One of the many joys of keeping exotic reptiles in your home is recreating a perfect habitat for your pet. Whether you set up a miniature rain forest, a desert, or woodland habitat complete with moss-covered vines, the key to your pet's best health lies in your creativity and understanding of the specific species you care for. Always read up on your reptile before you purchase living quarters, and please keep in mind these essential points when considering a habitat:
Ideal accommodations combine creature comfort,maintenance ease,and an unobstructed view. Take into account the size that the reptile will grow into as an adult – will he always have room to move and climb? Will he be comfortable and safe? His habitat
also must be secure enough to contain him when you are not around. For some excellent selections, see our Reptile Habitats.
The appropriate substrate is an essential part of reproducing
a natural habitat. In addition to enhancing the appearance of your cage, substrate also helps keep moisture, waste, and bacteria
away from your pet. Always look for substrates that are easy to clean, good heat conductors, non-abrasive, and designed to
meet the specific needs of your pet:
Desert Dwellers – Fine-grain sands for snakes, lizards, tortoises, and turtles include Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells, which are lighter in weight than old-fashioned sand, dust-free for a healthier habitat, and will not cause problems if ingested in small quantities. And Zoo Med Repti Sand, which is a natural quartz reptile sand substrate that safely stimulates your herp to dig and burrow. It is made of pure quartz desert sand, which is a better alternative to manufactured silica sand and finely ground to help prevent impaction if consumed by your pet.
Woodland Species – Glass lizards and other forest-dwelling reptiles prefer substrates that allow for shallow burrowing.
Rain Forest – Toads, frogs, salamanders,and other moss-dwelling creatures accustomed to damp environments will enjoy a substrate such as Zilla Fir and Sphagnum Moss Mix, which retains much-needed moisture and humidity.
Heat & Light
When choosing the right lamps for heat and light, take into account your pet's living habits in the wild, such as what time of
day (or night) he is normally active. Many reptiles need natural sunlight – or an appropriate substitute – in order to metabolize
Vitamin D3. Also, temperature must be carefully controlled, since cold-blooded reptiles need heat lights or rocks to keep them warm.
Remember, just like any other pet, your exotic reptile depends on you. Providing him with the most appropriate living conditions will increase your chances of having a happy and healthy pet for many years to come.