When choosing a tank for your reptile you need to take in consideration several things. Remember that your small reptile will grow! So be sure that your tank will accommodate your reptile’s full adult size. Be sure that the home has a tight-fitting lid so that your reptile can not escape. The tank will either be a screen or a combination of screen/glass – this will depend on the type of reptile.
When setting up the tank you want to make it as comfortable and secure as possible, the best way of doing this is to make the tank as much like your reptiles natural habitat as possible. Be sure that there is proper ventilation.
You will want to maintain the humidity level inside of the tank at 20%-35%. You can place a humidity gauge (hygrometer) in between the basking area and cool area of the habitat. The temperatures inside the tank will vary depending on the type of reptile but a general guideline for desert reptiles are as follows:
Day: 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure this with thermometer in cooler region.
Night: 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Basking: 90-115 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure this with thermometer in basking region.
Lighting and heating
The best source of heat is from a heat lamp that is designed for the size of your reptile, the tank and will not burn your pet. We do not recommend heat rocks or heat pads because your reptile will burn from sitting on the rocks or lying on heat pads. Most reptiles will also need a UV light. This UV light will replicate natural sunlight, and will also help your reptile process vitamins and food.
Reptiles cannot regulate their own body temperature; therefore you will need to have a hot and cold area in their tank so that they can regulate their own temperature. For most reptiles it is best to have the cold side between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit and the hot side between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the Reptilia group we recommend the paper chips for the bedding. For Amphibia group use orchid bark or bed-a-beast. You want to have 1 ½” of bedding on the bottom of the tank. Change the bedding once a month depending on the type of reptile.
Your reptile will need a hiding place like a hollow log or rock cave. This will make them feel safe and secure in their new home. The hiding place should be located on the hot side of the tank. You can add a natural look to the tank by adding artificial or appropriate live plants. This will also provide shade and shelter for you reptile. Just be sure when using live plants that they are non-toxic.
A basking area is also important. You can use branches, smooth flat rocks or hollow logs to create a basking area. Be sure when choosing branches that they are the appropriate size for your reptile. The branches will provide a climbing area for your reptile. Which ever you decide to use be sure to place it near the basking lamp so that when you reptile climbs up the will be closer to the warmth that the lamp gives out.
Routine cage maintenance is important in keeping your reptile safe and healthy. Reptiles are susceptible to digestive tract and bacterial infection of the skin, therefore the tank must be thoroughly and regularly cleaned.
Daily you should clean out any waste, shed skin and uneaten food using gloves or paper towels. If you using paper chips you can easily just scoop out the clumps.
Wash any food and water dishes using hot soapy water and let them thoroughly dry. Then use a disinfectant to sanitize them. Before using rinse thoroughly so that there is no soap or disinfectant residue. You may want to consider buying two or more sets of dish to easily replace one set while the other is being cleaned.
Weekly you should clean and disinfect the tank and cage accessories. During this time relocate your pet in a spare tank. Remove and wash all decorations using hot soapy water. Use a herp-safe cleaner to thoroughly clean all cage surfaces. Once everything is clean, thoroughly rinsed, and sanitize with a disinfectant. Then do a final hot water rinse on everything to remove any residue.
Let all items air dry completely before putting them back in the tank. Replace all bedding. Do not return your pet until the tank is completely dry and free of any fumes.
Food and Feeding
There are different types of diets for the different types of reptiles:
Herbivore – plant eater
Carnivore – meat eater
Omnivore – both plant and meat eater
Go to the following website to find out the type of diet your reptile needs:
You should find a veterinarian that specializes in reptiles. To find a vet in your neighboor, you can ask your local pet store or breeder. When visiting your veterinarian, for the reptiles safety, always provide them a carrier. It is best to establish this relationship with your vet before an emergency happens.