Caring for a household pet like a cat or dog comes with plenty of easily and quickly accessible information. First-time owners know they have plenty of places they can seek help or advice in caring for their first furry friend. But what about first-time reptile owners? While there are plenty of experts, reptile ownership is a bit more niche, and involves a more unique kind of knowledge. If you want to bring home your first snake or lizard, you will need to do a bit more research on exactly how to establish a habitat to keep your new pet happy and healthy. To help, here are some tips from a Dallas expert who knows their reptiles.
DFW Reptile And Rescue
www.dfwreptilerescue.tripod.comJeff and Mindy are through-and-through reptile lovers. So much so that they don’t just own a few of their own scaled pets — they save them throughout the DFW area. Since 2006, they have run a reptile rescue out of their own home, using their own funds. It’s a noble cause, and one bred out of a love of all things reptile. Part of their business involves caring for the creatures they’ve saved, including taking them to the vet and preparing them to go to a new, loving home.If you want to make sure your own pet is well-cared for, here are some tips.

Temperature Is KeyMore than perhaps any other pet, heat and temperature control is a crucial part of caring for your reptile. They cannot generate their own body heat, so without carefully monitoring and maintaining sources of heat for them, they won’t make it. Be sure the enclosure you set for your pet includes heat lights and/or lamps. But also be sure to provide a space for the pet to cool down so they don’t get too hot — the best bet is to create one heated end and one cooler end for a “thermo-gradient” enclosure.

Re-Create The EnvironmentIf you do not properly re-create the natural habitat for your pet, they will become stressed and very unhappy. Unlike cats, dogs, hamsters and most other household pets, reptiles need to feel like they are in nature. To re-create this effect, be sure to offer a “natural” looking water source, and plenty of logs, sticks, leaves, etc. where your pet can hide or bask out under the heat.

Buy From A Reputable Place Reptiles are sensitive, and can become quite sick and unwell quickly. But they also have a notable ability to hide illness and a deteriorating condition from the outside. They can be quickly deteriorating in health while showing few or even no outside symptoms, and it would be sad and discouraging to have your new pet die within a few days of coming home. Be sure to buy your pet from a reputable seller, where you know it has been properly cared for and checked for veterinary concerns.

Related: Best Zoo Exhibits In DFW

Find A VetCats and dogs are commonplace for vets, but reptiles aren’t. Reptiles are classified as “exotic pets,” which means most vets will charge extra money to see them. Before taking the plunge in buying a reptile, familiarize yourself with the cost for basic veterinary needs and find the best options in the area for you.

Wash Your HandsReptiles are cool and interesting pets, but they also harbor more diseases than others. If you have a reptile pet you will be handling, it is very important to always remember to wash your hands directly after. Many reptiles can transmit salmonella to their handlers, making this a much more obligatory activity for the careful pet owner. If you have small children, with weaker immune systems, you may want to reconsider owning a reptile.

Related: Ask A DFW Expert: Tips For Creating A Cat-Friendly Environment

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