Your First Reptile

Are you considering adding a reptile habitat to your 4S Ranch home? There are some distinct benefits to having a reptilian pet. Reptiles are fairly low maintenance, provided they have a proper habitat. You also don’t have to worry about house training your snake or teaching your turtle not to chew your shoes. That said, like all animals, reptiles do need proper care and attention. If you are considering getting your first reptile, you’ll want to do a bit of research before deciding which type is right for you.


Snakes are quite popular as pets. Their feeding habits are not for the squeamish, so if you balk at the thought of giving your scaled pet live or pre-killed/frozen prey, a snake may not be the best fit for you. Choose a snake bred in captivity from a local, well-reputed breeder. Corn snakes, King Snakes, Milk Snakes, and ball pythons are typically mild-mannered snakes that are quite easy to care for and are great for beginners. Reticulated pythons, anacondas, and venomous snakes should never be kept as pets.

Turtles and Tortoises

Did you know the difference between turtles and tortoises? Turtles are omnivorous, and spend most of their time in or near the water, while tortoises prefer land and are herbivores. Both species have very specific needs when it comes to habitat and diet. Turtles will eventually need at least a 29-gallon tank and a varied diet that includes prepared and live food. Tortoises will require their habitat to be least 40 gallons. They will eat mostly vegetables, with some fruit and prepared foods. Some “Beginner” turtles include the African Aquatic Sideneck, Painted Turtle, Caspian Turtle, and Red Ear Slider Turtle. Greek, Russian, and CB Red Footed tortoises are all good choices for those ages 12 and up.

Geckos, Iguanas and Lizards

Wild-caught lizards tend to be more susceptible to parasitic infestations and disease, so if you choose a lizard as a pet, it’s best to get one from a reliable breeder. Green Anoles, Leopard Geckos, and Bearded Dragons, are all good lizards for starters. Iguanas make great pets, but can be more high-maintenance than many people suspect. Lizards have specific habitat requirements, such as UV lighting, so you’ll want to research to find out what environment is best for your lizard’s specific species.

Please contact us with any questions about caring for reptiles. Also, remember to check our site regularly for more articles and tips from your 4S Ranch vet.

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