Reptile Awareness Day, Thursday October 21st

Seven Tips for Keeping Reptiles Pets in Ireland

Thursday, October 21st is Reptile Awareness Day. A recent report in the Irish Vet Journal* revealed the prevalence of exotic pet ownership in Ireland. It was determined that 34 per cent of Irish households have an exotic pet with more than 10 per cent of pet-owning households owning only exotic pets. Research conducted by the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary (NEAS), in 2015 suggested that Ireland is home to more than 100,000 reptile pets.

According to Irish owned pet retailer Petmania, popular reptile pets include Bearded Dragons, Geckos, Corn Snakes and the Chilean Rose Tarantula. Whilst they make wonderful pets, some consideration must be given to making the decision to bring a reptile into the home.

Emily Miller of Petmania explains, 

“Some reptiles or exotic animals can live for more than 50 years so when making the decision to bring one into your family, it is important to do your research and be comfortable with that commitment. Reptiles make a wonderful pet but before you consider adopting a reptile, take a look at petmania.ie to see what you need to keep them happy and healthy.”

Petmania’s Ambassador, ‘Dogtor Bob’ is a small and exotic animal veterinarian surgeon based in Dublin. His area of speciality is exotic animals including birds, fish, reptiles and small mammals.

Dr Bobby said, 

“Reptiles and exotic animals make interesting and unusual pets, but like all creatures, they come with very specific needs that should be met to ensure that they stay happy and healthy. Here are my top seven tips to consider when getting a pet reptile.

  1. One of the most important things to do before you even bring home your new pet lizard is to ensure they have a place to live. Reptiles need special housing called a vivarium to meet their physical and emotional needs. You want your lizard to feel safe and comfortable, while also keeping its enclosure at the correct temperature and humidity.
  2. Consider the substrate of the habitat which should have a small area of sand with the rest of the area being reptile carpet, rocks and slate. There can also be a small bowl with water that allows the pet to drink.
  3. Lighting is very important for pet reptiles because it provides heat as well as helps with bone development. Reptiles are endothermic meaning that they can’t regulate their own body temperature. If they are not kept at the correct temperatures, they can start to become very lethargic, stop eating or drinking, which leads to further illnesses.
  4. Most reptiles eat a mix of live feed and vegetation. Snakes are a carnivore, meaning they eat a meat-only diet. They consume a variety of prey, including mice, rats, birds, bats, and insects. Most captive snakes are fed thawed rodents, such as mice or rats, so storage and preparation of meals must be a consideration.
  5. Like any pet regular cleaning of your pet’s home will be required to maintain its ongoing health. I recommend removing waste, debris, dead feeder insects, shed skin from the vivarium and changing the water daily. Once a week, clean and disinfect the enclosure thoroughly and replace any soiled substrate.
  6. When considering a reptile as a pet ensure that you have family members that are very familiar with the care that is needed for your reptile who can step in. Not just feeding but identifying problems with their habitat like temperature, change in behaviour etc. They also need to be comfortable with handling the creatures to check they are healthy and not injured while you are away.
  7. Reptile species have very different exercise needs. Most snakes don’t need much exercise. Lizards do need a decent amount of exercise.  This can be provided by ensuring they have the largest enclosure possible, giving them space to ‘hunt’ for their live foods. This is incredibly useful as it also provides mental stimulation for them.”

Petmania has recently launched its new Pet Care Advice Centre, a free resource for pet owners with lots of useful information including lots more advice on raising reptiles from Veterinary Surgeon Dr Bobby Ortiz who specialises in exotic animals. For more information please visit www.petmania.ie


Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay