Pet Reptiles



Lizards

All lizards can and will bite. If bitten by a lizard, do not pull away until the lizard releases its grip. To avoid being bitten, hold the lizard behind the head with one hand and the base of the tail and hind legs with the other.
Give lizards a good drink before transporting them, so that they do not dehydrate. When transporting a lizard long distances, place it in a box, with absorbent padding between the bag and the box. Secure the box firmly after making sure that it has adequate ventilation holes.
If transporting the lizard by any kind of public transport, label the box with the name, address and telephone number of both the sender and title receiver. Attach another label describing the contents of the box, and giving any special instructions for care during the trip.

Snakes

All snakes bite. When handling a snake, support the body evenly, and never make any sudden movements near the head. When picking up a snake always pin its head down with a forked stick, then grasp it behind the head from above. Remember, when a snake decides to strike and bite, it does with extreme rapidity.
If a snake wraps itself around your arm, unwind it while continuing hold the head. When releasing a snake, always let its head go and withdraw your hand quickly.
Snakes should be transported in the same manner as lizards.



Tortoise

When handling tortoises, beware of the sharp claws. Most small tortoises can be picked up as you would hold a sandwich. To transport a tortoise, put it in a moist cloth bag or in a box lined with moist towels. Avoid overcrowding. Always give the tortoise a good soaking before and after the trip to avoid dehydration.

Feeding

Healthy reptiles can fast for long periods without effect. In good condition,they may fast for several months. Reptiles are normally intermittent feeders. Snakes eat twice weekly or less. Lizards eat daily. Scent, particularly for snakes, is important in food selection.
Feeding activity is temperature dependent, and sub-optimal conditions are commonly the cause of fasting. To rectify the situation, increase the environmental temperature or give the reptile warm baths. Or change the diet, change the environment or increase the light. Temperature reduction,vibrations or disturbance of any kind will cause regurgitation.
For carnivores the best diet is a whole animal, since this reproduces their natural diet in the wild.



Tortoises

Lettuce, clover, grass, tomatoes, fruit and cucumber are suitable foods. Some will eat raw fish and meat, which should be supplemented with calcium carbonate at the rate of 1/2 teaspoonful (0.5 gram) per 100 grams of meat fed. Cereals, bread, Farax and tinned dog foods can be tried. However, bread and other cereals should not form the major part of the diet of land tortoises,as they might cause liver disease.

Terrapins

Terrapins will eat chopped meat, heart, liver, fish (whole or in pieces), snails,shrimps, worms, insects, frogs, tadpoles, mealworms and baby mice. Vegetables such as lettuce can be given on alternate days. As with tortoises, meat should be supplemented with calcium.



Small Lizards

The usual diet is earthworms, grasshoppers, slugs, fly larvae and mealworms.

Large Lizards

Feed young mice, small lizards, chopped meat, dog food and raw egg.



Herbivorous Lizards

Provide lettuce, fruit, plants and insects.

Snakes

All snakes are carnivores, and most eat small vertebrates. Some will eat only live prey.



Force Feeding

When force feeding is called for, use a small, 2-millimeter-diameter polyethylene tube attached to a syringe. Gently introduce it into the mouth an:pass it into the food pipe. (It is impossible to go into the windpipe try mistake.) In this way you can feed pulverized whole animal, or canned doe food, minced with egg, or infant foods.

Housing

The type of housing you should provide for a pet reptile depends, of course,on the species you plan to keep. However, there are essential features common to all.
Housing for reptiles must provide a healthy environment, enough space and ventilation for the type and number of specimens and it must be escape-proof. The enclosure must provide privacy and yet be easily accessible for cleaning. Provision should be made for heating and adequate lighting.
Most reptiles will live in an unadorned enclosure with absorbent paper on the floor and a branch and a water bowl. However, if you do wish to a reptile’s environment more natural, a wide variety of substances can be used, such as coarse sand, gravel, large pebbles, pieces of bark, leaf bracken, hollow logs or small branches (to provide privacy). ‘Plants can either be grown in the enclosure or can be grown in pots outside it therefore can be rotated). Make sure plants are non-toxic. Monstera Philodendron are quite suitable.
Water containers should be wide based and of a depth appropriate to animal. Keep the water clean and well away from the heat source.
Have on hand some implements for removing such things as dishes, and uneaten food from the enclosure, such as long tongs or a scoop.
A glass aquarium is very suitable as a reptile enclosure and can be required in various sizes to suit the smaller reptiles. Enclosures made of wood are also suitable, though wood (including chipboard) should be coated with a waterproof varnish for ease of cleaning.
An outside pit gives reptiles some variety. For snakes or monitors the should be 1.5 meters high with a 30-centimeter overhang (of tin. example) projecting horizontally into the centre of the pit. The walls can be made of any material that is escape-proof, such as bricks, concrete, metal or wood. They must be vertical and smooth. To prevent snakes or lizards escaping by burrowing underneath, the walls should extend 60 centimeters into the ground.
Always have a portable cage for quarantining new or sick animals.
Since most reptiles will bathe, the ideal situation is an enclosure contain-ing a large removable shallow dish that will accommodate the whole body of the reptile without overflowing. This may also provide drinking water.
Light Light is very important in the control of activity and physiological function,especially of reproduction, as is explained below.

Special Requirements for Amphibians

Most amphibians are small animals with smooth, moist skins which reproduce by laying eggs in water or moist areas. The eggs hatch from their soft gelatinous covering to a larva stage and later undergo metamorphosis to the adult stage. The commonly kept amphibians include frogs, toads, newts and salamanders (axolotl).
The axolotl is actually the larval form of the Mexican salamander. 20 centimeters in length. It ranges in color from pink to brownish-black. When purchasing an axolotl, ensure that it swims upright and that it uses its gills actively.
Most amphibians do not like to be handled and can be very slippery. The best way to handle them is to place your middle finger between the hind legs and wrap the rest of your hand around the body. Axolotls should be grasped around the head and fore body.
The skin of amphibians should be kept moist and the animal should have access to water at all times. Many amphibians, especially toads, secrete poisonous substances, so it is important to wash your hands after handling.
If amphibians are to be transported it is important that they are kept damp, and have plenty of space and adequate ventilation. Polystyrene boxes containing dampened pieces of moss, grass or foam will retain the moisture and provide protection. Axolotls can be transported in a sealed plastic bag containing one-third water, two-thirds air.
Axolotls can be kept in an aquarium filled to a depth of 20 centimeters with fresh water and kept at 23°C. The aquarium should also contain some rocks or vegetation to make the axolotl feel secure. Newts and frogs can be kept in the . same sort of environment, but it should also contain a half submerged stone, piece of bark or sturdy vegetation for them to climb on.
Axolotls will only feed in the water. Axolotls and newts will eat worms,insects or dog food. Young ones will eat water fleas, white worms, tubifex and sometimes fish food.
Frogs and toads usually like their prey to be moving. They love insects and worms.
A good supply of insects can be caught by hanging a light globe over a funnel which has been placed in a jar. The insects are attracted by the light and fall into the jar via the funnel. (This method is particularly effective on summer nights).

Breeding

Breeding seldom occurs in captivity because the reptile never truly adapt. Breeding activity is dependent on normal environment for species, light, correct temperature, absence of stress and balanced nutriticare all important.