If you are planning on keeping reptiles, they have some pretty specific needs. What specifically you need will depend upon the reptile and the environment that they come from. You’ll literally build a different vivarium (fish live in aquariums, reptiles live in vivariums) for each species, be it a snake, turtle or lizard. In order to make sure that your new pet stays happy and healthy, you should make sure that you have researched the following four items and have appropriated your reptile’s needs as closely as possible.
You probably already know that reptiles are cold-blooded which means that they can’t generate their own body heat. That means that they rely on external heat in order to stay warm or cool – at the perfect temperature in other words. Different reptiles prefer different environments, but a good average temperature is about 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for some species that are used to being in the desert.
This means that you’ll need a heater of some sort with a thermometer for your vivarium. However, depending upon the reptile, maintaining the right temperature can be complex. The best way to do it is to keep part of the vivarium warmer than others and let your reptile decide where he or she wants to go. There are a number of devices that you can use to heat your cage: blankets, hot rocks, lights or actual heating units. Each species is different, but remember that they move in and out of the sun to maintain the temperature so plan accordingly.
The amount of moisture in your reptile cage will need to be monitored as well. The humidity will depend upon temperature, the type of ventilation built-in and the amount of water being introduced into your vivarium. You can increase humidity when needed by spraying water or putting standing water inside the cage. Again, the humidity needed will vary depending upon the reptile.
Create a Large Space
Make sure that your reptile has plenty of space to move around. If your cage is too small, or if you have too many reptiles in the cage, you will not only annoy the animals, but you may upset the other factors like temperature and humidity – particularly with overcrowding.
Introduce UV Light
Reptiles that spend time in the sun do so because they get vitamin D3 from the sunlight. If you have a reptile that requires this, you will have to introduce an ultraviolet light into the vivarium. This is because the type of light bulbs that are normally in a household do not provide UV radiation. Make sure that you place it so that your reptile will be about 12 inches away from it when underneath it.