Reptile Tips

When it comes to Reptile, we've been there, done that, now serving 92 tips in 32 categories ranging from Adoption to Venomous Reptiles.

What is the best species for a first time snake keeper?

Best Beginner Snakes

Snakes are becoming popular pets, but many first-timers have questions about what species they should get. With hundreds of snake species in the pet trade, the choice can be difficult. Have a little information before going shopping can be helpful in picking a snake that will make a terrific pet.

Getting a pet snake to eat can be a challenge. Beginners should look for good feeders. The cage size can be another important factor in choosing a pet snake. The enclosure should be 1.5 times the length of the animal. The bigger then snake, the bigger the cage. Large enclosures can be quite expensive. The snake will try to escape. Make sure the lid or door is secure at all times.

Corn snakes are the absolute best choice. While some hobbyists find these little beauties mundane, they are the easiest snakes to keep, and even breed. Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus guttatus) also known as red rat snakes, actually come in a huge variety of colors and patterns. There are over 50 morphs available, which is what snake breeders call alternate colors and patterns. Everything from snow corns, completely white corn snakes, to vibrantly colored blood reds, are sold nationwide.

The most important thing about corn snakes is that they are easily handled. Another great thing about them is that they are excellent feeders. They will often take frozen-thawed prey items, healthier for the snake than live, on their very first feeding. Corn snakes usually peak out about 4.5 ft. in length and about 1-1.5 inches wide. Lastly, corn snakes are inexpensive. They range from about $20-$100, most on the lower end of the scale.

The California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getulus californiae) is another excellent choice. While skittish as hatchlings, these snakes calm down as they grow. They stay a bit smaller than corn snakes in width and length, so they can be housed in a little smaller enclosure.

There are a lot of kingsnakes in the pet trade, but the California kingsnake is one of the most inexpensive and readily available. There are a few morphs on the market including albinos, striped and banana phase, which is a yellowish snake with brown streaks looking like a ripe banana. The price for these animals is between $25-$100, most morphs at the lower end of the range.

For beginners looking for a little more of a challenge, the ball python (Python regius) is the answer. Also known as royal pythons, these snakes are extremely popular. They have a huge range of prices, depending on color, that can be anywhere from $15 up into the thousands. They are shy and generally docile, getting their name because they roll up into a ball when they are afraid. Some people have a hard time getting them to eat, especially in the winter months.

Ball pythons stay fairly small. A huge female would be about 5 ft., and a male more likely to be 3 ft. However, they have much heavier bodies than corn snakes or kingsnakes, and they can be a few inches wide. They are nocturnal, active at night, and should be fed after dark.

Do your homework before you get any pet, especially a snake. Getting a snake based on looks alone can be a huge mistake. Learn about the species beforehand so that you know what to expect from the animal. You will be happier in the long run and your entire snake-keeping experience will be a good one.

How do I choose the right turtle for me?

How do I choose the right turtle for me?

There are a lot of thing's to think about when choosing a turtle. Some of these things include knowing how big the turtle will get, knowing what that turtle will eat, and also what kind of habitat that particular turtle will need. Knowing all this before you buy a turtle will help reduce the stress for both you, and your new pet turtle.


Holiday Herp Decorations

Your herp cages can be a beautiful holiday display to brighten any room. You can use your own artistic creativity to design cage decorations, or purchase attractive cage additions in craft stores. The only limits to your creative design are your pet's safety. Use safe, nontoxic and smooth-edged materials such as edible greenery, plaster casts, stone, untreated wood, plastic or clay. Nontoxic paints and dyes which are labelled for use by very young children are also excellent to use for inside cage decorations.


Happy Hide Boxes

Does your pet reptile feel like he's living in a glass aquarium? Even if he is, this could be bad. Like most animals, reptiles need a place to hide to feel secure. You can purchase or even make your own inexpensive "hide box", a small enclosed container with a single entrance and exit that your pet can curl up in and feel secure. Your hide box can be as simple as a used plastic margarine tub with a hole cut into its side, or as complex as a professionally made "trap box" with a sliding door that can be shut and locked from the outside to confine feisty or venomous snakes while their cage is being cleaned. A snake or lizard that has a secure place to hide is more likely to be a calm and well adjusted pet.


Amphibians need a lot of care

Before you get a frog, toad or other amphibian, keep in mind that they require more frequent cage cleaning than reptiles, and sharp attention to water quality and PH balance. Different species will vary in their requirements, but unless you have a good filtration system set up, expect to have to clean and scrub out a tank at least once or twice a week. You can take a hint from fish keepers and buy PH-checking equipment at your local aquarium store. A good general rule is that water that is safe to put delicate freshwater fish in is probably safe for your pet amphibian as well.


Joining a Herpetological Society

Whether you're brand-new to reptiles or a veteran keeper, herpetological clubs and societies have a lot to offer. You can share resources and trade tips (and sometimes reptiles) with other keepers, stay in touch with the reptile community and have a great social life, all at the same time.

Visit some of the links below to find a club that is close to you. If there isn't one, consider starting your own.

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