Most people like animals of some description, and quite a few will choose to keep one or two as pets. While the majority will elect for something like a cat, dog, rabbit or hamster, reptiles are now becoming as popular, if not more so, than their furred counterparts. Reptiles are a different kind of pet and many will shy away from them. However, those who own them will know how exciting it is to be keeping something a little more at odds with the norm.
Keeping reptiles means becoming knowledgeable in the equipment and supplies specific to their ownership, most of which is available to buy online on eBay. Reptiles require a certain type of food and special items for their care, and new or potential owners should be aware that many reptiles need to be fed on live food to survive. They must either accept this or choose a different type of pet if they do not feel comfortable with feeding their reptile in this manner. He or she must also be aware of the other special requirements of reptiles.
Cages & Vivariums
The first consideration is the vivarium that the reptile is going to be living in. If the reptile is a baby, before purchasing the home habitat, first find out how big the reptile will be at full size. As a general rule of thumb, work on a minimum area of one metre squared, for every 30 centimetres in length that the new pet will grow to. If a new pet lives in a tree habitat, the height of the cage must be as big as, if not bigger than, its length.
Homework is important when choosing the correct type of home environment for a new reptile. For example, chameleons require a well-ventilated home habitat. So the best type to keep them in is a large cage constructed of wire mesh. If they are kept in any other type of vivarium, they will not thrive or have a good quality of life. Each type of reptile has its own needs.
As with any pet, it is important to determine the type of habitat a reptile will need before making the purchase. There are 5 different types of habitat a new owner needs to consider:
This habitat is normally very dry with temperatures ranging between 35-40 degrees centigrade. Water must be provided but only in small quantities as desert-dwelling reptiles do not consume a great deal.
This kind of habitat is normally dry with a bit of rain every now and again. The home enclosure must be sprayed every few days, lightly, with water, to simulate these conditions. The temperature should range between 20-30 degrees centigrade and water should be provided in a bowl that is shallow but large enough for the reptile to get into.
This is a very hot, humid type of habitat. Owners of reptile from this climate must have equipment to heat and to spray with a mist. Temperatures are normally around 33 degrees centigrade. Take into consideration that many reptiles that live in tropical climates normally make their homes in trees so the appropriate size of tall enclosure must be obtained.
These types of habitat require both water and land areas. Semi-aquatic reptiles like to swim but they also need to bask in the sun. Temperature will depend entirely on which type of reptile the new owner buys so they must do their homework first to ensure they reach the correct temperature. If the semi-aquatic reptile comes from the tropics then the water must be heated as well as the air, whereas those from temperate climates will only need a small heat lamp to bask under. One extremely important factor is that the water must be kept filtered and clean.
This kind of habitat is mainly water, and is not all that common in the reptile world. However, certain species, such as the Mata turtle, thrive in this kind of habitat. Again, the water must be kept filtered and clean.
The next consideration is the material the reptile enclosure will be constructed from. There are four main types:
It is generally advised that plastic tanks are used only as quarantine or as carrying receptacles as they are too small for most reptiles to live comfortably in.
These are one of the most common types of habitat. Both vivariums and aquariums normally feature ventilation built in to the hood. Lighting is normally affixed into the hood as well, including heat and UV lamps. These are ideal for reptiles that are aquatic or semi-aquatic. New owners have the choice of purchasing a vivarium that is already supplied with everything or of creating their own setup. When constructing their own, they must remember to build hiding places into the design. They must also remember never to place a glass vivarium or an aquarium in the sun as it will quickly overheat. Glass terrariums are available from eBay.
There are quite a few reptiles that can, and prefer to, live in a wire mesh enclosure. These can either be purchased ready-made or built. This type of enclosure provides adequate ventilation for the reptile; however, it's so not as easy to regulate temperature or humidity. The enclosure must be checked regularly to make sure there are no spaces where the reptile can escape.
Enclosures made from Melamine are normally glass fronted. This allows the pet to be seen while still maintaining a high degree of privacy. A ventilated hood is normally included as part of the setup. Melamine is very good at absorbing heat and repelling water.
The Importance of Heaters
It does not matter what environment the reptile originates from, it is important that their natural habitat is replicated as closely as possible. This will ensure a reduction in the chances of the reptile suffering from stress and will encourage a healthy life.
Heating is one of the most important parts of setting up a reptile habitat. It is not just for warmth; as cold-blooded creatures, some reptiles cannot digest food, fight off diseases or keep their circulation going properly without it. Whether the reptile is a native of a tropical region, a desert or another type of environment, it is necessary to try to replicate the natural habitat. Reptiles are all cold-blooded, which means they are not able to produce heat from their own bodies; as such they rely heavily on the external temperature to survive and carry out basic functions. This is called 'thermoregulation', and the new reptile owner must ensure that these basic needs are met.
Thermal gradient is important in a reptile enclosure. This means that the temperature should be warm at one end and cooler at the other. The first job of any new reptile owner is to make sure that the mean temperature within the enclosure is as close to the average daytime temperature of their natural habitat as possible.
Next a heat source must be placed at one end of the enclosure – this does not have to be a light, just heat. This is where the reptile will digest his food or go to when it requires a warm place to bask. It is also important that adequate ventilation is supplied to avoid overheating and over-humidity.
The last thing the new reptile owner should ensure is that night temperatures are as close to the species requirements as possible. They must find out if the reptile is a hibernator and, if so, what temperatures and conditions are required.
There are a variety of products available to assist in keeping the enclosure at the correct temperatures, as well as for providing areas for basking:
- Heat Pad: These are recommended for heating either all or a part of the enclosure. Most are to be placed externally – situated underneath the vivarium or enclosure – but there are some that are made of polyurethane that can be fitted inside, beneath the material that lines the enclosure.
- Heat Panel: These are usually fixed over the top of the reptile enclosure, ensuring a controlled heating system is available throughout the whole cage.
- Heat Strip: These are fixed with adhesive, either to the base or the side of the enclosure, providing a steady heat source.
- Ceramic Bulb: This type of bulb is infra-red and is normally used to direct a heat source into one area – most often where the reptile will spend time basking.
- Incandescent Bulb: Normal household light bulbs can be used as a heat source; the amount produced will depend entirely on the watts the bulb produces. They must not be used at night because the reptile requires a cycle of day and night in order to function properly.
- Hot Rock:These are not highly recommended by many herpetologists or reptile experts as they can be a cause of burns. This is because the heat produced is all directed to one small area.
How to Buy Reptile Supplies on eBay
To find supplies for owning a reptile online, go to eBay and navigate to the Pet Supplies section, from which it is possible to narrow down to Reptiles. From here it is possible to use the left bar menu to browse through categories filtered by item type, animal type, price and several other options.
If searching for a particular item, enter the term in the search bar up the top to narrow down results further.
All supplies needed to keep your reptile healthy and flourishing can be sourced online through eBay, which has the added advantage of providing an easy way to compare prices and assess different options. Owning reptiles can be a rewarding experience but also requires dedicated care and a special set-up. For first-time buyers and for experienced reptile owners, eBay has all the necessary equipment easily at hand.