Your Starter Guide
for Purchasing a Reptile
There are a few requirements to consider before purcahsing a reptile
Type of Reptile
There are few reptiles available to us here in New Zealand mainly the Blue Tongue Lizard, Bearded Dragon, Water Dragon and some Geckos. When deciding on the species of retile you are wanting to purchase, it is always important to consider how big will the animal grow, and what will you do when it reaches that size? The Blue Tongue you once purchased at 12cm has now grown to 45cm and has out grown its enclosure. What do you do now?
Accommodation needs (habitat/husbandry)
It's important to provide the proper living environment for your reptile. Cages or vivarium’s need to be escape-proof and you must provide enough space for mobility. You also need to consider factors like cleaning, sanitizing, and routine maintenance.
Feeding and nutrition needs
There are commercially available diets, but almost all reptiles require fresh fruits and vegetables as a majority of their diet. Some reptiles must be fed live food like crickets or items such as live worms, grasshoppers or snail, which can become costly. Raising your own feeder insects can save you money, but you will still incur expense in dusts or gut load products and supplements.
Being cold-blooded, a captive reptile doesn't have the luxury of maintaining its body temperature within the range that it needs. It has to rely on you to provide an environment that allows it to stay healthy. A temperature gradient should be provided to allow your reptile to move from place to place as it needs to warm up by basking, or cool down. It's also important to invest in a good thermometer and proper lighting. Depending on the species, you may also need to purchase specialized heating equipment like nocturnal heat lamps, basking lights, under-tank heaters, radiant terrarium heaters, etc.
Light provides your pet with specific vitamins for mineral metabolism, but also creates an environment that caters to the animal's very nature; some reptiles are nocturnal, while others are diurnal. For many reptiles, a light source can be used for both light and heating. However, for species that require darkness with higher ambient temperatures than your room temperature, combined heating and lighting solutions won't work and the two elements must be separated.
Reptiles in the wild are accustomed to locations with fairly stable humidity. Depending on the animal's needs, you will need to provide a means to regulate the humidity in your pet's home. You may need to install misting equipment, drippers, or foggers. And, of course, if your pet is sensitive to humidity, a good humidity alert device is an absolute requirement.
Amount of care
If you select a reptiles that requires careful monitoring, you must be prepared not only to commit the time and energy to provide that monitoring, but also be prepared for emergencies like equipment failure, illness, stress, malnutrition, and general difficulty in keeping and handling. You'll need to make arrangements for someone knowledgeable to take care of your reptile if you're away and if it gets sick, you want to be sure there's a veterinarian in your locale familiar with reptiles.
If you're looking for a pet you can handle a lot, you probably don't want a reptile. Among retile, there's obviously a wide range in the amount of handling that is necessary, possible, or desirable. How you will, or can, approach the handling of your pet is something you must factor into the decision about which species to purchase. As always, after handling any reptile, hands must be washed to prevent the spread of disease.
Reptiles carry Salmonella, a bacteria which can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with feces, or through contact with something that has been contaminated with feces. The disease is most commonly transmitted through oral ingestion after handling a herp or equipment that has been contaminated, through open cuts/sores during handling, and through direct contact with contaminated soil or environmental items.