Reptiles can make for really cool family pets, but there are a few important things to know about caring for them that are quite different than caring for a mammal.
First, since reptiles don’t generate their own internal heat, it’s absolutely vital that they have a heat lamp in their enclosure so that their bodies maintain the right temperature. Without the right body temperatures their digestion, immunity, and breeding will all become impaired. The enclosure’s temperature should be anywhere from two to three degrees Celsius above the pet’s body temperature, to two to three degrees Celsius below the pet’s body temperature so that the pet can control its body temperature accordingly.
Reptiles should be kept in the largest enclosure possible, as they need space to roam around, and their enclosures should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Reptiles like the ability to feel hidden in their enclosures, so providing them with caves or plants to hide in is important. The pet’s water bowl should be on the side opposite of the heat source so that humidity is created.
In the wild, reptiles often bask in natural sunlight, as UV lighting is essential for calcium metabolism, so it’s important to provide them with a source of UV light in their tanks as well. Some heat lamps provide UV rays, but one should be installed separately if not provided. The UV light should be kept on anywhere from 12 to 14 hours per day, and should be replaced every six to nine months.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet related topic.