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Things You Need To Know Before You Get A Herp
(And When You Have One)

1) A herp, whether it is a snake, a lizard, or a frog, or any other herp is NOT the best beginner pet and is not a really easy pet to maintain. To be honest, I think cats and dogs are a lot easier in many ways.

You need to do a lot of research. You need to know what it needs and you can't ignore its requirements. If it needs a UV light, dechlorinated water, a 50 gallon tank, well, it needs it! Do not jeaprodize your pets health and life because you can't meet its requirements. Either get another pet or, if you already have it, try to find your pet a new and better home.

2) You should be aware of Salmonella, a disease that can be carried by reptiles and always keep your pets cages clean and wash your hands after handling them.

You should also be aware of the fact that the cases of herps and salmonella are ususually blown way out of poportion and that herps are only the cause of a small percent of all the cases of salmonella. Salmonella is actually most commonly carried in the food you eat!

Of all herps, turtles are probably the most prone to carry the disease. But I don't think this should deter you from having one as a pet if you really want one.

You just need to be clean! Wash your hands and keep your animals cages clean. Be sanitary. I have a hand sanitizer on hand that kills 99.9 % of germs (this includes salmonella) and you can even find hand sanitizers made especially for reptile keepers, but look out because these are usually over priced!

For more information on Salmonella click here.

3) Metabolic Bone Disease is the most common disease in reptiles and amphibians. You don't want your pet to get it!

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is caused by calcium deficiency. In the wild, herps have a more varied diet and they also have natural sunlight. In captivity, they may not have such a varied diet and need a calcium supplement. If they don't, their bones will go brittle, they may become deformed, and eventually they will die. Calcium is especially important to young an growing animals and to breeding females, who use a lot of calcium to produce their eggs.

There are a few ways to get calcium into your herps diet.

The most common is probably is by dusting the food with the calcium (whether its mice or insects). Rep-Cal, Fluker's, Repto-Cal, and Reptivite are all good brands.

There are some concerns about the vitamin D3 that is used in most reptile calcium products however and some prefer to use Pure Calcium Carbonate for there reptiles. If you'd like to do that, you can purchase it from Beautiful Dragons.

You can also, instead or on top of calcium dusting, "gutload" the feeder insects/rodents. You do this by feeding the insects/rodents with a variety of food and/or a calcium supplement such as Fluker's Cricket Quencher before they are fed to your pet.

Another product is a calcium liquid called "Calcium Glubionate (fruit flavored liquid)" which is also available at Beautiful Dragons. I have never personally used this product, but I have heard good things about it, especially if you have serious MBD problems.

4) Don't house your pet with other species, unless you know for sure that they will live in peace.

I once read about a person who bought a fire bellied toad and a pacman frog. They put them together. When they returned to the cage later, they found the pacman frog dead. The fire bellied toad had poisoned it with its toxic skin.

Face it, sometimes animals of the same species don't get along together. Don't go mixing things up unless a reliable source approves it.

And also know that for most herps (minus frogs) males don't get along with other males. They will fight and sometimes to the death!

Knowledge is the best thing!

5) Never ever ever ever ever ever EVER believe a Pet Store clerk.

Oh sure there might be one out of a hundred that may give you reliable information, but don't count on it. Research it first.

The PetsMart down the street makes me want to vomit sometimes (most of the time!). They house up to 30 bahaman anoles in a tank that's not even ten gallon and they have males together! They're literally killing each other in there.

The tanks are incredibly dirty and baby leopard geckos are walking around with open wounds in mounds of worm infested feces.

Believe me, you can't believe the pet store clerks with the way they're treating the animals!

PetCo is, for the most part, a lot better about all that. They usually have excellent set ups for their herps and take care of them properly. However, still beware! A petco clerk once told me I should get a heat rock for fire bellied toads. I guess if I wanted to eat them like bacon, that would have been good advice.

The internet and books are the best way to find reliable information. But always make sure you check more than one source. Old books and websites may have out of date and bad information and some unwise herp lovers may start misinformative websites.

Good luck!