Ask An Expert: 5 Tips For Owning Your First Reptile

July 8, 2016 5:00 AM

509428766 Ask An Expert: 5 Tips For Owning Your First Reptile(credit: Thinkstock)

A long-time reptile owner, Jessica Yi is well-versed in reptile knowledge and passionate about educating others. Having personally owned and cared for chameleons, bearded dragons and boa constrictors, as well as managed the care of countless other reptile species through her work at Hayward’s Reptile Room, Yi is adept at the nuances of reptile management. Here, Yi shares some expert knowledge on how to best prepare for first time reptile ownership.

Jessica Yi
The Reptile Room
1223 A St.
Hayward, CA 94541
(510) 727-9702

The Reptile Room is Hayward’s premier spot for reptile lovers. This sunny spot carries everything from live foods to feeders. Unlike most pet stores, the Reptile Room will often accept mildly sick or ill-matched pets for rehabilitation and rehoming. Employees at the Reptile Room are passionate about these unique animals and always willing to help first-time owners navigate the ins and outs of living with a reptile.

Do Extensive Research

Yi says the number one most important thing to do before embarking on reptile ownership is to do extensive research. Select a species or two of interest, and then devote some time to learning everything about each animal. Prospective owners should research the animal’s habits, personalities, gender differences, diet and more. Proper research prior to purchase can better help prospective owners select the right animal and avoid potential mishaps down the road.

Choose An Animal Compatible With Your Lifestyle

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting an animal compatible with one’s lifestyle. Yi shares that generally, nocturnal reptiles tend to require less daily maintenance, while diurnal reptiles require more intense monitoring. When selecting a reptile, prospective owners should evaluate how much time would be available for the animal’s care, as well as how many hours per day are spent at home. Another consideration is other pets within the home, and how well each species would adapt to living together. Finally, prospective owners should understand that unlike many mammal pets, many reptiles cannot tolerate excessive handling but provide other, less affection-based benefits.

Proper Habitat

Prospective reptile owners must ensure a proper habitat. Yi says reptiles are particularly sensitive to their environment, and can be harmed by anything from fresh paint to dust particulates during remodeling. Certain reptiles prefer a small enclosure, while others like more space in which to move. Again, Yi reiterates proper research to learn how to best house a potential reptile pet.

Prepare For Growth

Those looking to adopt a new pet reptile should take the time to find out how large an animal will grow. Many new owners may not realize that adorable little 4-inch iguana will one day grow to six feet. Knowing how large a pet will become, will help owners decide if they’ll have enough space to house a full-grown animal. Also to take into consideration is how diet and habitat requirements can change as an animal matures.

Financial Stability

Lastly, Yi recommends taking a close look at one’s financial situation. Owning a reptile can be a long-term commitment, and while some might have the space to house a full-grown animal, one might not necessarily be able to afford the care of one. Financial stability is key to providing a reptile with the proper enclosures, diet and medical care to ensure a happy and healthy life.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.