptiles range from Crocodiles to Alligators to Snakes, Lizards, Tortoise and Turtles. The majority of reptiles are egg-laying when it comes to giving birth; however few species are known to have live babies. Some reptiles, if kept as pets will lay eggs in your tank, but don't be worried! This is a normal thing that the females will do when they are fertile, and they won't contain anything apart from a solution inside. It is important to take good care of reptiles when they are kept as pets, because they need specific conditions for different species to survive.
They do have their differences from humans obviously, but the heart for example consists of three chambers, not four. They only have one ventricle to pump blood to the lungs and body, which causes some mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. They excrete just like humans do and they eat a variety of things depending on what kind of reptile they are. Reptiles can be Herbivores, Omnivores or Carnivores. Herbivores such as the tortoise only eat vegetables and fruit. This is because their body is not made to digest meat. Omnivores eat both fruit/vegetables and meat. Their digestive systems work much better, therefore can digest many foods. Some reptiles exist as Carnivores meaning they only eat meat. They are generally more expensive to keep if you have them as pets. When I say meat, they will start off by eating small insects such as locusts, crickets and mealworms until they get bigger where they would eat pink mice, chicken and other meats.
One of the most common forms of reptiles is lizards. There are many different kinds of lizards from ones that live in the desert to ones that live in rain forests and humid conditions. Their skin is normally rough, and some lizards such as the Bearded Dragon will have the ability to inflate its beard to warn off other creatures. Their body is covered in small spikes, which are actually harmless and soft to touch. Other lizards such as the Blue Tongue Skink have scales as their skin. These lizards also come with pink tongues too!
One of the most common types of lizard is Geckos. They make good pets, because they don't grow to a large size. They are omnivores, so can be fed a large variety of things and they are fun to care for and look after. If you were to buy a lizard, I would defiantly recommend checking out the Geckos first as they are one of the best starter lizards.
Then, we have the most giant reptile on earth, the Komodo Dragon. They can grow up to three metres long weighing around 150 pounds. They are found mainly on islands of Indonesia, and are very dominant inhibitors. They have the ability to live for up to 30 years too. There are fewer than 5000 of these ancient creatures in the wild, so it is important that we look after them and protect them. They have an extremely nasty bite, but when in captivity they are approachable with caution. Their tails are so strong that they are capable of bringing down a deer or a buffalo with a slap of their tail! They have forked tongues up to 40cm long, for smelling use to investigate their surroundings too. Most lizards smell with their tongue, and that's why they stick it out lots at you, they aren't just making faces!
We then have the Iguana and Chameleon. Iguanas are omnivores too, and prefer more humid conditions with warm temperatures. Chameleons are well known too, for they can change the colour of their skin to blend in with their surroundings against predators. I did once have a Chameleon for a couple of weeks, but it unfortunately had some kind of eating disorder and shortly died. They are really cute with small little pinching feet, so they can grip you and climb up trees and plants in the wild. These two lizards are perhaps the most commonly known type, but don't mistake another lizard for one of these, as there are many types!
Many people are scared of snakes, because they are known to injure and kill people. However, most snakes are actually reasonably friendly and will not attack unless they feel threatened like most other creatures. Snakes are the more dangerous kinds of reptiles though, as some have the ability to spit poison, and some have deadly bites. They are lightening quick, and can kill you within minutes if you're bitten. I don't want to put you off snakes though, because they are great creatures and very interesting too.
One of the most unique snakes is the King Cobra. They can grow up to a length of 18.5 foot and weigh up to 20 pounds. They are one of the snakes that can easily kill you with one deadly bite. They actually feed on other snakes mostly, but also lizards, birds and rodents when there is a shortage in the wild. After a big meal, they can go for months without another because they have a very slow metabolic rate. Mongooses in the wild have quite a bit of resistance to the King Cobra, so the snake raises its head up high and hisses when they come near, if not they flee. They are well-known to be able to stand upright on their own body. When two males confront each other, they will wrestle both trying to keep their heads above the other's, until one has lost when their head is on the ground. They also shed their skin like all other reptiles apart from tortoise and turtles and some other species.
There are many other interesting snakes such as the Rattle Snake, Viper and the Python. The python can grow to magnificent lengths of metres and metres, and have the ability to eat large animals such as deer and even horses in one go. They are magnificent animals, but need a lot of care, attention and caution if they are kept as pets (Not pythons, they are too big). Only certain snakes would be suitable for pets, but they are costly to run due to their need for food such as birds, mice and rabbits when they grow larger.
Tortoises & Turtles
Many people mistake tortoise for turtle, which I find quite annoying as they have one main difference, which is that tortoise are dry land animals, some of which live in deserts, and turtles are water creatures and need the presence of water to survive. I have owned a Herman's tortoise for years now, and he is a lovely little pet. He is easy to look after and maintain, and much fun to own! There are in fact many different kinds of tortoise, some of which can even climb trees! Both tortoise and turtles have shells that protect them. Tortoises especially have the ability to pack up all their legs and head into their shell if they feel the need to do so, if they sense danger. This makes them better defence-wise as they don't move so fast. However, people always think that tortoise move really slow too, but they don't! My tortoise has reached amazing speeds when running across the lounge when he tries to go fast, and it's quite funny watching his little legs move so fast. One funny story with my tortoise and my dog was that the tortoise once bit the dogs nose after the dog kept sticking his face in the tortoise's, and the tortoise hung on when the poor dog lifted up his head until he came crashing to the ground when he let go! He didn't get hurt, but the poor dog did! Now my dog never goes near my tortoise, because he remembers this incidence.
Turtles tend to have flatter shells than tortoise, and live in or around water. They eat smaller water creatures and some fish when they get bigger. One thing to note about tortoises is that they are purely vegetarians, so will not digest any meat, so must only be fed fruit and vegetables. They are great lovers of Cabbage, but lettuce actually poisons them like chocolate does to dogs, so you must be careful! Tortoises are very easy to look after, but are expensive to buy and require a lot of kit to get them in their home. They grow very slowly though, so the chances of you needing to buy a new tank after a few months are very slim, because they take a while to grow larger. They can live for years and years. Some tortoises can live up to 150 years old, because they don't use much energy and have a low metabolic activity rate.
Reptiles make great pets. They can be very expensive at first to buy, and to purchase all the correct equipment that they need to live well. Most reptiles will need some kind of heat source that shops will sell in the form of heat lamps or heat mats. They will also need a source of UV light (ultraviolet light) to allow their digestive systems to function properly. They will also need a suitable substance for the base of their tank such as bark, sand or something else depending on whether you are buying a snake, lizard or tortoise and depending on their natural habitat.
Most reptiles are easy to look after once you get them going. They require feeding every couple of days for smaller ones such as turtles and tortoise, but snakes may need feeding twice a day with pink mice to start, and even rabbits when they get larger. Lizards will need feeding once a day too with some live insects such as locusts, crickets or mealworms. They provide good exercise for the lizards to catch their own food, just like in the wild and its fun to watch if you are not squeamish! Live insects and food along these lines can cost a lot to keep your pet, but it is well worth it for the fun you get out of them!
As pets, they are unique and interesting creatures. They will need to be tamed like any other pet, but weeks after you buying them, they will be your closest friend! They all have their own personalities and looks, and some have funny habits. One thing my tortoise always does when I am sitting at the computer if he is out for a run-around is that he comes up to my feet and starts biting them! Luckily I wear socks, and normally slippers, but he still tends to attack my feet and bite them! It's not very fun, but it does provide everyone else with entertainment to see this tortoise sprinting around the room chasing my feet; he can go really fast!
They do need exercise, which can be provided by just letting them going for a run in a room where they cannot go anywhere dangerous or escape. Some lizards can squeeze under small things, so beware when you let them into rooms with beds that almost lie on the floor, as they can get stuck! However, tortoises have a shell to stop them going anywhere dangerous or getting stuck. They are very strong though; my tortoise has pushed extremely heavy rocks in his tank before that are very heavy even for me to lift! They should also be let out on a regular basis, so they aren't stuck in their tanks all the time. This stimulates them with new surroundings and lightens up the little creatures lives!
They can cost quite a bit too run, depending on what you get. Electricity for heat and light sources in their tank builds up, as some need to be kept on constantly whereas the light needs to be on just during the day. Tortoises are cheaper to run because you can feed them through your weekly shop of fruit and vegetables, but lizards that eat crickets, locusts and mealworms can add up nasty bills. A pack of around 20 crickets for example can cost around £2 - £3 and can last only a matter of days! That's why it is best to buy lizards that can eat fruit and vegetable too, so you can always have this as back-up food in their tank, and to balance their diets. For my lizard and tortoise, they have glass tanks with sliding doors. These are fine for most reptiles as pets, but snakes will need secure locks on, because you don't want them escaping!
There are a few things about reptiles that put them down. For a start, many are dangerous such as snakes and even some lizards can be deadly. The kind that you buy as pets are less dangerous, but all of them have the potential to hurt and injure you, so you must take caution. The second thing is the expense to run them. They can leave a hole in your pocket at first with a large bill to buy the tank and all the equipment for them. Then, food can cost a lot of money to keep buying to keep them going. They will also need some kind of objects in their tank, depending on what reptile they are. Lizards tanks can be decorated with small trees, logs and rocks. Many shops will sell a large variety of items that you can stick in tanks for your reptiles. Some items even include electric waterfalls, which are just luxury items for your pets! Others include self-warming rocks that you can put in the tank, which are ideal for lizards! They look great though in your place, once they have been decorated so it all pays off. They are lovely creatures to own, so worth buying despite the cost of running them.
Reptiles are some of the most interesting creatures on earth today. From the giant Komodo Dragon to the small Chameleons, they are all amazing in their individual looks and personalities. Some can be lethal, and some have the ability to kill, but these are rare that you find in the wild. They make great pets, and are easy to look after as they don't need walks and plenty of attention everyday, but they do need the odd exercise every now and then. They are unique to all other animals, for they look different and some have amazing features. The King Cobra snake can stand on its own body very high. The Chameleon has the ability to change colour to its surroundings with its cute little pinching feet. The Bearded Dragon has the ability to inflate its beard to warn off predators and other males, and it looks very cute! I would highly recommend something such as a Gecko or Tortoise as a pet, as they are much entertainment and unique!
Thanks for reading, hope you learnt something.
- Recon -
Over the years i dont think there are any reptiles i havent had hands on experience with, be it working in the pet trade where i began or opening my home as a reptile rescue which is what i do now.
From this i have gained a lot of experience with them and thought these tips might be helpful to others as it is very hard to find vets that treat reptile.
Reptiles suffer from burns quite a lot when neglectful owners fail to protect there pet from its heat sorce, dabbing the burn area with betadine twice a day prevents infection and helps healing, this is available from most chemists.
Improper diet, insuffiocient exercise and being fed heavily furry animals such as mice and rats can lead to constipation, putting your reptile in a bath of warm water usually helps relieve this.
Sloughing happens to all reptiles, this is where they shed there skin. Some reptiles never have any problems with this but others do.
Increasing the humidity in your tank at the time of shedding reduces the problems but if this doesnt work soak your reptile in a bath of warm water and rub them gently with a dish cloth.
If the eye caps fail to come off on snakes i have found that bathing them with cold tea bags helps them to lift.
Ticks usually come in to pet shops under the scales of wild caught animals and quickly spread to other animals and substrates. The best way i have found to treat these is to mix 1 part vodka to 1 part water, dab this onto the tick to kill it then remoce it with tweezers.
Mites infest the animals skin and breed like wild fire. I have found that bathing the animal in a bath with a few drops of iodine works well to get rid of these but put your reptile into the water and allow them to drink before you add the iodine.
A steam cleaner is the best way i have found of eliminating mites from vivs, you will need to empty your viv completley, steam it every day for 7 days, you can put the animal back in after steaming but use news paper instead of substrate.
Some reptiles especially snakes will regurgitate the mouse after feeding. To prevent this dont handle the animal for about 48 hours after feeding.
If this continues to happen your viv temperature is too low try increasing it by a couple of 'c as if temps are too low the digestive enzyme doesnt work.
Oh yes and top tip for any of these treatments is keep your fingers as far away from there mouths as possible or you will end up like me with scars from all sorts of animal bites.
Ok so admitedly they arent the pet for everyone. but if you want something thats a bitdifferent, easy to care for, and very cheap to look after then they could befor you.
I own one emperor scorpion, also known as the imperial scorpion or to give it its scientific name, Pandinus imperator.
they are the largest and most impressive of all scorpions and can grow to 10" long and have large nippers which can look threatening but i have yet to be nipped or stung by mine. they are more likely to run and hide than stay and nip and sting.
they have a very mild sting, which is said to be comparable to that of a bee, howeversome people can have an alergic reaction to there sting, as weth bees, so it is generaly recommended that they are not handled, however i handle mine most days and as afore mentioned he has never nipped or stung me.
the initial set up for the scorpion is very simple, they simply need a mediumsized plastic tank, about 3" of peat on the floor and some moss on top of that, a small hiding cave, and i provide mine with a log to climb as he likes to sit on it looking out at whats going on. they need only be fed around once every 3 days with one or two live crickets, the tank needs to be kept humid and this is east to do by daily misting of the tank with a water mister. the scorpion should be given a proper water sponce, the same kind that is used for giving tarantulas water, these can be bought very cheaply from any reptile store.
emperor scorpions can be kept in groups of 3 or more but fights can often break out and for this reason i recoment keeping them seperate.
emperor scorpions are especialy sensitive to UV light and for this reason care should be taken when deciding on the best place to situate the tank. exposure to UV light can result in stress and ultimately death for your scorpion.
emperor scorpions thrive at 70-80% degrees which means that in most households no additional heat source will be required, however a thermometer which sticks to the inside of the tank should be monitored daily and if temperatures drop below this range then a heat mat can be placed under the tank as an additional heat source.
emperor scorpions are a fairly long teem commitment as they can live for up to 10 years so this should be taken into consideration before obtaining one.
OK so as theres only 1 "review" on here for water dragons i thought id write one because the one thats here isnt even a review.
Water dragons origionate from south east asia, they can be found living near riverbanks and mainly in trees with over hanging branches to water. However they do go in the water to bathe but most of time they go under water when threatened and can stay under for 25mins - so if you see them like this dont be worried.
There mainly mint green in colour with a beautiful purple blue and white colours under there chin.
There extremely friendly animals to keep and very trusting there now you feed them and now you care and it shows. there always willing to come out and sit on your knee to watch tv with you - and are very inquisitive - there face paints a thousand pictures.
They are thoroughly enjoyable to watch
As with most reptiles they can be quite expensive to set up
I know mine (stumpy) cost £340 - but i bought a lot of extras
I would reccomend getting a 4 foot tank straight away as so when they grow no need to buy a replacement - also they need a uv light for calcium - and a heat light and heat mat. Then on top the is decoration - a good piece of log normally costs around £20 and then the usual grass mat rocks, water bowl plants and live food.
They eat crickets, locus, mice , mealworms and such like.
Bear this in mind as they do need this and dont really eat veggies.
there rarely known to bite and do need cleaning when u see a mess otherwise the heat will give of a smell.
They need feeding every other day and live up to 15 years so be prepared to give them lots of time, never put two males together unless your an expert. -
all in all a very good pet good first timer for reptiles and a very rewarding and affectionate animal.
Around the early to mid nineties there was a massive surge of interest in reptile and other unusual pets. Ordinary pet superstores like Pet City carried exotic creatures like iguanas, tarantulas and chipmunks.
A lot of kids (including me) longed to be part of this new pet craze and begged their parents for snakes and lizards as new pets. At eleven years old, I got my wish (after ages of whining), my parents gave in and bought me Sampson, a gorgeous baby green iguana.
What people dont often realise about reptile pets is that, when compared to mammals, the babies grow much larger proportionately to the size they are as infants. Baby iguanas are often no bigger than geckos, yet some grow to six feet long, and can be highly aggressive. The pet shop people didnt tell us this, what they said was, reptiles are like fish, if you keep them in small tanks they wont grow, and full grown iguanas are only a couple of feet long. Apparently tales of deception like this were common in pet shops. Baby Indian pythons were sold as ideal beginners snakes, what the little tags on the tank forgot to mention is that these beginners snakes could reach eighteen foot in length, and whilst in expert hands could be as tame as puppies, in the wrong hands they could spell disaster. Boa constrictors which can reach 12 foot were re-named red-tail boas so unsuspecting parents would buy what they thought was a small boid snake for their kids or teens.
Worse still were the tales of neglect behind these stories. While the common species of reptile are now captive bred, two decades ago this was not the case, we didnt know enough about most species to replicate their breeding requirements in most cases, so the majority were wild caught causing devastation to wild populations and massive stress to creatures who were born in the wild and were, essentially, still wild. They were stuffed in crates with other of the same species, or possibly of predator and prey species, tonnes of them squashed into a box. Over 80% of all wild caught animals (this includes birds, tropical marine fish, and other animals) die on their way to the pet store, and the remaining ones often die of stress or stress-related illness. These reptiles were then sold to pet shops, who often had no idea how to care for them (we were told that green iguanas would live happily on a diet of all-bran, weetabix and pinkie mice, when in fact they need a very expensive array of fresh vegetables plus vitamin and calcium supplements), and often stuck different species in tanks together, or too many of the same species, causing fights between them which might result in the loss of limbs. Prospective owners were told that reptiles were easy to care for pets, were often given the wrong food and housing requirements for each species, and were told that reptiles could be kept in ordinary all-glass aquariums (when in fact, most reptiles dont realise glass is there, and would frequently run into the glass walls of the tank).
Anyway, this is the tale of Sampson. Fortunately for Sampson, I hadnt taken the advice of the pet shops Weetabix and pink mice diet and knew that green iguanas were entirely vegetarian. Unfortunately for me I didnt know that green iguanas need very specialised diets, and I went on to feed Sampson a diet of ordinary salad ingredients plus fruit. After a few months I noticed that Sampson was growing rather big for his two-foot fish tank, so I invested in a four-foot one instead.
Imagine my consternation when Sampson KEPT growing, and more importantly, my parents consternation. Luckily for me, I had handled Sampson daily since I bought him, so he was very tame, because soon he was over four foot long, had a tail that could probably break a childs arm and a very painful bite. I purchased a book on green iguanas and found out, again to my dismay, that Sampson could grow another two feet, needed a much more specialised diet than I was offering him, and could become very aggressive during the breeding season as an adult, no matter how tame he was now. I also learned that, cared for properly, he could reach twenty years old twice what the age the pet shop employee had quoted me.
My parents tried their hardest to make me get rid of Sampson, but despite all this disturbing new information about him, I refused to get rid of him. Despite the fact that I wasnt caring for him the way I should, he had become very attached to me and often followed me around the house like a big dog and lay in the garden sunbathing on my lap.
They told me if I wouldnt get rid of him then Id have to start caring for him properly, spending the necessary money to provide for his needs properly, and doing it out of my own pocket money, and when I was older, my own part-time job. So I went about converting the unused garage in our garden into a suitable home for a full size green iguana. This involved weeks of carting all the crap out of the garage, lining it with waterproof sheeting, and creating huge shelves, and carting massive tree branches into the garage for him to climb on. I had to install (with the help of my dad), heating equipment, lighting for Sampson to bask, adequate ventilation, the whole shebang.
I also had to start forking out for proper food for him. Iguanas need specialist greens which are high in calcium and low in phosphorus such as kale, and weird stuff it was hard (and expensive) to get hold of. Still, I was determined to look after him properly, and it has paid off. A few years later, Sampson is fat, healthy and now quite old, and is now living in a spare bathroom in the shared flat I occupy the cheeky bugger even has his own tub. Fortunately for me I learned early enough that my mistakes could cost Sampson his life if I had continued to feed him on a diet of limp cabbage with no mineral supplementation he would probably have MBD which is a sort of lizard form of osteoporosis.
A few years on from this huge reptile craze, there are now hundreds of abandoned reptiles, in particular big iguanas and large boid (boas and pythons) snakes, looking for people to take them on. Iguanas have fared particularly badly, and even worse in America, where up until a while ago you could win them at the fair like goldfish (Im not sure if this is still legal). People seem to think that just because a particular animal isnt cute and cuddly, we dont have a duty to protect and care for it as best we can.
Fortunately things are much better these days. The fad is over and most reptile owners are experienced and responsible, they are serious hobbyists who know everything they can about their species requirements. The only reptiles that tend to be kept as casual pets are the particularly friendly ones with easy care requirements like leopard geckos, corn snakes and bearded dragons, as opposed to complicated to look after species like iguanas. These day, you will not find reptiles for sale in your ordinary pet store, you have to go looking for specialist breeders and shops, who will usually advise you against keeping a reptile unless you are totally committed this prevents the nag factor resulting in parents buying their children unsuitable pets.
Currently, because I now have knowledge of how to care for them, I often end up taking on unwanted reptiles I currently keep bearded dragons, lacertas, geckos, chameleons and a few small boas and pythons. The amount of abandoned reptiles seems to be getting lower as people have realised they are not the pets for everyone, but unfortunately I still have too many people calling me and asking if I have the expertise to deal with an 18 foot python (which I dont).
If you want a pet reptile, and you really are serious about it, then I will not give you any more discouragement I will simply weight up the pros and cons and point you in the right direction.
Reptiles make good pets if you are interested in nature. They are, with notable exceptions, not very handle able pets, so they are more for watching and observing their interesting behaviour patterns. They make good pets if you live in a flat and arent allowed anything furry. They also tend to smell less than mammals, so long as they are cleaned out frequently. They are of course, always a talking point for visitors. Snakes in particular have lower metabolisms and require less feeding, so they often work out cheaper (however the initial set-up of tank and heating equipment is expensive). If you truly want an unusual pet, then some species of of reptile might just be right for you!
On the other hand, no matter how tame they become, they are not really pets for cuddling. With a few notable exceptions like the bearded dragon, they will only tolerate and not enjoy handling by their keeper, and even this tolerance will come after many months of being bitten by your new charge. They ALL have very specialised feeding requirements. Most snakes in captivity are fed on rats and mice. You cannot feed them live rats and mice, not only is this inhumane but your pet can get injured by a scared rodent. Rats and mice are bought frozen this means you have to keep them in the freezer along with your chicken wings. A lot of people cant handle the idea of feeding cute, furry, frozen rodents to their charges, so they prefer a pet lizard.
Lizards, in my opinion, in general seem to get along with people better snakes just learn to tolerate you. However, most lizards eat insects, and this is not very appealing either. This means you have to keep a tank of crickets and a tub of king mealworms at least, and if you want your lizard to have a varied diet, you may also need to feed it waxworms, silkworms and cutworms (moth larvae), unbleached maggots from the fishing shop, snails, any insects you find around the house, and even cockroaches (you can buy special feeder cockroaches from reptile shops. Unfortunately these are one of the most nutritious reptile foods and the most likely to escape and take over your house). Feeding all these means you have to get used to the idea of handling and keeping creepy crawlies in your house, the inevitable odd escapee (usually crickets), and the very loud, irritating chirping sound adult crickets make (although you can get around this by only buying young crickets, by buying quiet crickets which dont sing loudly, or, and I disagree with this because I think its rather cruel, tearing the crickets wings off). Large insect eating lizards will also be benefited by the occasional feeding of pinkie mice (day old mouse pups). There are vegetarian lizards, but they tend to be large and difficult to care for, like iguanas.
Aside from all this, in general reptiles have high care requirements. If you dont get the heating, lighting and humidity in the cage just right, they will get very ill. Their food also needs to be spot on, otherwise they can get ill. Their slow metabolisms mean they can go on suffering with illnesses for many years without the owner realising they are in real pain. Some reptiles are also very reluctant feeders, as they may be used to different food in the wild (for example, ball pythons eat gerbils in the wild and may find it difficult to adapt to eating mice instead), and it is not uncommon to find anorexic reptiles who literally starve themselves to death instead of eating a food they are not used to.
Lastly, the setup for even the most common pet reptile is rather expensive. A shop-bought vivarium (fish tanks are NOT suitable) will cost anywhere from £60 up, and homemade ones will be cheaper but wood is still expensive. You will also need a way to heat the tank (either specialist incandescent reptile bulbs, heat mats or a ceramic heater), all of which are pricey, a thermostat for the heating equipment, specialist UV lighting if your species requires it, and furniture and substrate for the cage. Also, some reptiles will eat you out of house and home...a single baby bearded dragon will eat around 80 crickets a DAY. That is a lot of crickets and quite a lot of cash. if you use ceramic heaters, they use a lot of power and bump up the electric bill quite a bit.
If all THIS hasnt put you off from wanting a pet reptile, here are a few good first reptile pets
Corn snake- these snakes have been domesticated for some forty years now, and if there is a real pet reptile, this is probably it. They reach a maximum of six foot long, but are usually around four. Normal coloured corn snakes are beautiful animals, bright orange and black, but there are millions of different colour varieties available, from albinos and snow corns to ghost and caramel corns. The suggest tank size for an adult is three foot long by one foot wide by one foot deep, and they feed happily on mice from the local reptile shop.
Garter snakes- easy to care for but hate being handled they have scent glands and will happily musk you like a skunk does or bite you when you handle them. They are very interesting to watch if you provide them with something to swim in though! They vary in size but are usually quite small. They will be happiest if you provide them with a semi-aquatic terrarium that is, you give them something to swim in. This can either be done by making a pool out of a sturdy plastic receptacle, or literally building a river bank and submerging a part of the tank in water. Garter snakes will learn to take mice as food, but their natural food is fish, small lizards, small amphibians and earthworms.
Ball or royal pythons- These are beautiful snake which look like miniature versions of their giant cousins, Burmese pythons. They reach a maximum of five foot in length. They are quite easy to care for in captivity, but make sure you get a captive bred one. Sometimes they may be reluctant to feed, so you might want to get used to an easier species like a corn first. They are also very shy and prefer small tanks, or they will feel very exposed and refuse to feed or come out of hiding!
Certain king snakes or milk snakes- This is a big family of similar snakes. Good starters are Californian or Floridian king snakes. Milk snakes are tri-coloured king snakes, they are gorgeous, scarlet with bands of red and white along their bodies. They require a cage about three foot long, depending on which species you buy. They have to be kept one to a cage as they eat other snakes. In captivity they will learn to eat mice, although I believe their natural diet is snakes, lizards and amphibians.
The leopard gecko- Leopard geckos are pretty, easy to care for and handle, and nice and small. They will do well with a single gecko in a two foot tank, any more than two and you will need a three foot tank. They will dine on suitably sized crickets, locusts, king mealworms, other invertebrates and for larger individuals, day-old pink mice. They dont require UV lighting as they are nocturnal, so a heat mat and a red incandescent bulb will do them fine.
Bearded dragons- Larger and friendlier than leos, they are a favourite in captivity. They are around eight inches long (from snout to base of tail), and very friendly and comical. They will eat the same as leopard geckos, but are omnivorous so need to be provided with vegetable matter as well. They are desert lizards which require lots of humidity, and a specialist fluorescent tube light that gives of both UVA and UVB rays. Adults need big cages, a single pet needs four foot of tank length, two or more will need a viv five or six foot long.
Blue tongued skinks- A particular favourite of mine, these are slow-moving, docile and ponderous lizards, they look sort of like very short, fat snakes with legs. An adult in captivity needs at least a three foot-by two foot long vivarium. They will eat insects, pinkie mice, vegetable matter, bits of cooked white meat, and even the odd bowl of low-fat cat food.
The above species are relatively easy to care for and friendly, with the exception of garter snakes. I must say, I really enjoy keeping lizards, but I dont really agree they are pet animals. Dogs and cats are pets, exotic desert lizards are not. So if you are looking for something to sit in your lap and watch TV with you, Id choose a cat, not a lizard. If the reason you want a reptile is to impress or scare people, you will soon learn there is nothing impressive about having an aggressive giant snake wrap itself around you, or having to clean up the considerable mess a green iguana makes. If you genuinely are interested in an exotic reptilian creature as a pet, then check out plenty of books and website on your chosen species, make sure it is suitable for beginners, and start by checking your local rescue centre (also the Proteus and Ark reptile rehoming sites), instead of adding your hard-earned funds to what is, in all reality, a rather questionable industry.
I find reptiles and amphibians absolutely fascinating and beautiful creatures. I do not understand why people can be afraid of them…they are as brightly coloured as birds and just as if not more interesting, and equally beautiful. Most of the accusations levelled at them (usually snakes) are unfounded…less than 3% of the worlds snake population is venomous, and most of the types considered dangerous, such as constrictor like boas and pythons are small to kill humans. It has also been found recently, that over half of what were reported as ‘rattlesnake bites’ actually were, from the descriptions of how the venom affected the person, scorpion stings, yet these fake rattler bites have led to horribly cruel rattlesnake round-ups where snakes are wild caught, left in a corral in the blazing sun and then stoned and squashed to death. If this were puppies you would be appalled. It seems nowadays as many people are fascinated by these creatures as repelled by them. Such exotic creatures as poison arrow frogs and rosy boas are being kept in captivity. It is possible to get hold of, with the correct licences, everything from monkeys and lemurs to anacondas to (this must be the height of stupidity) crocodilians, gharials, alligators and caimans, although, of course, rules on keeping such creatures are dependant on the country in which you live, although I have heard of someone in Glasgow (mate of a mate sort of thing) keeping a boomslang (a beautiful but extremely lethal venomous African snake) illegally. I also know someone with a fantastic collection of scorpions, spiders, exotic beetles and (!) cockroaches (just to gross you out, some of the cockroaches are the length of his hand) and a positively terrifying African giant millipede that is bigger than I care to remember. Health warnings are arising everywhere concerning these unusual ‘pets’. The larger lizards can inflict painful bites, while the bigger snakes do hav
e the option of eating you when they get peckish for something other than frozen chicken. Besides these issues and the keeping of poisonous animals, there are also disease risks. Reptiles often carry a form of salmonella. I don’t think it does them much harm, but because of this it’s unwise to have reptiles around the elderly or young kids. Of course, washing your hands after handling them, as you would with raw meat, pretty much nullifies these risks, however, for some reason, reptiles do carry quite a few diseases that can be transmitted to humans and vice versa…and what with the legal and illegal trade in wild species, the risk of bringing in tropical diseases grows quite high. The animal’s welfare Of course, there is something else to consider while learning all of this…the animals. Gone are the days when having a canary was seen as exotic…these days people make pets of everything from quails to monkeys, to skunks and sugar gliders, to the slightly less cuddly centipedes and frogs. In America it has become almost commonplace to hear about nutters in big cities keeping tigers, there is actually a site online where you can buy animals like monkeys and tigers. Not only is this a rather stupid idea for the owner, its unbelievably cruel to an animal who is supposed to roam hundreds of miles a day. The much more common exotic pets- reptiles, don’t fare much better. Pet shops seem to take the attitude that if it aint cute with fur, it aint worth bothering about. Despite the monetary value of some of these creatures, there is a much higher instance of neglect towards cold-blooded creatures than mammals in pet shops. They are often kept in inter-species tanks, which can cause quarrelling, bullying and/or cannibalism, and often their cage size or feeding requirements are not met. In America the situation is much worse, the laws covering treatment of mammals doesn’t extend to non-mammals, and ther
e are even cases in the US of reptiles (usually iguanas) being ‘won’ at fairs in the same manner as goldfish! This neatly overlooks the fact that unlike fish, Iguanas can reach six foot long, unlike fish, iguanas are highly specialised and not hardy enough to thrive in less-than-perfect care, and unlike goldfish, iguanas can live to quite a few decades old. Oh, and despite being vegetarian, iguanas can be extremely dangerous and their strong jaws and tail can quite easily break a human arm. I am strongly of the opinion that it is very irresponsible to sell specialised creatures such as these in pet shops…you don’t usually even see them stocking more specialised mammals such as chipmunks or ferrets, yet because reptiles aren’t cute and furry it doesn’t matter whether their highly specific needs are met. It is also insanely negligent to sell the ones that grow particularly large without warning and/or licences…I’ve seen many types of python on sale in pet shops, despite the fact that they grow to sixteen feet long (there are no notices about this on the cages). Its common to change the name of the breed of animal so it seems less threatening…common boa constrictors that grow to 12 foot are renamed red-tail boas. Its usually kids parents who buy these on impulse nagging sprees, and the pet shop employees do nothing to tell the children that ‘Monty’ could grow up to twenty foot long. When the creatures get too big to manage, they are sent to rescue centres, zoos, or dumped. Thousands of reptiles end up like this, in the US its tens of thousands. If we were talking about tens of thousands of puppies there would be uproar, but again, the ‘creepy’ appearance of the poor things makes a difference to ‘animal welfarists’. Besides this, most people don’t have the beginnings of a clue regarding the care of these beautiful exotics in captivity…they are kept i
n cages too small or large, or the wrong height, fed the wrong foods, kept in company when they need to be solitary (in this case they often eat or kill each other), at the wrong temperature with the wrong lighting. All of this makes them susceptible to disease, injury and infection as well as misery and painful deaths. As well as the suffering of the reptile involved, other species often suffer for it. The feeding of live bait to reptiles is extremely cruel to both species…the pain on the mouse/rat/chickens side is obvious, but did you also know if your pet isn’t hungry and allows the food item to run around the cage, said food item has been known to attack and harm your pet? Always feed your exotic pets pre (humanely) killed food. Of course, really you will never know whether your food was killed humanely or not…from the looks of the frozen mice and rats you get to feed large snakes, they are simply frozen alive. Reptiles are the only group of animals whose lifespan in captivity is shorter than their wild one. This isn’t often due to deliberate ill treatment, usually its just ignorance. Before you buy Keeping a lizard or similar creature is not an easy task, it should not be seen as a fad or a fashion either. The fashion for snakes seems to have waned a little, it has been taken over by what I predict will become the latest pet craze- sugar gliders (tiny gliding squirrel type things), but it was the poor chameleons who suffered recently thanks to the Budweiser adverts. Just out of interest chameleons are some of the most difficult lizards to keep alive and aren’t recommended for anybody but expert herpetologists. Some lizards can live as long as parrots if cared for correctly…that’s up to forty years, (although most chameleons live approximately six in captivity). Are you willing to care for something for that long, that is if you can provide the correct environment for it to live that
long? The pet that seemed cool fifteen years ago could be a burden when you’ve got kids and a job to look after as well, and if its size matches its teenage years in feet you could have a rather large and scaly problem in getting rid of it. You also need to consider such an animal’s suitability as a pet, and this can only be done by looking at the species you want. Reptiles such as geckos (except Tokay geckos, which are vicious little buggers), Uromastyx, dragons, Some skinks (not monkey-tails) and some types of monitor and iguana make fairly gentle pets, as do corn, garter and king snakes. The majority of iguanas on the other hand are surly until tamed (some individuals just never tame) and because of their size can inflict a good deal of pain though not death, (although when tamed they make quite charming pets if you have room for them, and they need a large one to themselves), most Tegus and monitors are impressive but vicious (the exception being rather slow and gentle Nile monitors), and of course most of the larger boas and pythons are capable of killing you, no matter how gentle they seem, they will never become tamed the way a pet dog is. Do you have the necessary fearlessness/idiocy (delete as applicable) to deal with a lethal creature? Don’t think you can train a snake like you train a dog…a reptile is a completely alien creature to you. It cannot be housebroken or trained in any way. It is a wild and potential lethal animal. Also consider, if a reptile is particularly vicious or difficult to care for, then it obviously isn’t happy to live in captivity, and you cannot justify keeping such an animal in misery no matter HOW cool it looks. It’s worth considering that a human home is a completely foreign environment to a snake. Being so recently domesticated they still have all their wild instincts, and they are used to being in a jungle/desert with no humans around. They don’t really know who you
are or what the hell you are doing, no matter how friendly they seem. You just look like a very big, and very stupid lunch. Do you have the space to keep such an animal? A gecko tank won’t take up too much room, but a cage designed for an adult boa constrictor will not be found in your average pet shop, and contrary to what you think it is not safe, ethical or practical for either you or the boa to let it roam the house. Many people let these larger reptiles roam their house, but this isn’t really clever. A creature like an iguana could perhaps have a room of its own, but to allow it to roam the entire house you would need to keep a constant hot temperature (unhealthy for you, your family, your wallet and any non-exotic household pets) and iguana-proof the house (they are great at breaking things and harming themselves), and letting a potentially lethal animal like a large boa or python have the run of the house is asking for it…they are not as tameable even as lizards and ALWAYS remain risky no matter how gentle they seem. So you need to design an enclosure for your animal…and if your animal is a thirty foot reticulated python you have a rather large problem. Are you going to have a problem feeding a carnivorous or insectivorous reptile? The vast majority of lizards eat insects, whereas snakes eat mice, rats, and lizards, or if very large, chickens, rabbits and even pigs. Can you deal with the idea of keeping a tank of crickets and a box of mealworms in your house? While ‘complete’ diets for these animals are now available, they aren’t recommended as the sole food. Besides the ‘ick’ factor of feeding insects, some people have a problem feeding snakes cute furry frozen things. Frozen mice, rats and chicks are not a nice sight. They need to be kept frozen (your partner will love this) and warmed to room temperature. Don’t make the mistake of using the microwave unless you want exploded rod
ent all over it. Larger snakes, as I’ve mentioned will need chickens and rabbits, and if you are psychotic to take on the biggest of the big- anacondas or reticulated pythons, you will need to feed it things like whole pigs. Or of course just get it over with and offer yourself on a plate. Your beloved ‘pet’ wont know the difference. Finally, what do you know about the animal? Each type of reptile is different and you need to research its needs thoroughly. If the animal you want isn’t readily available captive-bred you may have to resort to a wild-caught specimen, which will probably be diseased anyway, quite apart from the fact you’d be supporting an inexcusably cruel trade. If you cant get your first choice captive bred, PLEASE choose another breed instead of condemning a wild animal to a life of misery. If you don’t fully understand what the animal eats, what size cage it needs, what vitamins it needs, what light and heat it needs etc, then you might as well kill it with your bare hands. If you want to keep herptiles and be a good, responsible owner of them, start with something gentle and small like bearded dragons, leopard geckos or corn or garter snakes. If you want to keep something a little bigger as a first lizard, then blue-tongued skinks make lovely first reptiles if you can get hold of a captive-bred, but I wouldn’t advise anything larger than four foot for a first snake, because they are less docile and tameable than lizards on a whole (and more likely to genuinely mistake your hand for food due to poor eyesight). Ask yourself why you want one. If its because they’re cool or the latest thing, or worse still, to scare people, then I will hunt you down and imprison YOU in a glass tank. The only right reason is that you find them fascinating and beautiful and that you want to give one a good home instead of letting it go to some moron who doesn’t know what they are doing. <
br> If you do decide to get a pet reptile, then get one either from a breeder or an animal shelter. Don’t buy from a pet shop it encourages a horrific trade. Dead set? Well, if I haven’t managed to put you off buying a herp yet (salmonella, bites, tail-whippers and constrictors…what a lovely choice of pets), I can at LEAST point you in the right direction, species-wise. Here are some ideal beginners species…in general they are the ones that adapt to captivity better than other, more specialised reptiles. Lizards Leopard geckos- common and cute little pets, these geckos are relatively cheap, quite small and very easy to care for as lizards go. They are also very hardy and thus good for beginners. Their care requirements are basic, they can be kept in a twenty-gallon tank (that’s enough for two of them), and their feeding requirements are easy to meet, they don’t need any lighting, as they are nocturnal. If you would like to see them better, invest in a red or blue bulb, as these lights don’t bother them. Bearded dragons- cute things with smiley mouths and horny skin, beardies are probably the most commonly kept lizards after the leopard gecko. The babies often die due to feeding problems, inadequate calcium or insufficient lighting unfortunately, but if you get a beardie past this stage you’ve got a really good lizard pet, they seem to enjoy being handled and along with a few iguanas, are the most ‘pet-like’ lizards as they become cheeky and friendly and are even known to ‘sulk’ if they don’t get cuddles as often as usual. Unlike leopard geckos which can thrive on little light and less vitamins, you really need to ‘stuff’ beardies, especially babies, with specially made reptile multi-vitamins and calcium and UV light, otherwise their bones literally turn to mush which is very painful for them, and eventually fatal. It’s th
e lizard form of osteoporosis (metabolic bone disease). They are quite large at around sixty centimetres and need a good four-foot of tank, as they are quite active. Blue tongued Skinks- a slightly larger choice here, but if you’re after a bit of a bigger lizard then a skink is a good place to start. They are very friendly, and fairly hardy as well. They are harder to find than beardies and geckos however, and are unfortunately often wild caught, so do ensure yours is a captive bred. An ideal bigger starter or maybe second lizard if you have the room for a nice big tank for them. Snakes Corn Snakes- The most commonly kept first snake, corn snakes reach about three and a half to four feet and are ready eaters, a lot of snakes have a problem taking pre-killed mice (you should NEVER feed snakes live mice) but this one is a bit greedy really. Ball pythons- these make ideal first pets SO LONG as they are ready feeders. If you go for a ball python get the seller to feed it while you are there so you can see if it is eating or not. They only grow to five feet at the most so are manageable. King snakes- these are beautiful snakes with gorgeous colouring. Once you get past the first stage of finicky eating king snakes (they prefer eating lizards, snakes and amphibians and need training to take mice) make good first pets. Milk snakes are cousins to the king snake. They are very attractive; most species are red with bands of black and white or yellow. They are very fussy feeders however and it takes a long time to train them to take mice. Garter Snakes- These are small semi aquatic snakes. They aren’t great to handle, so are more likely to bite than ball pythons and corn snakes, so you might need to invest in thick gloves until they are tame, although they always remain jumpy, and are brilliant escape artists, unlike corns and kings, they aren’t really handleable snakes. They sometimes have initial feedin
g problems…they really live off lizards and amphibians in the wild, so need to be trained to take fish; they also like a small pool in their tank for swimming. No snakes are really ‘pet-type’ animals for holding, and if you don’t mind that garters are amongst the wildest, then they make easy pets. These species do not make first good pets, and in fact probably shouldn’t be kept in captivity at all Green snakes- small, but very fussy eaters, difficult to keep and always wild caught because they don’t breed in captivity, thus very wild and usually diseased. Wild-born reptiles in captivity often die young from stress. Burmese pythons- Obviously they are not intended for your average pet keeper. In my view you should need a license to obtain one. You would also be insane to want one. They grow to twenty feet in length and could quite happily eat you. You will have to kill rabbits and chickens in order to feed them. People HAVE been killed by these creatures, PLEASE don’t get one. They are not meant to be kept by amateurs. A boy of fourteen was killed and eaten in America by a snake of only eight foot…less than half its potential size. No matter how friendly they seem you can never trust them, and even if they are gentle juveniles they tend to get a bit wilder when they grow up. And a twenty-foot, lethal wild animal with extremely sharp fangs and strong muscles is not something you need roaming your home. Reticulated python- these snakes reach 32 foot and are the longest in the world…longer than the up to 30-foot anaconda (the anaconda is a lot fatter though). There is another op on them in this category, it makes very interesting reading. They can be very lethal, so the same goes for them as for Burmese pythons. Boa constrictors- these grow to twelve foot in length and will happily try and eat you, although they are a bit small for such antics (don’t hold me to
this, these snakes often bite off more than they can chew so to speak), but they are still huge animals and need PROPER care and massive enclosures, and they bite readily. Pet shops often dishonestly sell babies as ‘red-tail boas’ to take parents minds away from the fact that these are boa constrictors. Any boa labelled Columbian boa, red-tailed boa, Emperor’s boa, Guyana red-tail, South American Boa or Amazon basin boa is the real deal, a giant man-eating motherf**ker. Other gigantic snakes- goes without saying really, if you want to keep your head attached to your body. Keeping an anaconda or similar is just stupid, although I’m sure you’d need a license for one anyway. Crocodilians- these have become part of the latest craze in America, although over here you need a license to keep them. Crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials are what I’m on about here, and the idea of this being kept by anything less than a zoological expert trained to look after them is complete and utter insanity. Even the smallest ones are extremely wild and vicious. The average size is also about 1.5m so they aren’t something you can readily find a cage for. Unlike snakes they are quite active and need a pool to swim in as well as plenty of dry land. The smallest caimans reach four feet, but they are still highly vicious and not pet animals at all. Green Iguanas- these are beautiful lizards, but they require very special care, can be vicious and grow to six feet. Many do make funny and friendly pets in good hands, but their size, finicky diet and trickiness of taming them means they really need an owner who has dealt with lizards before. If you get a sweet-natured iguana and can provide it with plenty of space, fine, but there is every chance you’ll get a wild beast that will never be properly tamed…and those wild beasts are very strong and can damage you considerably. There are other types of iguana avai
lable as pets, which are a little smaller, such as desert iguanas, but they are often wild caught. Green ones also need a room-sized enclosure; you can’t just let them roam your house. Chameleons- yes they are beautiful. Yes they look cool; unfortunately most don’t live past a year because they are so hard to care for. Leave then where they belong, they need very specialist environments and expert care in captivity. Monitors except the Savannah (which is a lot gentler and a good second lizard), and Tegus- large and very aggressive. ‘Nuff said. Gila monsters and Mexican beaded lizards- Beautiful, also the worlds only known venomous lizards. ‘Nuff said. Venomous snakes- ‘Nuff said. Turtles, tortoises and terrapins- in a word, don’t. These are highly specialised animals that need very careful care. Keeping a tortoise in your garden isn’t nice for the tortoise. Their wild populations are in jeopardy, and as they are hard to breed in captivity, are often wild-caught. They don’t make good pets for kids because, even without the special requirements they need, they are actually quite boring all they do is waddle, sleep and eat, cute as they are. Turtles need aquariums, although it’s cruel to keep them in anything less than pond-sized. Final word. All in all, I’d say reptiles shouldn’t be kept as pets at all. Pet shops are often known to tout the Burmese python or Boa constrictors as a suitable first snake, despite the fact that it turns into a gigantic snake. This is not only immoral as it might lead to the death of a human; it’s cruel for the snake to be confined to a little tank. In general all reptiles are wild creatures, and they will never be domesticated like dogs or cats, or even to the degree small animals like hamster tame to, they will simply tolerate being kept. If you can POSSIBLY stop yourself from buying one of these you are p
robably a lot more responsible than me…although I don’t keep ones that don’t need someone’s help, I’d rather I had the willpower not to keep them at all. If you really are dying for one, then be responsible…DON’T actually die for it (i.e. avoid anything dangerous), learn about its needs and habits and care for it accordingly, give it as much space as you can, keep it for its ENTIRE life instead of selling it on when you get bored or it gets too big, and don’t keep something that you cannot care for…this not only goes for dangerous sized animals but delicate creatures like monkey-tail skinks and chameleons. The trade in these gorgeous wild creatures is not only killing the poor animals, it is killing the environment, wild populations, and more than a few irresponsible pet owners along the way.
I have never felt any strong feelings towards or against snakes. So when myself and my partner took ourselves to the local reptile shop to buy our first pet, and the shop worker plonked a 4 ft corn snake in my arms it was a titilating experience. It felt amazing: the skin, the way it moved. I wanted one imediately. Baby corn snakes only cost £20.00. The whole set-up: vivarium, heatmat, light and bark costs around £80. And so we carried our new 12 inch pet in a small tupperware container across Newcastle on a bus (some of the grannies were looking at us a bit strangley). I jokingly suggested we call him 'Trouser' (I'm sure you can see the humour). But the joke was taken seriously, and our little Trouser snake found it's way into our happy home. He is 3 months old now. He has shed his skin once already and is just about to shed again (we know this because he has been hiding for a few days and his skin has gone milky). He has grown 3 inches already! He eats a pinky mouse about twice a week which we keep in the freezer and deforst in a cup of warm water. Watching him eat is fascinating. After a month we handled him for the first time. He was nervous but has improved dramatically now. Trouser could live for 8-10 years and grow to 5 ft. He may be around when I have children but I have no doubt that corn snakes make suitable pets for a family. They are so easy and cheap to keep: no mess, cheap food (the mice only cost about 50p each), no noise, great fun to watch and handle. I had never considered a snake as a pet before, but he fits in nicely with our lifestyle: a city centre flat is not a good place for a dog or cat. I would recommend others who are looking for an alternative pet to try snakes out. But please make sure you have the right equipment, buy from a reputable reptile shop where the snakes have been bred in captivity and keep in mind that some snakes can live for
many years. Snakes are a joy - I just wish I could convince my friends of that, who have mysteriously avoided coming round my house since the snake arrived....
I have always had a fascination with reptiles since i was a little girl, me and my partner have always has tropical fish so one day when going to get more fish food i decided to venture into the reptile room which adjacent to the fish room. I went in all gleary eyed and immediately said i want that that that and that!!! But as my partner is absolutely petrified of anything other than cats, dogs or fish this was going to prove difficult. After speaking to the shop assistant we came to the conclusion that as a first reptile that a Bearded Dragon would be suitable. They have rarely been known to bite, they are easily handled, very easy to maintain and feed and can be very rewarding when they get used to you. After a couple of hours handling one particular beardy and talking about the set up needed, we decided that we would take him home. I have had Ernie now for over a year and i recently bought him a friend Bertha. Getting the set up right is a bit difficult at first because you never kow if they look happy or not, setting the vivarium at the right temperature, making sure they have a spot light in the right place, assuring that the water bowl is big enough to bathe and drink out of, but believe me when you have all that done they are absolutely brilliant pets to have, our nephews love coming over and handling them and they have never once hurt anyone whilst being out of their vivariums. And the good news now is Bertha and Ernie have mated so ive got lots of little beardies on their way!
A few years ago I had pretty much alienated most of my family and friends when I was going througha period of sexual ambiguity and stress trying to ascertain who I really was sexually. I became very lonely and so I decided to get a pet to keep me company. I had just read a book called the 5th Chimpanzee and I was very intrigued by the creatures and knew that I needed to get one. It cost me a fortune but I ended up with my own spider monkey. I know that a spider monkey is both an amphibian as well as a marsupial so I hope it is ok that I wrote about him here. Some uneducated people think that it is a marsupial and of the archnid genus. First off having a monkey is really fun and exciting but it is a ton of work. I guess in his infinite wisdom God decided that Monkies of any sort do not belong in an apartment building and he set them forth in the trees or Savannah or whatever. This is going to be a concept that you will never ever be able to forget, I repeat, apartments are not the natural habitat of any kind of marsupials such as orangutangs, Lemurs, crocodiles or pandas. This is going to create a lot of trouble. Here are the things that my spider monkey has ripped up in the past week. My curtains, my new Hustler magazine, my printer cable and my wallet, and his cute little Philadelphia Phillies jacket I bought him from the infants department, I was pretty jacked out of shape myself about losing those two games to the Expos so I understood when he ripped it up. Monkies smell too, they smell awful and they tend to defecate wherever they feel like it, whenever they feel like it. Monkies are very smart. It is cute when they learn to use the remote control, and pick up a ringing phone, but it is outright nerve wracking the first time the monkey pulls a straight razor on you. You sit there and wonder how much they really know and understand. My monkey got all uppity after my mom bought me the Planet of The Apes Vid
eotape collection and I watched them with Almeron (he is named after one of the defenders of the Alamo, Almeron Dickenson)Monkies are kind of expensive too, I have to take him to a bigger city to see a proper zoologist veteranarian from the zoo rather than some old country bumpkin who normally spays dogs and puts old cats to sleep. The food is the cool thing. We eat the same food. I take him right to Burger king and get him the kids meals. I guess part of the lack of marsupial evolution is their digestive tracks aren't up to eating whoppers with cheese but neither is my Uncle Pat's. I try to feed him dog chow and lots of fruit too. He pretty much helps himself to whatever he wants when I leave for work. He knows what sort of packages have "prizes" in them (cereal, cracker jack, etc.,) and he manages to get all the prizes out So what is good about monkies? First off they are babe magnets. I take him to the mall (actually I have pretty much been legally excluded from taking him to most places because he bites people when he gets agitated) and women all come up and want to play with him. Almeron doesn't really understand when it is ok to do wrestling moves (such as while we watch wrestling) and tends to get violent. But women love him. Second he is a blast when my friends come over. If we tell him over and over "Go get Shots" he will bring his little bottle of banana schneppes and his tiny shot glass we got him at Niagra Falls. He actually tries to do shots with us. I read that monkies are like 8 times as strong as humans pound to pound, but it is like the converse for handling alcohol. He gets all wrecked in no time at all and then wants to watch the nature channel and holler at the other monkies and wildlife. I love my monkey and will always be friends with him and he will be my buddy. But trust me, before you go and get a marsupial, talk to some people that have them and find out how much work
it will be. I have pretty much resolved myself to the fact that until Almeron dies I can't have nice things and will basically be taking care of an old man in his dotage forever. But it is ok because he loves me. One bit of editorial comment. I think these people in the USA who have been organizing "monkie Melees" akin to dog fights and cock fights are sick disturbed twisted people. A monkey is so humanlike that it is spooky and anyone who would hurt one for entertainment or profit is a terrible person. Another bit of advice, don't be like me and buy a couple books and think you are good to go. I bought two books and got some from the library. My monkey ripped up a couple of the books from the library so I went there and explained that instead of making up a story I wanted to come clean (not that I can ever be clean in a physical sense as I live in a house full of monkey poop)and pay for the books. So the clerk looked up some stuff on the computer and made a strange face and went and got the supervisor, there were hushed whispers and then they said, "The Joy of owning primates" and "Primate Playmates" and "Monkies the carefree pet" were "gratis" publications and we don't have a price on them." See it turns out that any book written that supports or advocates monkey ownership are usually written by a man named Terry Bradshaw or Brian Sipe, who are respectively the 'President of the Exotic Pets Importing Trade Association' and 'Chairman of the South American United Monkey Trappers Association'. So there you have it. The only people telling you to get a monkey are people who make money off of them.
We have had our leopard geckos, speckles and freckles, longer than we have had our daughter, but have had no problems at all concerning the mixing of the two. Leopard geckos are easy pets to keep, so long as you get the proper set up before you start, and look after them properly. We have had ours 3 1/2 years now, and have had no illness or other problems at all in that time, so it can't be that hard to do (especially considering both the cat and dog have been to the vet, the bird died, so did one of the goldfish....!) Leopard geckos are desert reptiles, so don't need (or like) a damp environment. The best thing for them is a vivarium, with dry material (e.g. small pebbles or special vivarium gravel) and a heat mat (essential). Although these particular reptiles do not NEED a heat lamp, many vivariums (vivaria?) come with them, and they do seem to like them. Unlike other types of geckos, leopard geckos are not particular climbers, and aren't all that good at climbing, so a few interesting shaped bits of driftwood are better than the 'rope ladder' type things you can buy for other types of geckos. The vivarium should be kept clean (fairly obvious), and the geckos should have a place where they can hide to avoid getting them stressed; we have two stones supporting a larger stone in a kind of low hut construction in our vivarium! Geckos do not eat dead food. In simple terms, it has to wriggle to be considered edible by a leopard gecko. Ours are fed on crickets and mealworms, which we buy online, but are available at larger pet shops. It costs about 7 pounds a month to feed them. Fresh water must always be available for your gecko. More than one female gecko can be kept in the same vivarium (both of ours are female), and males and females can share, if you don't mind the breeding potential (!) but never put more than one male gecko in the same vivarium as they will fight, not uncommonly to the death. <
br> Kids absolutely love them. Some think they're dragons or baby dinosaurs, but are fascinated none the less! Geckos are safe to handle if they have the temperament for it; one of ours has and the other hasn't...although they don't have teeth, they do have sharp gums which can break the skin if they choose to! But they are very fragile, so its best not to let small children hold them as they tend to grip too hard! Our daughter is quite content just to watch them in the vivarium though, and knows not to try to touch them. A great, easy to keep hassle free pet that I highly recommend.
So, you want to get a pet frog .... you do ? Before you run out to the nearest pet store or pond there are several things you should consider. Getting a frog shouldn't be considered all that different from getting a cat or dog. It can be a lot of work, and you need to think about what you're going to do when you skip town for a week, and so forth. You may need a special license to keep frogs in some countries. In Australia it is actually very difficult to obtain an amphibian license, and people who keep frogs without such a license can get fined heavily for it. You should definitely check to see if there are any special laws pertaining to keeping frogs in your area before you get one as a pet. Here are things to consider when making your choice:  Frogs Can Be a Lot of Work: Frogs need to be fed on a regular basis. Keep in mind where your food source is going to be. Generally speaking, this isn't going to be as easy as picking up a package at your local grocery store. In addition, if you get a frog that eats live bugs, expect to have a few stray bugs running around the house now and then. Larger frogs can be even more work. Many of the larger species feed on mice and this can be a less than fun experience if you aren't prepared for it. Frog tanks need to be well cleaned to prevent illness  Active Frogs: Probably one of the biggest mistakes I hear about is people who go out and buy a "cool-looking" frog which then proceeds to eat, sleep, and generally sit like a lump of clay. The reality is, a lot of frogs don't really do much, and they aren't exactly something you can snuggle up with either, so you need to keep that in mind when choosing an appropriate pet. Frogs may be cute or grotesque, but you can't teach them tricks, take them for walks, or make them speak on command. Frogs which aren't particularly active will quickly become a boring pet. T
he novelty will wear off and you'll be left with a blob that eats a lot. When looking for a pet frog, particularly for the beginner, I strongly urge you to choose ACTIVE breeds. This means, search for a species that doesn't just sit around all day. Aquatic frogs, certain treefrogs, and the less "fat" frogs are better choices.  Never get a Frog You Don't Know: There are many many species of frogs, and many have very individualized pet care needs. Some frogs need to hibernate during the winter, others do not. The pet care needs will change everything from what you need as far as tank set-up to what you have to feed them. In addition, many frogs look really really cute in the stores, and then you bring them home and in a few months they've grown in monstrous proportions and it isn't nearly as nice as you thought it was going to be.  Frog Sitters: Your frog, if well cared for, should live for a very long time. That means you're going to run into the same problem everyone with pets runs into whenever they go out of town for the holidays. "Who's gonna look after my pet while I'm away ?" Unlike feeding a few flakes to a goldfish, the idea of live bugs isn't very appealing to most people. So, if you plan on getting a frog, plan ahead as to how vacations will be handled.  A Recommended Frog for Beginners: For the first frog encounter, I strongly recommend the African Dwarf Frog. These guys are small, active, cute, and about as difficult to maintain as a tank of goldfish. You also don't have to deal with live bugs and they can be kept in the same conditions as goldfish for extended periods of time. Dwarf frogs are very easy to take care of once they've become used to their new home. As with fish, expect the first couple of weeks for adaptation time (many times pet stores will sell frogs that are already sick, or that are very very small and which may be
a bit fragile in the first couple of weeks.) The best recommendation here is to get them at a decent size. Avoid really skinny ones or ones that are very. In addition, if the frog doesn't give the pet shop owner a really hard time when the net goes into the tank, it may indicate some initial signs of being in less than perfect condition.  Frogs NOT Recommended for the Beginner: Poison Frogs are absolutely NOT a beginners frog. Even though these frogs lose their toxicity in captivity, their care is very complicated and these fragile beings have very specific requirements for healthy captivity. Expensive frogs in general should not be a frog considered by the beginner because a frog that costs over 50 bucks is a high investment to make when you are still learning about frog care. You ought to start with an easier breed before taking on the more expensive breeds. Frogs captured in the wild should be a frog that you recognize, otherwise you take the risk of not knowing the proper conditions in which to care for it. Frogs that get fat, can get to be pretty boring as pets for the beginner. Some of them even bite when their fully grown. This doesn't mean you shouln't get some of the more difficult to care for frogs, but think carefully about how long you're going to retain interest in this hobby. I can picture everbody running out to buy frogs right now.
This is a tale of newts. They were the Greater British Spotted Newts. On the other hand, they might have been called something else. I forget. Once you've been introduced to more than one type of newt, the names and faces tend to blur into one. What is true is that they lived in a little stretch of water on a bit of wasteland. One of the giants of British industry owned the land and decided to develop it. The conservationists were up in arms. These were an endangered type of newt and making them homeless for mercenary reasons was simply not acceptable. Negotiations began. The industrial giant had another piece of wasteland, complete with a body of water. Would this serve as a satisfactory new home? The conservationists preferred not to have the newts moved at all, but had to be realistic. Their concerns remained, though. What if the newts did not settle in? "Well", said the exasperated pinstriped gentleman from the industrial giant. How did one establish if newts liked their new home? Apparently, all newts are not the same. Newts are individuals. And in proud testament of the fact, their spots are different. The spots on their little damp bellies are as different as our fingerprints. A plan was drawn up. The newts would be moved. Each newt moved would be "fingerprinted", and their details stored on a database. Appropriately qualified naturalists would keep tabs on the newts, using their tummy fingerprints to keep track of individuals. And this is where I got to hear about it through a friend. He heard of the little artificial intelligence project that had been set up. The program, when presented with the tummy print of a newt, would work out and thus "recognise" the newt. And how were the tummy prints of the newts created? Go on, guess. Well, the newts were photocopied. The photocopies made wonderful tummy prints. And no,
it wasn't cruel. In fact, they seem to like the warmth of the photocopier. I have now been left with the image of a Portakabin in the middle of a piece of wasteland. It's a dark, still night. The faint sounds of a party can be heard. Zooming into the Portakabin, we can see four newts lined up on a photocopier, wearing sunshades. A fifth newt jumps on the "COPY" button, and the machine does its thing, exuding welcome warmth.