More people in the Tahoe and Truckee area have reptiles as pets than you would think, and owning a reptile can be just as rewarding as owning a cat or dog.
However, care for a reptile can be as time consuming or expensive as owning a cat or dog.
If you or your children are interested in owning a reptile, here are a few tips to consider before purchasing or adopting one.
Age: When choosing a reptile, one must consider the time commitment of owning such a pet. Depending on the type of reptile, life spans can range from five years to over 100 years for some tortoise species. They could possibly out live you.
Housing: Proper housing is essential for your reptile and needs vary depending on the type of reptile. Snakes generally require smaller spaces, while green iguanas may require up to 6 feet of space.
Reptiles are also cold blooded animals, meaning that their body temperature is regulated by their environment. Temperature requirements can range from 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Housing units require special heating and UV lighting lamps, as well as variation of substrates, temperatures and water sources.
Diet: Diet depends on whether your reptile is a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. Most diets require calcium supplementation as well.
Some reptiles require live prey such as crickets, which would require more trips to the pet store for food.
Ensuring your reptile receives a proper diet can also prevent a visit to the veterinarian, as nutritional deficiencies are a common reason for diseases in captive reptiles. Some reptiles need to be fed every day, and other reptiles can be fed every two to three days. Some snakes will only need to be fed two to three times per month.
Time and expense involved with keeping a reptile can be under estimated. Unfortunately, some reptiles are abandoned at animal shelters.
If you are interested in owning a reptile, consider rescuing one from a reptile rescue organization. For more information regarding owning and caring for reptiles, please visit www.anapsid.org or www.tahoepetstation.info/#!reptiles
Dr. Gina Kang, DVM, MS lives in Truckee and works at the Doctor’s Office for Pets in Truckee. She sees all pets including cats, dogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. More information can be found at www.doctorsofficeforpets.com or call 530-587-5144.