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Reptiles

If you want a pet creature that likes a dry life, or if you like the idea of a dry environment then get a reptile.

But before you rush out and buy any old reptile you will need to consider other factors. Dry caging means that any debris, such as faecal matter or uneaten fruit, will not immediately contaminate the cage. You won't have to change the substrate daily, only once a week or as and when required.

You don't have to worry about unseen problems as with other pets, such as ammonia or bacteria build up. You do however need to heat the pet's enclosure and provide electric lighting to the equivalent of bright sunlight. Most people deciding between reptiles and amphibians opt for reptiles. You can see why!

Reptiles are a lot less work than amphibians. However reptiles are generally more active than amphibians and as a direct consequence will need more food than amphibians proportional to their body weight. A snake will eat a mouse where a frog may eat three crickets. Reptiles need bigger cages, and the really big reptiles, such as the green iguanas, will need room-sized cages. On the plus side, reptiles can generally be handled without fear of wrecking their skins. The other pluses are the same as the amphibians: they are beautiful, adapt well to captive conditions, and relatively easy to feed.

Reptiles really do come in all sizes, from the 7.5cm long sand skink which spends its time buried in the sand to the 250cm common boa constrictor. The majority of the snakes in the pet market are captive-bred rat snakes, kingsnakes or house snakes, and these rarely get up to 180cm in length. Those boas and pythons that make good pets you can easily handle are those, like the sand boas, that stay less than 120cm in length. Bigger snakes are available, such as the Burmese python, but they get too big to be a good pet.

Aquatic turtles start out small. Some are the size of a 50p when they're hatched, but they can get to 30cm or a bit longer at maturity. Tortoises emerge from the egg at maybe 4cm long, and their adult size depends on the type of tortoise. Spurred tortoises get up to 60cm, while the Greek and the hingeback tortoises are adult at 30cm or less.

See individual species for more information.

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