Of all the countless species of lizards and snakes on our planet, there are a few common elements these creatures need to stay happy and healthy. Outside of their natural habitat, reptiles depend upon you, as their owner, to provide the things they need to thrive. Just like humans, they need and deserve a secure habitat where they’ll be comfortable! Here are five essential reptile habitat accessories needed to keep your pet feeling at home in their terrarium.
Reptiles are basically solar powered, meaning every aspect of their lives is governed by light. Lizards (which are active during the day) require lamps so they can produce vitamin D3. In reptiles, vitamin D3 synthesis requires warmth as well as ultraviolet light. However, too much D3 can be toxic. Getting the right type of light is important. Most reptiles should be on a 12-hour cycle. They need 12 hours of visible light per day followed by 12 hours of near darkness.
Tip: Find a light with an automatic timer to make keeping up with a proper light cycle easy and maintenance-free.
Quality heating pads are essential. In the desert, the ground is warm and the warmth helps reptiles regulate their body temperature. Providing a ground-level source of heat will help your snake or lizard feel right at home! Any on-ground device you put in your habitat should be waterproof, puncture resistant, and able to provide heat evenly. Heating pads also need controls that will allow the user to adjust the amount of heat output according to the reptile’s needs.
Tip: Buy a special heating pad for reptiles to cut down on long-term maintenance and keep your pet warm and comfy.
A good thermometer goes along with the lighting. Most reptiles need heat, but too much heat can be fatal. Reptiles are no exception. Having a reliable thermometer in your reptile habitat can help you regulate the lamp placement and keep your scaly friend from any accidental discomfort. Two thermometers should be placed in the habitation. One thermometer should be placed under the lamp and another the furthest distance from the lamp to best regulate the average temperature. Keep one side warmer than the other so reptiles have a place to cool down.
Shade and Structure
As mentioned above, reptiles regulate their body temperature by moving from sunny areas to cool shady areas. Your pet will need small structures in which to hide away from the light. Structures can also give a lizard or snake some entertainment by being cleverly disguised as rocks or logs. Typically it is best to purchase wooden structures from a retailer because they will have been specially treated to ensure nothing harmful comes into the habitation. Special care must be taken before placing drift wood or other natural wood or rocks into a reptile habitat.
Like most living creatures, lizard feces are usually highly offensive, requiring frequent cage cleanings. Since lizards are found in the desert, sand and rocks are the best flooring choices for the habitat. However, since reptile cages require frequent cleanings, you could be changing out sand several times a week.
Tip: as an alternative to loose sand, buy a sand mat instead. The sand mat you purchase should fit the habitat end to end, be durable to avoid holes and minimize bacteria buildup. Also, choose a mat that can be rinsed and reused repeatedly to help cut down on expenses.
Lizards and other reptiles spend most of their day basking in the sun and searching for food. Lizards enjoy climbing and finding small hiding places so artificial rocks, special ladders, and lizard hammocks can be purchased to keep your lizard entertained. Every creature requires exercise of some sort. Providing your lizard with several places to explore and areas to climb will help keep him healthy and live a longer, happier life.