Reptile Care

Reptiles and Frogs as Pets

Keeping native reptiles as pets requires special care and handling. Tortoises, lizards, snakes, turtles and frogs require special living environments and healthcare routines. 


Domesticated snakes are usually accustomed to eating fresh dead mice, rats and chickens. Lizards may require a more complex omnivorous diet with special supplements mixed in. Turtles (water-based) are usually fed a meat-based diet, but calcium must be added to prevent shell deformities from developing. For all reptiles, it is essential to get specific dietary advice from Meadows Veterinary Centre to meet the needs of the particular species.


The correct housing is essential for reptiles, otherwise health problems will occur. Reptiles should not be kept in wire cages as injuries can result. The correct type of wood, glass or plastic enclosures must be used. Correct temperatures are very important and some reptiles need to bask under a carefully regulated heat lamp. This will vary depending on the species. The heat lamp must be out of the animal's reach to prevent burns. Reptiles require UV light to produce vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism. UV lamps need to be replaced regularly as the UV emissions decline after 3-6 months.

Humidity, ventilation and lighting need to be carefully proportioned and monitored.

Introducing larger rocks and gravel may be necessary to help with shedding old skin.

Space should be adequate to allow the animal to move about, explore and have some exercise.

For most species, clean water, (preferably rainwater), must be constantly available for drinking and also for swimming or immersing to help regulate temperature and skin moisture.

Health Problems

Keeping reptiles as pets is much more involved than caring for common pets, so health problems are often encountered due to their incorrect housing, temperatures, humidity and diet.  Problems can present from parasitic diseases caused by intestinal worms, skin mites, and a variety of infections and injuries. Amongst a number symptoms that may occur, are your pet not eating, being less active, vomiting, diarrhoea, wounds, weakness, problems shedding and difficulty breathing.  Ensure that you bring your reptile in for medical attention at the first sign of sickness or injury.

All reptiles should also have an annual checkup to prevent disease.

Professional Advice

All reptiles have specialised needs. Please visit the Meadows Vet Centre to discuss the needs of your reptile with our specialist veterinary staff at the earliest possible opportunity.