There are of course many kinds of reptiles that have different requirements when it comes to building their home. However most reptiles will require a vivarium, and we’ve put together some tips on how to best create a home for your reptile.
- Reptile Vivarium (or Aquarium)
- Water Dish
Choosing a Home
To begin you can choose either an aquarium or a reptile vivarium specially made for reptiles. It’s very important to find out how big your reptile is going to be once it full matures and becomes an adult, we suggest doing some research on average adult size on the internet. Make sure your reptile will have enough space inside it’s home once it reaches this size. Lizards that are climbers will usually need taller than wider enclosures. It’s important to make sure air ventilates through your reptile’s home. Most vivariums will have vents but if you’re using an aquarium we recommend using a vented top to allow the air through, but make sure it’s heavy enough or has a clasp so it can not to be pushed aside. You’ll definitely need a lid for their enclosure as most reptiles are great climbers.
There are many kinds of substrate to choose from, some common choices are sand, dirt and wood chippings. Just like the reptile vivarium, the substrate you use depends on the reptile you are keeping. It’s best to match the reptile’s environment to where it would live in the wild. For example if your reptile naturally lives in the desert, sand would be a good choice. Wood shavings are a good as odor and moisture absorbers, but you’ll need to clear up any spots that have been soiled as soon as possible! Bard chips are great if your lizard likes a humid environment as they absorb and release moisture. If your lizard loves to dig, it’s well worth putting in more substrate than usual.
Natural looking decorations will help your reptile feel more at home as it’ll mimic their natural environment in the wild. Rocks, branches, logs, moss and plants (real or fake) are popular ideas. It’s very important to provide an area of the environment for them to hide in, so that they feel safe. This could be behind plants, branches or you can even get cave decorations with sections cut out, which they can crawl into. If you’re going to add some live plants, remember that you’ll have to take care of these too so it’s an extra responsibility.
Reptiles are unique to other pets in that they’re cold blooded. This means that in order to stay warm, they need to live in a warm environment and soak up warmth by lounging in front of a heat source for extended periods of time. You’ll need to match the heating/lighting source with the type of reptile you’re looking to put into the environment. You’ll also have to regularly replace the bulbs, even if they still light up…as they may not be sending out the much needed UV rays which we can’t see. Reptile lighting can be set on timers to go on and off when you please, and it’s a good idea to mimic these timings to match a normal sunrise/sunset cycle where you live. Reptile heating can come in many forms such as heating mats, heating tape and basking lamps. You’ll need to make sure that you provide a reptile vivarium with a temperature range inside. One part of their home should be warmer and the other cooler. This is so that your reptile can position them self in the best part of the environment depending on their temperature needs to function. For example, some reptiles need to reach a certain temperature before digestion of food begins! You can achieve this effect by placing a heating source in one area, but leaving them out of a different area. A good idea is to have a basking area, such as a rock with a light over it which would give them a higher temperature quickly, should they need it. Make sure that the lights/heating source cannot make direct contact with your reptile, hanging them from the top of their home usually achieves this. A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of their home.
It may be a good idea to get a food bowl if your reptile eats food that doesn’t move around the vivarium so easily, such as fruits and veggies. If you place the food directly on the substrate they could swallow some of that too and become sick. When choosing a water bowl, choose one that can’t easily topple over.
Some reptiles may require a humid environment such as water dragons. You can do so by spraying water over the reptile vivarium, which in combination with the heating lighting, will cycle the humidity around. However you don’t want a completely drenched environment, you’re looking for some slight condensation.