Thinking of bringing home your first pet reptile? There’s a list of things to consider first…

Thinking of bringing home your first pet reptile? There’s a list of things to consider first…

Reptiles in captivity are growing in popularity. It makes complete sense, there’s a number of reasons why reptiles can make the perfect pet! They’re allergy friendly, independent, have minimal odour and in general are lower maintenance than your average dog. However, they are definitely not for everyone and there’s many things to consider before bringing home your first pet reptile. Here’s a list of some of the need to know things before bringing home your new pet!


  1. NOT ALL REPTILES ARE LOW MAINTENANCE. There are MANY different kinds of reptiles, each one with different specific needs. In my personal opinion, no pet is actually “low maintenance”. Each one will need specific caging, diet, lighting/ heating, enrichment and more. It is important that you are aware of all the needs your pet may have. Some reptiles will be easier or more difficult to care for depending on your lifestyle. For example : people with a humid house may have trouble reaching the low humidity needs of a bearded dragon. Likewise, a home with low humidity will need to take extra steps to reach the high humidity needs of a ball python. Maybe you’re afraid of bugs, you’ll want to look into a reptile whose diet does not consist of insects. Or perhaps you only have room for a 40 gallon enclosure, you’ll need to ensure your reptile will not outgrow the space. By conducting thorough research on each reptile you’re interested in you’ll be able to gage which pet might best suit you. Make sure the reptile you decide on is an animal that you have the means to properly care for.
  2. DO RESEARCH, AND THEN DO EXTRA RESEARCH. Unfortunately, there are piles of misinformation out there about reptiles. Some say they size up and eat humans, some say they have no emotions at all what so ever, and some say bearded dragons can live happy, enriched lives in a 40 gallon enclosure. I’m here to warn you that these are myths or outdated information. The reality is that we are learning more about reptiles every single day. Snakes, by nature, do not size up their prey and 99.9% of snakes are not even large enough to eat a child, not to mention an adult. Snakes, specifically rattlesnakes, have also been proven to have a reduced heart rate when around another rattlesnake. Tegus have been shown to choose their owners over food. And even though reptile brains may not have the capacity for love they absolutely have the capacity to enjoy things such as climbing, burrowing, swimming and more. Most reptile species are solitary species, meaning they do not live in groups and therefore their brains do not function by needing connection from another. But this does not mean they feel zero emotion at all. They still deserve a happy and fulfilled life. When doing my own research I’ve found that many cites do not promote larger caging and extra foliage/enrichment. These animals should have the space to display their natural behaviours. So, when doing your research keep in mind : bigger is always better, always do more rather than less. One of my favourite cites for care guides is : . Finding credible cites is very important to ensure your new pet lives a long and happy life!
  3. REPTILES LIVE A LONG TIME. Most reptiles live upwards of 15 years, if not 30 or 60-100 for some species. It is important to ensure you’re able to care for a reptile for their entire life, meaning you will be incorporating your new pet into the next two decades of your life! This can be an incredible experience but is absolutely something that needs to be considered. If you are not able to care for a reptile for so long you can also look into adoption. Many times these reptiles can still live 10 years and they are still a commitment, however there are many businesses like ours, Amanda’s Exotic Animals, who work with rescued reptiles and are looking for good homes to adopt them out to. Though, if you are not willing to house a pet for the next decade or two then I would advise not bringing home a reptile.
  4. REPTILES ARE NOT FOR KIDS. Pets are not for kids. Though kids may love them, interact with them and help with them, children should never be solely responsible for taking care of a reptile (or any pet). As someone who has helped hundred of rescued reptiles one of the most common reasons for surrender is that children outgrew their pet or didn’t care for it correctly and therefore the animal became sick. If you would like to purchase a pet reptile for a child PLEASE do the research yourself and know that this animal needs you and will need you to help if not solely care for it.
  5. GET THE PROPER HEATING AND LIGHTING. Achieving the specific temperature and humidity for your reptile is vital. Without the correct husbandry (care) reptiles become very sick very fast. Reptiles are cold blooded and are very effected by their surroundings. We want our reptiles in captivity to thrive, therefore it is important we provide our pets with the opportunity to bask under a heat bulb, the chance to absorb vitamin D from UVB lighting and misting devices if necessary to raise humidity. I realize there are many cheap options for heating and lighting but the truth is, these products just don’t suffice. At least not on their own. I always recommend investing in the proper equipment when it comes to heating and lighting. It will lengthen your pets life, keep vets bills minimal and ensure your pet can thrive. If you can provide UVB, always do. It’s been proven to provide benefits for even nocturnal animals who we’ve believed for years did not require it.
  6. REPTILES ARE NOT CHEAP. Unfortunately, even reptiles that can be purchased for around $50 will still end up have hidden costs. On top of purchasing a reptile you will need to purchase an enclosure which averages around $250, heating and UVB which can cost anywhere from $50- $300 depending on the species, substrate, foliage, hides, climbing structures, feeding and water dishes, hygrometers and thermometers, ideally a thermostat to prevent overheating, cleaning supplies, tongs and more. You will likely have ongoing costs as well such as feeders, calcium dust, multivitamin dust and so on. All animals are an investment. Entirely worth every penny, but cost is something to be prepared for.


Overall, when thinking about bringing home your first reptile there’s a lot to consider. Though, if you’ve read through this list and are ready to tackle each challenge then a reptile might just be the perfect pet for you! These animals can make incredible additions to the family. They can learn to trust you, recognize you and some even enjoy or are interested by your presence. You will have endless amounts of fun taking care of your pet reptile, and many of us don’t stop at just one!

I wish all you new reptiles owners the best of luck with your new pet. Good luck!

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