Categories | Reptile Breeders
If you’re keen on the idea of adding a new pet to your home but you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, why not get a reptile or a similar exotic creature? Believe it or not, these make great pets and you’ll have yourself a real talking point too.
What are Reptiles?
A reptile can be defined as an animal that is cold blooded, that is a vertebrate (have a backbone), and that lays amniote eggs (eggs that have a waterproof shell and contain amniotic fluid). Because they are cold blooded (ectotherms is the technical name), they use their surrounding environment to warm or cool their bodies. As an interesting note, reptiles are classified as being tetrapods, that is, animals that have four legs or have ancestors that had four legs (and yes, this applies to snakes!).
Types of Reptiles
There are heaps of different animals that can be categorised underneath the reptiles category such as:
- Amphibians – these include frogs, toads, and salamanders (such as axolotls)
Popular Breeds of Reptiles
If you are thinking about owning a reptile, there are some common ones that are actually quite popular amongst pet owners. These include:
- Thick tailed gecko – this is a great choice if you are new to reptiles as they are relatively easy to keep. All you need is a cage, food, water, a light source, and place for them to hide. Be aware that since it is a gecko, it has sticky feet that allow it to walk up walls and even on the ceiling of its cage so be sure that the cage is well secured. Geckos can be handled easily and regular handling will help to promote a bond between owner and pet.
- Axolotl-- also known as the Mexican Walking Fish, the axolotl is a type of salamander and as such, it is an amphibian. You will need to have a combined aquarium/terrarium for your axolotl as they need to be able to keep their skin wet at all times (their bodies must be covered) but you can grow plant life that is not in the water. A light source is also necessary as axolotls are cold blooded.
- Bearded dragon-- the bearded dragon is actually a lizard but it gets its name from the “bead” that it has around its neck that puffs up when it is angry. Bearded dragons are sociable and expressive and it will happily interact with its owner. They are also quite an active pet.
- Turtle – the pet turtle is actually surprisingly common. Turtles can be aquatic or live on land so check out your type of turtle before you buy it to find out what kind of habitat it needs. You can keep them in terrariums or combined aquariums and terrariums. Again, you will need a light source to provide heat for them.
- Carpet python-- if you like the idea of keeping a snake as a pet, a python such as the carpet python is your best choice as they are non-venomous (vital not only for you, but for your kids!), and easy to handle. They are actually very docile and tame if they are raised correctly and well socialised. Again, you will need a cage large enough for them and a good heat source.
Choosing a Reptile Breeder
A good reptile breeder will only sell reptiles that have been approved as pets or to be kept in captivity and not sell any animals illegally. They will advise you of what permits are needed to keep your new pet and also how to get them. They should not give you your pet until your permit has been approved and they should also have full records regarding the animals that they keep. Look for a breeder that keeps their animals in good quality enclosures that are fitted with heat sources and that have appropriate bedding. The reptiles should not be in holding bins, boxes or other inappropriate enclosures. If they are shipping the animal to you, they should do so as humanely as possible.
The breeder should be extremely knowledgeable about the reptiles that they keep and their individual care requirements. You should be given full instructions on how to care for and house your new reptile and they should make themselves available to answer questions that you may have once you take them home. One common problem with pet snakes for example is that they won’t eat – your breeder should be willing to give you tips on how to fix this problem. They should regularly worm their animals and also give them antibiotics such as Flagyl where necessary (if they’ve imported their reptiles, they should be wormed, given antibiotics and quarantined before being introduced to their other animals).
How to Choose a Reptile
If you are thinking of buying a reptile as a pet, you need to make sure that you choose the right one. Some are unsuitable for regular handling (such as axolotls as they need to stay wet constantly) so keep this in mind if you are looking for a pet that you can touch and hold. Some reptiles can grow to huge dimensions, or need a lot of space so make sure that you have a cage that is large enough to comfortably house them. If you are short on space, a smaller reptile is the best choice.
Think also about the level of upkeep that is required. Think about how often cages need to be cleaned, if you are prepared to use electricity on providing a constant heat source (a necessity for reptiles), if you can easily source the foods that your reptile needs or prefers, and if your reptile is an easy eater (some can be notoriously difficult). If you want to get more than one reptile, make sure that they can co-exist peacefully. Two males of the same species will often fight.
Finally, some reptiles can live for a very long time – up to 50 years or more – so make sure that you are truly prepared for the commitment. Find out the expected lifespan of your new pet before you buy it!
Where to Buy a Reptile
In most cases, you will need to buy your reptile from a licensed reptile breeder. You can find these through advertisements, through magazines, through reptile societies or through word of mouth. Some pet stores may stock certain types of reptiles but you should always see what conditions they are kept in and that the pet store can provide you with any information that you need regarding the reptile.
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