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Reptiles

TOP TEN TIPS

  1. 01

    Reptiles are exothermic therefore environment is key to their welfare, otherwise metabolic disorders occur, and burns can result from unregulated heat lamps

  2. 02

    Many owners are unaware of stress indicators, such as colour changing, darker spots and enlarged dewlap in chameleons.

  3. 03

    Prey and predator species housed close to each other will cause stress

  4. 04

    Reptiles will fight over food, so it’s good practice to teach them to feed at stations at either end of the tank, or to scatter feed as appropriate to encourage foraging.

  5. 05

    Providing multiple resources prevents resource holding contests, and environmental changes should be small to avoid stress yet frequent in order to provide variety. However if the animal came from a large commercial reptile farm even small changes can be too difficult for the animal to cope with.

  6. 06

    Appropriate training can help to mitigate the stress of captivity. Reptiles should be target trained to step up onto a hand, rather than subject them to the stress of being picked up by a hand casting a shadow overhead which they may generalise to a bird of prey. The practice of picking them up from above could be generalised to a raptor’s claw. Reptiles can also be trained to accept medication, and conditioned to accept touch

  7. 07

    Captive tortoises in the UK need access to both indoor and outdoor accommodation during a typical British year (even if they hibernate for 6-8 weeks in the winter)

  8. 08

    As tortoises are ectotherms, they cannot generate their own body heat – they have to absorb it from the environment. Most tortoises require basking temperatures of at least 30ºC and minimum overnight temperatures of around 15 ºC – an unlikely range in Britain even in the summer

  9. 09

    Any captive enclosure should mimic the natural habitat as far as possible. Landscaping, both indoor and outdoor accommodation, will require provision of slopes, mounds, a variety of surfaces such as grass, gravel, soil, sand.

  10. 10

    Environments that have been designed to provide tortoises with variety in terms of feeding an appropriate diet which as natural as possible; allowing them to achieve their preferred optimum temperatures during the day and to allow them to show most of their natural behaviours

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