A medium sized and thick-bodied gecko, with adults normally reaching sizes of around 20cm (8”) total length.
Leopard geckos are from the family group Eublepharidae and are easily distinguished from many other gecko species by their fully functional eyelids. Like many other crepuscular animals, if you look closely at their eyes, during the daytime they will have a slit type appearance, at night-time they dilate widely (much like a cat). These geckos are most active at dawn and dusk when temperatures are more favorable, and during the day they will mostly hide-away in burrows or caves.
Along with its stocky appearance, these geckos have a large and fat-tail containing enough fat reserve to helps geckos through annual periods of brumation. Secondly, the tail serves as a defensive mechanism and can be dropped if the gecko is attacked by a predator, allowing the gecko time to run for cover. It will regrow but is often shorter and stubbier in appearance.
Their skin is bumpy in appearance and the wild-type coloration is predominantly made up of colors of yellow, white, brown and black. Leopard geckos have two or three distinctive bands across their back along with an irregular spotted patterning. Selective captive breeding has also produced some well known morphs/mutations such as tremper albino, jungles, mack snow and murphy patternless.
Unlike many other gecko species, leopard geckos lack the ability to climb any surface and should be treated as terrestrial animals.
Sexing can be achieved once the animals reach a few months of age. Males typically get larger than females, develop a characteristic hemiplegia bulge and femoral pores.
In the wild these lizards are found in the rocky arid grasslands and desert regions of Afghanistan, northwestern India, Pakistan and Iran.
Being terrestrial geckos (land dwelling), enclosures provided should be horizontal rather than vertical and with a minimum length of 60cm (24”) for a single adult. Wooden vivariums or terrariums work best for housing leopard geckos due to their heat retaining property.
After many years of keeping and breeding leopard geckos, we’d advise housing these animals singular. It is possible to successfully house groups of females in larger enclosures and even male/female groups, but this will increase the chances of having problems with one or several of your geckos. Symptoms can include, stress and serious weight loss. Importantly, never attempt to house more than one male in the same enclosure or you risk serious injury and even death.
Hatchling and juvenile geckos can be housed in smaller faunariums for rearing purposes, or straight into one of our smaller starter kits.
When setting up a vivarium for any reptile, you need to create a thermal gradient, commonly this is referred to as the ‘hot end’ and ‘cool end’ of the enclosure. Leopard geckos are exothermic and rely on their surroundings to maintain their body temperature. Creating a clear thermal gradient allows the gecko to move to the most favorable area in the vivarium so they can warm and absorb energy.
The overall ambient temperature of the enclosure should be no lower than 24°C (75°F), with a basking (hot end) temperature of 29-32°C (85-90°F). An overall night-time temperature drop of around 5°C is advisable, this can be achieved easily using a good quality thermostat connected to a heat mat and/or a basking spot lamp.
There is much debate over the necessity of providing leopard geckos with any sort of UVB light. Recent studies have shown that their skin is twenty times more absorbent than that of a bearded dragon. With this in mind, it can only be beneficial to your gecko to provide a low level UVB light (2-5%). After all, they are crepuscular and whilst limited, they would have some natural exposure to the sun in the wild. Providing a UVB light will also help stimulate natural daylight and will aid calcium and vitamin D3 absorption.
As leopard geckos are primarily from arid environments, a relatively dry enclosure must be provided. However, a damp area is required to aid geckos shedding its skin. Sphagnum moss in an enclosed cave works well, but you will need to spray the moss frequently with a hand sprayer to prevent it drying out.
Provide a suitably sized water bowl on the cool end of the enclosure for drinking.
For cage decor, provide reptile caves, cork oak branches or bark for them to climb over or hide under, combined with live or artificial plants. Ensure you fill out the enclosure well, to provide plenty of coverage and so that your gecko feels secure. Use a sand/soil based substrate to cover the floor of the enclosure.
Leopard geckos are insectivores. This makes feeding relatively simple as they eat an array of different live food. Favorites are mealworms, crickets, calci worms, locusts, dubia roaches and the very occasional waxworm. Baby or juvenile leopard geckos should be fed daily on 5-10 insects of suitable size, adults should be fed every other day on 3-5 insects.
Lastly and most importantly you must use a good quality dusting powder to provide essential calcium and vitamins to your leopard gecko. The traditional method of application is to use a spare live food tub or empty cereal container to coat the insects lightly in whichever dusting powder you are providing. We’d advise dusting your insects on every feed when your gecko is growing but to alternate between calcium and vitamin powders with the ratio of (2.1).
One of the largest species of Gecko with adults growing to 255-355mm (8-14 inches), hatchlings are approx. 100mm (4 inches). They are brightly colored with a grey/blue background with red/orange and light blue spots over the body. Due to them being nocturnal, they have large eyes to help hunt for prey during the night. With adhesive pads on their toes, they can climb on pretty much any surface.
The name of the Tokay Gecko comes from the sound that it makes during the breeding season “To-kay”. They are very vocal with a number of barks and grunts – this can take you by surprise if you are not expecting it. Showing the inside of the mouth while doing this puts you off going near them and it should, they have a painful bite!
Although found in human habitats, they usually inhabit rain forests in Asia.
Although this species is mainly nocturnal, only coming out 30 minutes before the lights turn off, they still need a basking spot. This should be at least 32C (90F) under the lamp with a cool end not going below 27C (80F). A drop down to room temperature during the night will be fine, on average it’s an 8C (15F) drop. Spray the enclosure at least twice each day to help keep the humidity between 70-90%, never let it drop below 50%, this also allows the Gecko to drink. I always provide a humidity hide to help during the shedding of the old skin.
Some experience is required.
Tokay Geckos are arboreal, meaning they need more height rather than floor space. The best substrate to use is a soil and sand mix with bark chippings. This species appreciates a well-planted enclosure with plenty of branches and covering, also add a few hides. As stated above, you need to spray the enclosure a few times each day to keep the humidity high, but most importantly for the Geckos to drink!
You can keep these together in groups, but only one male for several females as these will fight to the death!
A varied diet of insects should be offered, with the odd pinkie (baby mouse) offered to adults. Feed adults every other day and dust the food with a supplement at least once a week. For young and juvenile Tokay Geckos, feed every day with the appropriate sized food and dust more often.
Native to Central and South America, iguanas are one of the most popular pet lizards. However, they are a major commitment and need a high level of care. Iguanas have strict feeding and housing requirements, can grow quite large, live a long time, and can be very strong. They also can be difficult to tame and might become aggressive if not regularly handled. This isn’t to say iguanas can’t make good pets, but they need an owner who understands the commitment right from the start.
Pet iguanas will never be truly domesticated animals, and many of them will try to escape their enclosures and even your home. Captive iguanas need to be picked up and held routinely for taming purposes, so they can learn to trust you and be comfortable in their environment. However, this can be a challenge because they often find human contact unnatural and might resist it. So it’s important to handle your iguana with care and patience.
Baby iguanas can move quickly, but adult iguanas often become quite lazy and docile, at least when they don’t feel threatened. When out of their cage, some iguanas might prefer to climb on their owners. They do have sharp claws, so wear protective clothing if your pet iguana likes this activity. Additionally, an iguana can cause real harm with its tail. An adult iguana’s tail is strong enough to break a human bone. While this is relatively rare, iguanas are still powerful creatures. So pay attention for any struggling or aggression when handling them, especially if children or other pets are present.
Iguanas can grow up to 7 feet long when their tail is included in the measurement, and they generally weigh around 20 pounds. This size often surprises people who start with a little baby iguana. Therefore, an aquarium or a small reptile enclosure is a very short-lived home for a young iguana.
Most commercially available cages do not meet an iguana’s space needs. Many iguana owners opt for custom-built enclosures complete with many ramps, shelves, and branches that this tree-dwelling species can climb. An adequate enclosure for a single iguana is around 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. Many people even choose to convert an entire room or a large closet to their iguana’s habitat.
To keep your iguana’s enclosure clean, remove uneaten food, feces, shedded skin, and other visible waste every day. Also, clean the food and water dishes daily. Once a week, move your iguana to a temporary cage to clean its main enclosure. Discard the substrate (the bedding that absorbs waste and odors), and scrub all surfaces and decorations, such as rocks, with a pet-safe cleaner. Wait for everything to dry thoroughly before reassembling the enclosure.
The iguana is a tropical animal. It wants to bask at 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and its habitat shouldn’t drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, the iguana needs a temperature around 85 degrees Fahrenheit to properly digest its food. This should be closely monitored, especially if you’re adjusting the climate of an entire room for its habitat. You can use heat lamps typically positioned less than a foot away from basking ledges (follow the instructions on your particular light) to achieve an optimal temperature.
A large enclosure means a lot of lighting. Use UVB bulbs designed for reptiles to provide your iguana with appropriate light exposure for 10 to 12 hours per day. This mimics the benefits it would get from natural sunlight, namely promoting vitamin D production. Mercury vapor bulbs can be used for large enclosures or rooms, while compact fluorescent lights or tubes can work for small enclosures. Large branches and shelves in the enclosure will allow your tree-dwelling iguana to climb up and bask in these lights.
Iguanas need at least 70% humidity in their environment. You can increase the humidity of your iguana’s habitat by adding a pool of water to the enclosure or using a mister. It’s generally recommended to mist your iguana two times a day to increase humidity and maintain healthy skin.
A wood substrate, or bedding, is typically fine for iguanas. Because they’re a tree-dwelling species, they spend most of their time climbing instead of burrowing in their bedding.
Fresh food is the key to a healthy iguana. Iguanas in the wild are strict herbivores. They avoid eating animal protein, including insects. In fact, diets high in protein can cause health issues, such as kidney failure, in an iguana.
In addition to a quality pelleted commercial diet, provide your iguana with dark leafy greens, some fruit, and a calcium supplement. Plus, iguanas need fresh water available at all times. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions on the quantity to feed to maintain a healthy weight for your pet’s size.
It’s important to remember that iguanas swallow their food whole without chewing, so everything you offer must be chopped or shredded into tiny pieces. Remove and discard any food that hasn’t been eaten within 24 hours.
Like most pet reptiles, iguanas carry salmonella. This means salmonella is present in the iguana’s digestive tract without causing disease to the animal. But humans can acquire it from touching the iguana or items in its environment.
Follow common sense hygiene practices when handling iguanas. Wash your hands well before and after spending time with your pet, and avoid touching your face. This should prevent the spread of the disease in most cases. However, if there are young children, seniors, pregnant women, or immunocompromised people in your home, take extra precautions. An iguana might not be the right pet for your family.
A common health issue for iguanas is kidney disease, often due to dehydration. If your iguana is lethargic, has swelling on its body, and is frequently drinking or urinating, get it to a vet immediately. Moreover, iguanas often face metabolic bone disease due to insufficient calcium and vitamin D, which is why a calcium supplement and UVB lighting are so important. Also, many iguanas come down with respiratory diseases from habitats that are too cold.
In terms of behavior, most iguanas can become tame with proper daily handling. They prefer a predicable routine, which makes them feel secure. However, they do have a strong self-defense instinct and will bite, scratch, and whip their tails if they feel threatened.
Iguanas are readily available from pet stores, breeders, and rescue groups. In fact, many end up in rescues when their owners realize they can’t meet the species’ care needs. They’re often available to purchase or adopt for around $20 to $50.
Don’t be fooled by a pet store selling you a small iguana and claiming it will stay that size. These animals grow very quickly. Look for an iguana that is active with clear eyes, healthy skin, and normal feces. Red flags include a low body weight, mucus around the animal’s nose or mouth, bumps or sores on its skin, and lethargy.
Finally, check your local laws or consult with an exotic animal veterinarian to confirm the legality of owning a pet iguana in your area. You also should make sure there’s a vet near you who accepts iguanas as patients.
Bearded Dragons obtain their name due to puffing out their throat during defense and courtship displays. Both sexes do this, but males have a darker throat that turns jet black during a display. There are more morphs becoming available now, but the general color of the Breaded Dragon is a mixture of brown shades. They have small spikes protruding from their throat, on top of their head and around their ears and running down the side of the body.
Bearded Dragons are a large species measuring a total length of 380-610mm (15-24”). Hatchlings are very small compared to the adults measuring 75-10mm (3-4”). Bearded Dragons are long lived and can live up to 10 years in captivity.
Bearded Dragons are found within Australia only. They are widely distributed throughout the Eastern states to the Eastern half of South Australia and South-eastern Northern territory.
Their habitat also varies from subtropical woodlands, scrub lands, savannas, shore areas and deserts.
Bearded Dragons are one of the easiest and hardiest species of lizards to keep as long as their requirements are met.
Large enclosures are best for Bearded Dragons so they can maintain their body temperature. Depending on the size of the Bearded Dragon you obtain, there is a high chance you will have to purchase a larger vivarium as the Bearded Dragon grows and matures.
As a rough guideline, we recommend the following sized vivarium for housing a Bearded Dragon:
While young, it is best to keep your baby Bearded Dragons on kitchen towel to prevent compaction of the substrate, this can be fatal. When older you can use a Reptile Sand, there are many different products on the market. You should also place cork bark branches and rocks for your Bearded Dragon to climb on.
Bearded Dragons are “Omnivorous” which means they feed on both plant and animal matter. When feeding live insects, ensure that the food is no larger then the width of the Bearded Dragons eyes. If too large, this could cause impaction or they could choke on the food. It is also best to feed young Bearded Dragons three times a day instead of one large meal to prevent this.
Bearded Dragons will eat a number of live insects such as crickets, locusts, mealworms, wax worms and cockroaches. When feeding plant foods, wash and finely chop and place in a dish. Your Bearded Dragon should be fed on 40-60% of plant matter when it is adult, while young offer this along side the live foods every other day.
We have listed below all the plant foods Bearded Dragons will take:
The below foods should be fed as treats only:
This is a small species. Adult females are 8-10″. Males 6-8″. With proper care they should out live their owners. There is a lot of conflicting information about the Russian Tortoise. I feel that this is due in part to the fact that they are very adaptable. This allows them to survive in many conditions. However the goal is to provide them with optimal environments. This is somewhat limited in captivity. The following should help.
When you get your tortoise, it is highly recommended that you take your pet for a check up. Most Russians are wild caught. And while yours may appear to be healthy the stress of being brought home and placed in strange surrounding may cause a hidden problem to surface. This is true even with long term wild caught and captive born animals. Make sure the Vet measures and weighs your tort. Also request a fecal to check for parasites.
Russian Tortoises are grazers and enjoy broad leaf plants. The best diet is a variety of weeds (leaves and flowers). Dandelion is a favorite. Romaine lettuce is also great for them as they also get the water from it.
Unfortunately, many believe that tortoises naturally acquire almost all of their fluid requirements from its food and that therefore they do not require additional drinking water. Russians tortoises are indeed adapted to a semi-arid environment and its system of eliminating waste via uric acid rather than via urea is clear evidence of this. Uric acid can be eliminated using substantial lower levels of water wastage than can systems based on urea, such as those of mammals. Therefore, tortoises, such as Russians, eliminate nitrogenous waste products with far greater water conservation. Its behavior is also programmed to reflect this need not to waste precious water. The semi-solid, white deposits are expelled urates. Tortoises are programmed not to use water in the bladder and to eliminate urates only if replenishment is available. Depriving the tortoise of water will result in urates being accumulated and quite often to dangerous levels. During a rain tortoises will often drink and urinate simultaneously. This behavior can be stimulated in hot weather by lightly spraying the tortoise with a garden hose.
In the wild, during hot and rain-free summers, aestivation or semi-aestivation occurs. There are several factors that will lead to aestivation. Lack of food and environmental water are major factors, as is temperature. During aestivation periods tortoises maintain themselves below ground, in burrows which provide a stable microclimate. In these burrows temperatures are much lower than those above ground and the relative humidity is very much higher. Combined with reduced activity, these factors result in a vastly reduced rate of fluid loss via exhalation and little or no need to urinate and prevent dehydration.
In a captive situation, many tortoises are not provided with a microclimate and easily become dehydrated, especially when water is not provided for drinking.
There are many choices. From the simple to the very elaborate. I will review some of the more common cages.
Aquariums: Aquariums are often recommended by pet shop employees. However, they are unsuitable for tortoises. Because of the shape (too tall and narrow) air circulation is poor. They are also hard to keep at the proper temperatures. They are heavy and hard to clean The clear sides are also stressful to the tortoise. They don’t understand the concept of glass and will continually try to go through it. If you must use an aquarium, the minimum size is 75 gallon. It must be fitted with a circulating fan and a visual barrier.
Rubbermaid storage containers: These are an inexpensive indoor pen. The 50 gallon container is an ideal starting point for one tortoise. They are light and easy to clean. They are opaque so the animal can’t see out. The best part is….they only cost $15 ! Keep in mind that bigger is better. I use this as a temporary set up for when I have to keep one inside. IMPORTANT: this setup keeps the humidity at around 60%. As the substrate dries out it is critical to add water. Don’t let it get dry and dusty !!! Sand alone makes a very poor substrate.
Red-eared sliders can live up to 20 years in captivity, which means they’re a serious commitment. If you get one of these quarter-sized babies, it may look easy at first, but as they grow, they will need a giant tank and a lot of constant care. It’s more than just a bowl with a little bit of water and a rock. Aquatic turtles, including red eared sliders, will need special lighting, animal- and plant-based foods, and continuous cleaning and maintenance.
Red eared sliders require more work than many people think. They also get much larger and need more room than is often implied by pet stores and other vendors. A large tank, special reptile lighting, and an appropriate diet are just a few things you’ll want to make sure you provide to your red eared slider.
Before you bring home a red eared slider there are a few things to check out to increase the odds that you are bringing home a healthy turtle. Learn where to get a red eared slider (including possibly rescuing one) and how to tell whether or not your turtle of choice is healthy.
Look at their eyes, shell, how they swim, and whether or not they seem very active. There are some key indicators to help you determine whether or not a red eared slider is healthy.
Small aquariums are good for young turtles but as red eared sliders mature they will require a tank that can hold well over 100 gallons of water. Creative turtle owners use all sorts of novel housing ideas to meet the roomy requirements of their red eared sliders using things like pre-formed plastic pond liners to make homes more like indoor ponds. And, if you have an outdoor pond, and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider putting your turtle outdoors for at least part of the year.
Water quality must be maintained no matter where you house your turtle and both supplemental heat and UVB lighting should be provided. Setting all of this up is the hardest part but once your tank or pond is established the maintenance isn’t all that bad.
Though red eared slider’s tastes tend to change as they mature, (shifting to a more herbivorous diet as they get older) turtles of all ages should be offered a wide variety of both animal and plant based items. Commercial turtle pellets can make up a good base for the diet but they should be supplemented with a variety of other items.
There are a few basic things you can do to ensure easy cleanup and a healthy turtle. Feeding your turtle outside of their home is a bit more work for you at feeding time but it will make it easier to keep the tank clean and the overall water quality good in the long run (which is best for your turtle to avoid ear infections, shell problems, etc.). Also, avoid overfeeding your turtle to prevent obesity and excessive waste matter.
Whether it is making sure red eared sliders are free to perform behaviors that are necessary for their well-being (such as basking and swimming) or just trying to figure out what your turtle is doing, understanding normal red eared slider behavior can help you provide optimal care for your turtle. Claw fluttering and not wanting to bask outside of the water are just two behaviors that may mean your turtle is trying to tell you something.
Improper environmental conditions and diet are among the most common culprits when it comes to health problems in red eared sliders. Diseases such as metabolic bone disease (MBD) and vitamin A deficiency are seen in many kinds of reptiles including red eared sliders.
Red eared sliders are not easy to sex until they reach sexual maturity. Adult male turtles will have a long tail and long front claws while adult female turtles will have short front claws and short tails.
Some people don’t find out they have a female until she starts laying eggs (females will lay infertile eggs without a male present). Casual breeding of red eared sliders isn’t recommended but it is important to provide a nesting area for egg-laying females. Although they will drop them in the water, this is not a red eared slider’s preferred way to lay eggs. Some females will retain their eggs rather than dropping them in water if they do not have a nest and will become egg bound (a serious problem).
Every so often, you will hear from the media about the risks of salmonella from pet turtles (and sometimes the warnings sound scary). However, the risks of salmonella from pet turtles is nothing new and can be managed quite easily. Many kinds of pets (including all reptiles, amphibians, hedgehogs, and more) carry salmonella and most people should have little reason to worry about contracting the bacteria. A simple hand washing is all it takes to drastically reduce your risk of getting infected.
Savannah monitors are large pet lizards that are one of the more docile species of the monitor group. They are not overly active creatures and usually tolerate handling. Savannahs are popular pets in the United States but don’t always thrive in captivity. This lizard is not a pet for an amateur reptile lover; they have stringent care requirements to keep them healthy. This lizard hails from the savannah or grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa.
Savannah monitors spend most of their time basking in the sun, burrowing in the soil, and eating a variety of small prey food such as rodents, smaller lizards, and insects.
Regular handling from an early age makes it a tame, docile creature. But like all monitors, if it is not a captive-bred baby or handled often, the savannah monitor can become aggressive and can bite. Their teeth are small but sharp; their claws can also scratch; and it also uses its long, heavy tail as a whip to defend itself.
This lizard requires a large cage setup and strict environmental control; its care is comprehensive and not recommended for beginners.
Savannahs are strong and known for being escape artists. Make sure the cage is entirely enclosed and has a secure lock. A hatchling or juvenile savannah will live comfortably in a 55-gallon aquarium for about six months, but they grow quickly. Most owners have their adult setup ready when they bring home a baby. Its enclosure will need to be at least twice its length at adulthood. An adult lizard requires an 8-feet long by a 4-feet wide cage. It should be at least 3 feet high.
The height of the enclosure should prevent them from escaping and allow a branch or other decoration in the cage on the off chance they want to climb. Monitors can be destructive, so only provide rocks and hides; decorations aren’t necessary. Their claws will shred screen-sided enclosures, so a glass or Plexiglas siding is best. Plan for a place to hang lights and heat sources above the cage.
Make room for a large water dish (you can also use a cat litter box) that will allow the monitor to submerge its entire body.
Feces should be spot cleaned every day from their enclosure, especially if it is in their water. Thoroughly clean the entire cage every two weeks and find a safe place to hold your lizard while doing so. Some owners use a hard plastic pet carrier or the bathtub.
Provide an average enclosure temperature of 95 F to 100 F and a basking spot between 110 F and 130 F. As cold-blooded creatures, all reptiles need to regulate their body temperature. The cage needs a temperature gradient down to 85 F in the day and as low as 75 F at night. Use ceramic heat emitters instead of lights for achieving nighttime temperature requirements.
UVB lighting is necessary for most lizards, including monitors. A high-percentage UVB output bulb (8 to 10 percent) should be on for a 10- to 12-hour cycle daily to mimic the sun’s output. Change the bulbs every six months, even if the light doesn’t burn out. The invisible UVB rays stop emitting after that period.
Being native to Africa, savannah monitors were historically kept in dry, hot environments in captivity, which mimicked their natural habitats. More recently, though, monitor owners see better results by providing more humidity and areas to burrow.
A hygrometer inside the cage should monitor humidity in the enclosure accurately. Provide a gradient in the substrate of almost 100 percent humidity and try to keep it above 60 percent in the coolest part of the cage. The basking area will likely be a moisture-free zone.
Reptile owners sometimes use substrate or bedding to line the bottom of a cage. Savannah monitors are diggers and will appreciate substrate for burrowing.
Savannahs are voracious eaters and may gobble up substrate with their prey item. Choose bedding that will not cause impaction or clog the digestive tract. Small substrate like calcium sand is semi-digestible in tiny amounts.
Paper towels, butcher paper, towels, reptile-safe carpet, felt, and other easily cleaned and changed, flat bedding options are best for messy or more aggressive lizards. If your monitor is on the tame side, try natural bedding like sand, organic soil, or a mixture of both that they can burrow down at least 24-inches deep. The used or soiled substrate will need to be changed regularly—at least every two weeks.
Savannah monitors are carnivores and opportunistic eaters that are prone to obesity. Monitor their weight to prevent excess weight gain. Feed juveniles three times a week, but adult savannahs may only need feeding once a week. You can also feed them at regular time to get your lizard used to a routine, if you want.
The amount you feed depends on the size of your lizard. On average, juveniles (up to 3 feet long) should eat about one to four fuzzy mice or one small mouse, supplemented with a few insects. Adults (larger than 3 feet long) should eat two to three adult mice per week or one rat, supplemented with some insects.
Feed savannahs gut-loaded insects, such as crickets, roaches, and earthworms. Gut-loading involves feeding nutritious food to prey items, so those nutrients pass on to the lizard.
Dust calcium powder onto insects and young rodents that don’t have good bone density. A low-fat, high-quality (grain-free) canned dog or monitor food should be fed only occasionally, as too much protein can cause gout.
If you worry about impaction from the lizard eating its substrate with the prey item, don’t feed your savannah in its cage. Get a separate, plain-bottomed tank for feeding time; it will also help keep its enclosure clean. Never hand feed this animal, it may mistake your fingers for food; you do not want your lizard to associate your hand with a tasty treat.
Change and clean its water container daily and replenish it with filtered water.
Common savannah monitor illnesses are treatable by an exotics veterinarian. These lizards are prone to parasitic infections, symptoms of which include sluggishness, lack of appetite, and vomiting. They can also get external parasites or mites that suck the lizard’s blood through the skin. Both of these conditions are potentially life-threatening and common in savannah lizards kept in captivity.
Like many reptiles, savannah monitors are also susceptible to respiratory infections. Open-mouthed breathing, wheezing, and mucus in the mouth are the most common symptoms.
These lizards can also acquire metabolic bone disease if they do not get adequate UVB rays and calcium and vitamin D supplementation.
When buying your savannah monitor, look for one that has been “ranched,” meaning it was bred in a native but controlled environment, or get one from a reputable breeder. Attend local reptile shows or expos to meet breeders and shop for lizards and supplies while there. They can cost from $25 to $100.
If you have a lot of experience with reptiles, inquire at reptile rescues or adoption centers for savannah monitors. Many inexperienced pet owners will surrender their animals once they grow to adult size and become harder to manage and care for. Keep in mind that many of these pets may not be hand-tamed, are stressed, and need rehabilitation from neglect.
Signs of a healthy monitor include smooth, even skin; no traces of mites (small, reddish-brown spots around the face); clear, bright eyes; rounded, full body; and a strong, even, smooth jawline.
Royal Pythons are also known as Ball Pythons due to them rolling into a ball in defense. This species of Python grows to an average length of 4 foot (1.2 m), with the females being the large of the two. Some specimens have been known to reach more than 5 foot (1.5m) in length.
Royal Pythons have a distinctive head, slender neck and a wide body. The body color is black with yellow, gold or brown markings. The patterns may be banded, broken or reduced in some specimens and some may have a dorsal stripe.
Royal Pythons are found within Central and Western Africa. They inhabit forests and are equally comfortable on the ground or in trees. These Pythons are active during dawn and dusk and hide away during the day.
Royal Pythons have to be one of the easiest species of snake to own, as long as the basic requirements are met.
Although these Pythons do grow big, they prefer a smaller enclosure then you would think. If the enclosure is too large, this could cause stress to the Python. There are a number of different enclosures you can use from vivariums, glass tanks and plastic containers. Young Pythons can be housed in plastic containers measuring approx. 20×10” (LxW), sub and fully-grown adults in a 36×15” vivarium.
You need provide your Royal Python with an ambient air temperature of 27-29C (80-85F) throughout the enclosure with a basking spot of 32.5C (90F) during the day. At night, allow the ambient air temperature to drop down to no lower than 23-24C (73-75F), with a basking area of 27C (80F). No additional UV lighting is required for your Royal Python. You can maintain the temperatures by using either a basking lamp with a guard or a heat mat, a thermostat should control both these.
While your Python is young, the best substrate to use would be kitchen towel or newspaper, this is cheap and easy to clean out. Once your Python starts to grow, you can use aspen, bark chips or cage carpet that is washable. A humidity box must be placed in with your Python. Cut a hole out of the plastic container, place vermiculite and sphagnum moss inside. Another hide should be placed in the enclosure so your Python can hide away during the day. To make the enclose look nice, place a large branch with some artificial plants around it.
Feed you Royal Python on defrosted mice and rats. The size of food given depends on the size of the Python, this shouldn’t be any larger then the widest part of the Pythons body. Young Pythons should be fed every 7-10 days, older Pythons every 10-14 days and adults should be fed every 3 weeks with breeding females being fed every 2 weeks.
Fresh water should be provide daily in a dish/bowl so your Python may drink or bathe. This is very important when your Python is due to shed its skin. Once you notice the Pythons eyes go clear after being cloudy, bath it in luck warm water for 10 minutes, dry off then place back in its enclosure. The Python should then shed within 24hrs.
Newborn Common Boa Constrictors are approximately 18 inches. Adults average between 5-9ft, although some large females may reach lengths of 12ft.
The background color is tan with large dark ruby red patterns running along the dorsal of the body, this darken towards the tail. A diamond pattern runs down each side of the body, usually with a lighter pattern inside. They have a dark line running from the nose, through the eye and towards the neck. Youngsters are normally brighter in coloration, they starts to darken with age.
With regular handling, Common Boa Constrictors and become very tame. Caution should always be taken with snakes over 5ft and it is recommended to have two people while feeding and cleaning.
On average, this snake will live for approximately 20-30 years, one has been recorded at 40 years of age.
Found in tropical rainforest of Columbia and South America..
A young boa can be kept in a minimum 24x15x15 inch vivarium, however a 36x15x15 inch vivarium is a better size. As your boa grows, you will need to increase the size of the enclosure. Small adult males can be housed in a 48x24x24 inch vivarium, large females may need to be kept in a minimum of 72x24x24 inch enclosure.
When providing heat, we recommend using Heat mats, although these will not provided enough heat for a large enclosure. A thermostat is required, this will prevent under or over heating inside your boas enclosure. You need to aim for a ambient air temperature of 26.5-29.5C (80-85F) during the day with a night time drop to 25.5 (78F). A basking area or “hot spot” of 35-38C (95-100F) must be provided. The basking area is very important, if this is not met, your boa can suffer from respiratory infections.
The substrate can range from aspen bedding, orchid bark, beech chipping or newspaper. Providing hides for young snakes is easy, this may be difficult for adults. We recommend placing some strong sturdy branches for you boa to climb on. A large water area for your boa to fully emerge will be required, we use clear storage boxes for adults.
As a general rule, the size of the food should not be any larger than the girth of the snake at it’s widest point. Newly born boas should be fed on rat pups for the first few feeds, then placed onto small mice. As they grow, increase their food and feed every 7 days until they reach a length of 3ft. By this time, it should be taking weaner rats or small rats depending on your supplier. Feed every 7-10 days on one or two rats and increase the food as it grows. To reduce growth rate, feed every 10-14 days. When your boa reaches 6ft, you will be looking at feeding this on large to x-large rats or even rabbits every 14 days.
Rat snakes are among the most popular pet snakes. And after the corn snake, the Rat Snake is the member of this snake family that you’ll most often find as a pet. Rat Snakes are found in the central portion of North America, and in the wild they’re sometimes mistaken for rattlesnakes. However, they are not venomous and in fact are rather shy and docile. They have shiny black backs with lighter bellies and white on their throat. Their smaller size and less demanding temperature requirements compared to many other snakes make Rat Snakes popular pets both among first-time snake owners and experienced handlers. They won’t be the most cuddly pets, but they can learn to feel comfortable while being handled.
The Rat Snake might be mistaken for a rattlesnake because it wrinkles up its body and freezes before striking its prey or when it feels threatened. This snake also might vibrate its tail like a rattlesnake when threatened. And it can emit a musky odor that’s intended to deter a predator. Moreover, Rat Snakes will use their strong, agile bodies to stand their ground and strike when provoked, such as when they’re under attack from a predator in the wild. However, they more commonly flee from confrontation. Around people, Rat Snakes are typically pretty calm and not aggressive if they are handled regularly.
Because rat snakes are good climbers, maintaining an extra secure enclosure is key to keeping your snake in its home. A solid latch is necessary to any Rat Snake house, as well as some height to the cage to allow your snake climbing room. A 30- to 40-gallon tank is suitable, though the larger (and taller) the better. A water bowl large enough for your snake to fit in to allow a good soaking should be provided at all times.
Rat snakes are hardy snakes and don’t require much maintenance once their cage is set up. Cleaning their cage as needed and keeping their water bowl fresh will be your main duties besides feeding.
Rat snakes prefer cooler temperatures than some other snakes. But to stop them from hibernating you should keep their enclosure between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with a minimum temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Special reptile heat lights should be used to maintain these temperatures.
Don’t use hot rocks, as they can be dangerous and burn your snake. Under-tank heaters also are not recommended because they make it difficult to regulate the ambient temperature. Ceramic heat emitters and incandescent heat light bulbs are preferred.
Unlike many other snake species, ultraviolet (UVB) lighting is not necessary for Rat Snakes. If you’re using any heat lights that emit a visible white light, these should be placed on a timer or turned on and off every 10 to 12 hours to replicate the natural day-night cycle.
Rat Snakes prefer a moderate humidity level of around 35% to 60%. The humidity should be on the higher end during shedding. Monitor humidity with a hygrometer, and increase it with misting or a bowl of water if necessary.
In the wild, Rat Snakes spend most of their time in heavily wooded areas, so a substrate—the material on the bottom of the enclosure—that reflects this natural environment is recommended. The substrate will help to maintain humidity and satisfy the snake’s natural burrowing instinct. Newspapers are an inexpensive and popular substrate material. A piece of reptile carpet also can be used. Plus, pine bark chips or aspen shavings are other materials that work well, and they can be scooped out when soiled (much like cat litter in a litter box).
Sand is not a good substrate option because the snake can inhale it, causing respiratory problems. You also should avoid using pine shavings or cedar shavings, as the strong aromas can irritate your snake’s sensitive respiratory system.
Be sure to thoroughly wash and dry any substrate material you plan to reuse before putting it back into your snake’s enclosure. Poor husbandry is a major cause of illness among captive snakes.
Rat snakes are constricting snakes, which means they wrap their bodies around their food before eating it to suffocate the prey. In the wild they catch and kill live rodents. But in captivity they will eat pre-killed prey, which is a much safer option. Live prey can bite or otherwise injure a snake, especially if the snake isn’t interested in eating it right away.
Mice and rats are the prey of choice for pet rat snakes, as they are readily available from many pet stores and can be ordered frozen in bulk online. Feeding an adult rat snake once a week is a good starting point, but this will vary depending on the size of the food and the size of your snake. Like other snakes, rat snakes generally won’t eat if they are about to shed or are currently shedding.
Rat Snakes are generally docile and easy to manage behaviorally if you handle them often. But in terms of their health, these snakes are prone to mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis. This painful bacterial infection of the mouth displays as saliva bubbles, as well as inflammation in and around the snake’s mouth. It’s imperative to treat mouth rot; an advanced infection can cause the snake’s teeth to fall out.
Rat Snakes also are susceptible to fungal and respiratory infections. If your snake is breathing with its mouth open or is wheezing, these are signs of a respiratory problem. Discolored skin indicates a possible fungal infection.
All of the above are conditions that require treatment by a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.
To ensure you’re getting a healthy snake, you should obtain one from a reputable reptile breeder who often charges around $50 to $100 for this species. It’s not advised to take in a wild snake. This might not be legal in your area, you have no way of knowing its health history, and the animal is unlikely to thrive for very long.
A healthy Rat Snake won’t have excess skin (which can indicate an unsuccessful shedding). It should have clear eyes (cloudy eyes are a sign of illness) and no skin discoloration or cuts (which are potential signs of mites, ticks, or injuries). Also, it should be alert and flicking its tongue.
A lethargic snake is not a healthy snake, though some Rat Snakes might try to hide if they’re feeling nervous which is normal behavior.
Skinks are medium-sized reptiles many enjoy keeping as pets. A skink can be an excellent pet with proper care. Make sure your skink has a comfortable tank with plenty of space to roam and hide. Provide a diet rich in the nutrients a skink needs to thrive. Take care when interacting with your skink. As long as they’re handled with respect, skinks can be very social.
Get the right size tank for your skink. Bigger is better when it comes to a skink’s tank. Skinks need lots of room to roam to be healthy and happy. Hatchlings can be comfortable in a 10 to 20 gallon (37.9 to 75.7 L) tank. If you have a larger skink, make sure the tank is at least 30 to 40 gallons (110 to 150 L). If you have the space or money for a bigger tank, it’s always nice for a skink to have extra room to roam.
Fill the tank with substrate. Substrate is the substance used to fill the bottom of a tank. It’s important to use a substrate that’s comfortable for your skink. At least 6 inches (15.2 cm) of a quality substrate is necessary for your skink.
A mixture of soil, sand, and wood chips is usually a good option. If you have a pet store near you that sells reptiles, you may be able to find a substrate specifically for skinks there.
Make sure to keep the substrate damp. The substrate should not be soaking wet, but it should have some moisture. Skinks require a somewhat humid environment.
Keep the tank at the right temperature. Skinks require both a warm and cool end of their tank. Reptiles keep their bodies warm and cold by shifting between two different environments.
One area of the tank should be slightly above room temperature. A few UV lightbulbs near the cooler end of the tank should keep it warm enough. Make sure not to place the tank anywhere in your house where it gets very cold or very hot during certain times of the day.
Another area should be around 90 degrees. You can get an under tank heating device, which you can purchase at a pet store. You can also use an overhead heating lamp. If you use both, turn the heating lamp off at night.
Maintain adequate humidity. The tank does not need to be extremely humid, and does not require regular misting like other reptile tanks. Damp substrate should keep the tank humid, but you also need to provide your skink with a water bowl. Get a shallow water bowl for the tank big enough for your skink to lie down in.
Give your skink plenty of space to dig and hide. Skinks will get bored or anxious if they don’t have hiding spaces in their tank. Stop by your local pet store and get things like hidey holes and other enclosures. Place these around the tank so your skink can have a hiding place when it wants privacy.
Make sure your substrate remains six inches deep. This will allow your skink to hide when it wants to.
Feed your skink a diet of insects. Skinks primarily eat insects. You can buy insects at a pet store. If there’s not a pet store near you that caters to reptiles, you can see if you can purchase insects online.
Feeder insects and crickets should be the main staple of your skink’s diet. King worms and mealworms are appropriate to feed to your skink on occasion.
Make sure prey is live. Skinks will not eat insects they do not have to stalk.
Supplement your skink’s diet with fruits and vegetables. In addition to eating insects, skinks enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables. This can help supplement your skink’s diet by adding some extra nutrients.
Brussels sprouts, carrots, greens, and peas are good vegetables to serve your skink.
Fruits that skinks enjoy include blueberries, mangos, raspberries, papayas, cantaloupes, strawberries, and figs.
Avoid certain products. Always read nutritional information before feeding your skink. Skinks should not be fed food that’s treated with pesticides. You should also avoid giving your skink any food with artificial coloring. Foods that contain by-products, like chicken and and meat/bone meal, should not be given to a skink.
Replace your skinks’ water each day. Skinks tend to get a lot of sand and debris in their water. You should have a water bowl in your skink’s cage that cannot easily tip over. As it will get contaminated frequently, replace the water in this bowl each day.
Avoid cage mates in general. For the most part, skinks will not do well with a cage mate. Stick to one skink per tank. Skinks tend to be territorial. If you introduce a cage mate, one or both skinks may end up with bite marks or missing limbs.
Introduce tank mates only if they’re a similar size. If you have your heart set on a second skink, exercise extreme caution. Make sure the tank mate is the same size as your current skink. Skinks will attack smaller skinks.
If the skinks begin fighting, you should resign yourself to keeping them in separate cages.
If you have a fire skink, these tend to be very territorial. It’s a bad idea to introduce a cage mate.
Handle your skink with care. Skinks can learn to be social, but proper handling is required. When handling your skink, make sure to treat it with respect. Improper handling can cause your skink to bite and become aggressive.
Never handle a skink when it’s not expecting it. Do not pick up a sleeping skink. Make sure the skink knows you’re there before you attempt to pet it or pick it up.
Make sure to support a skink’s body weight when holding it.
Do not turn a skink upside down. This causes distress.
Avoid any abrupt movements when handling a skink.
Make sure children know how to safely handle a skink. Talk to children about the proper rules for handling a skink. Make sure they understand to handle the skinks with care, and not to do anything that could frighten them. You may want to avoid letting very young children handle a skink, as they may not understand how to control themselves around an animal.
Green anoles are known by many names but they are also known for their ability to change colors from green to brown and back again (although they are not true chameleons). They are often found running around and basking in the sun in the Southeastern United States and islands in the Caribbean as well as in terrariums across the country as pets.
Name: Anolis carolinensis, green anole, Carolina anole, American anole, American chameleon, red-throated anole
Size: Males reach 8 inches long (including the tail) in captivity but are larger in the wild; females are smaller
Lifespan: Around 4 years, although they can live up to 8 or more years, if well cared for
Green anoles are the only breed of anole native to the United States; they can be found in the wild in Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, and Texas. Green anoles are very popular and make good “starter” pets for children. These pretty little lizards have emerald-green backs and pink “dewlaps” (pouches under their chins). An occasional anole may even have a blue tint.
Anoles are fun to watch, as they are active during the daytime and love to climb. One of their best attributes is their willingness to interact with their human owners; many are willing to eat from their owners’ hands. While it is fine to pick an anole up (and many enjoy perching on a human shoulder), it’s important to avoid grabbing them by the tail. Instead, teach children to pick them up by placing a hand under the lizard’s belly.
Anoles can be housed in a fairly small tank or terrarium. A 10-gallon tank is sufficient for a single or pair of anoles. A larger tank is, of course, better though and if you are housing multiple anoles lots of space is necessary.
You should only keep one male anole per tank. Females will get along fine as long as the tank is roomy enough, and there plenty of basking spots and multiple places to hide. A securely fitted lid is necessary since green anoles can squeeze through very small places.
A humidity level of 60 to 70 percent is necessary for green anoles (use a hygrometer to monitor these levels). This can usually be achieved by misting the inside of the tank daily. Misting systems are available although they are quite expensive. If you are having a hard time maintaining the humidity level try covering part of the top of the tank and/or increasing the number of live plants in the enclosure. Misting also provides drinking water for the anoles as they often will not drink from a bowl (they will lick droplets of water off the misted plants like chameleons).
During the day be sure to provide a thermal gradient from 75 to 80 F (24 to 27 C) with a basking spot of 85 to 90 F (29 to 32 C). A combination of under tank heaters and a basking light on one side of the tank works well. Make sure the appropriate temperature gradient is provided by measuring temperatures in various spots around the tank. Night temperature can drop to a gradient of 65 to 75 F (18 to 24 C). Do not use white basking lights to achieve nighttime temperatures but instead use heating pads, ceramic heating elements, or special night heat lights.
In addition to the incandescent basking light, you should provide a full spectrum UVA/UVB light for 10 to 12 hours per day. This special light will help prevent your anole from developing metabolic bone disease and keep them looking brightly colored, active, and happy. The bulb needs to be changed out every six months (even if it hasn’t burned out) and nothing should be blocking the light other than a metal mesh screen (no plastic or glass).
A substrate of peat moss and soil with or without a layer of bark (e.g. orchid bark) is an ideal substrate for anoles. Live plants help maintain humidity and provide cover. Favorite live plants include sansevierias (snake plants), bromeliads, philodendrons, ivy, orchids, and vines. Pieces of bark and branches should also be provided for climbing and basking. Avoid oily or scented substrates such as wood shavings, and stay away from very dry substrates such as sand.
Green anoles are insectivores and are generally good eaters. While crickets can be the main part of the diet, it is best to feed a variety of gut loaded insects including mealworms and wax worms. Feed two to three appropriately-sized prey items that are about half the size of the anole’s head every other day. A calcium and vitamin supplement should also be dusted on the insects.
In general, green anoles are hardy animals and are rarely ill. They can, however, develop respiratory issues, mouth rot, or a metabolic bone disease that results in weight loss and swollen joints. Look for:
Loss of appetite
Smelly or runny stool
Discharge from nose, eyes or mouth
Shedding problems or discolored skin
You should always consult a veterinarian if you see any of these problems. Meanwhile, however, do check to be sure that your pet’s substrate and diet are appropriate, as problems with these are often the cause of stress-related illness.
Green anoles should be inexpensive ($3.50). Look for an active, alert specimen and be sure that other anoles at the shop look healthy and well cared for. It’s helpful to know that missing toes are not a problem: green anoles lose and regenerate them with no health implications.
Give your new pet a few days to acclimate to its new home before taking it out to play. If possible, locate a vet with reptile experience, and bring in your green anole for a “well pet” checkup.
Veiled chameleons are hardy, striking-looking lizards with a tall casques (helmet-like structures) on the tops of their heads. The casque is present in both males and females, and aids in steering water that falls onto their heads into their mouths. Veiled chameleons have bodies that are banded in shades of green, yellow and brown which adjust to varying shades.
Names: Veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus), Yemen chameleon
Lifespan: Approximately 6 to 8 years in captivity
Size: Veiled chameleon males can reach 18 to 24 inches in total length (about 12 inches snout to vent length plus their tail), while females tend to be quite a bit smaller at 10 to 13 inches (just 4 to 6 inches in snout to vent length plus their tail).
Veiled chameleons are territorial and aggressive to other chameleons so they should always be housed individually. While they are usually quite docile towards people, regular handling tends to be stressful for them. They are pets better suited to being watched rather than handled.
These chameleons are not good pets for small children, or for novice lizard owners.
Chameleons should never be kept in a glass terrarium or aquarium. They need the ventilation that a mesh enclosure provides. Fine metal or fiberglass mesh is not recommended but PVC coated hardware cloth is good.
Vertical space is essential and a cage size of 36 inches by 24 inches by 36 to 48 inches tall is recommended (the bigger and taller the better). Chameleons like to climb high up off the ground to the height is of utmost importance. An outdoor cage can be used when the weather is warm enough, as long as overheating is prevented.
Cleanliness in the cage is vital to preventing bacterial or mold growth. Using paper towels or newspaper to line the cage makes cleaning easy and a reptile dirt mixture can be placed on top. Do not use wood chips or any other substrate that could be accidentally ingested and cause blockages.
Provide lots of sturdy non-toxic plants and branches. Ficus trees have often been used in chameleon housing but they require some caution as the sap can be irritating.
Other plants you could try include pothos, hibiscus, and dracaena. Artificial plants and artificial vines may also be added. A varying selection of branches should be provided, making sure there are secure perches at different levels and temperatures within the cage for your chameleon to climb on.
For veiled chameleons, a daytime temperature of about 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit should be provided along with a basking spot at 85 to 95 degrees. As long as your home doesn’t drop below 65 to 70 degrees at night, heating at night isn’t necessary.
Heating is best accomplished by using a basking or incandescent light in a reflector or a ceramic heat element to achieve the basking spot temperature, all of which should be placed outside of the cage to prevent burns.
All chameleons need a full spectrum ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) light source. Keep the full spectrum UV light on for 10 to 12 hours per day and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for the distance that the bulb should be placed from where your chameleon can climb (usually 6 to 12 inches).
Remember these bulbs need to be replaced every six months. Chameleons also benefit from spending time outdoors in natural sunlight when the temperatures are warm enough (but beware of overheating so make sure shade is always available).
Veiled chameleons need a moderate humidity level (around 50 percent). Misting the plants twice daily will help with humidity levels and a drip or misting system is also recommended. Chameleons rarely drink from a water bowl but they will lap up droplets of water off plants so the misting/drip system also serves as a water source. Position a drip system so the water droplets cascade over the plants in the enclosure. Invest in a hygrometer to measure the humidity.
Veiled chameleons are mostly insectivores so they should be fed a variety of insects every other day. Crickets are usually the mainstay of the diet but locusts, roaches, butterworms (good for calcium), silkworms, flies, and grasshoppers can be fed, as well as mealworms, superworms, and waxworms (in limited quantities as they are high in fat).
Be wary of wild-caught insects due to possible exposure to pesticides and always avoid feeding a lizard ants or fireflies. All insects should be gut loaded. Many veiled chameleons will also eat a bit of plant matter so it is vital that only non-toxic plants are used in your chameleon’s enclosure.
You can offer small amounts of vegetables and fruits such as dandelion leaves, collard greens, kale, diced zucchini, butternut squash, red pepper, blueberries, and thin slices of apple or pear. Monitor your chameleon and adjust feeding amounts as needed. If many insects are left uneaten or your chameleon is too full-bodied you may want to reduce the amount you’re feeding them.
Never leave live prey in the cage for extended periods of time as insects may attack your chameleon, which can lead to infection.
It is prudent to dust insects with a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement two to three times a week. A multi-vitamin and mineral supplement can be added once a week. Some experts recommend choosing a supplement that does not contain vitamin A, use beta-carotene instead.
As with most exotic lizards, there’s no way to know if a wild-caught variety has been exposed to parasites or other potential infections. It’s best to get your veiled chameleon from a reputable breeder. Watch it eat before committing to buying it if possible, to observe any appetite issues.
If its eyes are cloudy or there’s any mucus around its mouth or nasal passages, these may be signs of a sick chameleon. And if it has dry patches on its skin, this may indicate a problem shedding.
Once you’ve chosen a veiled chameleon, have a reptile veterinarian check it for parasites. This isn’t a condition that will necessarily be obvious.
Like many lizards, veiled chameleons are prone to respiratory infections, and stress-related ailments. Calcium and vitamin A deficiency, which result from poor diet, are also fairly common.
If your chameleon shows redness or excess saliva around its mouth, this may be a sign of mouth rot, or stomatitis. This should be treated by a veterinarian with exotic reptile experience.
Metabolic bone disease, a result of insufficient UVB light, is another common condition among veiled chameleons. They may appear to have wobbly legs, or become lethargic and have poor appetite. This is another condition that is treatable if caught early enough, but consult your veterinarian; a low appetite is a sign of many possible conditions for chameleons, including a parasitic infection.
Taking its name from the corn granaries, which attracted mice and then these mouse predators, the corn snake makes an excellent pet snake. It is generally docile, relatively easy to care for, and does not get very large; it’s a great choice especially for beginner snake owners. However, these reptiles are also favorites of even experienced keepers due to the array of beautiful colors and patterns selective, captive breeding has produced. Closely related to the rat snakes (as cousins in the genus Elaphe), corn snakes are sometimes called red rat snakes. They are native to the southeastern United States, are mostly land-dwelling, and are active mainly at dusk and dawn.
These low-key snakes allow people to handle them and are generally docile.2 But when they feel threatened, especially in the wild, they may vibrate their tails as a defense mechanism, similarly to rattlesnakes.
Like most snakes, corn and rat snakes are unrivaled escape artists. They will push at the lid with their noses looking for weaknesses and tiny openings, so the fit of the lid is very important. If a snake gets out of its cage it can get lost or hurt. An escaped snake is also likely to give your household visitors a good scare.
A 20-gallon long glass tank (a longer and shallower version of the 20-gallon tank) makes a good-sized enclosure for a corn snake. It is important to use a secure-fitting lid that can be clamped down from the top.
In order to feel safe, corn snakes need places to hide. Provide a hide box (any closed-in container like an upside-down cardboard box) that is just large enough for the snake to curl up in; if it is too large the snake will not feel as secure. Pieces of bark can also provide hiding spots for your snake if they are atop a substrate that allows burrowing under the bark. Ideally, there should be an available hiding place in both the cooler and warmer ends of the enclosure. Also, provide a forked branch for climbing.
Maintaining your corn snake’s home at the correct temperature is vital. An overhead incandescent heat lamp is the preferred method of heating, but corn snakes are from temperate climates, so they do not need tropical temperatures. Keep an ambient temperature of 80 to 85 F. A basking site should be 85 to 88 F. At night, the temperature should drop only as low as 75 F.2 Under tank heating pads or heat tape can be used, but they can make it difficult to monitor how hot the enclosure is, so use thermometers inside.
Luckily, corn snakes prefer the humidity found in a typical household. Between 40 to 50 percent is a good range for the ambient air in the enclosure: up to 60 percent will promote healthy shedding. Monitor your corn snake enclosure with a hygrometer, especially in the dryer winter months; you may need to mist the tank or refill an evaporating water bowl more frequently.
These snakes like to burrow and hide, so using a layer of loose substrate (floor lining) on the bottom of the enclosure is key. A variety of materials can be used as a bottom layer for the enclosure. Inkless newspaper is the utilitarian choice since it is very easy to clean up, but its appearance in the cage leaves a little to be desired. Indoor/outdoor carpeting (“Astroturf”) can be used, and if you cut two pieces, you can rotate them by swapping the clean one out for the dirty one at cleaning time; wash and thoroughly dry the soiled piece before using it.
For the top layer, aspen shavings can be used. The chips that are soiled with feces can simply be scooped out; clean and refresh shavings as needed. Move the snake to a separate container for feeding so that the shavings are not inadvertently ingested. Do not use pine or cedar shavings because the aromatic oils can cause irritation and respiratory issues in your reptile pet.2 Sand, soil, and corncob are also not good choices as substrates for corn snakes.
Corn snakes are carnivores. In the wild, they stalk their prey primarily via smell rather than sight. Captive corn snakes should be fed pre-killed frozen mice that are properly thawed. Hatchlings are started out on pinkie mice for feedings, and the size of the prey should be increased as the snake grows. The prey item can be as wide or a little wider than the snake’s head.
Feed growing snakes twice per week; adults need only be fed one appropriately sized prey item every week or 10 days. Your snake’s appetite might decline around the time of a shed, so reduce feeding frequency if your snake is about to start shedding, evidenced by cloudy eyes and dull, hazy looking skin.
As corn snakes do drink water by absorbing it through their mouths, a water dish is also necessary; it’s important to keep the water meticulously clean. Snakes often use their water to aid them in defecation; when this happens, dump the dish, and clean and refill immediately. A heavy shallow dish several inches in diameter makes a good water source. You may even find your snake soaking in the dish, particularly before a shed. Use non-chlorinated water whenever possible.
Mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis, is a bacterial infection of the mouth that often causes saliva bubbles as well as inflammation in and around the mouth. If left untreated, this ailment can cause infection in the bone, and the snake’s teeth may be lost. A toothless snake will not be able to eat correctly.
As with most snake breeds, corn snakes are susceptible to fungal disease and respiratory infections. Fungal infection is marked by discoloration of the skin. A sign of respiratory infection is open-mouth breathing or wheezing. All of these health issues require treatment by an exotic animal veterinarian who has expertise in reptiles.
When choosing a snake, a captive-bred specimen is the best choice. One shouldn’t be difficult to find since corn snakes breed fairly readily in captivity. Look for a snake that doesn’t have any retained skin from a shed. Choose a snake with clear eyes, no cuts or scrapes, and no mites or ticks. Also, a clean cloacal vent and an alert head with a flicking tongue are all good signs of health.
Milk and king snakes are native in southern parts of Canada, throughout the U.S., and Central and South America. These snakes are beautiful, docile, and nonvenomous. Milk snakes are a subspecies of 45 kinds of kingsnake; there are 24 subspecies of milk snakes alone. These snakes are easy to keep and are a good beginner snake. They vary significantly in size, color, and patterns.1 Many subspecies have striking, beautiful patterns, including some that have a natural defense of mimicking the red, black, and yellow color banding of venomous coral snakes. A key difference is nonvenomous king and milk have black bands that touch red bands, while coral snakes have yellow bands that touch red.
All varieties of kingsnakes are easy to handle after they get used to you.1 They are low maintenance, requiring minimal care throughout the week.
This snake rarely strikes; usually, if it does, it confused a finger with a prey item. A king or milk snake bite does not hurt. When it feels threatened, it will try to get away from you. It will also excrete a musky scent from its anal glands (smelly but not harmful) or rattle the tip of its tail, much like a rattlesnake would as a warning.
After letting a new snake settle for a few days after bringing it home, you can start handling your snake. Be gentle and persistent, with daily short sessions at first to build trust. It shouldn’t take too long for the snake to get comfortable with handling. Do not handle snakes immediately after eating; it can cause them to regurgitate their meal.
These snakes are constrictors. They may try to wrap themselves around your arm, but they cannot harm you. To unwrap them, start from the tail end as their head tends to be stronger.
A secure cage is vitally important. Kingsnakes are notorious for testing their enclosures and escaping from the smallest of spaces. The enclosure will require a securely latched top. These snakes can sneak through tiny gaps that seem too small. Leave no possible gaps, holes, or thin breaks in the cage top.
King and milk snakes should be kept solitary. Kingsnakes might eat other cage mates.
Hatchlings or the smaller New Mexico milk snake can live in a 10-gallon aquarium tank. However, medium-sized (36 inches) adult snakes need a 20-gallon tank, and larger, full-grown snakes (60 inches) would thrive in a larger enclosure, such as a 60-gallon tank. King and milk snakes are quite active and need the room. Snakes that have the room to stretch may also have a reduced incidence of respiratory infections.
Several hiding spots should be provided:1 Half rounds of bark, commercial rock hides, overturned flower pots, half coconut shells, and even cardboard boxes can be used. To give the cage a naturalistic feel, you can include rocks and branches in the cage.
You will need to clean the cage entirely at least every 6 months. In between these overhauls, spot clean or scoop out feces, and clean the water bowl every day.
Reptiles are cold-blooded creatures that need to self-regulate their body temperature by moving between warmer and cooler spots in their habitat. Provide a thermal gradient or range of temperatures in their enclosure from 70 to 85 F (21 to 28 C) during the day with a 10 to 15°F (2 to 5°C) drop at night.1 There should be hiding spots provided at each end of the gradient.
Most owners prefer under-tank heaters (placed under half the tank) to provide the heat. Never use electric hot rocks; they can cause burns. If using overhead heating, radiant heat sources like ceramic heat emitters are better than incandescent bulbs for nocturnal animals.
Primarily nocturnal, they do not need lighting as long as your room gets enough light to indicate the switch between night and day. Most nocturnal animals do not need ultraviolet light, although a UVB (5.0) fluorescent light can be beneficial to aid in calcium absorption from their food items.
King and milk snakes do not need high humidity levels—40 to 60 percent is sufficient. A hygrometer or humidity gauge will help you check moisture levels. In most cases, a shallow dish of water in the cage should be adequate. During shedding, they may benefit from added humidity. If you notice your snake is entering a shed phase (skin appears filmy, eyes turn a milky blue color), mist the cage lightly or provide a humidity box. You can make a simple humidity box out of a covered plastic container, cut a hole in the lid large enough for the snake to climb in, and line it with moistened sphagnum moss.
Substrate is the bedding or lining for the bottom of your pet’s cage. For new snakes, paper towels or butcher paper are ideal for facilitating cleaning and allowing you to monitor feces.
Various substrates that can be used include reptile carpeting, Astroturf, reptile bark, mulch, or aspen shavings (never use cedar, redwood, or pine). If shavings are used, make sure they are not ingested with the snake’s food.
Reptile carpeting or Astroturf is the easiest, safest, and most economical option. It is washable and reusable. You can feed the snake on this surface without worrying about the snake eating the substrate, and you can have multiple pieces ready-cut for the cage when it gets soiled.
King and milk snakes are fed mice or baby rats.1 As a general rule, feed the snake the size of a mouse that is roughly equal to the width of the snake at its widest part (excluding the head). Feed hatchlings and juveniles (subadult) twice a week. Adults can be fed adult mice (or weanling rats) once a week. If the snake is too lean (body not rounded, can see ribs or backbone) feed twice a week. Many king and milk snakes tend to eat less in the fall and winter.
As with other pet snakes, feed pre-killed mice (usually frozen from a pet supply source) to ensure that the prey cannot injure the snake. Thaw frozen mice to room temperature and feed in a separate feeding cage (with no substrate) or their cage if it has a safe flooring.
Since snakes often defecate in the water, clean out the dish daily, and refresh with fresh, filtered water.
The biggest threat to a pet kingsnake or milk snake is a respiratory infection. These snakes can get colds or pneumonia, which is often caused by a problem with the temperature in the cage. Symptoms can include bubbling or gurgling at the mouth, gasping, or mucus around the nose.
If you notice regurgitated food items in the cage, it can be caused by handling the snake too soon after feeding. It is not necessarily a sign of illness, although it can be. Other reasons for regurgitated food: The food offered was too large, or the enclosure is too cool. If regurgitation recurs, take the snake to an exotics veterinarian.
Milk and kingsnakes breed quite readily in captivity, so it should be relatively easy to find a captive-bred specimen. You can find reputable local breeders at a reptile expo or through a referral from another snake owner or an exotics vet. Make sure your snake is already a good eater of pre-killed mice. If you have doubts, ask for a demonstration of your snake feeding.
You can expect to pay $30 to $200, depending on the morph (color), the rareness of the variety, and age. Hatchlings usually cost less, since adults are proven eaters and thriving.
Signs of a healthy snake include a firm, rounded body; no discharge from the nose; no dusty specks on the body of the snake (mites); no open-mouth breathing or gasping; inside of mouth looks pink (not red or cheesy); shiny, smooth skin (no sores or scabs), clean fecal opening (vent), and movement without tremors.
A new snake may not be tame but should settle down reasonably well with gentle handling. A distressed snake will wave its body in the air, trying to escape. Most king and milk snakes will settle down after a bit and wrap gently around your hands.
Originally native to southeast Asia, common house geckos make interesting pets. Common house geckos have established breeding populations in many warm climates of the world. They are thought to have become an invasive species largely by hitchhiking on ships and other transportation and then breeding successfully at the destination. Their colors can vary from a yellowish tan with dark spots to a pale grey-white, and they often appear lighter in color at night. These animals are so plentiful and easy to obtain that most animals sold as pets have been “wild-caught” right in the home. Because home dwellings are their natural habitat anyway, they adapt very well to life in captivity with the attentive keeper. However, if you want to keep one of these geckos in a colder climate, it will need a warm and humid enclosure. As pets, they are too quick for frequent handling, but their climbing abilities are amazing to watch.
While common house geckos can live in wild ecosystems, they are commonly found around human habitation, including on the walls and ceilings of houses in tropical climates, which is how they got their name. They are beneficial visitors because they are good at keeping insect populations in check, so many people welcome their cohabitation in their homes. Typically, they eat the insects that are drawn to light sources in and around the home at dusk and dawn.
Common house geckos have specialized toe pads that allow them to effortlessly move along vertical surfaces, and they can even stick on surfaces upside down; they show very unique behavior for a reptile, as they climb the windows of their tanks with ease.
A 20-gallon tall terrarium is sufficient for a pair of common house geckos but bigger is better when it comes to their housing. Keep in mind that house geckos always want vertical space for climbing so use a tall tank rather than a long one. House geckos need climbable furnishings in their tall enclosures so provide branches, driftwood, and silk or live plants.
Males are territorial so keep males one to a cage. Females do get along with others so if you want a group of geckos, make sure you only have one male in your enclosure to avoid fighting. Even when kept alone, these lizards need hiding spots such as reptile caves or small clay plant pots placed on their sides. If you are housing more than one gecko in a cage, be sure to provide enough hides to give all of your lizards options to choose the best space to hide from each other.
For reasons of both tank cleanliness and air quality, the ground layer of your tank is an important consideration. Give your common house geckos a substrate (floor lining) that retains moisture without being noticeably wet, such as reptile bark or shredded coconut fiber bedding. Sand and washable reptile carpeting are not ideal for these geckos as they do not aid in creating a humid environment. To clean the soiled substrate, simply remove the soiled flooring and replace any divots of ground with material from elsewhere in the tank or fresh bedding.
Common house geckos are from a humid subtropical climate, therefore, do your best to mimic this in their enclosures. Try to maintain a daytime temperature gradient of 75 to 90 F with a nighttime low of 65 to 75 F. Heat can be provided by utilizing ceramic heating elements or reptile bulbs in a reflector fixture. A heat mat may also be useful for supplemental heat, but it will not be very useful in heating the ambient air since it is located under the terrarium. Use white light reptile heat bulbs during daytime hours. At night utilize a red or purple night time bulb for heat.
Common house geckos are nocturnal, so they do not need as much special UVB lighting as day-dwelling reptiles. However, many experts feel that providing UV lighting to mimic sun rays is still beneficial to the overall health of nocturnal animals that sleep during the day; therefore, it is still recommended to use a UVA/UVB light bulb during the daytime.
House geckos need a moderate to high humidity level in their enclosure so aim for 60 to 75 percent relative humidity which you can measure with a hygrometer. Provide humidity with regular misting, a shallow bowl of water for evaporation, or a fogger; you will find that your geckos mostly drink from water droplets that have collected on the glass and the furnishings from the mist.
House geckos should be fed a variety of small prey items. Crickets can make up the main part of their diet with the addition of fruit flies and other small flies, silkworms, the occasional mealworm, and other insects.1 Gut load the prey prior to feeding a gecko; dust the prey with a calcium supplement two to three times a week, and a dusting of a multivitamin once a week.
Feed your common house geckos in the evening. Juveniles should be fed daily but adults can be fed every other day. Feed as much prey as your house gecko will eagerly consume over a 10 minute period. Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh water daily even though common house geckos may prefer to drink from condensed water droplets; your lizard may use this bowl for soaking.
The common house gecko has adapted to human dwellings in tropical regions Where both humidity and insects are ubiquitous in the environment. When these animals become pets In more temperate latitudes, however, they need extra care from their owners to provide for their dietary and environmental needs.
All geckos can develop a metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is the result of insufficient dietary calcium and vitamin D. Geckos with MBD have a poor appetite, exhibit tremors, and sometimes, they can even develop painful limb deformities.
These geckos also get respiratory infections, including pneumonia. If your gecko is drooling or wheezing or has excess mucus around its nasal passages, these symptoms likely indicate a respiratory infection.
Seek out an exotic animal veterinarian who specializes in reptiles and especially lizards. Most geckos will recover from these maladies if they are treated in the early stages.
Owners of pet common house geckos should be careful not to contribute to the invasive species problem by releasing them into the wild in foreign zones. But if you catch a house gecko in North America to keep as a pet, you won’t be doing harm to the species overall. Due to climate change, their range is increasing northward, and the reach of this urbanized species that lives symbiotically with humans is predicted to spread on many additional continents beyond their native Asia.
Before you acquire a common house gecko, inspect its skin for any sign of dry patches, which could indicate problems shedding. If possible, arrange to watch the animal eat to ensure it has a healthy appetite before taking it on as your pet.
Males are grey with a brown pattern along the body and four white marks on the shoulders, females are an overall grey. The females have lots of tubercular scales along the whole body and head, males only have a few along the side of the body. The underside of the Geckos is an immaculate white. These geckos have adhesive toe-pads, along their entire length of the toe for climbing up rocks.
Found in dry, rocky areas in the Mediterranean region from southern France to Greece and northern Africa. Some have also been found in California.
Although this species is mainly nocturnal, a basking lamp in the range of 26.5-29C (80-85F) should be provided, as they are active during the day too. A UV light is not required for this species. A drop down to room temperature during the night will be fine. A humidity hide should be provided or keep an area moist to prevent any shedding problems.
Some experience is required, but these Geckos are extremely hardy, with few problems.
It has been said, that housing only true pairs of Moorish Geckos is ideal.
Moorish Geckos are arboreal, meaning they need more height rather then floor space. Use a basking lamp for heat, as described above connected to a thermostat. The best substrate to use is either child’s play sand or I have used vermiculite with no problems. Moorish Geckos prefer plenty securely stacked rocks and branches throughout the viv. A humidity hide needs to be placed in a corner – I mainly spray one side of the viv every few days to drip off the rocks and branches. This then collects in the vermiculite, creating a humidity hide behind a rock. You can place a water dish in the viv, or just spray every few days, as they lick up the water droplets that run along the decor.
A varied diet of insects should be offered, with the odd pinkie (baby mouse) offered to adults. For young and juvenile Moorish Geckos, feed every day with the appropriate sized food. Adults can be fed every other day and once a month try feeding a small pinkie. Your Moorish Gecko will actively hunt down and consume anything that moves.
Golden geckos, which are native to Vietnam and southeast Asia, are intriguing lizards even though they aren’t as popular as many other pet lizards. Males can be yellow-golden in color (sometimes with markings), while females tend to be darker and have more green on the body. Female golden geckos tend to be a bit smaller than males. This may not be the best gecko for a new lizard owner, as they have nocturnal habits. But if you’re a night owl, this could be the pet gecko for you, although they do have an aversion to being handled.
Golden geckos are skittish and have delicate skin, so they are not good candidates for handling. They also have a bit of a reputation for biting when stressed. This may not be the best gecko for a new lizard owner, but if you’re patient when handling is necessary, your gecko can eventually become docile.
Like many geckos, the golden will shed its tail when very stressed; they can also regenerate it. However, this is an extreme response from the gecko and it should never be picked up by its tail.
A 20-gallon tall terrarium is sufficient for a golden gecko, but a bigger habitat is a better home as golden geckos are active lizards. Golden geckos need vertical space for climbing so use a tall tank. Males are quite territorial so they should only be kept one to a cage. They have specialized toe pads that allow them to effortlessly move along vertical surfaces, and they can even cling upside down.
The substrate for golden geckos should be something that retains moisture, such as reptile bark or shredded coconut fiber bedding. Some keepers also use pure soil but avoid using potting soil, which often contains perlite, an inorganic material derived from mined volcanic glass of the same name. It can cause impactions in lizard if too much is accidentally ingested.
Golden geckos need room to climb, so provide branches, driftwood, and faux silk plants or live plants. They also need hiding spots such as reptile caves or clay plant pots that are placed on their sides. Make sure there are no sharp edges in the habitat. If you have multiple geckos, be sure to provide enough hiding space to allow them to hide from each other.
A daytime temperature gradient of 75 to 90 F should be provided for golden geckos, with a drop at nighttime to 70 or 75 F. Heat can be provided via a ceramic heating element or a reptile bulb inside a reflector. Place any heat source only on one end of the tank so that the other end stays colder. Do not rest a heat source right at the top of the tank, as these climbing geckos could get too close and burns could result.
Since golden geckos are nocturnal, there’s no need for special light spectrums. However, many experts suggest that providing some UV lighting is still beneficial to a gecko’s overall health. White incandescent bulbs or blue reptile bulbs can also be used during daytime hours, and red reptile night bulbs can be used at night.
Golden geckos need a moderate to high humidity level; aim for 60 to 80 percent relative humidity. As humidity is very important, the best way to measure it is to get a hygrometer and monitor levels daily. Provide humidity with regular misting; the geckos will likely drink from water droplets that collect from the mist.
Golden geckos should be fed a variety of live prey insects. Crickets can make up the main part of the diet, with the addition of waxworms, mealworms, butterworms, roaches, and other pesticide-free, live insect prey. A gecko’s prey should be gut loaded prior to feeding and also dusted with a calcium supplement two to three times a week; use a multivitamin dusting once a week as well.
Feed your golden geckos in the evening. Juveniles should be fed daily but adults do not need to be fed every day. Some keepers recommend randomizing the feeding schedule to keep the geckos interested in their prey. For instance, feed every other day, then feed two days then skip a day, and so on. Feed as much prey at one time as the gecko will eagerly eat.
Golden geckos will often eat fruit as well. You can try mashed bananas, pureed baby food, or sliced fruit; goldens especially like tropical fruits such as mangos.
Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh and clean non-chlorinated water every day. They may use this more for soaking than drinking as golden geckos, like other geckos, prefer to drink water droplets that collect on the surfaces of leaves.
One of the most common ailments among geckos is a metabolic bone disease (MBD), which is the result of insufficient calcium and vitamin D it the animal’s diet. Geckos with MBD will display a poor appetite and tremors and sometimes can suffer painful limb deformities.
Golden geckos that are undernourished or that live in an enclosure with insufficient humidity often develop a condition called dysecdysis. This condition causes the gecko to have difficulty shedding and can also affect its vision. When it first develops, it looks like a patch of dry or rough skin.
Like other geckos, goldens are also prone to respiratory infections, including pneumonia. If your gecko is drooling or wheezing or has excess mucus around its nasal passages, these symptoms likely indicate respiratory problems.
All of these conditions should receive treatment from a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles and especially lizards. Most geckos will recover from the above illnesses if treated in a timely manner.
Golden geckos are usually readily available from breeders since they tend to be lower-profile and less popular compared to leopard geckos or crested geckos. Be wary of wild-caught golden geckos since you don’t have any way of knowing their health history or about any parasites they may be carrying. Captive-bred golden geckos tend to be healthier.
Before you purchase a golden gecko, inspect its skin for any sign of dry patches, which could indicate problems shedding. If possible, arrange to watch the animal eat to ensure it has a healthy appetite.