The Importance of Humid Hides for Healthy Pet Reptiles

download (14)In the same way that most humans need to have a little time to themselves every day, exotic pets such as lizards and snakes need a place to slip away. Pet owners typically call these hides because the pets like to hide in them, particularly if they are shy. They may also go into them to sleep. Without them, it is possible for an animal to feel a bit neurotic.

You can purchase hides, or you can make them out of items around the house such as small plastic containers and cardboard boxes. They can be as simple as small limbs and brush, or they can be an enclosure that the animal can enter. It is best to have a both kinds and a couple choices of each for the pet.

You can construct a simple homemade hide from a small plastic container that has an opening large enough for the animal. To provide humidity in the hide, you can line it with moist sphagnum moss or damp paper towels.

 

Reptile Vivariums – Tips to Create the Correct Environment

P1010390-1Keeping reptiles is unlike keeping other more traditional types of animals as pets, whilst you can interact and tame some lizards such as Bearded dragons, most reptiles cannot be trained or tamed like a dog for instance. Observing these fascinating creatures is one reason many people choose to keep reptiles as pets and creating the perfect environment in their vivarium is one aspect of the hobby many people spend many hours perfecting.

Considerations for the Health of your Reptile

Most reptiles will become stressed if a suitable hide is not provided, for a desert animal this may be in the form of a rock cave, whilst bark or foliage may offer a forest dwelling animal a more suitable hiding spot.

Also take into consideration the natural climate of the reptile, a desert animal would not want to much moisture as this could lead to health problems, however you may need to provide a moist box for shedding and a suitable drinking vessel, some animals require a humid climate to keep them healthy and choosing the correct substrate such as bark or coco husk is essential’

Heating your Vivarium

Reptiles are ‘cold blooded’ and cannot generate their own body heat, choosing the correct heat source is vital to the health of your pet, most reptiles will require the vivarium to be cooler at one end of the enclosure so place your chosen heat source with this in mind. Spot lamps, ceramic heaters and heat mats are the most common heat sources, each one operates in a slightly different manner so investigate which is the best option for you, for example a heat mat will only heat up the area it comes in to contact with, such as the floor or bottom of the tank so would not be suitable for a ‘tree dwelling, animal. Does your pet require a basking area, if so a suitable basking spot lamp or ceramic heater will be required

Reptile Keeping For Beginners

download (13)In this article, we will briefly go over the basic requirements of most reptiles to give you a background knowledge on reptile keeping before researching the species you are interested in. A few subjects such as diet have been excluded due to the wide variance between species.

HEATING

This is universal with almost all reptiles in captivity in the UK. Our climate does support many species of native reptiles from adders to slow worms, however the species commonly kept as pets are normally from much warmer climates and so additional heating is required. But it isn’t a simple matter of keeping the vivarium by a radiator!

All reptiles are cold blooded and so they can not control their body temperature independent to their environment like we do. The only way they can have some control over their body temperature is to move from warm areas to cool areas and vice versa. So we need to provide a temperature gradient. This is done by heating only one side of the vivarium to create a hot spot and leaving the other side relatively cool. The temperatures necessary on the hot spot and the cool end will vary from species to species so this needs to be researched.

LIGHTING

Many reptiles need specialist lighting. This is usually provided using fluorescent strip bulbs designed specifically for reptiles that emit a form of ultraviolet light called UVB, the most popular brand in the UK being Exo Terra’s Repti Glos though there are many other brands available varying in price. Pretty much any day active lizard will require this form of lighting. It is very important because day active reptiles synthesize a vitamin called D3 using UVB light. Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin that allows reptiles to metabolize the calcium in their food. Without it, they can not metabolize the calcium regardless how much is in their diet and so they will suffer from a crippling condition known as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) which can result in severe skeletal deformities and in worse case scenarios, death.

Normal fluorescent lights do not emit UVB and nor do common ultraviolet lights like “black lights.” Always use a light that is designed to be used for reptiles. These bulbs also emit visible light, however they will only emit UVB for a period of around 6 months so regardless of whether the bulb is still emitting visible light after this time it will need replacing.

For maximum effect, the bulb should ideally be no more than six to ten inches away from the reptile, though the range is effectively doubled if you use a reflector. Try to position the bulb and arrange the vivarium so that your reptile will spend a large part of the day within range of the bulb i.e., when basking.

There are several types of UVB emitting fluorescent bulb. Repti Glos come in three types: 2%, 5%, and 10%. The percentage refers to how much of the light’s spectrum is in the UVB range. 5% and 10% are the most popular though are suited for different types of reptiles. 5% bulbs are usually used with Rainforest and European species since the intensity of the sunlight in these areas is relatively low. 10% bulbs are usually used for desert species that spend a large part of their lives in direct sunlight.

Nocturnal reptiles like Leopard Geckos do not require any specialist lighting as they rarely venture out in daylight.

Please fully research the requirements of the reptile you are interested in before deciding which lighting system is best suited for you.

HUMIDITY

Humidity in the vivarium needs to be maintained to match the reptile’s natural environment. Without the appropriate humidity your reptile will suffer from respiratory problems, and if the humidity is too low, may have problems shedding their skin. Average indoor humidity in the UK is around 30-50% so if your reptile requires humidity levels higher than this the tank will need to be sprayed with a mister to raise the humidity. An inexpensive device called a Hygrometer can be used to monitor the humidity levels in the vivarium.

Vivariums with higher humidity levels are more prone to mites and mold so be sure to remove any feces and dead food immediately.