(403) 256 7297 info@dewintonvet.com

Reptile Care | General Enclosure Recommendations

The Terrarium or enclosure should mimic the natural environment in which your reptile or amphibian lives. Depending on the species and whether they live on the ground or in trees, the terrarium should be at least 1.5 times the length and at least 2.5 times the height of your reptile or amphibian.

Always provide at least one hiding area so your reptile can safely get out of public viewing. Hides should be made of an easy to clean material and large enough to fit the entire reptile, but snug enough to provide security. For arboreal species, like chameleons, provide many branches and logs for them to climb.

Substrate

The substrate you choose for your reptile or amphibian should be safe and easy to clean. We recommend lining the enclosure or terrarium with an inch of stacked newspapers with 1-1.5 inches of fluffy newspaper shredding on top. All ink in North America is plant-based and contains no traces of lead, making it safe if ingested.

We do not recommend using substrates such as sand and walnut, as these materials can lead to impaction issues if ingested. Sand with calcium should also be avoided as the amount of calcium your reptile requires cannot be properly regulated. Although easy to clean, reptile carpets are also not recommended as many species can catch or tear a nail on the surface.

Lighting and Heat Sources

UVB is necessary in the production of Vitamin D3 and help the body absorb calcium. Sunlight help produce healthy bones and helps to stimulate appetite and proper immune function. As natural sunlight through a glass window or plastic lid filters out needed UVB, it is recommended that proper lighting, such as the Zoomed T5H0, be provided for all reptile and amphibian species. Lights should be places about 20cm from the highest point that your reptile or amphibian can climb to avoid burns. For optimal absorption, lightbulbs should be on for 10-12 hours a day and changed a minimum of every 6 months. Avoid the use of white or red lighting, as these can interrupt your reptile or amphibian’s sleep pattern.
As UVB lighting does not provide a significant heat source, 60W ceramic heat bulbs and a human heating pad under the terrarium on a LOW setting is recommended. Although there are specific heating pads for reptiles, there is no real way of making sure the pad is on and working properly. The heating pad should be on for 24 hours a day and cover ¼ – 1/3 of the enclosure depending on the species. Heating rocks are NOT recommended as they can cause thermal burns to the underside of your reptile.

Temperature and Humidity

All species require at least some humidity to aid in proper shedding and defecating. Depending on the species, humidity can be provided by open water dishes, spraying or misting the tank, misters, drip bottles, and foggers. For those species who live in a drier climate, provide a hiding spot filled with peat moss over the heating pad area to increase humidity.

Thermometers are essential tools to easily measure heat in the terrarium and can be set up in different areas if your species requires multiple temperate zones. Thermometers should be checked daily to ensure a suitable environment and catch any system failures that may adversely affect your reptile or amphibian.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Remove droppings and clean the terrarium on a regular basis to minimize bacteria, fungus, and mould growth your pet’s home. Many household cleaners such as Lysol, PineSol, or Mr. Clean can be poisonous to your reptile or amphibian.
A 1:30 dilute bleach solution can be used to clean all non-soakable (porous) materials, while soakables can be boiled in water for 30 minutes. Rinse well (at least 4-5 times) and ensure there are no residual fumes prior returning your reptile or amphibian to its terrarium.