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Thinking Lizard Life?

Reptile Tips for New Owners

So, you are thinking of joining the reptile lover’s world and starting your very own terrarium. At Foremost, we want to make sure you are completely prepared. So, we decided to compile a short and sweet blog of useful tips for beginner herp lovers.

You’re considering the purchase of your first reptile. How can you be blamed? They are exotic and wild. You end up at the pet store and ask what would be best to get. When choosing your first reptile, it is vitally important to do all of your reading and research before acquiring your scaly companion. This may seem like common sense, but many lack the initiative to take it on their own. This is the best way to know which herp, or reptile, is best suited for you and yours. Herps are in captivity for our enjoyment, and we owe them every ounce of respect we have to make their lives as pleasant as possible.

Well, what are good species to start with? Buy Captive-Bred Animals. Judge a species based on total cost for the animal and their set up, ease of care, temperament, and availability. However, some (most) people want a more tame reptile who will tolerate all manner of handling, and decide against owning much easier to manage species because of cost. Avoid this. Your first experience of owning a reptile should be a positive one and compatibility is key to that success.

You now have everything you need and your new member of the family is snug at home. You notice that the water dish was knocked over and you need to clean up. Here are some helpful tips when handling your herp, but before you begin just remember to keep the three Cs in mind: cool, calm and collected.

Wash Your Hands: Snakes and lizards have amazing sensory organs. Wash your hands before handling reptiles and between handling different species. This also helps to eliminate the risks of introducing foreign bacteria, germs or parasites to your animals.
Keep the environment appropriate: Make sure that the place is quiet before taking your reptile out to handle it. Snakes may not have visible ears, but they can still detect noise; and lizards can hear too, so loud noises are likely to make them feel nervous, making them more likely to strike out. Ensure the temperature of the environment is suitable. Avoid polluted areas, smoking, car exhausts and cooking fumes are unhealthy for reptiles.

Let Food Settle: Whenever an animal is given a sizeable meal that can’t be digested in a single day, it is best to limit handling. Stress on the abdomen during digestion can provoke regurgitation, and this is harmful to animals for numerous reasons. Stomach acids could do damage, or bacteria from digesting food could travel to more susceptible parts of the body. Do not handle an animal with a visible lump unless it is absolutely required, and always exercise extreme care and caution.

Stroke in the right direction: Pet your reptile in the direction of their scales. Rubbing the scales the wrong way can cause injury to the reptile, and even to the person handling the pet if the scales are spiky.


Watch for signs that your pet is uncomfortable/feeling pain: Reptiles won’t sound out like dogs or cats when they are upset. Some of the following signs may suggest that your reptile is feeling insecure, uncomfortable or even in pain:

  • Heavy breathing
  • Unusual behaviour
  • For lizards, digging claws in and thrashing and rolling around are signs to watch out for.
  • Snakes may wrap themselves tightly around you, or draw themselves back to make the shape of an ‘S’.

If ever in doubt, you can always depend on Foremost. We are a phone call away with any questions or concerns. Some of our staff are reptile owners themselves, and will make sure you are paired with the right resources, as if the herps were their own. Come visit and see what we have in store for you.

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