Essential considerations when buying a tortoise 0 434

Keeping a tortoise as a pet

If you love reptiles, you may have toyed with the idea of owning a pet tortoise. These are truly fascinating creatures, having lived alongside the dinosaurs. Over millions of years of evolution, tortoises have grown to require fairly specific needs. However, they can be loving and fairly low-maintenance pets if you approach tortoise care in the right way. Here are a few things to think about before getting your tortoise.

Choosing a breed

Tortoises are very diverse animals, and different breeds will work better for different lifestyles. Russian, Bell, and Forest Hingeback tortoises are fairly small, growing up to 8.5”. Red Foots are a mid-range breed, growing up to 14”, while African Spur Thighs are a notably large breed, with some adults weighing well over 150 pounds. While vivariums and similar enclosures are fine for young tortoises and particularly small breeds, most will require some outdoor space to keep them in.

General supplies

As with any unusual pets, you need to ensure you have all the right supplies to keep your tortoise happy and healthy in its new home. When kept indoors, your tortoise will need a basking light to draw energy from, as well as a florescent UVB light to help it process vitamins and minerals healthily. To ensure the UVB rays are enough for your tortoise, set reminders to yourself to change them once every 6-8 months. A large water bowl is needed for drinking and soaking. Finally, your tortoise will need a heating pad. This will warm its belly, and help with its digestion.

Food

Like many other animals, infant and adolescent tortoises will need extra nutritional care to help them grow healthily. To this end, make sure you’re keeping them on a balanced diet of crispy, easily-digestible food, like grasses and leafy green vegetables. It’s also a good idea to get them some calcium and vitamin supplements. As their jaws mature, you can move them onto more solid foods like fruits. Fully-grown tortoises will be able to manage darker leafy greens, along with a wider range of go-to reptile food, such as fruits, earthworms, and crickets. If you’re ever unsure of what you should be giving your tortoise based on their age and breed, consult your vet.

Find out more about caring for your pet tortoise

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Should you choose a chameleon as a pet? 0 1670

Pet chameleon

Chameleons are not the easiest pet to take care of, and are more for the advanced reptile enthusiast. That said, they are beautiful creatures and they can thrive if well looked after.

Our pet care advice below will help you decide whether a chameleon is right for you:

Different types of chameleon

There are a few different chameleons suitable to be kept as pets: The Veiled or Yemen Chameleon is one of the easier species to keep. They can grow to two feet, so make sure you consider that when buying a cage.

Panther Chameleons are active during the day, and require a similar environment to the veiled chameleon. They grow up to about 20 inches.

Jackson’s chameleons are the smallest of these three breeds, and grow to around 10 inches. Some species of Jackson’s chameleons also have a horn.

All chameleons prefer not to be handled, and need to be housed on their own. If you want to breed your chameleons, make sure you look into this carefully.

Getting the environment right

A chameleon’s natural habitat is the humid rainforests and arid deserts, so they need a humid environment with enough space to allow for their tree climbing – the minimum size is three feet by three feet by four feet tall.

You’ll need to include lots of tree branches and foliage within the cage. The chameleon likes to bask, and you’ll need different basking spots, in a range of different temperatures, depending on your type of chameleon.

You’ll also need UV lighting that’s designed for reptiles as well as a misting system if you’re not going to be there to ensure humidity is at the right level. Misting needs to take place twice a day.

Feeding your chameleon

Chameleons are insectivores, and so a mixed diet of crickets, roaches, and worms is their preferred menu. Some also like vegetation such as fruits and vegetables.

Chameleons don’t drink from a bowl, preferring to take droplets of water from the leaves, so it’s important you’re misting twice a day, or providing a water system that drips.

With the right pet care, chameleons are a fascinating pet to keep, but are probably not for you if you want a reptile to handle. You’ll also need to put time into making sure their environment is right, as they can easily get sick if not.

Five snakes that are good for beginner reptile keepers 0 599

Pet Ball Python pet

Snakes are the most popular reptile pet to keep, but are they easy to look after? They do make unusual pets, but with good pet care – the right equipment, food and environment – they will thrive.

If you’re a beginner, what snake should you get to start you off? Here’s our rundown of five snakes that will make a great pet for first time snake keepers.

Corn Snake

Corn snakes are one of the most popular first time snakes to buy. They don’t grow too big – an adult corn snake needs a 20 gallon tank. They will live for around 20 years.

They’re easy to handle and to look after. They feed on mice. Corn snakes are quite active, so will need time outside their tank for exercise.

Royal or Ball Python

The royal python (also known as the ball python) can live for up to 30 years, and grow up to five feet.

Royal pythons are a timid species, so don’t appreciate much handling – they need somewhere to hide within their tank. For tank size allow 1 square foot to each foot of snake in length.

Royals eat mice or rats, depending on the size of their mouth.

King Snake

King snakes live for about 15 years. There are lots of different types, with some growing up to six feet.

King snakes are active, so will need time out of their tank, and can bite when cornered, but with careful and regular handling should settle.

They feed on mice and rats, and need the same sized tank proportions as a royal python.

Rosy Boa

Rosy boas are fairly docile, but can bite if caught unaware. Rosy boas grow to about four feet in length and will live for about 30 years. They need a reasonable size tank, and places to hide as well. Rosy boas feed on mice.

Garter snake

Garter snakes grow up to three foot long, and live to about 10 years.

They need around a 29 gallon tank to be comfortable. Garter snakes do eat mice, but prefer fish, and food like frogs, so it’s best to give them a varied diet.