Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

2826 HWY 2
Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K5


Choosing a Reptile as a Pet 


There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a reptile as a pet; each type of reptile requires specific environmental and dietary needs. To prepare yourself it is important to research the specific reptile's needs prior to their purchase. A reptile can make a very rewarding pet, and with the correct care and diet can live a long and healthy life. You also need to keep in mind that many of these animals can live for many years; therefore you need to be prepared to care for these animals for their projected lifespan. If you are using the internet as your information source be very careful to choose reputable, science-based websites.

The first decision you need to make is what kind of reptile you are interested in and what kind is most suited to your lifestyle. Reptiles can include snakes, turtles, lizards and more. There are many good "starter" reptiles that are a good starting point for novice reptile owners. The following list includes some good beginner reptiles;

  • Leopard Gecko
  • Bearded Dragon
  • Ball Python
  • Corn Snake
  • King Snake
  • Savannah Monitor

You need to take into consideration the time you will have to devote to the care of your reptile, the space you have to house them and how comfortable you are feeding them their appropriate diet, which may include whole prey like mice or rats.

When housing a reptile it is important to strive to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible in order to decrease unwanted stress. The following points are very important to keep in mind when purchasing an enclosure for a reptile:

  • The size of the enclosure appropriate to the size and type of reptile
  • The correct type of enclosure
  • The correct lighting required
  • The correct type of substrate to use as bedding
  • How to ensure the enclosure maintains the correct temperature and humidity
  • Ensuring the enclosure is escape proof

**Different species will have different requirements so it is important to do your research.

The correct diet is very important in reptiles as they can quickly become malnourished if they are not receiving the correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc. It is important to find out what your reptile requires to ensure a balanced diet. Important points include:

  • Correct type of food
  • Correct frequency of feedings
  • Correct amount of food
  • Are there any supplements that need to be added to the food?

It is important to recognize obvious signs of illness prior to purchasing. Ensure the animal has clear, bright eyes, no nasal or oral discharge, healthy looking scales or shell and a healthy looking weight. They should be attentive to their surroundings and be bright and alert when handled. Any reptile that appears to be ill or malnourished is not a good candidate for a pet, these animals should be avoided. Bring your newly acquired reptile to a veterinarian who is familiar with the species for a health check. Bring a stool sample if possible since parasites are a common problem in reptiles. If there are any signs of illness it should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian immediately. A reptile's condition can worsen very quickly therefore prompt treatment of the problem will result in a better prognosis for your pet.


Veterinary Care of your Reptile

It is highly recommended to have your new reptile is checked by a veterinarian within the first couple days of purchasing in order to ensure your reptile is in good health. Your veterinarian can also check for any internal or external parasites and guide you on the appropriate diet, housing, etc.  for your new reptile. Annual veterinary visits are also recommended as good preventive care to rule out any underlying conditions that may be present and ensure your reptile is at optimum health.

If you have any questions regarding the choice of reptile or a reptile that you currently own, please do not hesitate to call the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic at (905) 623-4431.