With over 15 years experience in the keeping and care of exotic animals, we caught up with Snakes Alive to find out just how much work is involved when choosing more exotic animals as family pets.
Snakes Alive are an interactive reptile experience specialising in childrens' parties and educational talks - where everyone gets the chance to handle the reptiles.
Snakes Alive also offer boarding facilities for reptiles, parrots, birds and small animals - as well as static displays, reptiles for corporate team building, and reptiles for photographic and film work.
So, you are thinking of buying a reptile
The very first thing you must consider is how much you can afford to spend. Not only buying the reptile but also housing, feeding and time for general care for your animals.
There are a wide range of captive bred snakes, lizards and amphibians available in the UK. Reptiles range from small Anoles up to large Iguanas and snakes range from corn snakes up to the reticulated python.
It is very important to understand that some lizards grow to over 1.2 metres long and some snakes can grow over 4.0 metres long. Some can even live up to 25 years.
These all require differing environments that will need to be set up in their enclosures. Therefore you will need to do research into the type of vivarium conditions your animal will require to live a long and healthy life.
Some reptiles do not take kindly to constant handling but others may enjoy being held or sitting on your shoulder.
Young reptiles will be very nervous when moved to a new environment so careful handling will instil confidence in the reptile and also the keeper. This must be considered prior to buying.
It is always best practice to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your reptile.
Housing / Environments
It is important to give good consideration into the amount of space available for the animal you would like to have. Some require a dry desert, some a humid tropical atmosphere. Others are arboreal and will prefer tall enclosures with lots to climb on.
Being cold blooded all reptiles need heat to live. They gain energy from heat which enables them to digest food, so you must supply an adequate heat source either a heat bulb, ceramic heater or an underfloor heat mat.
Diurnal animals will need an adequate level of daylight. This must be supplied by using an ultra violet fluorescent light at the correct UV level. This is to ensure that they have a sufficient dose of calcium to help maintain their bones.
You must also consider the food that your animal will require. Many lizards are carnivores and will only eat live insects e.g. crickets, locusts and meal worms etc.
These will need to be gut loaded (fed a vitamin supplement) prior to feeding.
Snakes will need to be fed on rodents of the appropriate size. These are usually bought frozen and will need to be properly thawed out prior to feeding the snake.
Other reptiles may only eat certain vegetables and fruit. Reptiles need to be fed a calcium supplement. However snakes do not as they get theirs from the bones of the rodents that they eat.
A final point to consider is to find a suitable boarding facility to care for your animal when you are away.
If you do good research into the type of reptile you would like to keep and get a good size vivarium with the correct environment you will have hours of enjoyment watching and studying your reptile.
Snakes Alive are not a shop - instead they help people find the correct reptile for them and offer a service where they provide all the equipment required for that reptile and set it up in your home.