Where to Buy a Reptile to Keep as a Pet?

Reptiles can be intimidating. They can also be great pets. The key is to make sure to be educated as the owner. Many reptiles are purchased for pets for the wrong reasons and customers do not do the reasearch ahead of time. Sometimes a reptile is purchased as merely a show-piece to impress. Maybe owning an exotic reptile makes the person feel more important, more interesting, more dangerous. But many people just don’t know what they’re getting into because they don’t research the proper care of the reptile beforehand.

First, you must know the laws in your state for owning an exotic pet. In Australia, for example, you need a license to keep a native reptile in captivity. This is also considered the wild, as it is a natural environment. A reptile breeder or a pet shop may be the only places to legally obtain a reptile to keep as a pet.

It’s really better for the reptile to make sure that the one you are purchasing is born in captivity. The majority of reptile now are all captive bred.

You will find these days that alot of people may be selling retpiles on-line or off sites such as craigs list. Remember you are taking your chances on the health of the pet, and you have no way to monitor the animal before your purchase. Hopefully, you will already have a good idea of what the pet and all it comes with would cost should you purchase it all new so that you won’t get ripped off.

Big well-known reptile shows carry reptiles and accessories. Regulars keep booths on a regular basis, so that returning to ask questions may not be a problem. Be sure to ask if the seller is a regular at the show or how you may contact him/her after your purchase.

To learn about the reptile and its needs, you can always check out books at the local library. You can always check out forums on-line such as Facebook which has reptile groups that you can post questions towards. As with most things on-line you must take all the opinions with a “grain of salt” not everything you are told is true. We feel that the best way to learn about the reptiles of your choice is to talk to one of our reptile experts at Sierra Fish & Pets. We can help you answer any of the questions you might have on the habitat, lighting, temperature levels, and proper set up for the animal you are thinking about. Be aware that just because certain pet shops have a certain pet for sale, does not mean the salesclerk is an expert in the care and special needs of that particular animal. Do your own research beforehand, no matter what kind of reptile you are thinking about purchasing and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

AQUATIC TURTLES

Aquatic turtles are among the most popular reptiles kept as pets. There are many aquatic turtle species that make great pets when cared for properly. Although there are many different types of aquatic turtles in North America, the maintenance and care requirements in captivity are all very similar.  In the state of Washington we are only able to have turtles that are a minimum size of 4” across the shell. It is important to remember that turtles are long lived animals and many will live more than 20 years. Keeping a turtle is a long-term commitment and needs to be considered before purchasing. Please do not release pet turtles into the wild.

Common Name: Aquatic Turtles

Scientific Name: Graptemys spp., Trachemys spp., Pseudemys spp.+

Distribution: Southeast and Central U.S.A.

Size: 5-12″

Life Span: 6-35+ years

HABITAT

Depending on species, adults will need a minimum of a 40 gallon aquarium per pair of turtles.  Provide hiding places and basking areas with the correct heat lamp wattage and UV lighting. Provide filtration with either a hang on tank filter or canister filter such as Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter.

HEATING
Daytime Terrarium Air Temperature: 75-80° F .
Basking Spot: 85-90° F
Splash-proof Halogen Lamp is the safest and best choice for providing basking heat to your turtles. Water Temperature: 78-80°F .
A quality aquarium heater will be needed to maintain water temperatures between 75-80°F. Position basking areas in places where turtles can exit the water, using decorative rocks or a Turtle Dock.

LIGHTING

UVB Lighting is essential for aquatic turtles to process calcium in captivity. Lighting should be provided for 8-10 hours per day. Without UVB lighting turtles will develop serious health problems such as Metabolic Bone feeding turtleDisease (MBD) or infected eyes. ReptiSun® 5.0 UVB Linear fluorescent or Compact Fluorescent Lamps are a great choice for providing UVB. The halogen bulbs are a great choice to provide both UVB and basking heat, however care must be taken to keep the lamp away from water.

SUBSTRATES

Large gravel or river rocks are the best for aquatic turtles. Do not use too small of substrate as these can be accidentally ingested and may cause impaction.

NUTRITION

Most aquatic turtles are omnivores that change their diet throughout their lives. Aquatic Turtle Foods have been formulated to offer balanced nutrition throughout the changing life stages of your turtle.  Turtle Sticks are a floating food that is formulated with both fish and plant matter to simulate the natural diet of aquatic turtles.  Provide a cuttlebone that will help maintain proper calcium levels and the turtle’s beak.

BOX TURTLE

Box turtles are one of America’s favorite turtles and can be a rewarding pet if given the proper care. Although they spend much of their time on land, Box turtles need constant access to shallow freshwater and high levels of humidity. Box turtles have fascinating personalities and will quickly begin to recognize their keeper. With a varied diet that includes every food group, feeding box turtles is easy. There are 6 species of Box turtles; however basic care requirements are very similar for them all. It is important to remember that turtles are long lived animals and many will live more than 20-40+ years. Keeping a turtle is a long-term commitment and needs to be considered before purchasing.  Always buy captive bred Box turtles.

Common Name: Box Turtle

Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina, T. ornata
Distribution: Eastern and Central United States
Size: 4-7″
Life Span: 20-40+ years

HABITAT

Hatchlings and turtles under 3 years of age can be housed in a 20 gallon long terrarium. Box turtles will do best if kept outdoors in temperatures that do not fall below 50°F in winter. If being kept indoors, an adult Box turtle will need at least a 30 gallon terrarium. Turtles can be taken outdoors to provide natural sunlight when temperatures permit.

HEATING

Daytime Terrarium Temperature: 70-80° F
Basking Spot: 85-87°F
Nighttime Temperature: 65-75°F

Basking lamps, Mercury Vapor, Ceramic Heat Emitter, and under tank heater are good choices for heating box turtle enclosures.  Heat Bulbs are a good supplemental heating source. Zoo Med’s ReptiTherm Habitat Heater is a great choice for heating large enclosures, or outdoor turtle houses. A Thermostat and rheostat will help maintain proper temperatures. Always monitor temperatures closely with a thermometer.

LIGHTING

UVB Lighting is essential for Box turtles to process calcium in captivity. Without UVB lighting turtles will develop serious health problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), abnormal shell growth and possible eye sores. UVB Lighting should be left on for 10-12 hours per day and turned off at night. Linear fluorescent and Compact Fluorescent Lamps are a great choice for providing UVB. The mercury vapor bulb is an excellent way to provide both UVB and heat all in one lamp!  Let you turtles have access to natural sunshine whenever possible, and always remember to provide a shaded area where they can retreat from the sun if needed and make sure you contain your turtle or keep a very close eye on them.  They can run of very quickly.

SUBSTRATES

A mixture of Eco Earth coconut husk & Forest Floor cypress mulch is the most preferred substrate for Box turtles.  Create the optimum substrate mix with 1/3 Forest Floor cypress mulch, 1/3 Eco Earth coconut fiber, and 1/3 ReptiSand.  We recommend providing a deep 4″+ of substrate to allow your turtle to burrow. We recommend providing a gradient of moisture for your turtle.  This gradient can be created by keeping moistened moss and Eco Earth in one corner, and drier Eco Earth or cypress mulch on the opposite side.  Your turtle will move between these areas as needed.

NUTRITION

Box turtles are opportunistic omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods.  Variety is the key to raising and keeping healthy box turtles. Insects, meat/fish, grasses, fruits, and vegetables are all part of a natural Box turtle diet.  Ornate Box turtles are more carnivorous than the rest and will require more protein in their diet.  Canned Box turtle food is an excellent staple diet for all box turtles.  Add live insects to the mash to entice reluctant turtles to begin feeding. Pellet foods are an excellent choice of maintenance diet because it offers a variety of high quality ingredients that are similar to the diversity of foods found in the wild.

Canned insects make offering a variety of feeder insects easy and convenient. Fruit mixes are a great treat to be offered to box turtles and a great addition to your “mash”. It is essential to supplement your turtle’s diet with calcium and vitamins as directed to provide balanced nutrition. A calcium block is a great way to offer calcium and help maintain your turtle’s beak. When giving your turtle any grasses make sure that any grasses or plants offered have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.

WATER

Provide fresh water every day. Using a ram to allow your turtle to access their bowl is recommended. Make sure water levels are kept shallow to avoid accidental drowning.  Maintain humidity at 40-50% for adults, and 60-70% for hatchlings. ReptiFogger, spray bottle misting, can help to maintain precise levels of humidity. Always monitor humidity levels using a hygrometer. Offering dampened moss on the cool end of the enclosure will give your turtle a moist refuge for burrowing.

BEARDED DRAGON
Bearded Dragons are among the most popular pet reptiles in the hobby today. Their interesting behaviors and docile nature make them an excellent pet for first time reptile hobbyists. All Bearded Dragons found in the USA are captive bred. Many different color morphs are becoming available making the Bearded Dragon a great choice for any level reptile keeper.

Common Name: Bearded Dragon

Scientific Name: Pogona vitticeps

Distribution: Australia

Size: 16-20″

Life Span: 5-15 years

HABITAT

Juvenile Bearded Dragons need a minimum 20 gallon terrarium. Juveniles can be housed together. Adult Bearded Dragons need a minimum 40+ gallon terrarium. Provide plenty of hiding and basking places. Thick branches, rocks, Repti Hammocks, or Mopani Wood are an excellent choice for climbing and basking.

HEATING

Daytime Terrarium Temperature: 83-88° F.

Basking Spot: 95-105° F

Nighttime Temperature: 70°- 80°F.

A nighttime drop in temperature is naturally beneficial and can be done by turning the tank lights off and keeping the under tank heater (UTH) on 24 hours a day.  Basking Spot Lamp, mercury vapor, Ceramic Heat Emitters, and under tank heaters are good choices for heating Bearded Dragon enclosures.

LIGHTING

UVB lighting and heat are essential for Bearded Dragons to process calcium in captivity. Without UVB lighting Bearded Dragons will develop serious health problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). UVB Lighting should be left on for 10-12 hours per day and turned off at night.  Linear florescent and compact fluorescent lamps are a great choice for providing Bearded Dragons with UVB. The mercury vapor lamp is the best way to provide both UVB and basking heat all in one lamp!

SUBSTRATES

Bearded Dragons live in arid, sandy places in the wild and will do well on a variety of sand-type substrates in captivity. Hatchling Bearded Dragons will do best on reptile carpets. Burrowing Substrate will allow you to create a naturalistic terrarium complete with burrows and tunnels for your animals.  Mixture of sand and substrates can be used also.

NUTRITION

Bearded Dragons are omnivorous reptiles that change their diet throughout their lives. Juveniles will need to be fed pinhead to small size crickets daily along with other small insects such as mealworms.  Collard or Dandelion Greens, Romaine lettuce, Kale and other veggies can be offered 1-2 times per week. Always remove uneaten food after each feeding.

Boa Constrictor

Red tailed boa is among the most common and well known species of snakes kept as pets. The common name Red tailed boa refers to one of many types of boas found throughout Central and South America. These snakes can grow to a large but manageable size and are recommended only for keepers willing to provide adequate space for adults. The friendly demeanor and attractive coloration have made the Red tailed boa one of the most sought after snakes in the hobby. These tropical snakes are commonly bred in captivity and we recommend purchasing captive bred animals only.

Common Name: Red Tailed Boa

Scientific Name: Boa constrictor

Distribution: Central and South America

Size: 3-10’

Life Span: 15-25 years

HABITAT

Neonates to juveniles (under 3’) can be housed in a 20-40 gallon terrarium. 40-60 gallon terrariums are an excellent choice for young boas. Adult Boas will need an enclosure that is no shorter than half the length of the snake. There are several cages that we carry to house adult boas. Minimal cage size for adults should be 4’ x 2’x 1’. A secure, lockable sliding-screen lid is required.

HEATING

Daytime Terrarium Temperature 80-85°F

Basking Temperature 85-92°F

Nighttime Terrarium Temperature 72-78°F

Create a thermal gradient in your snake enclosure by placing a heat lamp and an Under Tank Heater on one side of the terrarium. By placing all the heating elements on one side of the cage, you will naturally provide the proper thermal gradient. A thermometer will help you keep an eye on terrarium temperatures. An Under Tank Heater is essential to provide belly heat to your snake while it digests a meal.

LIGHTING

Snakes typically do not require UVB to meet their vitamin D requirements. However, many snakes receive UVB and sunlight in their natural habitat and there is new evidence that they benefit from UVB lighting in captivity.  Fluorescent lamps can be used to illuminate your terrarium and create a natural day/night photoperiod.

SUBSTRATES

Boa Constrictors will do best on Aspen Snake Bedding, cypress mulch, Eco Earth or ReptiBark. We recommend a substrate layer of 2.-3″ in depth. Provide moistened moss in a cave to create a humidity chamber. This chamber will help your snake shed its skin as it grows.  Reptile carpet can be used as a safe, environmentally friendly and easy-to clean substrate.

NUTRITION

Boa Constrictors can be fed exclusively mice and rats throughout their lives we recommend frozen rodents only. Rodents provide snakes with the needed calcium and vitamins. Have fresh water available at all times.  Zoo Med’s Corner Bowls are an excellent choice of water bowls for all snakes. When choosing the proper sized food item for your snake select a mouse/rat that is the same size, or slightly bigger than the girth of your snake body. Young will eat 1 hopper mouse per week.  Juveniles will eat 2 adult mice or 1 rat pup per week. Adults will eat 1 appropriately sized rat per week. Large adults may need larger food items such as rabbits, Guinea pigs, or similar sized food.

CORN SNAKE

Corn snakes are beautiful snakes with a very gentle disposition.  Over the years, captive breeding of this species has created an amazing variety of color morphs that are now available to beginner hobbyists. They were given the name “Corn” snake because they were commonly found in barns where corn was being stored. They enjoy the shelter that barns create, and the mice and rats that are attracted to the corn.

Common Name: Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake
Scientific Name: Elaphe guttata

Distribution: Eastern to Central United States
Size: 3′-6′
Life Span: 15-20 yrs. + years

HABITAT

Hatchling to juvenile corn snakes (under 2′) can be housed in a 10 gallon terrarium. Adult Corn snakes will need at least a 20-40 gallon terrarium. We recommend keeping corn snakes in an enclosure that is no shorter than half the length of the snake. A secure, lockable sliding screen lid is essential for these snakes.  Wooden caves or Cork Bark will provide a secure hiding place to help reduce stress.

HEATING

Daytime Terrarium Temperature 75-79°F
Basking Temperature 85-88°F
Nighttime Terrarium Temperature 72-75°F

Create a thermal gradient in your snake enclosure by placing a heat lamp and an Under Tank Heater on one side of the terrarium.  Heat bulbs are a good choice for heating snake enclosures. By placing the heating elements on one side of the cage, you will naturally provide the proper thermal gradient. A thermometer will help you keep a close eye on terrarium temperatures. Keep all hideouts on the cool end of the enclosure. An Under Tank Heater is essential to provide belly heat to your snake while it digests a meal.

LIGHTING

Snakes typically do not require UVB to meet their vitamin D requirements. However, many snakes receive UVB and sunlight in their natural habitat and there is new evidence that they benefit from UVB lighting in captivity.  Fluorescent lamp can be used to illuminate your terrarium and bring out the full natural colors of your beautiful Corn snake.

SUBSTRATES

Corn snakes will do best on Aspen Snake Bedding, cypress mulch, or ReptiBark.  We recommend a substrate layer of 2-3″ in depth. Provide moistened moss in a cave to create a humidity chamber. This chamber will help your snake loosen its skin before it sheds.  Carpet can be used as a safe, environmentally friendly, and easy-to clean substrate.

NUTRITION

Corn snakes can be fed exclusively mice and small rats throughout their lives. Rodents provide snakes with the needed calcium and vitamins. We recommend feeding only frozen/thawed rodents. Have fresh water available at all times.  Corner Bowls are an excellent choice water bowl for all snakes. When choosing the proper sized food item for your snake select a mouse/rat that is the same size, or slightly bigger than the girth of your snake body. Hatchlings will eat 1 pinkie mouse per week. Juveniles will eat 1 hopper-adult mouse per week. Adults will eat 1 appropriately sized rat, or 2 adult mice per week.

Now that you have decided to get a pet scorpion it’s time to acquire all the supplies you will need to house him and create a proper habitat. You should have your pet’s new cage ready before you bring him home. Below is a list of the supplies that will be needed. This is a general care sheet. For more information on a specific species there is a list of popular pet scorpions in the sidebar.

Supplies

You will need a locking screen top tank. A 5 -10 gallon tank is fine for one or two scorpions. A 15-20 gallon tank will be needed if keeping a communal colony.

Emporer Scorpions (Pandinus imperator) are from West Africa. They live and thrive in hot, humid regions. Not aggressive. Sting hurts, but venom is generally harmless. A lot of people keep them as “pets.”
For tropical scorpions you will need Eco-earth, bed-a-beast, or similar substrate. For desert scorpions you may use commercial play sand as a substrate.

A hide area:
Driftwood and logs available at most pet stores work well for this.

A shallow water dish.

Optional decorations available at pet stores may be added to the cage if you desire to make it a more attractive and natural looking habitat.

An under-the-tank heat pad should be provided on one side of the tank.

Specific lighting is not required for scorpions because they are nocturnal. A light can be used to create a day and night cycle.

Gut loaded crickets and other insects for feeding.

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