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.
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.
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.
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.