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from Chiswick Pets

Chiswick Pets

32 - 34 Devonshire Road

0208 747 0715

General Information on keeping Reptiles and Amphibians

This page contains general care information for reptiles and amphibians.  However please note that this is not a complete guide and each species will have differing individual requirements.

If you are interested in keeping a reptile, please speak to a member of staff for more information on each species' specific needs

Skip to: Housing ~ Heating & Lighting ~ Feeding

Housingtree frog
The most common type of reptile/amphibian housing is a Vivarium - these are enclosed tanks which usually open at the front and can be all glass or just glass-fronted.  Some species can live in converted fish tank type housing, though it can be difficult to properly secure the lid.
All housing should allow the animal to behave naturally, with places to hide, things to climb on, places to bask, and anything else that species may require, like somewhere to burrow or water to swim in. As reptiles and amphibians are not able to regulate their own body temperatures, they should have access to both a warm and cool area, usually at opposite ends of the vivarium, so that they can move between the two places freely and control their temperature.  The exact temperature at each end will vary depending on species.  The cool area is usually where the water bowl is placed, and usually this should be big enough for the animal to climb inside to help the cool down.
The size of vivarium necessary varies greatly, obviously smaller animals do not require as much space, and sometimes a smaller area can make it easier for the animal to hunt.

Heating & Lighting
The exact types of heating and lighting required is different for each species.  Generally, the environment needs to be warmer than the general room temperature, with a hotter and cooler end to allow the animal to regulate their body temperature.  Ambient heat can be provided with a heat mat and heat bulbs are generally used to create basking or "hot spots".  Some species such as tortoises also require UVA and/or UVB bulbs. 

Feeding (click for foods list)
baby chameleonReptile diets vary quite widely, from those that are totally vegitarian, some who eat insects, others who eat meat, and some who will eat only a few very specific foods.  Specific diets for each species can be very different, so this is something that should be carefully researched.  Most species require some kind of calcium and vitamin supplements to be added to their normal feed.

Fruit & Vegetable Diets
- usually consist of vegetables such as cabbage and spring greens, carrot, cougette and similar.  Also fruit such as apple, pepper and cucumber.  For some species, such as tortoises and bearded dragons, dried pellet-type diets are available.

Insect Diets
- Insects are almost always fed live, as reptiles are unlikely to eat them otherwise.  Most reptiles will (and should be encouraged to) hunt insects let loose into their enclosure.  Locusts and crickets are the most commonly fed, whilst mealworms and waxworms (silkworms) can be fed as a treat or to fatten up underweight animals.

Meat diets
- All snakes, some lizards and some tortoises eat meat, either exclusively or in combination with other things.  Usually the meat is supplied frozen and simply defrosted before use, and usually the entire animal is fed.  Depending on the size of the reptile, rats, mice, gerbils, chicks, guinea pigs and rabbits are used.  Any uneaten food should be treated just the same as any other meat, and discarded before it goes off.