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Reptile Pets

Reptiles can be strong, calm pets and do not require too much complicated care. All you have to do is find out about the ideal climate they need (temperature and humidity) and the food they need to follow, so that you can enjoy an original and perfect pet for you. If you want a reptile but have not yet decided which one, there is a wide variety of reptiles among which you can find your ideal pet.

Types of domestic reptiles:

The iguana

It’s one of the most famous reptiles to keep as a pet. It can reach up to 2 meters long, so you will need a wide space where you can live comfortably. It feeds on insects and vegetables.

As with all animals, each species needs special care and the same is true for the iguana. You must take into account its food, its terrarium, even the temperature of its environment so that it is healthy and happy.

The iguana is one of the favorite animals of reptile lovers and the one with which they are usually initiated into this world. However, it is not exactly the easiest one to keep in captivity because, although when we catch it it is small, it grows a lot and very fast so it needs a big space at home to be well.

What are pet iguanas like?

Iguanas are like small dinosaurs that come from Central and South America. They live about 13 years and can weigh up to 8 kg (some even more) and measure more than 2 meters in length.

The iguana has a bright green color when young, which as it grows into an adult, turns gray. It is an arboreal reptile and a good swimmer that moves among tree branches and always lives near water.

Iguanas can shed their tails as well as lizards if they feel attacked, growing back again (but never as long as before). However, if they lose it again it will not grow back, so they will only release it if it is strictly necessary to escape from a predator.

Iguanas are solitary and territorial so, if you want to have two, it is better not to have two males as they can be aggressive and fight each other. It’s preferable that you choose to have a partner of different sexes.

The most important thing you should think about before choosing the iguana as a pet is whether you will be able to recreate the climate conditions she needs and provide her with ample and adequate space as an adult.

How should you handle a pet iguana?

Yes, it is possible to educate and domesticate an iguana. It will never be a dog as its instinct and behaviour are different, but you can also have a strong bond with it if you put your mind to it and learn how to treat it.

You should never grab it by the tail, especially at first, as it will feel threatened and may even become detached. Always grab it by the belly, just behind the front legs.

Whenever you interact with or manipulate your iguana, pay attention to its reaction. If it tries to run away or whips its tail, it is not comfortable with the situation and it is better to leave it alone at that moment. Do not force her. However, if you stroke her and close your eyes, it means that she is enjoying it.

The interaction should be short so that she doesn’t get tired, but be constant every day. Lack of contact and never taking her out of her terrarium can lead to wilder and more aggressive behaviour. With patience and kind treatment you will get her to trust you and you will have an incredible companion.

What do pet iguanas need?

  • Large terrarium with trunks, branches and stones. Inside you should have a resting area with light and heat, as well as plants similar to those you would find in nature.
  • Temperature between 26 and 30 ºC, similar to the tropical climate and humidity of 70-85%.
  • Natural sunlight. You can place the terrarium near a window or let your iguana loose on the terrace or garden for a while every day.
  • Food based on leaves and fruits. You can also use some quality commercial food as a supplement. They are strictly vegetarian, they do not eat insects. To find out more about what pet iguanas eat click here.
  • Clean water is always available in several bowls in the terrarium.
  • Cleaning the terrarium: substrate, food remains and dirty water.
  • Veterinary control. Pay attention to the color of their skin and changes in their mood. Also check their nails so that they do not grow too much.

If after reading this article you have decided to keep an iguana as a pet, here are two more that may interest and help you:

The gecko

This small, exotic lizard is ideal for beginners in reptile care, as it is small in size and very easy to care for.

Depending on the different types, a gecko will have certain colors and characteristics. Some may change their colors depending on their mood and the temperature of the environment – there are up to 1500 different subspecies of geckos!

They are nocturnal reptiles, so they have a highly developed sight so that they can attack their prey and avoid their predators. If they feel threatened, they can let part of their tail slip off to escape danger, although it will later grow back without problems.

They are very agile animals that can climb trees at high speed in any direction. They have fine hairs on the pads of their legs that allow them a constant grip and control.

Did you know that geckos can make sounds? They are the only lizards that have vocal cords, and therefore can make different sounds. They use different types of chirping sounds to communicate with each other. Thus, they can claim their territory, search for their mates and warn of different dangers.

Types of geckos to have at home

Within the large number of subspecies of geckos that exist, we can highlight some specific ones that are usually more suitable to have as pets and that are usually more common and easier to find. These are the three most popular:

Leopard geckos

This subspecies of gecko is characterized by its peculiar skin with spots reminiscent of leopard’s fur. They are small and very agile, do not require large spaces and can survive alone for days. Their care is very simple, and that is why they are one of the most famous subspecies. They come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

Phelsum

This is a much more demanding subspecies than leopard geckos and requires more care. They can grow up to 30 cm and have a rather strong and temperamental personality, they do not like to be caught!

Crested geckos

This variety is much easier to care for and has a softer personality. They love to get caught! They are known for their ability to jump long distances and for changing the colour of their skin from light brown to dark red and orange. These colorful little animals do not require a lot of space or expensive sun lamps and are very easy to handle. But watch out for putting two males together! They’re very territorial.

Care that geckos need

These small animals need to live in a warm climate. The perfect temperature for their habitat is between 25 and 32 ºC. Heat sources with a thermostat will allow you to achieve optimum regulation of the environment. You can check out other devices for keeping your terrarium warm here. It is also necessary for the terrarium to have a humidity of between 40 and 65%, except during the change of skin, when it must be raised considerably higher. There are products on the market like humidifiers that can help you a lot to keep your terrarium in perfect condition. Filling it with branches, plants and rocks will create a perfect habitat for your gecko, where it can hide for more privacy.

As for feeding, geckos are insectivores, so you will have to feed them mosquitoes, crickets, cockroaches and worms. You can also give them fresh fruit and honey. Remember that a balanced diet will give them the nutrients and energy they need to lead a healthy and long-lasting life.

The Chameleon

This friendly animal is very popular for its well-known changes in skin color, which it uses to camouflage itself. It is a reptile that requires specific care, as well as a well-conditioned habitat.

Chameleons are reptiles of the order Squamata, as are iguanas. They are also called true or old world chameleons to differentiate them from the anolis of America, which also have the ability to change color. While they are amazing creatures, they are not easy pets to keep in captivity. They’re easily stressed, they don’t like to be touched and they can bite. They are not recommended for people who have never owned a reptile.

They are well known for their ability to change colour in a few seconds, but they only acquire this characteristic after 5 months of age. At first they are brownish-gray and then green, blue-green, turquoise and black shades appear along with changes in coloration. This characteristic serves them to camouflage themselves, regulate their temperature and communicate with other chameleons, since they also manifest their moods with different colors. For example, if they are too hot they take on a diluted colour, whitish. It can be taken as a general rule that brown or black chameleons are stressed, while brighter coloured ones are in a better mood.

Another unique aspect of chameleons is their tongue, which they use to hunt insects. This can measure up to 2.5 times the length of its body, is retractable and allows it to catch insects from a distance. The tongue has muscles that propel it at high speed towards the prey, and the prey remains attached to the sticky tip. They live on trees in tropical forests and rarely come down to the ground. They have opposing Y-shaped toes, with two toes on one side and three on the other, which enable them to hold on tightly to branches, and they also have prehensile tails, which they “grab” to climb or hang on to.

Their eyes move independently, so they can see at a 180-degree angle (almost all directions) without moving their heads. This is very useful for both hunting and defense.

When you want to buy a chameleon always look for a breeding one. The trapped ones in nature suffer a lot of stress, have a high parasitic load and it is difficult for them to adapt well to living in captivity as they are adults. Remember that you should not encourage the illegal commercialization of exotic pets; when they are sent to market, most of them die on the way due to bad conditions, hunger, dehydration and stress. Watch the chameleon, it must look active and alert, it must be able to change color, its body must look fleshy. Some specialists recommend starting with a male, as its nutritional requirements are a little simpler and it has greater stamina.

Chameleons are solitary and very territorial beings, so it is better to have just one. You should never put two males together, as they become very aggressive towards each other.

There are more than 160 species of chameleons, many of which are found in Madagascar (about half of the species) or other regions of Africa, the Middle East, some parts of Europe and India. Some species live in deserts and have become accustomed to living on the ground.

Most common pet species of chameleons

  • The veiled or hulled chameleon (Chamaleo calyptratus): they measure up to 60 cm and need an enclosure appropriate to their size, but are resistant. Males have an appendage around their head in the shape of a helmet.
  • The Jackson Chameleon (Chamaleo jacksonii): they are smaller; males have three horns on their head, like a triceratops. They are less resistant.
  • The Panther or Leopard Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis): they are also big, the males much bigger than the females, and they have very attractive colors.

The diet is basically composed of insects, but some large species can feed even on small reptiles, rodents and birds. A varied diet is essential to ensure that it is balanced and you must also give it live insects.

It is essential to maintain an adequate temperature between 23 and 38ºC, varying according to day and night, season and species of the chameleon, and a humidity close to 90%. The terrarium should also be equipped with a UVA/UVB radiation tube. The enclosures should be large to provide them with abundant foliage and trunks to climb and hide in.

The Water Turtle

He’s a very special and striking mascot. It is very easy to care for and lives for many years. Keep in mind that some species are protected.

There are several aspects that we must take into account when it comes to knowing how to take care of a water turtle. In spite of being an easy animal to take care of, it requires special attention like the rest of the species.

How to take care of the health of a water turtle?

  • Clean water with an adequate temperature
  • Daily sunlight
  • Complete and balanced nutrition
  • Caring for the shell
  • What should the terrarium look like for a water turtle?
  • Large terrarium with water and soil

The turtle should be as big as possible so that they have enough space to move around and feel comfortable. It should be tall and deep enough so that they can swim as much as they want, since most of the day will be spent underwater. In addition, it is essential to incorporate a second dry area where they can lie down, rest and sunbathe. It can be an island, a log or a stone, always with some kind of ramp that allows them to easily access it from the water.

Natural or artificial lighting

Lighting is key to knowing how to care for a water turtle properly. Water turtles need to receive light every day, for 2 or 3 hours, so that their shells are strong and healthy.

Temperature between 25 and 28º.

The temperature of the water is also an essential part of caring for a water turtle. Although they are very hardy animals and adapt to almost any environment, it is recommended that the terrarium be kept between 25 and 28º to create an appropriate climate. In addition, you should also control the temperature outside the water so that when it comes out of the water there is no sudden change; it should not go below 25º.

Clean, residue-free water

When we think about how to care for a water turtle, water maintenance inevitably comes to mind. To prevent it from getting very dirty and to be able to maintain a hygienic environment, you can install a filter that takes care of purifying the waste and impurities. This way you will not need to make so many water changes. If you do not use a filter in your aquarium, you will only need to change the water more frequently. There are products that remove chlorine from the water if necessary, as this can damage our turtle’s eyes.

What do water turtles eat?

Most water turtles are omnivorous, they eat everything. However, it is not recommended to give them human food or processed foods. You should offer them a complete, balanced and as varied a diet as possible, trying to adapt it to their natural diet. In this way they will be able to obtain all the nutrients and vitamins necessary for proper growth and good health.

Don’t forget that the food must be administered in the water and not on land, otherwise they will not eat; this is because turtles do not produce saliva. So that you know how to take care of a water turtle, we will tell you which foods should be part of its diet:

Special feed for water turtles

In the form of sticks or granules made from fish, molluscs, crustaceans and cereals. This should be the basis of your diet, as it provides all the nutrients you need in a balanced way. Choose a high quality food for turtles, their diet should NOT be based on the well-known jar of prawns; this is only a supplement, a treat that does not provide them with all the nutrients they need.

Vegetables

Carrots, lettuce, beets, cucumbers, cabbage, kale, dandelions, and water plants like the ones we usually eat in nature. Serve the chopped vegetables at the size of your mouth.

Fruits

Banana, apple, pear, watermelon, melon, berries… Never citrus like the orange.

Live food

Fresh food such as worms, insects, worms, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, snails and small fish.

Homemade food

Shrimp, squid, mussels, small pieces of meat or fish.

Supplements

Calcium blocks are essential for good bone development, especially in young turtles.

If you want to know more about the feeding of water turtles, click here.

How to care for a water turtle’s diet?

  • Quantity

It’s difficult to establish an exact dosage of food. You will have to see the right amount for your turtle as it depends on the species, size and specific needs.

In general, you should provide the amount of food your turtle is able to eat in 5 minutes.

  • Frequency

Small turtles must eat daily in one or two feeds to ensure their growth. Large turtles will eat 3-4 days a week, on alternate days.

An example of a balanced diet to care for an adult water turtle would be 2 days a week of feed and 2 other fresh foods such as vegetables, fruit, meat, fish or live food. Remember to vary the menu as much as possible to make it more complete and balanced.

Don’t forget to remove the excess food with a net to keep the water clean.

The snake

It is one of the most common pets among the best domestic reptiles and there are many different colors, sizes and types. There is a great variety of species with different characteristics.

When we buy a snake for the first time, many of us are not sure what kind of food we should give our new pet. Here’s a little information about your new pet and what to feed it.

All snakes are carnivores and as such feed on other animals, no known herbivore species. There are 4 main groups in which we can divide snakes according to their type of food:

Insectivores: They feed on insects and arachnids. Snake mushrooms are usually small even as adults and are not suitable for beginners as they usually require more care than a normal snake. Only one species of insect snake is sold in shops and that is the Northern Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus aestivus). It eats mainly crickets, cockroaches, small grasshoppers, spiders, honey worms, silkworms, mealworms and fly larvae among other insects.

  • Ictivores: They feed on fish. They are easy to keep and can be given live aquarium fish such as (guppies, carp. Goldfish, etc…) or dead freshwater fish that are sometimes sold frozen. The species sold in shops are the garter snakes such as the Garter Snake or Striped Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Saurophogens and ofiophagous: They feed on other reptiles either saurians (lizards) or ofidios (snakes). They are not common in the market, the only ones sold in shops are Lampropeltis but they are used to eat mice
  • Rodent eaters: They are the majority of the snakes on the market. They are usually fed to laboratory mice or rats but can also eat hamsters, gerbils and other appropriately sized rodents. They can be divided into two main groups:
  • Pythons and Boas: they’re usually large in size. The most common ones sold in shops are Boa constrictor, Python molurus and Python regius
  • Snakes or serpents: usually between 60 cm and 140 cm. The most common are the buzzards or corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus), false corals (Lampropeltis triangulum) and king snakes (Lampropeltis getula, Lampropeltis mexicana, Lampropeltis alterna and Lampropeltis pyromelana among the best known)

How often do I feed my snake?

Normally, you feed the snake once a week with prey of the right size. When they are small, they can be fed more frequently (every 5 days a pinkie or hairless mouse). When they are adults it is enough to give them an adult mouse or two a week. Adult boas and pythons are fed only once every 15 days. In summer and spring snakes are more active and digest faster and tend to eat more than in winter and autumn.

Is it better to give frozen food or live food?

Both types of feeding have their advantages and disadvantages. The ideal is to get the snake used to eating dead food previously thawed to avoid possible attacks by prey and to avoid possible parasites that carry and can infect our snake. If a snake does not accept the dead food must be offered alive.

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