For many parents, gifting their child a pet is a great way to teach their child responsibility and what it means to care for another living being. A reptile is an ideal candidate because when compared to other pets, including dogs and cats, reptiles live in an enclosure and can be easier to care for. However, realize that just because reptiles are smaller and don't require as much round-the-clock care does not meet these unique animals don't have unique needs and challenges. Here are a few of the most common mistakes beginner reptile owners make.
Not Doing Some Research
First and foremost, before you even consider purchasing a reptile, it is critical to understand the needs of each type of lizard. This includes the size of the tank, the substrate, the food, and the ideal environment for the reptile. Also, you need to understand that some reptiles require more care than others, and since you are a beginner, it is important to choose a reptile that you can safely and realistically care for.
Additionally, you should understand the long-term cost of owning the reptile. Many reptiles might be an inexpensive purchase, but their care will cost you more over the next few months and years. If you are unwilling to make this investment, you should not purchase that reptile.
Choosing the Wrong Type of Reptile
As mentioned above, all reptiles have different needs and there are some that the needs will be too complicated for a beginner to handle. For example, turtles and tortoises can live for several years and have a very specialized diet and if the animal's dietary needs are not met, the animal can become very ill.
For many beginners, including children, a leopard gecko is a good option. Leopard geckos are small, can eat a variety of insects, and are not as aggressive as other types of reptiles, including an iguana.
Improper Feeding and Handling
Finally, one of the most potentially devastating mistakes some beginner reptile owners will make is improperly feeding and handling their new pet. Each lizard will have its own dietary needs and it is critical that these needs are met. For example, some varieties of snakes will only eat other snakes, while others need to be fed thawed or fresh meat, such as mice. Other types of reptiles will only eat fish, while others will require a diet of both insects and vegetables.
Owning a reptile for the first time can be fun and exciting. If you have any other questions about properly caring for a reptile, don't hesitate to contact a reptile shop near you.