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Investing in a Pet Reptile Comes with the Need for Some Crucial Supplies

a small green lizard beneath a plant

A reptile is a great pet for small children and grown-ups alike! Fun to look at from a distance or handle with care, it is easy to enjoy a reptile if you have the proper supplies and knowledge on how to care for such an animal.

In this article, the important supplies needed will be discussed for a variety of reptile pets.

  • What supplies you need
  • Which supplies are best for various reptiles
  • Where you can find them
Young boy looks into a terrarium at a gecko
Reptiles such as geckos are perfect pets for children and adults alike. The terrarium enclosure is where they will reside, with proper lighting to keep them warm enough and offer the proper nutrients. Photo courtesy PetMD

The supplies needed for a reptile range from animal to animal, while maintaining some similarities

Make sure to buy what is appropriate for your specific reptile, while realizing that there may be some overlap from creature to creature

A terrarium is the enclosure in which your pet reptile will live. The size and shape of the terrarium is important, based on what animal you are enclosing. Land-dwelling reptiles prefer long terrariums because it gives them more space to roam. Reptiles that like to climb should have a taller container , which in turn gives them the space to do so. On the other hand, marine reptiles such as turtles require some area in which they can swim, so a pool area in the terrarium is a must. Many reptiles grow quickly, so make sure you buy a terrarium that will fit them for their adult size.

Lighting is crucial to warm a cold-blooded pet like a reptile, as well as providing the proper 12-hour light cycle for the reptile. Therefore, two types of lighting are necessary: a heat producing bulb (known as a heat bulb or basking bulb) and a bulb for visual/ultraviolet light. Diurnal reptiles (active during the day) such as geckos and other various forms of lizards require UVB light to produce vitamin D and absorb calcium. Nocturnal reptiles, which are mainly active at night, do not require much, if any, UV light, as long as they are given the proper dietary source of vitamin D.

A heat lamp satisfies a reptile's particular needs to keep it warm. Sometimes, the lighting can provide both light and heat, but depending on the reptile, there may be a need for a separate source of heat provided through a lamp. These lamps can be seen in the form of heat pads or tape, which are constructed of foil strips wrapped in durable plastic film. The temperature of the heat tape must be regulated by a thermostat or rheostat. This will not only benefit the reptile, but extend the life of the product and prevent any accidental burns.

This leads into the next necessary supply, which is a thermometer. There are varying correct temperatures for specific reptiles, and these temperatures must be monitored with a thermometer. Purchase two thermometers, and put one near the heat lamp, which is the hottest part of the habitat. Then, put another one at the other end, furthest away from the heat source. Oftentimes, the required temperature for the reptile is warmer than your home, so these thermometers are crucial in being able to monitor the correct temperatures.

A hygrometer is the next item you will need. This measures the humidity and water vapor in an enclosed area. Foggers and misters help maintain a proper humidity in tropical terrariums.The bedding and substrate of the terrarium vary between the tropical and the desert. For a tropical terrarium, you will need reptile bark, reptile soil, coconut husk, and moss. Differing from that is the specifically formulated sands and reptile carpet needed in the desert terrarium.

Decor is an important supply that provides both visual interest, as well as needed hiding places for the reptile. These hiding places allow the animal to “escape” and release stress. Some decor can be sprayed with water to help humidify the terrarium.

A closeup of a yellow leopard gecko
A leopard gecko is relatively small and easy to care for.

The food needed varies for different types of reptiles

Make sure to find the supplies that suit your specific pet-- the basics of snakes, turtles, and lizards

The biggest obstacle in owning a snake is its diet. Make sure you obtain the proper food, which is whole prey, such as mice or rats. Pre-killed is preferable. The benefit of a snake is that lighting is not a necessity. Additionally, feeding is only once per week or less. This means you can leave them alone for a few days without a pet sitter. Corn snakes are easy to care for, but are escape artists, so make sure you get an enclosure with a tight fitting lid.

Turtles take commitment and knowledge to properly care for. They live a long time, which can be nice for a companion, but be sure to know what you are getting yourself into. Eastern box turtles do not get as large as many other tortoises. They do not have aquatic needs, so they require less maintenance than others. As omnivores, they eat both plants and insects. In addition, they can adapt to varied climates.

Lizards like leopard geckos and bearded dragons are the best choices of the specific type of reptile for first time reptile owners. Geckos are insectivores, so feed them plenty of insects. Bearded dragons eat insects and a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. 

A small turtle in the palm of a person's hand
Pet turtles may start out small, but can grow to become quite large.

Look for these supplies online and in the store

Supplies needed may vary depending on location 

You can find many of these supplies in pet supply shops, as well as where you buy the reptiles themselves. While these locations may be more specific to purchasing the animals, they can guide you to where the best place to purchase the items are. Aquarium based pet shops are also a good place to start and then go from there.  Diving into the joys of owning a pet reptile comes with a few challenges that are easily resolved by following the proper steps.  Taking care of a reptile is made easy and simple when you have the proper supplies.

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