Reptile Care

Most native reptiles are protected by Law which means they cannot be kept as pets without a permit. There are many reptiles and amphibians that can be kept with either a basic or advanced wildlife permit. Non-native reptiles are even more stringently controlled by Law as they pose significant risk to Australian ecosystems. Usually only zoos and fauna parks are given permits to hold these animals.

For more inforation on wildlife licences in victoria visit;

http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/wildlife/keeping-and-trading-wildlife/private-wildlife-licences

If you’ve found or rescued any injured wildlife it’s best to arrange bringing them in to the clinic so that we can triage the animal and organise transfer to a registered wildlife carer so they can rehabiltate and eventually release the animal back into the wild.

White lipped tree frog

Keeping native reptiles as pets requires special care and handling. Tortoises, lizards, snakes and frogs all require certain living environments and healthcare routines. When choosing what reptile or amphibian to buy there are many factors to consider. Some reptiles such as snakes can live for tens of years and some species such as the Scrub python can grow in excess of 5m long! The theory that reptiles are a low maintenance pet is misleading. Enclosures can take a considerable effort to establish and maintain, and considerations should be taken on whats involved with feeding your pets preferred diet.

 

Food

Domesticated snakes are usually accustomed to eating  dead mice, rats and chickens. Lizards may require a more complex omnivorous diet with special supplements mixed in. Tortoises are usually fed a meat-based diet, but calcium must be added to prevent shell deformities from developing. For all reptiles, it is essential to get specific dietary advice from us to meet the needs of the particular species.

Housing

The correct housing is essential for reptiles, otherwise health problems will occur. Reptiles should not be kept in wire cages as injuries can result. The correct type of wood, glass or plastic enclosures must be used. Correct temperatures are very important and some reptiles need to bask under a carefully regulated heat lamp. The heat lamp must be out of the animal's reach to prevent burns.

Humidity, ventilation and lighting need to be carefully proportioned and monitored.

Introducing larger rocks and gravel may be necessary to help with shedding old skin.

Space should be adequate to allow the animal to move about, explore and get some exercise. The floor of the enclosure may need to be a combination of sand, smooth gravel, leaf litter or absorbent paper. Special allocations may be required to enable the animal to find a suitable area for hibernation.

Clean water must be constantly available for drinking and also for swimming or immersing to help regulate temperature and skin moisture.

Health Problems

Keeping reptiles as pets can be more involved than common pets, so health problems are often encountered due to the incorrect housing, temperatures, humidity and diet.  Problems can present from parasitic diseases caused by intestinal worms, skin mites, and a variety of infections and injuries. Ensure that you bring your reptile in for medical attention at the first signs of sickness or injury.

Professional Advice

All reptiles have specialised needs. Please visit our clinic to discuss the needs of your reptile with our veterinary staff at the earliest possible opportunity.

Bearded dragons are commonly kept and make great pets.