Why do tortoises hibernate? 0 266

Testudo Hermanni

Not all species of tortoise hibernate, but most Mediterranean breeds are not built to be awake and eating all year round. If you do own a pet tortoise, it’s important to find out whether your tortoise should be hibernating for part of the year and if so, to hibernate your tortoise in a safe, comfortable box kept at the correct temperature. For now, let’s take a look at why tortoises often need to hibernate, even when they’re kept as pets.

Evolution

Many breeds of tortoise have hibernated in the wild for thousands of years, which means that modern tortoises are genetically geared for this kind of life cycle. Some common tortoise breeds that do hibernate include the Hermans tortoise, the Marginata tortoise and the Spur thigh tortoise. Conversely, Leopard tortoises and African spurred tortoises do not need to hibernate; this is because their wild ancestors do not hibernate.

What purpose does hibernation serve?

Nobody knows exactly why tortoises hibernate in the wild, but there are some theories floating around. Tortoises cannot maintain their own body temperature independent from environmental temperature, and hibernation is one way for a tortoise to exercise some control over its body temperature. The most common theory of tortoise hibernation is that period of dormancy and sleep halt growth which prevents the tortoise from growing too fast too quickly; winter hibernation in tortoises also results in a shutdown of hormones and a hormone surge in the spring, which could be a way of regulating the animals’ reproductive cycle.

How do I hibernate my tortoise?

It’s recommended that before hibernating your tortoise for the first time, you read a detailed guide to familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts of tortoise hibernation. Generally, in hibernation, tortoises need to be kept in a small tub somewhere with a steady temperature between 3 and 7°C. It is usually recommended that pet tortoises are not hibernated in the first year of life, while lighter tortoises should be hibernated less or for short periods of time, to prevent too much weight loss.

Find out more about tortoise care.

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Should you choose a chameleon as a pet? 0 1076

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 0 411

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.