This post is sponsored by petMD Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but Daily Dog Tag only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.
I am without a doubt a dog person. Dogs are my favorite animals and I never want to live without at least one as a companion. Sadly there are many dog lovers who for various reasons can’t have a dog. If you are in the situation of wanting a pet, but can’t have a dog, I recommend a reptile (turtle, tortoise, lizard, snake) or amphibian (frog, toads, newts and salamanders). They also make great pets for kids (with supervision) and for those of us who just can’t stop at dogs!
While our dogs are the family pets, I’ve always thought that kids should be responsible (with guidance) for their own pets as well. We’ve had a lot of pets including hamsters, rabbits, hermit crabs, birds and reptiles. Thanks to my kids I’ve discovered that reptiles and amphibians make awesome pets. Reptile care varies from easy to advanced depending on the species. The internet is full of advice, some good, and some questionable. The brand new reptile center on petMD® sets itself apart from other websites in that all of its content is either written by a veterinarian or approved by one for accuracy and factual information. This leopard gecko, Greco, belongs to a client of Alice G Patterson Photography. Greco tagged along for part of a senior portrait session.
Leopard Geckos are one of the easier reptiles to take care of, but they do have some specific needs beyond food and water.
Choosing A Reptile
This infographic is a great place to start figuring out what reptile is right for you. I wish I had known about PetSmart’s® Guide to Choosing A Reptile when we bought our reptiles. Over the years we’ve had: amphibians (frogs and newts), a tree frog, a veiled chameleon, a Bell’s Hinge-back tortoise, a leopard gecko and a red foot tortoise.
Each of these animals have had its own unique personality and provided us with enjoyment. My favorites have been the chameleon and the tortoises. Our chameleon was named Iggy, and she spent many hours perched on my son’s shoulder. She was slow moving (except her long tongue) and absolutely fascinating! It was very relaxing to watch her, we had a small waterfall in her tank that added to the calming influence. The drawback to the chameleon was driving to the store (20 minutes one way) to pick up crickets. I also felt increasingly bad for the crickets as we fed them to the lizards.
One thing that I didn’t know when we started out in our reptile adventures was that different reptiles require different humidity levels. I knew that some were desert animals and others were from a tropical environment, but I didn’t really get that they NEEDED those humidity levels to thrive. Most reptiles need a warm side and cool side of their habitat. This is much simpler to set up then it sounds, simply place a heat source (or two) on one side of the tank. Monitor the temperatures with two thermometers.
Here is an excellent summary of what a Leopard Gecko needs.
Some reptiles get pretty big, so make sure you are able to provide adequate housing as they grow. We have found that there are a lot of big aquariums available for free in our area (check craigslist), but use caution to make sure it is free of harmful chemicals that may hurt or kill your reptiles or amphibians.
Tortoises should see the vet for a regular check up. Tortoises may need to be dewormed much like dogs. The veterinarian you take your dogs to, may not be an expert in reptiles, but it is likely she or he can refer one to you. Tortoises have a long life expectancy (50-100 years) which is a big plus for me.
Some people think that turtles and tortoises must be deaf because they don’t have external ears. Their ears are internal and covered with a thin flap of skin. Our tortoise is social and walks over to the side of the tank when he hears us enter the room. I’ve found tortoises to be the easiest of all our menagerie to keep. They make very little noise (except an occasional clunking against the tank), pretty tidy (as compared to our rabbit who constantly kicks litter out of her cage) and no crickets to chase. I’ve already put dibs on the tortoise for when my son goes to college. And if he decides to give me the tortoise indefinitely, that will be okay with me!
If you have a reptile or are thinking about getting one, you may want to know if your reptile can bond with you. Do I think my son’s tortoise loves him as much as Theo does? I’m not sure, but I know that my children love their pets very much.
Ultimately, it is up to me to make sure their pets are well cared for and treated properly, but I see my role as being a supervisor, not the actual caretaker. Being mostly responsible for another living creature helps my children to learn kindness, responsibility and empowers them. It also has helped teach some of them financial responsibility and helped prioritize needs over wants. They take their pet responsibility seriously and ask each other (and occasionally me) to take care of their pets if they are spending the night at a friend’s house.
About Alice G Patterson Photography: Based in Syracuse, NY, Alice specializes in senior portraits (and their pets), commercial photography and product and portrait photography for small businesses. Alice has three dogs of her own.