///Reptile Care

Reptile Care

Reptiles are great pets that all the family can enjoy. They’re ideal for allergy suffers, as there are no fur and feathers to worry about, and are perfect if you don’t have a garden and your home has limited space. Beardedlo1

It is essential to remember that your pet reptile’s vivarium must be set to the correct temperature and humidity, alongside being fed the right dietary supplements, otherwise they may suffer metabolic bone disorders.

Read our care guides below to find out about some of the different species of reptile available and their different needs.

Bearded dragons originate from Australia, and the name comes from the pouch under the neck, which inflates if they feel threatened. Adults can reach sizes of up to 45 to 60cm and can live for up to 10 years.

The colours vary from browns and greys, to pastel green, gold, orange and red. They are a rock dwelling species of lizard and love to climb and bask in the sun.
Beardedlo2

Bearded dragons are not social animals and adult makes can be territorial, so they are best kept singularly.General care 
Diarrhoea: This can be caused by many problems including incorrect feeding or internal parasites.
Mouth rot: Cheesy deposits appear in the mouth.
Respiratory problems: Signs include fluid or mucus from the nose.
Metabolic bone diseases: Signs include deformed, swollen or paralysed hind limbs. This is due to a lack of calcium, vitamin D3 and/or lack of exposure to UVB/UVA light. It can be reversed if caught in time and properly treated.
Nails: Overgrown nails can often indicate your pet isn’t getting enough exercise or is inactive for another reason. If nails become overgrown they will need to be trimmed with specialist equipment and your vet or pet shop will be able to advise.

If you are at all worried about the health of your bearded dragon you should consult your vet as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with reptiles.

Your pet should also be insured against unexpected veterinary costs.

Choosing your bearded dragon
A healthy bearded dragon will be bright, alert and active with its body and leg muscles appearing well-formed and strong. It should also have no signs of injury to the body. Males will typically grow larger than females and are also more territorial.

Housing
A wide, escape-proof vivarium with good ventilation is the most suitable housing for a bearded dragon. The minimum cage size for an adult should be 90x45x45 cm, preferably larger if possible.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature and each species of lizard requires different degrees of heating. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the pet to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 26-28°C at the cool end and 35-40°C at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped to a minimum of 16-18°C, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats and more intense heat by spot lights or heat lamps. Your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable for your particular set-up.

Digital thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient should be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.

Lighting
Bearded dragons are diurnal lizards and require high intensity UVB and UVA lighting to fully absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 12-14 hours in the day. The bulbs will need replacing regulary as their UV output decreases with use. Beardedlo3

Humidity

Bearded dragons, being desert species, require low humidity and good ventilation.

Furnishings
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, which your pet shop can advise on. Sand can be used but it is recommended to feed from a height to prevent the animal ingesting too much sand whilst eating. Bearded dragons will only eat the sand if lacking in calcium so to prevent this ensure correct vivarium temperatures and supply an extra source of calcium.

Provide a combined UVA/UVB spotlight or a UVB heat lamp and UVA strip blub for basking and place climbing rocks or branches approximately 6-12 inches beneath – check the manufacturer’s instructions too. Provide a shelter, with a piece of cork bark for example, and additional bark or branches to create areas for climbing. It is essential to provide your pet with a place to hide and feel secure, and it also highly beneficial during skin-shedding.

Cleaning 
Remove droppings and any uneaten fresh food daily. Water bowls should be washed, dried and refilled regularly. Vivariums should be completely cleaned out and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant on a regular basis. Soiled substrate should be disposed of and replaced daily through a spot-cleaning regime.

Food and water 
Bearded dragons are omnivores and become more vegetarian as they get older. They will eat a varied diet of live insects (as large as the width of their heads), fruit and vegetables. Fruit should only be fed in limited quantities due to the high energy content.

Young bearded dragons should be fed insects up to three times a day with a quarter of their diet made up of fruit and vegetables. Adults should be fed four or five times a week with at least half their diet made up of fruit and vegetables. Once their growth slows their appetite diminishes substantially.

Animal protein can be supplied as crickets, locusts and giant mealworms. Waxworms should be fed sparingly as they have a high fat content. When feeding crickets feed a few at a time, if they are eaten readily feed a couple more. Remove any uneaten live food after around 30 minutes as they annoy bearded dragons by nipping at them during the night.

It is important to feed the live food a nutritious diet and water to ensure your pet is also receiving a balanced diet. This is also known as ‘gut loading’ the live food.

Suitable fruit and vegetables to feed your pet include kale, dandelion, watercress, carrots, courgettes, parsley, apples, pears and berries (in limited quantities).

Fruit and vegetables should be washed and dried before feeding and offered in bite size pieces.

It is very important that food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis; once or twice a week for non-breeding adults and all food for juveniles and egg-laying females. Failure to undertake such dietary supplementation may result in metabolic bone diseases and other such problems.

Bearded dragons may not recognise still water as drinkable. They respond to refraction of light on moving water so shallow food and water bowls should be provided.

Handling 
Bearded dragons are usually very docile and rarely bite. The spines along their sides are soft unless the body is inflated in defence when frightened. Your movements should be slow and gentle but confident. To pick up your bearded dragon place one hand above the shoulders and support the underside with your other hand. Many bearded dragons enjoy their owner’s company and seem content whilst being handled.

Reptiles can carry a form of Salmonella, which can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and washing your hands after handling your bearded dragon should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

REPTA
This information is supported by Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

Leopard geckos are usually very docile and make good pets if the correct care and accommodation is provided. The average life span is approximately 15-20 years and adults can reach sizes of 20-30cm. Geckolo

The Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is one of the most popular species of reptile kept in captivity and is available in a multitude of colour mutations. In the wild, this species inhabits desert areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India.

Leopard geckos are almost exclusively nocturnal in nature, although they may on occasion bask at the mouth of their burrows for short periods, usually in the morning and early evening.

Leopard geckos are not social animals, so they are best kept singularly.

General care 
A healthy Leopard gecko should be bright and alert. The body should be well covered with no signs of loose skin and in particular the tail should appear fat – as this mean they are well fed. There should be no signs of diarrhoea, the eyes, mouth and nostrils should be free of discharge and the body held off the ground when walking.

Diarrhoea: This can be caused by incorrect feeding or internal parasite infestation.
Mouth rot: Cheesy deposits appear in the mouth.
Respiratory problems: Signs include fluid or mucus from the nose. This can be caused by too low temperatures or too high humidity.
Metabolic bone diseases: Signs include deformed, swollen or paralysed hind limbs. This is due to lack of calcium, vitamin D3 and/or lack of exposure to UVB/UVA light. It can be reversed if caught in time.

If you are at all worried about the health of your leopard gecko you should consult your vet as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with reptiles.

Housing
A well ventilated, adequately heated, escape-proof vivarium is the best housing for leopard geckos. The depth needs to be sufficient to provide a depth of substrate, and the minimum size should be around 60x30cm for a single animal.

Lighting
Leopard geckos are nocturnal lizards and UVB lighting is not essential if they are kept on a balanced diet with an adequate source of dietary calcium and vitamin D3. However, they will benefit from the provision of a normal UV pattern to recreate their natural conditions.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature. Each species of lizard requires different degrees of heating. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the pet to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 24-25oC at the cool end and 30-32oC at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped by several degrees at both ends, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats, your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable for your particular set-up.

Thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient can be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.

Humidity
Leopard geckos come from desert areas and require relatively low humidity and good ventilation. Provide an area of damp substrate under a hide at both ends of the accommodation, especially during the skin shed periods (which can be every two-five weeks).

Furnishings
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, which your pet shop can advise on.

It is very important to provide hiding places in both the cooler and hotter ends of the vivarium and to ensure that the substrate under at least one hide is kept relatively moist – which facilitates better skin shedding.

Piles of rocks, securely positioned slates and other such furnishings will be appreciated by your pet.

Geckolo2Cleaning
Remove droppings and any uneaten live food daily. Water bowls should be washed, dried and refilled regularly. Vivariums should be completely cleaned out and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant on a regular basis. Soiled substrate should be disposed of and replaced daily through a spot-cleaning regime.

Food and water 
Leopard geckos are insectivorous and will eat a varied diet of live insects, including appropriately sized locust hoppers, crickets, wax moth larvae and mealworms. It is important to feed the live food a nutritious diet and water to ensure your pet is also receiving a balanced diet. This is also known as ‘gut loading’ the live food.

Feeding should ideally take place daily, but in limited quantities that are eaten within an hour or two – the enclosure should not have excess live food moving around the morning after feeding. Waxworm larvae and mealworms should be fed relatively sparingly as they have a high fat content. Remove any uneaten live food after around 30 minutes as they annoy leopard geckos by nipping at them during the night.

It is very important that food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis; once or twice a week for non-breeding adults and 3-4 times a week for juveniles and egg-laying females. Failure to undertake such dietary supplementation may result in metabolic bone diseases and other such problems.

Handling 
Leopard geckos are usually very docile and rarely bite. Movements should be slow and gentle but confident. To pick up your gecko, place one hand above the shoulders and support the underside with your other hand.

Reptiles can carry a form of Salmonella, which can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and washing your hands after handling your Leopard gecko should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

REPTA

This information is supported by Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

Corn snakes are a species of rat snake, originating from eastern United States, and are the most popular rat snake species kept as pets. Snakelo

Adult corn snakes are small to medium in size, easy to feed and can withstand a large temperature range. They are generally good natured and therefore ideal as a first snake or the experienced hobbyist alike. They come in a vast and increasing array of domesticated colour morphs and all corn snakes available are captive bred.

The corn snake’s habitat varies from open wood lands to rocky hillsides and the length of an adult varies from 60cm to 200cm. Their average life span is approximately 15-20 years.

Corn snakes are not social animals so they are best kept singularly.

General care 
Your snake’s eyes will become cloudy from time to time, which indicates that it is about to shed its old skin – higher humidity in the housing is useful at this time to assist the shed. Make sure you check that both eye covers are shed successfully, as sometimes the protective scale that covers the eye does not shed correctly.

Respiratory problems can occur and are indicated by mouth gaping and/or bubbly mucus from the mouth or nostrils. Mouth gaping or inability to close neatly, due to swelling, can be indicative of mouth infections.

Check your snake regularly for mites, which are tiny external parasites that live off your pet’s blood. Many pet shops sell remedies for mites, however, more serious infestations may need veterinary prescribed treatments.

If you are at all worried about the health of your snake you should consult a vet as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with reptiles.

You pet should also be insured against unexpected veterinary costs.

Choosing your snake
Good health is indicated by the snake being alert and inquisitive, usually through extensive tongue flicking in new situations. Your snake should also feel ‘strong’, and not flaccid, in your hands. Good condition is indicated by a body cross-section that is more rounded than angular.

The vent area should be clean and free of any encrustation, indicative of diarrhoea. The body should be symmetrical, clean, and free of swelling, unless recently fed.

Housing
A well ventilated, adequately heated, escape-proof vivarium is the best housing for your corn snake. Many snakes are frequently inactive, and will voluntarily live comfortably for days, or even weeks, in a space just sufficient to accommodate their coiled bodies, however long-term this will not be enough for your snake. The accommodation should be of such a size to allow freedom of movement and be at least two-thirds the length of the snake, preferably larger if you have space. There must be no gaps between glass sliding doors sufficient to allow a hatchling to squeeze through.

Lighting
UVB light is not essential for corn snakes, but they are likely to benefit from the provision of a normal UVB light pattern to recreate their natural conditions.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the snake to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 24-25oC at the cool end and 30-32oC at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped by several degrees at both ends, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats and more intense heat by spot lights or heat lamps. Your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable.

Thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient can be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.Snakelo2

Furnishings
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, which your pet shop can advise on. Aspen causes minimal problems and allows for burrowing behaviour. It is very important to provide hiding places in both the cooler and hotter ends of the vivarium and to ensure that the substrate under at least one hide is kept relatively moist – which facilitates better skin shedding. Piles of rocks, securely positioned slates and other such furnishings will be appreciated by your pet. Corn snakes will climb and a piece of branch can be provided for that purpose.

Cleaning and watering
Corn snakes should be provided with a no-tip water bowl, which is large enough for the snake to submerge in, especially when shedding its skin. This should be washed and cleaned regularly.

Vivariums should be spot cleaned, as soon as droppings are produced, and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant occasionally. Soiled substrate should be safely disposed of and replaced with fresh.

Handling 
Corn snakes seldom bite, but do need time and patience to become accustomed to gentle handling. The snake should be held loosely and supported at the middle and rear of the body, the handler’s movements being slow and deliberate.

It is important to remember to always wash your hands before and after handling. Never attempt to handle a snake until it has settled down and is feeding regularly.

Reptiles can carry a form of Salmonella, which can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and washing your hands after handling your snake should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

Snakelo3Food and water 
Corn snakes are carnivores and feed principally on mice or rats, which they consume whole. The food offered should be no larger than a maximum of one and a half times the diameter of the snake’s mid-body. Young snakes can be fed twice per week and adults fed every 7-14 days. Adults in breeding mode may fast for many weeks.

Frozen feed needs to be carefully thawed and warmed to blood temperature before offering to avoid stomach upsets and vomiting. Leaving food to defrost overnight before feeding is usually best. Regurgitation can also be caused by too low environmental temperature and some diseases.

Handling a snake before, during, or after feeding, or when the odour of its food is on your hands, may result in a painful bite.

REPTA

This information is supported by Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

snakekingloKing and milk snakes originate from North and Central America, where their habitat varies from desert to mountains to woodland.

Adults are relatively small, easy to feed and can withstand a relatively large temperature range. They are generally good natured and can be ideal as a first pet snake. There is a wide variety of species and an increasing array of domesticated colour morphs available.

King and milk snakes are not social animals so they are best kept singularly.

General care 
Your snake’s eyes will become cloudy from time to time, which indicates that it is about to shed its old skin, and higher humidity in its housing is useful at this time to assist the shed. Make sure you check that both eye covers are shed successfully, as sometimes the protective scale that covers the eye does not shed correctly.

Respiratory problems can be indicated by mouth gaping and/or bubbly mucus from the mouth or nostrils. Mouth gaping or inability to close neatly, due to swelling, can be indicative of mouth infections.

Check your snake regularly for mites, which are tiny external parasites that live off your pet’s blood. Many pet shop sell remedies for mites, however, more serious infestations may need veterinary prescribed treatments.

If you are at all worried about the health of your snake, you should consult a vet as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek a vet with reptile experience.

Choosing your snake
Good health is indicated by the snake being alert and inquisitive, usually through extensive tongue flicking in new situations. Your snake should also feel ‘strong’, and not flaccid, in your hands. Good condition is indicated by a body cross-section that is more rounded than angular.

The vent area should be clean and free of any encrustation, indicative of diarrhoea. The body should be symmetrical, clean, and free of swelling, unless recently fed.

Housing
A well ventilated, adequately heated, escape-proof vivarium is the best housing for your king or milk snake. Many snakes are frequently inactive, and will voluntarily live comfortably for days, or even weeks, in a space just sufficient to accommodate their coiled bodies, however long-term this will not be enough for your snake. The accommodation should be of such a size to allow freedom of movement and be at least two-thirds the length of the snake, preferably larger if you have space. There must be no gaps between glass sliding doors sufficient to allow a hatchling to squeeze through.

Lightingsnakekinglo2
UVB lighting is not essential for king or milk snakes, but they are likely to benefit from the provision of a normal UVB light pattern to recreate their natural conditions.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the snake to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 24-25oC at the cool end and 30-32oC at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped by several degrees at both ends, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats and more intense heat by spot lights or heat lamps. Your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable.

Thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient can be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.

Furnishings
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, which your pet shop can advise on. Aspen causes minimal problems and allows for burrowing behaviour. It is very important to provide hiding places in both the cooler and hotter ends of the vivarium and to ensure that the substrate under at least one hide is kept relatively moist – which facilitates better skin shedding. Piles of rocks, securely positioned slates and other such furnishings will be appreciated by your pet.

Cleaning and watering
King or milk snakes should be provided with a no-tip water bowl, which is large enough for the snake to submerge in, especially when shedding its skin. This should be washed and cleaned regularly.

Vivariums should be spot cleaned, as soon as droppings are produced, and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant occasionally. Soiled substrate should be safely disposed of and replaced with fresh.

Handling 
King and milk snakes can occasionally bite unexpectedly, without striking, often because they are hungry. A bite from a hatchling is uncomfortable rather than painful, and if handled gently they will soon become tame. Your snake should be held loosely and supported at the middle and rear of the body, the handler’s movements being slow and deliberate.

It is important to remember to always wash your hands before and after handling. Never attempt to handle a snake until it has settled down and is feeding regularly.

Reptiles can carry a form of Salmonella, which can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and washing your hands after handling your snake should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

snakekinglo3Food and water

King and milk snakes are carnivores and feed principally on mice or rats, which they consume whole. The food offered should be no larger than

a maximum of one and a half times the diameter of the snake’s mid-body. Young snakes can be fed every 2-5 days and adults fed every 7-14 days. Adults in breeding mode may fast for many weeks.

Frozen feed needs to be carefully thawed and warmed to blood temperature before offering to avoid stomach upsets and vomiting.

Handling a king or milk snake before, during, or after feeding, or when the odour of its food is on your hands, may result in a painful bite.

REPTA
This information is supported by Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association

Chameleons live in different climates across the world and can be found in Africa, Asia, Europe and Madagascar. They spend their lives in the trees and their feet are specially adapted to help them grip and balance on branches with ease. Cam1

There are many types of chameleon available as pets and their appearance and colour vary greatly from green, brown and red. Some chameleons can change the colour of their skin, this is usually due to fear or aggression, or even to camouflage with their habitat for safety.

Some chameleons can live for around 10 years, so you must be sure you’re ready for a long-term commitment. They are not generally social animals so they are best kept singularly.

General care 
• Diarrhoea: This can be caused by many problems including incorrect feeding or internal parasites.
• Mouth rot: Cheesy deposits appear in the mouth.
• Respiratory problems: Signs include fluid or mucus from the nose. This can be caused by too low temperatures or too high humidity.
• Metabolic bone diseases: Signs include deformed, swollen or paralysed hind limbs and/or spine. This can be due to a lack of calcium, vitamin D3 and/or lack of exposure to UVB/UVA light. It can be reversed if caught in time and properly treated.

If you are at all worried about the health of your chameleon you should consult your vet as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek a vet that has experience with reptiles.

Choosing your chameleon
A healthy chameleon will be bright, alert and active with its body and leg muscles appearing well-formed and strong with a tight grip. It should also have no signs of injury to the body and the eyes shouldn’t be sunken.

Housing
A tall, escape-proof vivarium with good ventilation is the most suitable housing for a chameleon. As these reptiles spend the majority of their time in trees it is important that the vivarium is as tall as possible.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature. Each species of lizard requires different degrees of heating. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the pet to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 26-28°C at the cool end and 35-40°C at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped to a minimum of 16-18°C, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats and more intense heat by spot lights or heat lamps. Your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable for your particular set-up.

Digital thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient should be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.

Lighting
Chameleons are diurnal lizards and require high intensity UVB and UVA lighting to fully absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 12-14 hours in the day. The bulbs will need replacing regularly as their UV output decreases with use.

Humidity
Humidity is very important to your chameleon. A hygrometer will help you maintain an ideal humidity of around 70 percent. Spray the cage with water twice daily, especially leaves of plants, which allows your pet to drink the droplets as it would in the wild.

Cam2Furnishings
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, which your pet shop can advise on. Sand can be used but it is recommended to feed from a height to prevent the animal ingesting too much sand whilst eating. Chameleons will only eat the sand if lacking in calcium so to prevent this ensure correct vivarium temperatures and supply an extra source of calcium.

It is highly important to provide plenty of artificial and/or real plants, branches (of differing widths) and leaves for your chameleon to climb, rest and hide in – your pet will rarely go on the floor of their habitat.

Cleaning 
Remove droppings and any uneaten fresh food daily. Water bowls should be washed, dried and refilled regularly. Vivariums should be completely cleaned out and disinfected with a pet safe disinfectant on a regular basis. Soiled substrate should be disposed of and replaced daily through a spot-cleaning regime.


Food and water
 

Chameleons are insectivores mostly feeding on live insects. Feeding should take place daily and you can offer crickets, locusts and giant mealworms. Waxworms should be fed sparingly as they have a high fat content. When feeding crickets feed a few at a time, if they are eaten readily feed a couple more. Remove any uneaten live food after around 30 minutes as they annoy chameleons by nipping at them during the night.

It is important to feed the live food a nutritious diet and water to ensure your pet is also receiving a balanced diet. This is also known as ‘gut loading’ the live food.

Some chameleons will eat plants, suitable fruit and vegetables to feed your pet include kale, dandelion, watercress, carrots, courgettes, parsley, apples, pears and berries (in limited quantities). Fruit and vegetables should be washed and dried before feeding and offered in bite size pieces.

It is very important that live food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis; once or twice a week for non-breeding adults and all food for juveniles and egg-laying females. Failure to undertake such dietary supplementation may result in metabolic bone diseases and other such problems.

Chameleons may not recognise still water as drinkable, as in the wild they drink droplets of water suspended on leaves. Therefore, it is highly important to spray your pet’s habitat with water at least twice daily. You can also provide a shallow water bowl, which may encourage your pet to drink.

Handling 
Regular handing will help you build a bond with your pet. Some species of chameleon do not like to be handled, whilst others may be content with handling. You should encourage your chameleon to walk onto your hand, rather than trying to pick it up, as you may damage its feet if it is griped tightly onto a branch.

Reptiles can carry a form of Salmonella, which can be transferred to humans. Good hygiene and washing your hands after handling your chameleon should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

Pet code of practice
Never release a pet (companion animal) into the wild. It is illegal and for most species this will lead to an untimely and possibly lingering death, as they are not native to this country. Any animals or plants that do survive might be harmful to the environment. This includes the need to properly dispose of soiled substrate, so that eggs and live food can’t escape into the wild.

REPTAThis information is supported by the Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

A tortoise is a wonderful and interesting pet to keep if you can provide the right conditions. Each tortoise has its own personality and some will form a real bond with their owner. tortoiselo

There are many species of tortoise available in the UK, each with different needs, so be sure to do your research and speak to an expert before purchase.

The most common species kept in the UK is the Hermann’s Tortoise, other species include Spur-thighed, Marginated and Horsfield’s. Tortoises will grow each year given the right conditions and their shell scutes grow similar to the rings of a tree.

Many tortoises live to around 80-years-old or more in ideal conditions, so be sure you a ready for a lifetime commitment.

General care 
A healthy tortoise should be bright and alert with shiny eyes. Its body should be carried above the ground and the head and limbs should withdraw if alarmed. The shell should be hard and there should be no signs of the following:
Diarrhoea: This can be caused by incorrect feeding or an internal parasite infestation.
Respiratory problems: Signs include fluid or mucus from the nose.
Mouth rot: Cheesy deposits in the mouth.
Soft or deformed shell disorders: Can be due to poor diet, a lack of calcium and/or vitamin D3 and/or incorrect lighting.

Your tortoise should be bathed weekly, ideally before feeding, in order to ensure proper levels of hydration, and weighed regularly to ensure it is growing at a healthy rate. For the first 10 days of ownership, bath the tortoise every day in lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes to encourage him to be active and not become dehydrated from stress.

Some reptiles carry a form of salmonella, which is usually contracted by ingestion. Good hygiene and hand washing after handling should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

Housing
Tortoises should have access to both indoor and outdoor space. Indoor accommodation can comprise of a purpose-built enclosure, often called a tortoise table. Alternatively, a large vivarium with good ventilation can also be used successfully over limited time periods. The minimum indoor enclosure size for an adult should be 3m x 3m in bad weather, but the bigger and more varied the habitat is the more likely the tortoise is to do well.

Tortoises should have access to solid sided, escape-proof outdoor accommodation whenever the weather is suitable, ideally with access to edible weeds and flowers to graze. Choose a sunny area in the garden so the tortoise can benefit from vital natural UV sunshine. All outdoor accommodation should be predator-proof and a fully covered enclosure is essential for small tortoises to protect them from predators.

Temperature 
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain correct body temperature. Each species requires different degrees of heating, but all will benefit from a range of temperatures within an indoor enclosure. This creates a thermal gradient allowing the tortoise to choose its preferred temperature, 18-20°C at the cool end and 30-32°C at the hot end. Night temperature can safely be dropped to 18°C or slightly lower. Thermometers can be placed at each end of the enclosure to monitor the temperature range and the overall temperature should be controlled by a thermostat.

Heat can be supplied by basking lamps that should be kept 6-12 inches away from the basking area. Your pet shop will advise on heating products and their suitability for your tortoise.

Lighting
Reptiles need UVA/UVB lighting to absorb the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 10-12 hours in the day, and the bulbs will need replacing regularly as the UV output decreases with use.

tortoiselo2Furnishings
The floor of the accommodation should be covered with 3-4inch deep suitable substrate such as Tortoise soil mix such as ‘Tortoise Life’, coco peat or sterilised top soil. If using a product like top soil, we recommended that you feed the tortoise on a slate to avoid him eating the substrate, resulting in possible gut impaction.

Provide a shelter, perhaps a tunnel or flower pot. Ensure heated areas remain simple to reduce the possibility of your tortoise overturning in heat. Substrate should be sprayed or watered regularly to keep healthy humidity levels and prevent breathing problems due to dust.

Cleaning
Remove droppings and uneaten fresh food daily. Water and food bowls should be washed, dried and refilled daily. Vivariums should be completely cleaned with a pet-safe disinfectant regularly and soiled substrate should be disposed of and replaced.

Hibernation
Before you consider hibernating your tortoise, check it is a hibernating species and if it is a good weight, and showing no signs of illness. Length of hibernation varies between age and species, so consult an expert and never exceed more than 12 weeks. An annual pre-hibernation check with a knowledgeable vet is always advised. With correct preparation, hibernation can be a safe and beneficial process for your pet, helping to simulate a natural pattern.

Your tortoise should be fasted for 2-3 weeks before hibernation, though fresh water must be provided. Your hibernation box should be well ventilated and be made of rat-proof materials. The optimum temperature is 5°C, and should not fall below 2-3°C or above 8°C. You should check your tortoise at regular intervals during hibernation. A reliable refrigerator set at the correct temperature can be ideal for this purpose. Monitor temperatures in hibernation locations prior to use and throughout hibernation.

Food and water
Tortoises are herbivores, so they need a varied high fibre diet low in fat and protein. Commercial pellets are available as part of a balanced diet and your pet shop can advise.

Tortoises should eat a very varied diet of weeds and flowers with calcium supplement to remain fit and healthy. Safe foods include plantains, dandelion, clover, sow-thistle, catsear, honeysuckle, lavateria, sedums, pansies and violas. Remember, ‘treat’ food such as lettuce and cucumber should be fed in moderation as it contains no nutrients, only water. Junk foods to avoid include vegetables, fruit and processed food. Be careful not to overfeed your tortoise, one meal per day is plenty.

If housing your tortoise outside, you can buy a prepared mix of tortoise feed seeds, which you can plant for the tortoise to encourage foraging. You can also grow the seeds to pick and feed to your tortoise as you please.

A calcium supplement and a separate multi-vitamin should be added to the food provided. Fresh water should always be available.

Tortoises and the law
Tortoises are protected by CITES regulations. All Mediterranean tortoises can only be legally sold with a DEFRA Article 10 Exemption Certificate. They must be micro-chipped when big enough if being sold.

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This information is supported by The Tortoise Club. For further information and advice visit www.tortoiseclub.org

Water dragons originate from the humid, tropical rainforests of South East Asia and are a semi-aquatic species of lizard that enjoy climbing.

Adults can reach sizes up to 90 cm, including the tail, so it is important that you can provide a habitat large enough to accommodate the size of your pet. The average life span of a water dragon is around 15-20 years, so you must be sure you are ready for a long-term commitment.

Water dragons are not social animals and adult males can be territorial, so they are best kept singularly. They can become tame and make good pets if the right care can be provided.

Waterdrag1General care 
• Diarrhoea: This can be caused by incorrect feeding or an internal parasitic infection
• Mouth rot: Cheesy deposits appear in the mouth.
• Respiratory problems: Signs include fluid or mucus from the nose.
• Metabolic bone diseases: Signs include deformed, swollen or paralysed hind limbs or jawbone. This is due to a lack of calcium, vitamin D3 and/or lack of exposure to UVB/UVA light. It can be reversed if caught in time and properly treated.
• Nails: Overgrown nails can often indicate your pet isn’t getting enough exercise or is inactive for another reason. If nails become overgrown they will need to be trimmed with specialist equipment and your vet or pet shop will be able to advise.

If you are at all worried about the health of your water dragon you should consult a specialist reptile vet as soon as possible. You pet should also be insured against unexpected veterinary costs.

Choosing your water dragon
A healthy water dragon should be bright, alert and active. Its body and leg muscles should appear well-formed and strong. It should be bright green in appearance with a slim body.

Housing
An escape-proof wooden or fiberglass vivarium with good ventilation and a glass front is the most suitable. Water dragons are known for not realizing that clear glass is a barrier, and many damage their snouts by constant rubbing – glass impregnated with mesh can therefore be a good option for this species. The minimum size should be 90 x 120 x 60cm with the greatest dimension being that of height.

Temperature
All reptiles are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature and each species of lizard requires different degrees of heating. One end of the vivarium should be heated to create a thermal gradient, allowing the pet to choose its preferred temperature. The ideal thermal gradient is 25-26°C at the cool end and 30-34°C at the hot end. Night temperature can be dropped to a minimum of 16-18°C, which will benefit your pet as this reflects his natural environment.

Background heat can be provided by using heat mats and more intense heat by spot lights or heat lamps. Your pet shop can advise on heating products that are suitable for your particular set-up.

Digital thermometers should be placed at each end to monitor the temperature range and the maximum temperature of the heat gradient should be controlled by a thermostat. You should fit wire mesh guards over exposed heat sources to prevent thermal burns.

Lighting 
Water dragons are diurnal lizards and require high intensity UVB and UVA lighting to fully absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 12-14 hours in the day. The bulbs will need replacing regularly as their UV output decreases with use.

Humidity 
Water dragons require a high humidity of 65-85 percent. This can be achieved by spraying the vivarium frequently with tepid water, or by installing a waterfall or automatic misting device.

Furnishings Waterdrag2
The floor of the cage should be covered with a suitable substrate, such as a mixture of coconut bark and coconut soil, which helps to maintain high humidity.

Provide a combined UVA/UVB spotlight or a UVB heat lamp and UVA strip bulb for basking and place climbing rocks or branches approximately 6-12 inches beneath – check the manufacturer’s instructions too. Provide a shelter, with a piece of cork bark for example, and additional bark or branches to create areas for climbing. It is essential to provide your pet with a place to hide and feel secure, and it’s also highly beneficial during skin-shedding. Water dragons are strong swimmers, so a large bath should be provided for this, which is deep enough to allow your pet to submerge its whole body.

Cleaning 
Remove droppings (frequently produced in the bath) and uneaten fresh food daily. Baths, water and food bowls should be washed and cleaned daily. Vivariums should be completely cleaned out and disinfected with a pet-safe disinfectant regularly. Soiled substrate should be disposed of and replaced daily through a spot-cleaning regime.

Food and water
Water dragons are omnivores and will eat a varied diet of live insects (as large as the width of their heads), fruit and vegetables.

Young water dragons should be fed insects up to twice a day with occasional fruit and vegetables. Adults should be fed three or four times per week with supplements of fruit and vegetables too. Once their growth slows their appetite diminishes substantially.

Animal protein can be supplied as crickets, locusts, pinkie mice and giant mealworms. Waxworms should be fed sparingly as they have a high fat content. When feeding crickets feed a few at a time, if they are eaten readily feed a couple more. Remove any uneaten live food after around 30 minutes as they annoy water dragons by nipping at them during the night. It is important to feed the live food a nutritious diet and water to ensure your pet is also receiving a balanced diet. This is also known as ‘gut loading’ the live food.

Suitable fruit and vegetables to feed your pet include kale, parsley, green beans, watercress, carrots, apples, pears and berries (in limited quantities). Fruit and vegetables should be washed and dried before feeding and offered in bite size pieces.

It is very important that food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis; once or twice a week for non-breeding adults and all food for juveniles and egg-laying females. Failure to undertake such dietary supplementation may result in metabolic bone diseases and other such problems.

Handling 
Water dragons can be tamed and rarely bite. Movements to pick them up should be slow and gentle but confident. To pick up your pet place one hand above the shoulders and support the underside fully with the other hand.

Some reptiles carry a form of salmonella. Salmonella is most usually contracted by ingestion. Good hygiene and washing hands after handling or cleaning your water dragon should be sufficient to prevent any risk of infection.

Pet code of practice
Never release a pet (companion animal) into the wild. It is illegal and for most species this will lead to an untimely and possibly lingering death, as they are not native to this country. Any animals or plants that do survive might be harmful to the environment. This includes the need to properly dispose of soiled substrate, so that eggs and live food can’t escape into the wild.

REPTA
This information is supported by the Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

White’s tree frogs, also known as Dumpy Tree Frogs or Smiling Frogs, originate from Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia. These frogs are arboreal, meaning they live in trees, and their feet are equipped with special pads to climb on smooth surfaces with ease. Their habitat is typically the rain forest and they can usually be found near a water source. They are the most popular frog to be kept as a pet in the UK.

Their colour varies from green through blue to dark brown. The smooth wax-like green skin has a folded appearance as the White’s tree frog becomes larger.

The White’s tree frog can live for up to 10 years under the right conditions, so you must be prepared for a long-term commitment.

General care Treefrog1
Most problems with tree frogs are caused by nutritional deficiencies, such as inappropriate or unvaried diets, or from inadequate attention to enclosure cleanliness.

Tree frogs are susceptible to wounds, which can become easily infected, especially if the accommodation has not been kept clean. Fungal infections can also be a problem and can often be fatal.

If you are at all worried about the health of your pet you should seek the attention of a vet. It is recommended to find a vet with frog experience. You pet should also be insured again unexpected veterinary costs.

Choosing your tree frog 
A healthy White’s tree frog should be:
• Full bodied
• No scars or wounds on the skin or nose
• Bright, alert and active

Housing
Ideal accommodation would be a tall vivarium of plastic, glass or wooden construction (wood surfaces will need to be resin sealed in order to protect the wood from the regular spraying of the enclosure). Ensure the lid is escape-proof. A tight-fitting mesh screen lid will help provide good ventilation and access for securing light and heat fittings.

The enclosure should be provisioned with stout branches and either live and/or plastic plants. A moisture-retentive substrate such as coconut soil should be used on the bottom of the enclosure and the habitat should receive a light misting each evening with tepid water. Use a hydrometer to measure the humidity – aim for this to be around 50-60 per cent.

Tree frogs are inquisitive creatures so it is recommended to change the layout of their home regularly to avoid boredom.

A wide but shallow water bowl should be provided and this should hold either de-chlorinated water or clean rain water.

Heating
Tree frogs are cold blooded and need an external heat source to maintain their body temperature. Only one side of the vivarium should be heated, as this creates a thermal gradient allowing the animal to choose its preferred temperature. Thermometers can be placed at each end of this thermal gradient to monitor the temperature range available. The temperature of the heat gradient can be controlled by a thermostat. It is advisable to reduce the temperature slightly at night, as this reflects your pet’s natural habitat. The temperature range should be around 24°C at the cool end and around 30°C underneath the basking spot. A night time reduction to around 18°C is beneficial. Heating can be achieved by a combination of heat mats/heat tapes and a moderate strength UVB spot bulb.

Treefrog2Lighting 
White’s tree frogs are primarily nocturnal, although light is essential to regulate its biological clock. Furthermore, natural light-mimicking fluorescent tubes will be required for the growth of any plants included in the enclosure. The light should be set on a timer with a twelve hour on and twelve hour off cycle.

Food and water
Food variety is important to the tree frog and most will take invertebrates such as crickets, locusts, wax moth larvae and occasionally mealworms. Pinkie mice are almost always welcome but should not be offered all the time. All uneaten food must be removed if not eaten overnight. They have very strong appetites but should only be fed 3-4 small meals per week, otherwise they are likely to become obese. It is important to feed the live food a nutritious diet and water to ensure your pet is also receiving a balanced diet. This is also known as ‘gut loading’ the live food.

It is very important that live food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis; once a week for non-breeding adults and all food for juveniles. Failure to undertake such dietary supplementation may result in metabolic bone diseases and other such problems.

Handling
Handle your tree frog as little as possible, if you do need to handle either use wet hands or catch in a net.

Pet code of practice
Never release a pet (companion animal) into the wild. It is illegal and for most species this will lead to an untimely and possibly lingering death, as they are not native to this country. Any animals or plants that do survive might be harmful to the environment. This includes the need to properly dispose of soiled substrate, so that eggs and live food can’t escape into the wild.

REPTA
This information is supported by the Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association.

2017-08-24T14:26:30+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Pet Care, Reptiles|