Reptile ownership can be tricky. Each reptile has its own specific needs and quirks that need to be taken into account. However the experience can be rewarding, and you may find that our cold-blooded friends are remarkably warm-hearted. In order to better prepare you for your first reptile, we spoke with Miss Kelly, owner and founder of Ferrets and Friends. Miss Kelly uses her business to provide educational animal shows for children’s parties, community events, and school or summer camp presentations.

Miss Kelly
Ferrets And Friends
Baltimore, MD 21202
443) 773-2213

Miss Kelly, owner of Ferrets and Friends, LLC, has been working with animals since she was a young child. Her experience with reptiles began while working at a pet store in Pennsylvania and a natural history museum in Delaware. She has personal experience in keeping a variety of reptiles from the small leopard gecko to the nearly dog-sized argentine tegu. She created Ferrets and Friends, LLC, in 2015.

Know What You Want From Your Pet Experience

Do you want an animal to curl up on your lap while you read your favorite book or do you want an animal that you can happily observe as it explores its enclosure? Do you want an animal that can easily be left while you are away for a week or do you take pride in caring for a higher maintenance pet? Do you enjoy watching an animal hunt its prey or would you prefer a peaceful vegetarian? These are questions to consider as you figure out what kind of reptile will best fit your interests, needs, lifestyle, space and budget.

Do your Research

There are many care sheets online that break down the needs of most common reptile species that are kept as pets. These include lifespan, adult size, housing requirements, humidity and temperature requirements and dietary needs. Many of the small baby reptiles that you see in pet stores can reach unexpected sizes or develop more aggressive behavior as adults. Red-tail boas and iguanas are frequently given up by owners who were not able to handle their behavior or size. Many people assume that reptiles lack longevity. However, most snakes or lizards can live as long as the average dog or cat. While reptiles do not require rabies vaccines, they do benefit from annual veterinary exams which often include a fecal test and bloodwork. It is also important to check local laws as certain reptiles are not permitted as pets in different states.

Get Everything Set Up Before You Get Your New Companion

Once you know what species you want, it’s time to get everything prepared at home. If you are getting a baby reptile, you may need a smaller enclosure and then transfer them to larger enclosures as they grow. Many reptiles require heat lamps or heating pads. Never use a heat rock in your pet’s enclosure. Species that stay awake during the day often require a UVB lamp in order to help their bodies absorb calcium and promote proper bone growth. Many reptiles prefer having two places to hide; one on the warm side and one on the cool side of their enclosure. Substrate, water dishes, live plants that are not toxic to reptiles and frequent misting can be used to maintain proper humidity for reptiles from more tropical environments. It’s important to research what each species requires before you make your purchase.

Related: Best Pet Shops For Reptile Owners In Baltimore

Try Reptile Shows, Pet Stores, Reptile Rescues, And Breeders In The Community To Find Your Ideal New Companion

Being able to talk to someone in person about the history of the reptile, its health, and other species-related tips are some benefits of purchasing your reptile from a breeder. Breeders may be located in the community or at one of the many reptile shows that happen in this area throughout the year. Rescue organizations often have a booth at these shows with a few of their reptiles that are currently up for adoption. Common species such as leopard geckos, bearded dragons, ball pythons, and corn snakes can typically be found at most pet stores that sell reptiles.

Give Your New Companion Time To Adjust And Get Their Health Checked By A Professional

While it may be tempting to play with your new reptile when you bring them home, it is important to allow the reptile to get used to its enclosure before attempting to handle it. This process may take a few days with reptiles that have more friendly and curious temperaments to a couple weeks for reptiles with more sensitive and skittish personalities. Get the animal’s health checked by a veterinary professional as soon as possible and keep the animal quarantined from other creatures in the household. Remember to wash your hands after handling your reptile or working in their enclosure.

Related: Best Volunteer Opportunities For Animal Lovers In Baltimore

Joel Furches is a freelance writer and researcher for The Examiner and Logos Software, and also manages his own catalog of writing on Hub Pages. Joel is on the board of directors for Ratio Christi. He has a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education.