5 Common Mistakes Reptile Keepers Can Make
Deciding to get a pet is a major responsibility – even more so for those who choose the more complex, but rewarding, world of reptile husbandry.
When it comes to the health of a pet chameleon or other reptile, a pet parent’s goal should be to create conditions that maximize the animal’s ability to thrive in the habitat you provide. That means doing a lot of homework to learn as much as possible about everything a reptile needs to be happy and healthy for its entire lifespan.
With that in mind, let’s examine some of the five most frequent mistakes reptile keepers can make, and how to avoid them.
1. Not learning about the animal’s natural habitat first.
If a reptile keeper doesn’t know where their chosen reptile species originated, there is no way they can hope to duplicate its natural environment when they set up its housing. Does this animal need plenty of hiding spots? What is the minimum size of enclosure for it to stay healthy? Does it prefer interaction with other reptiles in the same species, or is it solitary? Failing to understand basic enrichment needs like these can lead to an overstressed animal living in the wrong environment, which equals a shorter life.
2. Approaching pet ownership with a “collector” mentality.
There’s a distinction between someone falling in love with a particular type or species of animal and having so many that they don’t have the time or resources to care for all of them properly. Responsible pet owners know not to bite off more than they can chew.
3. Being unsure how to recognize the warning signs of illness.
It is absolutely critical for pet owners to observe their animal’s behavior daily for any changes in activity level, appetite or routine. No matter how comfortable a reptile becomes around its human handlers, it is still a wild animal at heart, and therefore will hide signs of weakness instinctively. If a reptile keeper fails to notice that their pet is displaying one or more of the red flags of illness, the animal could decline rapidly before its human even realizes what’s going on.
4. Not knowing if there’s a reptile vet nearby.
As a corollary to the point above, all reptile owners should have someone to call if they notice their pet has become sick or injured. While there are plenty of “normal” vets who specialize in dogs and cats, it can be more challenging to find vets who have the special additional training necessary to treat exotic pets such as reptiles. Those considering bringing a reptile into their home should know how to find a trustworthy reptile vet first.
5. Failing to establish a regular cleaning schedule for the reptile’s habitat.
Reptile owners who do not keep their pet’s environment clean and hygienic are jeopardizing the health of their animal. Learn more about maintaining a healthy home for a pet reptile.
Having a pet can greatly enrich both human and animal life, but only when people commit to doing it right. Though reptiles have very different requirements than dogs and cats, it’s still possible for someone who is willing to invest the time and effort into it to take excellent care of them.