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Are you up to date?  – When should you update your reptile care.

Things change. This is as true in the reptile hobby as it is in every other part of life; there is always new research, new information coming to light, new products, new ways of doing things.

So at which point should we be changing the way we keep our reptiles?

The trick is to avoid the newest fad, which has popped up for no apparent reason except that someone has managed to get their opinion out to a wide enough audience that it becomes accepted wisdom. These days, it’s often those that shout loudest on the internet that get listened to. So how do you do it?

Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. Question everything!

There should be a reason behind everything you do. Why that particular type of lamp holder? Why that type of bulb? Why that substrate, why that size and shape of vivarium?

If the answer to any question is ‘because we’ve always done it that way’, dig deeper.

We touched on this subject briefly in our Reptile Myths series, challenging the old school ideas about reptile keeping. Always ask, always question, always challenge.

There is, of course, more than one way of doing anything. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean that every other method is wrong, just that that method works for them. Whenever you are unsure, go back to first principles:

  • Is my reptile diurnal (day active), nocturnal (night active), or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk)?
  • Where in the world does my reptile come from? (Originally, not where your particular animal was born.)
  • What does it eat? (What should it eat – not what will it eat.)
  • Where does it live – up a tree, down a burrow?

The answers to these questions should shape the basic care you give to your pet – what shape vivarium, how large, what lighting, the varieties of food to offer.

So this is the point at which you look at your own setup – or the normal accepted standard – and start asking more questions.

What’s the best – or most efficient – way of providing UV light to my pet? Compact, strip light, mercury vapour, metal halide?

How can I best provide a temperature gradient? Heat mat, ceramic heater, incandescent bulb, halogen bulb, red bulb? (Here’s a tip – the answer is NEVER ‘red bulb’.)

You get the idea. Keep asking these questions. Read the current research – you don’t have to be an academic, just search the internet occasionally using terms like ‘bearded dragons in the wild’ or ‘UV research reptiles’. No, you shouldn’t necessarily take everything you read on the internet at face value, but you will certainly broaden your horizons a bit! Be wary of faceless ‘keyboard warriors’ on the internet – there’s a lot of bullying out there, a lot of people who are more interested in their ego rather than the wellbeing of your reptile.

And armed with all this new knowledge, perhaps visit your local reputable reptile shop (like us!) and start asking questions.

  • Why do you feed your animals the way you do?
  • Why are you using those particular lights?
  • Why that substrate?

…and so on and so forth. Never be afraid to ask questions – we like it when you do! Sometimes people ask us questions we may not have thought of ourselves, which make us look at something in a different way; that’s the best way to learn, change, and improve. Because you can always, always improve.

What would you like to ask us today?

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