Swan Veterinary Hospital

Reptile Care

 

Most native reptiles are protected by Law which means they cannot be kept as pets. Usually, only zoos and fauna parks are given permits to hold these animals. Non-native reptiles are even more strictly controlled by Law as they pose a significant risk to Australian ecosystems.

If you’ve found or rescued a reptile, tortoise, lizard, crocodile, snake, or frog, it is best to immediately contact an organisation like WIRES to organise for the animal to be released back into the wild. You can contact WIRES on 1300 094 737.
 
Reptiles and Frogs as Pets

Keeping non-protected native reptiles as pets requires special care and handling.
Tortoises, lizards, snakes, and frogs require certain living environments and healthcare routines.
In general, most reptiles are shy animals and handling should be minimal.


**VENOMOUS SNAKES, LIZARDS OR TOADS SHOULD NOT BE KEPT AS PETS**

Food

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. Tortoises 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 obtain specific dietary advice from us to meet the needs of the particular species.

Housing

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. The heat lamp must be out of the animal's reach to prevent burns.

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


  Introducing larger rocks and gravel may be necessary to help some reptiles shed old skin.

  Space should be adequate to allow the animal to move about, explore, and exercise. The
  floor of the enclosure may need to be a combination of sand, smooth gravel, leaf litter or
  absorbent paper. You should also consider what is required to enable the animal to find a
  suitable area for hibernation.

  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 common pets, so health problems are often encountered due to the incorrect housing, temperatures, humidity, and diet. Problems can present in the form of parasitic diseases caused by intestinal worms or skin mites, as well as a variety of other infections and injuries. Ensure that you bring your reptile in for medical attention at the first signs of sickness or injury.

Professional Advice

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