lizards – Keeping Exotic Pets http://www.keepingexoticpets.com Tue, 26 Dec 2017 10:39:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.8 Best Small Pet Lizards http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/best-small-pet-lizards/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/best-small-pet-lizards/#respond Mon, 26 Jun 2017 07:00:16 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=1959 Pet lizards come in a huge range of sizes, from tiny leaf chameleons little bigger than your fingernail, through to giants such as monitor lizards and green iguanas. For many of us, having limited space at home, small pet lizards are the easiest to accommodate. What’s more, many of the best small pet lizards are […]

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Pet lizards come in a huge range of sizes, from tiny leaf chameleons little bigger than your fingernail, through to giants such as monitor lizards and green iguanas.

For many of us, having limited space at home, small pet lizards are the easiest to accommodate. What’s more, many of the best small pet lizards are reasonably cheap to buy, easy to care for and – due to their popularity – many are also easy to find in standard reptile shops.

So – what are the best small pet lizards that you should consider?

Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)

bearded dragon photo

The bearded dragon is probably the best-known lizard on this list. While not as small as some other species listed here, the “beardie” as it is often known as developed a very special place in the hearts of reptile enthusiasts.

Growing to some 60cm or so in overall length, with half of that being tail, bearded dragons are popular for their prehistoric appearance and easy-going attitude.

Indeed, bearded dragons are some of the only small pet lizards that seem to not just tolerate – but actually enjoy – human interaction. If you’re looking for a lizard that you can enjoy handling on a regular basis, you would struggle to find a better option.

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

anole photo

The green anole is the smallest pet lizard discussed here. It was also the first lizard that I personally kept. With a body length of just a couple of inches, combined with a tail that may be twice the length of their body, these are fantastic and highly active pet lizards.

While this is not a suitable lizard for handling – they tend to be flighty and fast-moving – if you’re looking for a pet lizard that will make a stunning display then you’ll struggle to find a better alternative.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, being very small lizards means that even in a modest sized enclosure you can create a truly eye-catching display filled with artificial plants and rock faces for them to explore.

Green anoles for also notable for the range of behaviours they display in captivity. You’ll see everything from them waggling their legs at other anoles, to the males inflating their bright red throat pouches.

Green Anoles are sometimes known as the “American Chameleon” for a very good reason; these miniscule lizards can change color from a bright, forest green, through to a dark brown. While the color change is perhaps not as impressive as a “real” chameleon the fact remains that this willingness to change color adds an extra level of interest.

Lastly, note that Green Anoles are also typically some of the cheapest pet lizards on the market. This therefore makes them ideal for those readers on a tight budget, or who would prefer to keep two or more lizards together in order to watch them interact.

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

leopard gecko photo

Second only to the Bearded Dragon in popularity, the Leopard Gecko has been a mainstay of the reptile-keeping industry for many years.

Originating in Afghanistan, the Leopard Gecko is well-named for it’s black spots on a yellow background, making them a visually appealing lizard. Growing to around 6-8” in overall length, the Leopard Gecko has quite a relatively short and stubby tail, in which is can store fat.

Unlike most gecko species seen in the reptile hobby, this species does not have sticky toe pads. It therefore doesn’t climb up vertical surfaces and can be quite slow moving.

These two aspects mean that Leopard Geckos are far easier to handle than other gecko species – indeed this is another small pet lizard popular among those who wish to handle their pets.

Typically slow and docile, these lizards can be safely held by keepers of all ages – they often seem particularly popular among children and can – with supervision – can make an ideal pet lizard for kids.  

Collared Lizards (Crotaphytus collaris)

collared lizard photo

Collared lizards are native to the hot, dry areas of North America. Growing to around 8” in total length, much of this is made up of a long tail, with the chunky body and muscular legs taking up a far smaller proportion.

There are a number of different Collared Lizard species available in the trade. What is perhaps interesting about this species is it’s sexual dimorphism.

Whereas most pet lizards display very few obvious signs of their sex, requiring a somewhat specialist knowledge to tell males from females, the Collared Lizard is quite a subtle range of blacks, greys and browns for most of the year.

In the breeding season, however, the reason for their name becomes obvious. The mature males develop an astonishing rainbow of colors, with their necks and shoulders displaying a range of colors, depending on species, often comprising of bright sky blue, yellow and even green.

Collared lizards are fast and flighty – like Green Anoles, so probably aren’t the best small pet lizard for the keeper hoping to handle their pet regularly.

For the reptile enthusiast that enjoys building naturalistic vivariums, however, and watching the behaviour of their pet, the collared lizard is an ideal choice.

The author has spent many happy hours building desert-style setups for Collared Lizards, and has lost track of how much time has been lost watching these exciting lizards going about their daily lives.

Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)

crested gecko photo

Gaining popularity in recent years has been the Crested Gecko from New Caledonia.

These largely arboreal lizards has an undeniably “cute” appearance, their name stemming from the crests of spines running down the sides of their body, and ending just above the eyes like a set on luxurious long eye-lashes.

Crested geckos have sticky toe pads and so can climb effortlessly up vertical glass surfaces in their cage, meaning that you need to be extra careful about providing a completely escape-proof cage.

Pleasantly, crested geckos soon get used to their keepers and can generally be handled safely, aided by their tails and toes which minimize the chances of them falling.

An additional benefit of crested geckos is that they feed primarily on nectar in the wild, rather than live insects. While captive specimens will certainly consume some juicy crickets when offered, the vast majority of their diet can be made up from artificial nectar solution. This is available from reptile stores in tiny “milk creamer” containers.

The crested gecko is therefore arguably one of the easiest lizards to feed as a pet – particularly beneficial if you’re squeamish about handling live insects or live somewhere that sourcing livefood is problematic.

Yemen Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Chamaeleo calyptratus photo

In truth, chameleons have developed something of a challenging reputation over the years. Many keepers have found them difficult to keep, and their specialist requirements do demand slightly more experience than simpler lizards like bearded dragons.

The obvious exception here is the Yemen Chameleon, which is considered one of the easiest chameleons to keep (and even breed) in captivity. Indeed, they are so easy to care for, and reproduce so readily, that Yemen Chameleons are a relatively common sight in most reptile shops these days.

If you’re interested in a “proper” chameleon (and not a Green Anole) then the Yemen Chameleon is probably the best small pet lizard for you.

That said, ensure you do careful research before making your purchase, as much of the general advice applying to 90%+ of all pet lizards may not be so for your chameleon. For example, chameleons will rarely drink from a water bowl, and instead a drip-feed system works better.

This specialist equipment can, of course, raise the cost of keeping chameleons in comparison to similarly-sized lizards, but the rewards of doing a good job cannot be denied.

Uromastyx

uromastyx photo

Lastly, in our list of the best small pet lizards come the group Australian lizards known as “Uromastyx”. This is a hugely diverse group of lizards, though most grow no larger than a bearded dragon.

Hailing from the hot and arid parts of Oceania, these lizards like it hot – with a basking spot of 35’C or more. Be ready to see your electricity bill go up when you invest in Uromastyx therefore!

So, what makes the Uromastyx a small lizard worthy of your consideration? Firstly, these incredible lizards have quite a unique – even jurassic – appearance. Many are increasingly available in a wide range of color forms, with deep orange and red specimens not unheard of.

Just as importantly, however, it could be argued that Uromastyx are on a par with bearded dragons when it comes to ease of handling. These chunky, confident lizards seem to enjoy contact with people, will come up to the glass to meet you at feeding time and will sit calmly on the hand.

For someone looking for similar benefits to Bearded Dragons, but fancies something a little bit “different” these small lizards might be just what the doctor ordered.

What the Best Small Pet Lizard?

We have now discussed some of the more commonly-seen small pet lizards. As you can see, there is a huge diversity among these species – from truly tiny lizards through to rather larger and more easily-handled species. So which is the best small lizard?

This is a question that only you can answer. Depending on why you want a pet lizard in the first place (to handle or to observe?), on which species you find visually appealing and what your budget is only you can decide on the best lizard for your situation.

Use the above list as a start on your journey, and so as much research as you possibly can on each lizard species. Visit reptile stores in your local area, and strike up friendships on forums, in order to make the most informed decision possible before bringing home your new pet lizard.

Whatever you decide on, let me wish you the best – and welcome you to the wonderful world of reptile care!

Photos c/o Jeff Heard, simply.jessi, jmeissen, tsbl2000, RichardJames1990 & hj_west

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Bosc Monitor Care Sheet (Varanus exanthematicus) http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/bosc-monitor-care-sheet/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/bosc-monitor-care-sheet/#respond Sat, 10 Jun 2017 11:06:15 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=1965 Bosc monitors are one of the more popular large lizard species kept in captivity. Hailing from Eastern and Northern Africa, the bosc monitor is capable of growing up to five feet (150cm) in length, though in reality most specimens top out at a more modest three to four feet in length (90-120cm). While these certainly […]

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Bosc monitors are one of the best larger pet lizards that can be kept in captivity. This care sheet reveals how to look after Bosc monitors - a perfect read for all reptile enthusiasts, or those looking for a pet lizard. Bosc monitors are one of the more popular large lizard species kept in captivity. Hailing from Eastern and Northern Africa, the bosc monitor is capable of growing up to five feet (150cm) in length, though in reality most specimens top out at a more modest three to four feet in length (90-120cm).

While these certainly aren’t the biggest lizards available to reptile keepers, they’re certainly a far larger and more impressive species than the more commonly-kept bearded dragon or leopard gecko.

Together with their impressive dimensions, be aware that their teeth and claws are also in proportion of their body. A scratch or a bite from a bosc monitor is therefore likely to be much more uncomfortable than from a Green Anole! That said, a properly-tamed bosc monitor can become silly tame, posing no major risk for their owner.

Their potential size, combined with a fearsome arsenal of tooth and claw – not to mention a powerful tail – therefore mean that the bosc monitor is generally not a good pet lizard for beginners.

For reptile keepers with some experience, however, looking to upgrade to something a little bit different to the usual species seen in reptile stores, the bosc monitor can make an ideal introduction into the larger and more impressive lizards.

In this bosc monitor care sheet we’ll discuss everything you need to know in order to safely house, feed and care for your first pet bosc monitor…

Wild Habitat

Hailing from the arid regions of Northern and Eastern Africa, bosc monitors may be found across a wide range, including Ghana, Senegal and Ethiopia.

They are typically ground-dwelling lizards, though may occasionally climb when the desire arises. Far more commonly, bosc monitors use their sharp, elongated claws to dig. In doing so they may create a hole in which to hide, or may unearth potential prey.

Bosc monitors are carnivorous lizards, naturally hunting throughout the day where they feed on whatever live prey they can capture. With their forked tongues, they prowl the wild areas of Africa, looking almost like small komodo dragons, tasting the air for any tasty morsels. In the wild this is likely to consist primarily of a wide range of life invertebrates, supplemented with the occasional rodent or eggs from ground-nesting birds.

When it comes to bosc monitor care the best solution is to try and mimic this natural lifestyle as far as is possible in captivity. This means that a large cage will be required to enable these active lizards to explore and hunt.

A very hot basking area is also recommended, to help mimic the effects of the sun’s rays warming the earth. A drier environment is also preferable to more humid atmospheres, which can lead to health problems in bosc monitors.

Lastly, giving your monitor the opportunity to dig around in their substrate, and even to take a nice long bath, will also help to add interest and to foster more natural behaviour in their captive environment.  

Housing Bosc Monitors

Many people are taken in by how cute (and relatively inexpensive) baby bosc monitors are. They can often be purchased for similar prices to bearded dragons, and being less than a foot in length the chunky babies can be very appealing indeed. It is important, however, to appreciate just what you’re getting yourself into before buying a baby bosc monitor.

While young bosc monitors will be happy in a traditional wooden vivarium or large Exo Terra tank, adult specimens will require a far more roomy enclosure. Youngsters can be successfully housed in a tank measuring roughly three feet (90cm) in length, and eighteen inches (45cm) in depth.

Appreciate, however, that baby monitors can double in size in a matter of months when well cared-for, so it is often to start off with a larger cage of 120cm or more. This means that such a cage can be used for a longer period of time before rehousing is necessary.

Such a plan helps to save you money rather than needing to buy a new cage every few months. In the meantime, of course, your baby monitor will be able to get plenty of exercise, exploring their oversized cage until they grow into it.

Adult bosc monitors require considerably larger enclosures, which can be difficult to source from standard reptile stores. A cage of some six feet (180cm) in length, with a height and depth of three feet (90cm) is recommended as a minimum for adults. Due to the excessive size it may be necessary to build your own vivarium as your monitor reaches maturity (and process that can take just 2-3 years), or to order an over-sized vivarium from a specialist tank builder.

As bosc monitors like a hot and dry environment wooden vivariums are often the best option. These successfully hold in the heat, while making it easy to attach the various electrical appliances you’ll need. The wood also won’t rot in the otherwise dry environment. Cheap to buy “off the shelf” or to build yourself, this is often the most practical and cost-effective solution.

Heating & Temperatures

To mimic their wild environment, bosc monitors need a hot enclosure. As with other reptiles, it is recommended that one end be heated while the other end of the cage is allowed to remain slightly cooler. Under such conditions your monitor will be able to choose their preferred area; warming up under their heat lamp and then going off to explore the cooler areas of their cage once they have reached their optimum temperature.

A recommended temperature at the hot end is some 28-32’C, though this can drop during the night. This should be monitored continually with a reptile thermometer such as a digital thermometer or heat gun.

There are a number of ways to provide this level of heat. The first of these, and arguably the most popular solution, is to use a heat lamp. Alternatively ceramic heaters may be used. Ceramics don’t provide light; just heat, so some bosc monitor owners find them more practical as they can be run safely during the “night” without upsetting your bosc monitor’s natural circadian rythmns.

Note that both heat lamps and ceramic heaters can get very hot indeed. Not only do such heaters risk overheating the cage, but lizards can receive hefty burns if they’re unlucky enough to come into direct contact with the heating element. As a result, a number of precautions are essential for the health of your pet…

Firstly, any heating element should be safely protected with a bulb cover to eliminate any chance of your monitor coming into contact with it. Additionally, such powerful heaters should only ever be used with a thermostat.

There are a range of thermostats designed specially for reptiles, and they help to keep temperatures within acceptable levels. On colder days, the thermostat can gently increase the power of the bulb to maintain a suitable environment, while on hotter days it will be automatically turned down to prevent overheating.

Depending on how well-insulated your chosen bosc monitor cage is, and it’s overall size, it may be necessary to add supplemental “background” warmth to take the edge off the cooler end. This can be easily, cheaply and safely achieved through the use of one or more heat mats.

The best guide to heating your bosc monitor cage will be your lizard itself. Pay attention to his or her behaviour to see if changes are necessary. A monitor that only rarely ventures away from the basking spot could likely do with the temperature increasing further. In contrast, of course, a monitor that rarely goes anywhere near their hotspot, but instead lurks at the cold end may be finding their enclosure too hot.

By modifying the temperature of your bosc monitor’s cage in response to their behaviour you should quickly be able to find the optimum conditions for your pet.

Ultraviolet Lighting

Lighting your bosc monitor cage is a point of great contention. Veterinarians and reptile keepers alike are aware that some lizards – such as green iguanas – positively must have artificial lighting. Without the provision of UV light, such lizards are unable to effectively metabolize calcium, which can lead to weak bones, swollen joints, paralysis (particularly of the rear end) and sometimes even death.

It has been claimed by some authorities, however, that bosc monitor’s do not require UV light and can live perfectly happy and healthy lives without. Some keepers have even successfully bred boscs without the provision of artificial lighting.

That said, it does seem like an unnecessary risk when the reptile community is so divided. As a result, I recommend the use of a suitable UV bulb, placed as close to your lizard’s basking spot as possible. Ideally, the distance between lizard and tube should be no more than 30-45cm or so.

To maximize the volume of ultraviolet light available to your monitor use a reflector behind the bulb. Also be aware that most bulbs require changing every six months or so. Even if the visible light appears bright, the UV portion (invisible to our eyes) drops away over a period of months. If in doubt, a handheld UV monitor can be used to check the output of your chosen bulb.

Also, in cases where you opt to provide a UV light, your monitor should have ample opportunities to escape the glare. This means providing light in just one area of the enclosure, while also providing hides and artificial plants, where your bosc monitor can retire if desirable.

Water & Humidity

Bosc monitors may come from arid areas of Africa, but it is still considered a good idea to provide fresh water at all times. This should be provided in a heavy ceramic bowl, to prevent these powerful lizards from tipping over their water.

Like many other monitor lizards, it seems that bosc monitors often appreciate a nice soak in their water bowl. Selecting a bowl that will accommodate your bosc monitor safely can therefore be a wise idea. Note that monitors have an unfortunate habit of defecating in their water, so you’ll want to scrub the bowl and change the water regularly to keep it hygienic.

Normal household humidities are perfectly acceptable for bosc monitors, with no additional spraying generally being required.

Tank Decor

The first consideration when setting up your bosc monitor cage is the substrate which goes on the floor, and here there is much disagreement. Some keepers use orchid bark or beech chippings, though it is generally accepted that potting soil may be the best solution. Be certain that the compost you choose does not have any nasty chemicals added to it, such as the artificial fertilizer granules found in some brands.

Mixing this compost with some children’s play sand then creates the perfect environment for digging. In larger vivariums it can be a good idea to offer a healthy depth of substrate, and to pack it well. This enables your bosc monitor to dig naturally in the substrate as they might in the wild.

Bosc monitors are large, powerful lizards capable of digging and climbing. As a result, a beautifully-landscaped vivarium may not stay so for very long. Instead, tank decor elements should be sturdy, and ideally fixed in place with screws or reptile-safe silicone sealant. The use of large branches and pieces of cork bark, combined with artificial plants, can be put to use to create an appealing and varied environment for your monitor.

Lastly, don’t forget to provide your bosc monitor with somewhere suitable to hide away from prying eyes. There are a huge range of potential reptile hides, but the size of an adult monitor means that a very large piece of curved cork bark may be the easiest solution. For youngsters reson caves or curved wooden hides can also work well.  

Feeding Bosc Monitors

Learning how to feed your pet is a critical aspect of bosc monitor care. The reason is that bosc monitors can be prone to laziness and, as a result, may become obese over time. Over feeding your bosc monitor, or providing it with the wrong food can therefore lead to an overweight lizard which will, in all likelihood, shorten it’s lifespan.

Young bosc monitors are best fed every day or two, on a wide and varied selection of livefood, including crickets, locusts, mealworms and even earthworms. All livefood should either be dusted with a suitable mineral supplement, or gut-loaded before feeding. Doing so maximizes the mineral content of the food, helping to keep your monitor in the best of health.

As your lizard grows, so the feeding frequency can drop. Alongside this, the size of prey items provided can increase. Many experienced bosc monitor keepers offer dead mice to their pet roughly twice a week (every three days or so). This rodent prey can be supplemented with further invertebrate prey as desirable.

Bosc monitors are one of the best larger pet lizards that can be kept in captivity. This care sheet reveals how to look after Bosc monitors - a perfect read for all reptile enthusiasts, or those looking for a pet lizard.

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Risks When Handling Exotic Pets http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/risks-when-handling-exotic-pets/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/risks-when-handling-exotic-pets/#comments Thu, 07 Apr 2011 09:43:41 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=314 While many exotic pets can be handled safely both from your point of view and that of the animal itself I thought that it might be beneficial to provide you with a list of “warnings” or things to be aware of while handling exotic pets. None of these risks are really too serious when you […]

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While many exotic pets can be handled safely both from your point of view and that of the animal itself I thought that it might be beneficial to provide you with a list of “warnings” or things to be aware of while handling exotic pets.

None of these risks are really too serious when you know about them, understand them and plan for them. Indeed potential problems really only occur with inexperienced exotic pet keepers who aren’t aware of some of the potential pitfalls when holding exotic pets and how to avoid them with minimal effort.

Read the following if you’re new to exotic pets, remember the tips and you’ll have a lot more success when it comes to handling your new pet.

Falling From A Height

If I pushed you off the top of a building I think it’s fair to say that it would hurt and the same goes for your exotic pets. If they’re dropped from a reasonable height (such as an adult standing up straight holding a lizard infront of them) then there is a serious risk of damage to your pet.

Risks may include broken bones, sprains or even death for something like a tarantula where the abdomen has been known to split. Even a broken bone can be a serious problem – especially with smaller herptiles – as it can be very difficult to repair such damage successfully.

In other words when you’re handling your exotic pets try to do so close to the ground so if you do slip (or they make a dash for freedom) they only have a small, safe distance to drop. Holding your herptile over a bed or couch is a great idea because as well as the reduced potential dropping distance if the worst happens they will land on a soft surface which will minimize the chances of any damage occurring.

Chemicals On Your Hands

Many of the everyday chemicals we use – from household cleaning chemicals to standard toiletries – can cause problems for some exotic pets. This is mostly a problem with amphibians who have a very sensitive, permeable skin where even small amounts of chemicals can cause significant health problems.

There are a number of potential ways to avoid these risks. Firstly it goes without saying that you should wash your hands thoroughly before touching your pet and ideally apply one of the reptile safe hand cleaners too which will ensure any pathogens have been killed off. Some keepers opt to wear latex gloves though generally I have never had any problems when just using the “wash and sanitize” technique.

Overly Dry Hands

Amphibian skin needs to stay moist at all times so before handling any amphibian you should ensure your hands are damp. Doing so will make handling your pet a little more difficult because the whole experience will be far more “slippery” but this prevents damage occurring to the amphibians skin.

Also, when it comes to moistening your hands, try not to use water directly from the tap but instead use distilled water or dechlorinated tap water so there are no unpleasant chemicals in the water you just lovingly applied to your hands.

Amphibian Toxins

Some amphibians like poison dart frogs and marine toads can give off defensive toxins designed to stop predators from eating them and if you manage to ingest these or get them in your eye the experience can quickly become quite an unpleasant one.

Once again consider using latex gloves when handling amphibians or thoroughly wash your hands after handling your pet and use a reptile-safe sanitizer.

Insect Defences

Just because you’re so big and insects are so small don’t necessarily think that they’re harmless. Some stick insects have sharp spines on their legs which they can close around a finger if they feel threatened and may cause discomfort or even draw blood. Assassin bugs can squirt toxins at you from some distance as can some stick insects. Larger praying mantis are capable of drawing blood if they “catch” you with their front legs.

In other words don’t assume that all insects are perfectly safe to handle and that you can do anything you like to them. Treat them with as much respect as any other exotic pet by moving slowly and calmly when handling them so as to not scare them and keep them away from your face to avoid any risks from toxins.

Urticating Hairs

Some tarantulas from the Americas have what are known as “urticating hairs” on their abdomen. These spiders can kick the hairs off with their back legs and these hairs can then cause considerable discomfort if they come into contact with you. Itchy skin is the most common problem though this will quickly subside. However if you inhale these hairs they can make your nose feel sore and “prickly” for a good day or two afterwards while getting these hairs into your eyes can require medical attention as quickly as possible.

Now I’ve been keeping and breeding tarantulas for over a decade and I’ve had dozens of spiders kick off urticating hairs at me. I’ve never got them in my eyes, got them up my nose a couple of times and on my hands far more often. But generally the feeling of these hairs is more a minor irritation than anything else.

If you keep tarantulas then treat them gently and calmly to minimize the risks of them trying to defend themselves by flicking hairs at you, wash your hands thoroughly after handling any spider and keep them well away from your face at all times to avoid the risk of urticating hairs getting into your nose, mouth or eyes.

Constriction

The snakes commonly kept in the exotic pet hobby are almost all constrictors – that is they capture a prey item and then squeeze it until it dies through lack of air. They then eat the prey item.

In smaller snakes this ability to constrict is rarely a problem. Even a full-grown corn snake is hardly able to do you any damage if it decides it wants to constrict your arm or such.

But larger snakes such as many pythons or boas do pose a potential risk if they decide to try and constrict you – especially if they round your neck at the time.

To minimize this risk take great care if you decide to buy a snake that is going to reach a large size as an adult, take the time while it is young to get it used to being handled, avoiding placing large snakes around your nexk and only handle them when you have another person with you to offer help should the worst case scenario happen.

Allergic Reactions

Some exotic pets that we keep such as tarantulas and the popular species of scorpion are venomous but the venom is typically too weak to do any real damage to a human. I’ve been bitten by a Chilean rose tarantula and stung by an imperial scorpion and both felt at worst like a bee sting. I felt a burning sensation in my skin which subsided after a few hours and was none the worse for wear.

But there is always a minor risk of anaphalactic shock where your body can overreact to the toxins causing you to swell up and have difficulties breathing.

Venomous bites and stings are few and far between – and the chances of you being allergic are even slimmer – so this is probably not a situation you’re going to get yourself into but to be safe should you ever get bitten by any venomous creature – no matter how low the levels – seek medical attention just incase.

Microbial Pathogens

Some herptiles do potentially have microbial pathogens like salmonella that can be passed on from one specimen to another or even onto you. So after handling any of your exotic pets carefully wash and sanitize your hands to remove any risk and remember this should be done not just when you’ve finished your handling routine but also between handling each individual specimen to reduce the risks of cross-contamination.

Bites, Scratches And Swipes

Larger herps in particular can case bites, scratches or swipe you with their tail. Learn how to handle your pet properly, don’t take risks and consider using equipment like leather gauntlets and snake hooks for larger or more aggressive specimens to help keep you safe.

Almost every potential risk of handling exotic pets here can be avoided with a little common sense. Very few people experience any negative consequences from handling their pets and I’m a perfect example of this. After over a decade of dealing with all sorts of animals I have never had any significant damage done to either myself or an animal as a result of handling them.

The intention of this article is not to scare you off from handling your pet – or to prove to the “anti exotic pets brigade” that these animals are dangerous killers. But they are wild animals and a degree of thought, preparation and knowledge is recommended if you are going to keep both you and your pets safe from harm.

Wash and sanitize your hands before and after handling each of your exotic pets. Keep them away from your face at all times. Use specialist equipment when necessary. Learn how to handle your pets properly. Seek professional medical assistance should anything occur to you or your pet. But above all be smart, be safe and enjoy the thrill of getting in direct contact with your exotics.

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