Keeping reptiles is very popular these days and they make excellent exotic pets. However, for the inexperienced handler and owner, it can be a little overwhelming when they realise just how expensive and sometimes difficult it can be to care for some species of reptile. The problems usually start when people source their pets but without all the information needed on them, and all too often owners come away from a pet shop with incorrect information on the reptiles they've chosen which means they are totally unprepared for the reptile they've taken on.
Caring for a reptile takes a lot of time, money and commitment. If you are not one hundred percent prepared for the pet you take on, it can lead to all sorts of problems for you and your reptile. You'll end up having a bad experience and your pet might end up suffering through no fault of your own.
There are certain types of reptiles which are definitely not a good choice for beginners to take on. This is often because they need a specific and special diet or their environmental requirements are very specialised. It could even be because they grow very large when they reach maturity which makes them hard or dangerous to handle.
If you are interested in keeping a reptile as a pet, there are some species which are great for beginners. They are lower maintenance but you would still need a pretty substantial initial investment to set up the proper environment for them to live in. As with any pet, if you have never kept one before, you need to do as much research as you can and then make your final decision on which reptile would be the best for you to keep and it has to be one you can afford to feed.
There are certain risks associated with keeping any reptile and this includes learning all about the possibility of them carrying salmonella. The other consideration is their heat and light needs which keeps them happy and healthy. It is really important to do as much research as possible before you bring a reptile home with you or it could prove fatal to them.
Below is a list of reptiles that make great choices for first time owners and there are some fascinating and exotic looking ones to choose from.
Leopard Geckos make ideal pets for beginners, being relatively small they are easier than most lizards to care for in captivity. You would need a 15 to 20 gallon tank to set up an ideal environment, remembering they are nocturnal and therefore would not need any sort of special lighting. When it comes to diet, Leopard Geckos are insectivores which means they need to be fed a variety of insects. Another reason they make such great pets for first time owners, is they are pretty docile and therefore easy to handle.
Bearded Dragons are another type of lizard which although not as easy to keep as Leopard Geckos, make good first pets for beginners. The reason they are not quite as easy is due to the fact they need more specialist equipment to keep them in. Bearded Dragons are native to Australia and can grow to around 18 to 24 inches long which means you need to set up a largish tank for them to live in – this would need to be around 40 gallons to accommodate an adult.
The environment needs to be maintained at a highish temperature due to the fact they are desert dwellers, and you would have to set up specialist lighting with UVA and UVB bulbs which can be expensive. This makes setting up a tank quite a costly business. The bonus of keeping Bearded Dragons as pets, is they are easy to tame and can be very entertaining to watch. Diet wise, they need to be fed a mixture of insects along with a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Snakes are another option that first time owners might want to consider having as first time pets. However, the one obstacle that puts some people off is the diet they need to be fed. Most pet snakes require whole prey in the form of mice and rats which ideally should be sourced dead from specialist pet shops whether in the high street or online.
One of the advantages of keeping a pet snake is they only need to be fed once every week, and sometimes even less which means it's possible to leave them on their own for a couple of days – although you might want to have someone look in on your pet to make sure they are okay. The other advantage is you would not need to set up any sort of specialist lighting for them in their enclosures. Below are two snakes which are an ideal choice for beginners to take on:
Corn snakes are really lovely looking and as a bonus they are docile which makes them easy to take care of and handle. When fully grown, Corn snakes get to around 3 to 5 feet long and can live for anything up to 10 years and sometimes longer if well cared for. The one thing about the species is they are very good at escaping and therefore need an enclosure that boasts a tight fitting cover.
Ball pythons are docile creatures that grow to around 3 to 5 feet in length when adults. The downside to keeping one as a pet is they can be hard to feed, refusing to eat. This means when you source a Ball python, make sure the person selling it is willing to show you the snake when it is feeding and preferably when it is fed a dead mouse. They are a long term commitment due to the fact that if they are well cared for, a Ball python can live to anything from 20 to 30 years.
Keeping reptiles is a fascinating experience but some species need specialist care. If you are keen to own a reptile, it's best to start out with one that is easier to keep so you get used to them. However, even reptiles can live a very long time if well cared for which means as pets they are a long term commitment – but a very pleasant one as long as you are well prepared and know how to look after them right from the off.