Choosing Your First Reptile pet

By: Gen Wright

Reptiles are now more popular pets than dogs, a fact that appeared as a result of a survey carried out in early 2008. guess the most popular reptiles reptile pets. Like many things pet related, you need to make the right choice, and just as choosing the wrong breed of dog can cause problems, the same is true of reptiles.

The easiest to care for tend to be the most popular also, and as such are great first reptiles, so here they are:-

Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragon is the common name for any agamid lizard in the genus Pogona. They are native to Australia, and are sometimes the first reptile people get as pets.

Bearded Dragons are popular pets, notably the species Inland or Central Bearded Dragon. These reptiles are also affectionately called "Beardies" by those who breed or raise them. They are a ideally suited to children, because of their non aggressive nature, along with the low amount of work they need to be cared for.

They have broad triangular heads and flatish bodies, the adults can grow to approximately 18 to 24 inches from head to tail with males and females being of similar size, although males usually sport a bigger head and a thicker tail base than the females.

They have a distinctive set of spines going horizontally from the head to the base of the tail. Their colour ranges from light tan to dark brown, depending on their native soil, often with highlights of black, brilliant red, or gold, and can change somewhat depending upon their internal condition, mood or temperature darkening when cool. Some spefically hand reared have been selectively bred for more brilliant colorations.

They are omnivorous, capable of living on a wide variety of food sources, including both insects and vegetable food. A typical diet for captive beardies includes leafy greens and vegetables, and regular meals of feeder insects.

All species are from Australia, but they have been exported across the globe and bred successfully in captivity. They live about 815 years with proper care in captivity, though some can live up to 20 years old

Corn Snake
The corn snake, or red rat snake, is a native to North America rat snake that subdue their small prey with constriction. The name "corn snake" comes from the fact that they have markings on their underside that looks like corn. They are found throughout the south-eastern and central United States. Their laid back nature, reluctance to bite, smallish adult size 1.2 to 1.8 metres, attractive markings, and comparatively simple care make them popular pet snakes. In the wild, they usually live around 10-15 years, but often live as old as 23 years in captivity. Like all rat snakes, corn snakes are non-venomous.

They have a diet mostly consisting of rodents, mostly mice and rats, which they kill via constriction. They are proficient climbers and may scale trees in search of birds and bats. Pet Corn Snakes are usually fed by their owners on a diet of easily available rodents, mainly mice, while younger and smaller animals may eat live or dead rat or mouse pups of various sizes. Frozen mice are ideal, as live prey can have the potential to carry disease or injure the snake if it has not been raised on live prey.

The Corn Snake was one of the first snakes to be kept as pets by people, and remains one of the most popular. Large numbers are bred yearly to ensure that there is a large captive-bred population, lowering the need to collect specimens from the wild. keeping in groups is inadvisable in captivity, as these are naturally solitary animals.

breeders of Corn Snakes have stressed the need for a home with no chance of escape. Corn Snakes are excellent escape artists and will often escape from any place that is not properly suitable. More beginners lose their snakes to escapes than death. They are good at climbing, squeezing out of the smallest of holes, and can also use their bodies to force the screen top off of a poorly-fitted aquarium.

Royal or Ball Python
The Royal Python or Python Regius is a non-poisonous python species originating from Africa. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular in the pet trade. Adults normally do not grow to more than 90-120 cm long, although some specimens have reached 152 cm and even 182 cm, around 6ft, but this is very rare. The build is thinck while the head is relatively small and the scales are smooth.

The colour pattern is typically black with light brown-green side and spinal blotches. The stomach is a white or cream that can or can not include scattered black markings. However, pet industry breeders have, through selective breeding, developed many mutations with altered colours and patterns.

The name ball python refers to the animal's tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened. The name royal python is supposed to come from the story that Cleopatra allegedly wore the snake around her wrist.

In the wild, the diet consists mostly of shrews, mice and rats. Younger animals have also been known to feed on birds. Captives usually do well on domestic rats and mice, either live, pre-killed, or frozen-thawed

There are certainly many more types of reptiles kept as pets, and no doubt popularity will change, but any of the three named above will make great pets, and a great introduction to keeping reptiles.

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