General Reptile Care
Each reptile has different specifications to help it stay alive and grow to it’s fullest potential. Never try to cut it short by chopping some things out of the shopping list, because you can’t afford it. Most of the basic essentials will cost you a varying amount depending on the animal itself. Here I have made a general, information guide to caring for the animal.
Depending on your reptile, it has special needs for its cage type. There is a variety of cages that aren’t just the typical glass vivariums. A good chunk of reptiles benefit/need mesh or glass. I never suggest people starting out small unless the reptile needs it. Example, a hatchling crested shouldn’t be put into a 12x12x18 vivarium, instead use a Kritter Keeper medium/large sized to house it in until it gets bigger for the actual viv. Or a bearded dragon shouldn’t, well I look down on it, be put in a 10 gallon when they have a pretty fast growth rate. A leopard gecko CAN be raised to adulthood in a 10-20 gallon aquarium.
Substrate and Bedding
The substrate of the cage plays a major role in keeping the cage humid or satisfying needs. NEVER put a juvenile reptile on sand or soil bedding that they can ingest. There is far too many cases of fatality caused by substrate ingestion from trying to eat a cricket or just tasting the surroundings. I have always used reptile carpet, paper towels, cabinet liners, or flooring tiles as a means of substrate. It might not be eye candy, but it helps just to save the lives of many reptiles. If you have a desert type animal, I’d suggest you use any of those types of substrates I listed. The best I like to keep humidity low is the reptile carpet, liners, or tiles. The tiles help a lot with heat – especially on the basking side. If you need some moisture, say for baby leopard geckos, you can use terrarium moss in a hide, such as a 1/2 log, instead of misting the whole tank. For arboreal type animals, I like paper towels because you can mist them well and they hold the water pretty well. They also are cheap to replace when they poop on them – and easy to make sure that they ARE pooping :). For frogs etc that need the soil, I’d use Bed-a-Beast or some kind of soil or dirt that doesn’t have alot of wood chips or pieces that could splinter and cause infection. For adult animals the substrates can change to sand, dirt, or whatever the animal needs to survive based on its natural environment. Many people have mixed opinions on switching to substrates as adults can still ingest the bedding from accidentally getting it while chasing after its food
Lighting and Heat
These two items are very important in 95% of the reptile world. UVA/UVB lighting is very important with diurnal reptiles. UVA/UVB is important for calcium metabolism and D3 production from the skin. As stated, diurnal animals benefit from this versus nocturnal. Not to say you cannot use it on them, they just don’t need it. It is important to keep up with the life of your bulb. I replace mine about every 8-10 months. Most people suggestion every year or when ever it stops working. There is a variety of different bulbs on the market including spiral UVA/UVB bulbs, incandescent, and fluorescent. I’ve always preferred the actual fluorescent bulbs, since they give off the proper UVA/UVB (bulb types are 2.0,5.0,and 10.0 based off the type of reptile you have). Incandescent bulbs are NOT UVA/UVB sources, it is only a heat source. It is not possible for it to create the rays. The spiral bulbs do work, they give a brighter glow also. I still stick with the normal fluorescent. The heat bulbs differ based on A) animal size, B) tank size, and C) the requirement basking temps. A) do not put a baby reptile under a 100W bulb and expect it to survive – being if you put it in a 10-20 gallon viv. B) Bulbs work based on height of the viv. A 10 gallon or 20 gallon long can have a 50W or 75W, and larger, taller tanks can have 100W or 150W. C) You do not want to put higher watts on a reptile who cann’t handle the heat. Example: Bearded dragons need about the low 100 degrees as an adult to bask, crested geckos and some other arboreal reptiles cannot handle past 80 degrees. The placement of the heat and lighting is important in cooling and heating the tank. You don’t want to have heat all over your viv, only one specific side. On that side, you want to have some decorations that can give your reptile different heights to bask from. My beardie goes to the very top sometimes and basks, or he stays lower. The other side is your “cool size” where you place your UV lamp and the water dish. Also, I have my hide 1/2 log on my basking side. But you can have two hides IF you viv supports the amount of decorations you have added.
Diet and Watering
Each species of reptiles are similar, yet different. some reptiles require water dishes, some do not. Some require insect diets, some require veggies/fruits only. Basic research will help you decide, or I can help you as well, the basic diet for your pet. The number one thing to do with any meal you are giving is to use calcium dust and vitamins on your food. This is what helps control, along with the UV lighting, your animal’s calcium and other nutrient intake. Most calcium powders have Vitamin D3 with it. Here is the kind I use for my reptiles.
It is very important to keep up with the vitamins to keep from getting metabolic bone disease (MBD). This poor juvie beardie is suffering from MBD
PLEASE MAKE SURE THE ANIMAL YOU ARE GETTING CAN BE WITH A ROOMMATE OR HAS TO BE ALONE. MANY INJURIES ARE INFLICTED FROM EITHER TOO SMALL OF VIV FOR MULTIPLE REPTILES OR BREEDING. DO NOT BREED WITHOUT BEING WELL EDUCATED. I DO NOT SUPPORT OR EDUCATE PEOPLE ON BREEDING WITH THE INTENTIONS OF GETTING SOME CASH. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND BREEDING CAN BE LIFE OR DEATH FOR YOUR REPTILE!