Reptiles are cold blooded, scaly animals that belong to the class Reptilia, which includes snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises. They all have waterproof skin that is covered in keratinous scales which enables them to survive in dry habitats.
Many people shudder at the thought of keeping snakes or lizards as pets but this is one area of popularity in the pet world that is growing rapidly. Snakes and lizards are much less demanding than dogs or cats- they DONT take up much space, they DONT eat much and they DONT make a lot of noise or mess. Of course, they are nowhere near as affectionate as dogs or cats, but they are fascinating and fun pets to keep.
All Australian reptiles are protected by law and different states have different licensing rules. Contact your National Parks and Wildlife Services for the regulations in your state. Be sure to buy from a licensed seller.
If kept properly, reptiles can thrive in captivity but it is important to realise that they have very specific requirements regarding light, temperature, shelter and feeding.
The term “cold- blooded” to describe reptiles is a little misleading. On a warm day a snake may have a higher blood temperature than a mammal.. Reptiles rely on the environment to warm their bodies for energy. Once warm they can hunt and digest their prey and for this reason temperature control is one of the most important factors to get right when caring for reptiles.
For first time snake owners, I recommend a Children’s Python- a python native to northern Australia. They are a small species that generally have a very good temperament and if handled regularly from an early age they are usually passive adults.
Any new snake owner will have to deal with snake meal times. As snakes are predators, they tend to eat other animals such as small mice or rats-luckily you can buy these frozen in various sizes from your pet shop. When you buy your snake., it is essential to pay special attention to its feeding requirements and frequency of feeding.
There are a variety of lizards that can be kept with a license such as Blue Tongue Lizrdas and Lace Monitors but a personal favourite of mine is the Bearded Dragon. Bearded Dragons make great pets and really seem to have personality. They are terrestrial ( live on land) , sun-loving and very attractive lizards that are a manageable size and live well in captivity.
In the wild, lizards eat a wide variety of foods including grasshoppers , fruit flies and plant matter. In captivity, you can feed crickets and mealworms, combined with chopped greens. Again, speak to your breeder for specific dietary requirements.
DID YOU KNOW
* A person who studies reptiles is called a herpetologist.
*Although native to Australia, Bearded Dragons have taken America by storm. First imported to the USA in the 1980’s, they were immediately popular herpetologists due to their great looks and docile temperament. They have now been bred as part of a large scale propagation programme which has seen them become the most popular type of lizard kept as a pet in America. Go Aussies!