Scaly Solutions: A First-Timer’s Guide to Taking Care of Reptiles

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A First-Timer's Guide to Taking Care of Reptiles

Owning a reptile as a pet is a fascinating & unique experience. I had the pleasure of being able to experience from a young age, growing up in a beach town. My first pet was brought home by my father, who spotted a common blue-tongue lizard. Although it was only a short duration as we, of course, had to take her back to where we spotted her, it ignited an interest in reptiles. 

My next reptilian friend would be a coastal carpet python, which I purchased and owned for many, many years; his name was Monthy, of course.

It is often the case that reptiles, especially if you are seeking out a highly exotic species, can be a costly addition to your family. These costs not only come from the initial purchase of your pet but also when ensuring you acquire the correct enclosures, maintenance &, of course, feeding. 

It’s for this reason that finding a pet shop with Afterpay can assist with making the initial purchase stage far more achievable.

Licensing

With a vast range of species available within the reptilian kingdom, you will have no issue for having a broad range of choice, ranging from bearded water dragons to slatey grey-snakes.

For a full list of the vast range of species, a private wildlife license will include, please visit this Victoria Legislation website. From this page, you can easily download an official list that includes all the specific species you can legally own with a private wildlife basic license.

If, however, you have a niche interest in certain breeds, you may be interested in acquiring an advanced or even specimen license. These licenses would allow you own rare & increasingly exotic species, which can include painted turtles, golden-tailed geckos, green pythons, and even crocodiles.  

For additional information on the costs & license types, you can visit the wildlife.vic.gov website.

Species

As there are thousands of pythons, lizards, & Amphibians to select from it is essential to be aware of a few basic things before purchasing, factors like ‘How much can I afford to properly care for my pet,’ ‘What level of experience do I have?’, ‘Do you have small children or other pets?’. As this article is focusing on first-time reptile owners, we will explore some of the best options for someone who may not have an advanced degree of previous experience owning a reptile as a pet.

Python

Often the most common choice of species within the reptile category, as it is a unique experience owning your python or snake. My first official reptile pet was that of a coastal carpet python, also known as a diamond python. These little fellas are a great option as they tend to have a non-aggressive temperament, while not growing to an unmanageable size. As such, they are well suited to younger reptile enthusiasts as if you adopt one into the family from when they are babies; it’s straightforward to hand-rear them. However, it is essential to be aware that this species does grow to a formidable size of up to 4 metres, with the average being 2 meters, so do consider that before choosing a coast carpet python. For more information on this species, here is a useful resource that will cover additional sub-species. 

ball python

Another excellent option for a first-time python owner is the ball python; this species is one of the most common choices as they have a vast range of morphs. Morphs refer to the varying patterns & colours they can have, ranging from pale yellows & whites to deep greens & blacks, and a lot in between, you can become a proud owner of a standout pet. Further, they tend to be a shyer species, which means they are far less likely to strike and are a smaller option to the aforementioned coastal carpet python, with females growing to 3 -5 feet while males only to 2-3 feet and a lifespan of up to 30 years. 

Lizard

Lizard

Lizards are popular as, unlike some other reptile species, they tend to display some quirky characteristics and more distinct personalities. An excellent option for a first-time owner would be a Bearded Dragon Guru, with a lifespan of 10-15 years, growing to a size of 40-60cm and a diet of live insects, fruits, vegetables & pellets this pet is a straightforward option to care for. Another benefit of a bearded dragon as a pet is that they are considered highly kid-friendly, tending to not share any aggressive qualities; often preferring to ‘fly’ or rather ‘scurry rather than ‘fight’ when put in a situation they don’t want to be in.

Finally, owning a bearded dragon is the most affordable option shared within this article, so you don’t need to break-the-bank to become a proud owner of your very own dragon. A convenient resource that goes into detail on this species can be found on the PetComments website.

Frog 

Frog

Although technically frogs are classified as amphibians (opposed to reptiles), they still make for a fantastic first pet that can be acquired with a basic wildlife license. One of the best ‘go-to’ rookie reptile owner frogs is that of the green tree frog. This fun little species has a lifespan of up to 20+ years, which often comes as a surprise to people. Not only are these little fellas pretty cute, but they make for some great ambients for a room, right up there with a crackling fire, their subtle ‘crawking’ sounds will make for a relaxing environment. 

The ideal setup for a green tree frog is a minimum 40-litre terrarium. As often the case with small social birds, it is recommended they share the space with a friend, with an important note being the same species as they placing other amphibian or reptilian species in the enclosure will likely pose a danger to them. For a little more information on this species, the Australian Museum website has a useful page.

Conclusion

This article has given you a basic idea of what is required for legally owning a reptile, while giving you some options of the ideal species for first-time owners, however, with a library of knowledge available at your fingertips. We encourage you to do further exploration into the many exciting species & caring tricks & tips to allow you to get the most enjoyment out of your new reptilian friend.

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