The Importance of Research – #ReptileCare for Beginners


This post is sponsored by petMD Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but HerpetoBotanical only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

reptile care petMD


Some of my earliest childhood memories are of reptiles and amphibians. At an early age, most of my exposure to them was through books and nature magazines and lifelike toys. I remember my favorite photo in those nature magazines very clearly. It was a close up of a large American Bullfrog with a nightcrawler in its mouth. The photographer had washed everything beforehand, and both the frog and worm were clean, wet, and slimy looking. Something about that was very appealing to me. But the closest I came to seeing a real frog was the toy rubber frog that I carried around everywhere with me by it’s outstretched hind legs.


My first interaction with a real live frog was around five years old. I was up way past my bedtime while my parents visited at their friends’ house. My dad and his friend came into the house with a big grin on their faces.

“Ryan, look!” my dad said, holding out his hands. He had an American Bullfrog. The best looking toy frog I’d ever seen! I grabbed it by the legs, just like my rubber frog…. And the thing started squirming and jumping like crazy! I let go quickly, shocked, and it shot across the room. My dad caught it again and let it go outside where he’d found it, and they soon forgot about the funny moment. I, on the other hand, had a whole new world opened to me! Frogs were live animals that jumped and moved and were really as slimy and squishy as my small child’s mind had hoped!

It also opened up the world of pet reptiles and amphibians. My parents couldn’t take me outside without me finding a garter snake or a tree frog, or even bugs, that I wanted to bring home and keep. The same went for pet stores and friend’s houses. The answer was always the same though: “We don’t know anything about reptile care. Maybe when you’re older.”

A lot of people don’t have the common sense my parents had. I see so many people getting animals that they have no idea how to care for and the animals end up suffering. I’ve seen turtles living in tanks they can hardly turn around in, lizards fed the wrong things and without proper heating, and snakes that are underfed because the owner doesn’t understand how frequently they should be fed. But researching and preparing is so easy.

crested gecko reptile care

In those days before the internet, I had a solution to that: the library. I would camp out in the pet section, and search for books on pet reptiles. These days, we have it easier. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites, forums, and groups online where you can learn about reptile care. One of these sources is petMD®. They provide information on preparing for reptile ownership, articles about health issues, as well as fun quizzes for the kids and infographics. Getting reptile care right is very important to the health of your reptile pets. Their warning signs are often very subtle, so learning how to research and care for your pet is one of the most important things I’ve learned.

These days, I spend a lot of time in online reptile communities on Facebook and other sites. It’s very common for people to ask why their bearded dragon or turtle is sick. While everyone will hit a snag eventually, a lot of these can be avoided by researching reptile care before your purchase is made. Some of the key elements you should

Some of the key elements you should learn, before you purchase your new pet, are

  • the heat and humidity requirements
  • the type of habitat they live in
  • what a healthy diet consists of
  • the size requirements for their cage

While doing your research, you’ll be able to determine which animal is the best fit for your home. Maybe you’re interested in a snake, but what species? Bearded dragons are a great option for many first-time lizard keepers, but maybe a Crested Gecko would be a better fit for your home. Turtles and tortoises are a favorite among reptile keepers, but make sure you know how big they will get!

While there will be variations depending on what animal you pick, pretty much all of them are going to need a cage, a heat source, substrate (what us reptile keepers call bedding), hides and shelters, and food and water. All of these things can be found at PetSmart®, in stores or at the Reptile Purchase Center online.


dart frog care

These days I still keep frogs, although they’re a lot smaller than bullfrogs, and a lot more care intensive. It took hours of research to learn how to set up their care, but it paid off in the end with fat and happy frogs. Start your journey to reptile pet ownership at petMD®, then head over to the Reptile Purchase Center to pick up the supplies you’ll need.

Are you thinking about getting a reptile? Let me know what you’re getting in the comments below! I’d be more than happy to help you with learning about their care needs.




  1. Jen Gabbard says:

    I don’t think I’m ready for the commitment at the moment; but I must say I’ve always loved Bearded Dragons.

    • Ryan says:

      They’re a nice interactive reptile. They don’t mind being handled. You definitely need to make sure you’re prepared to heat them correctly though.

  2. Ann Staub says:

    I too have seen the ill effects of people getting reptiles on a whim, and then they unfortunately get sick later on. We didn’t do much work with frogs, I guess because not many people brought their frogs to the clinic. I did get to help out with one or two though. That was pretty cool!

  3. Grace Hodgin says:

    We are building a pond on our property so we are purchasing a Red Earred Slider Turtles. We have some friends that have done the same thing so they have been helpful with suggestions.

  4. Abby Chesnut says:

    Nice seeing you in the BlogPaws Chat! I agree on how people get animals they know nothing about, it is very frustrating to see the animals suffer. I will probably get a bearded dragon at some point in the future. I wanted to get one years ago after months of research, but then my dogs entered my life! Haha.

  5. Great article Ryan! And I love the photos, they are really gorgeous and colorful. Mommy Jenny has always loved land turtles (tortoises) and frogs. I’m so glad you’re part of this #ReptileAwareness campaign. I’m doing it to and I’m so excited!!
    Pixel & Mommy Jenny

  6. My son has a tortoise and we love him! He’s been a great pet and I look forward to having him in the family for a long time. (He’s 5 years old now.)

  7. Nice post, Ryan. I love hearing about how your fascination started as a wee little boy. It’s cool that your Dad brought that frog in for you to see too. My fascination was always with cats and dogs but was never allowed to have pets. I made up for it as an adult, and have had cats, dogs, mini pigs, turtles, chickens, goats, raccoons, possum … and on. 🙂 Oh, how could I forget Shirley! She’s a Bearded Dragon that I got over a year ago. I love her so. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Ruth Cox says:

    I was fascinated by big bullfrogs as a little girl, but I’ve never thought about having frogs as pets. It’s fantastic that so much information about reptiles as pets is now available online. Hopefully, people will follow your lead and research places like petMD before bringing these animals into their home.

  9. That is so cool that a childhood love has resulted in you now sharing your love of frogs. I enjoyed your post.

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