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Reptiles Warm Our Hearts

By: Roderick Balgobin

Yes, reptiles are cold blooded but for pet parents they certainly warm our hearts. Turtles, tortoises, snakes and lizards have a myriad of personalities and many pet parents enjoy interacting with reptiles and the fun they provide.

Most reptiles are marketed as pets that require minimal care; ultimately they require a great deal of love and care. Ensuring a habitat is spotless, understanding various feeding requirements, temperature and humidity control are just the basics. Many reptiles like iguanas can live up to 20 years, aquatic turtles can live up to 25 years and some types of geckos may live up to 30 years, under ideal conditions and care.

Proper Precautions and Care

With any pet, one must know how to care for their snake, lizard or turtle. One aspect that can be overlooked at times is that most reptiles carry Salmonella. Salmonella is not dangerous for reptiles, but it can make humans really sick. The bacteria is carried in their intestinal gut without harm, however when, for example a snake sheds or releases waste, Salmonella will be found in the skin and waste. The result may lead to the snakes having the bacteria on their body, so when handling any reptile, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands. It’s recommended to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds. To keep bacteria to a minimum it’s best to clean your reptile’s habitat routinely, being certain to change the bedding each and every time.


When setting up a new habitat for your reptile, be sure to know if they are a tropical species or temperate species. Knowing this will help determine what type of heating will be required. Tropical habitats will range from 80 degrees to 100 degrees. Temperate habitats should range from 65 degrees to 90 degrees.

Bulbs/basking lights should be 1.5-2 feet away from the habitat to prevent over heating your pet. Not all reptiles require a basking light. Be sure to properly research what your species of reptile requires. To better monitor the temperate of the habitat, always have two thermometers, one near the heating source for regulation and one two feet away from the heating source to understand temperature when the heating source is off. This tells us the conditions at ‘night’.

Basking lights are great providers of heat and comfort for some reptiles. Ultraviolet rays are essential as well for some species; research your specific pet to see if they require this. You may be keeping your pet close to a window for direct sunlight but there a couple of reasons why this is not optimal. Typical window glass blocks UV from passing through, so it’s best to have a UV bulb or a Vitamin D3 supplement to avoid any nutrient deficiencies. Remember, UV bulbs should remain about 18 inches away to ensure prime performance. Fresh distilled water should be provided daily for lizards and snakes. Turtles should have their water changed once a week.


Feeding varies from species to species. Some reptiles are more carnivorous than others, while some reptiles are pure herbivores. When looking to purchase a turtle, lizard or snake be sure to ask many questions possible. The more you ask, the more you will know. Proper knowledge, care and commitment can lead to over 10 or even 20 years of fun with your loved one!

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