Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptilian and Amphibian species each have very specific requirements for housing and nutrition. To successfully keep these species as companion pets, we must meet the individual needs of the animal. The proper environment is critical for any lizard, snake, turtle, tortoise, frog or toad. Temperature, humidity, substrate, lighting and access to fresh food and water all need to be provided within the guidelines for the animals natural habitat. Failure to meet these needs can result in illness and potentially death. Below is a general overview for both environmental and dietary needs
for amphibians and reptiles. Go to our Client Resource page to locate specific links to information for your particular species of pet.
Fish aquariums are commonly used to house both reptiles and amphibians. You should choose a tank size that will accommodate the animal at its full grown size, and should allow your pet enough room to exercise.
All reptiles and amphibians need an external source of heat. A basking area exposed to a heat source and an area away from heat are both needed for your reptile to properly regulate its body temperature and functions. Reptiles and amphibians also need exposure to UVA/UVB light to allow them to properly absorb dietary calcium. Glass and plastic can filter out ultra violet light from its source, so these lights should be placed in the environment or on a screen on top of the tank. A period of darkness, between 10 and 12 hours, should be provided to keep your pet in optimal health. This period of day and night can be altered to coincide with the natural light cycle, with a greater amount of darkness during the fall/winter months and less during the spring/summer.
Humidity levels are important for all reptiles and amphibians. Most species require a relative humidity of between 50% and 70%, but some species that come from more arid (dry) areas will require less. Increasing the humidity levels during shed periods can help the shedding process. Misting your pet daily from a spray bottle can help keep the humidity levels steady along with placing a damp cloth near the heat source, or providing a bathing area within the tank.
The cage substrate you use should be considered carefully. Wood shavings, sand, corn cob or cat litter should be avoided because they can be ingested and cause obstructions in the gastro-intestinal tract of your pet. Newspaper or reptile carpeting are better choices and allow for easier cleaning and disinfecting. Regular cleaning is an important husbandry practice, and can significantly reduce exposure to bacterial and fungal infections.
You should provide your pet reptile or amphibian with a variety of tree limbs, rocks, logs, and artificial plants to mimic their natural environment. These provide an opportunity to exercise, and encourage normal behaviors in your pet.
The individual needs of reptilian and amphibian species can vary greatly, it is important that an owner gets accurate information regarding the nutritional needs of any animal it is keeping. Normal diets of reptiles and amphibians can include vegetarian, carnivorous, insectivore, omnivore. Many species will eat a variety of foods but will have one type that is critical to its health. Please see the Nutrition section for additional details.