Reptile season is upon us and with all the new hatchlings starting to arrive people will be securing new pets so it is an exciting time of year. Some tips for people who are new to the industry:
1. Make sure you set up your enclosure and run it to check temps at least a day or two before purchasing any animals. The first days in a new home are the most stressful on any pet so that is not the time to be trying to set up an enclosure and trying to get your temps and lighting correct.
2. Often it is best not to purchase the first animals of the season as some breeders may sell their animals too young in an effort to get them out the door quickly. If you wait until more stock comes available there is generally more choice available and you can get yourself a slightly older animal that is more established.
3. Most baby and young reptiles do best kept in small containers for the first month or months. This often makes feeding and heating easier and small enclosures are generally more secure as far as avoiding escapes. Avoid loose substrates such as sands etc initially as baby reptiles are more prone to gut impaction problems - so paper towel or artificial grass mats can be good choices to start with.
4. Dont forget to ask the breeder or shop you buy the animal from what they recommend as far as correct temps, lighting, and feeding regime. Everyone does things differently but it makes sense to copy what the breeder was doing as that will help ensure that the move to a new environment is less stressful on the animal.
5. If purchasing a Bearded Dragon please consider that they are solitary animals by nature so they dont need 'buddies' to live with. In fact the most common problems you are likely to encounter with bearded dragons arise from incompatible animals being kept together and problems are not always easy to notice until it is too late. See all those missing toes and tail tips at the breeder / shop - that is just the start of problems!
6. Dont be afraid to ask the breeder / shop questions prior to purchase or after purchase. Some people seem to be embarrassed to ask questions and then get online asking on forums and facebook etc but you are generally going to get the best information from the one who sold you the animal. If you follow their advice and have a problem then you can always go back to them for a resolution to the problem. If you the follow the advice of an unknown online then you may create problems for yourself.
7. Let you pet settle in for a couple of weeks before handling. Once it has settled in and is feeding well then it is time to enjoy your pet and with most reptiles regular handling can be beneficial to establishing trust.
8. Once your pet is a few months old you can go crazy in setting up his/her permanent home. Naturalistic habitats not only look great but provide valuable enrichment for your reptile pets.
9. Reptiles make great pets and are generally very accepting of the different ways in which people keep them. The fundamental thing to get right is to ensure that your reptile has access to the correct temps to attain their required preferred body temperature. The quickest killer of reptiles is extreme high temps and the most common killer of reptiles would be inadequate temps that are not high enough for long term survival - so pay attention to the temps!
10. Most important of all - enjoy your new pet.