What to Know Before Getting Your First Reptile

Are you considering getting a reptile? There really is something special about owning an exotic animal and when you do it the right way you develop a deep appreciation for these amazing  and beautiful creatures. Reptiles are unlike any other pet we have ever owned and while we think they make an excellent choice, they aren’t for everyone. There is a lot more that goes into their care than you may think. Here are our top picks of what to consider before bringing home a reptile.


 They live longer than most traditional pets

Reptiles have a reputation for having longer life spans. The shortest life span of species we work with is around 7-9 years but some of the other species we work live up to 20 years. That is still on the shorter end of reptile life spans too! Some species can reach 50+ years! It’s always important to research the species life span and make sure that you are able to commit for the entirety of the animals life.


Difference species have different personalities

Like with most dogs or cats, there usually is some kind of guideline of how that particular breed will act. This is the exact same concept for reptile species. If you are wanting a reptile that can tolerate handling and more interaction, then a Chameleon, who is easily stressed out with those encounters might not be the best fit for you. You can get a pretty good idea of what to expect just doing a quick couple of good searches on the species you are most interested in.


Reptiles take up more space than you think

A good rule of thumb for reptiles is bigger enclosures = happier lives. Here at Blackthorn Dragons, we promote reptiles thriving rather than just surviving. A lot of species will require a lot bigger enclosures than you may be expecting. For instance, an ideal space for a bearded dragon is a 4 ft x 2 ft  x 2 ft enclosure. Of course, the bigger the reptile species the more room you are looking at reserving for your animal. Our tegu enclosures are 8 ft x 2 ft x 2ft, which is HUGE.


 Veterinarian bills exist!

There is a common misconception with reptiles not needing conventional veterinarian services, which is completely false. A reptile should have an initial visit to the vet upon arrival, annual check ups, and they will also need vet care when you sense something is wrong. They are extremely good at hiding any signs of sickness, so when you do realize something may be off, it’s usually a sign they need veterinarian care immediately. It’s important to research the exotic vets in your area and have a good one within reach.


Preparing and caring for feeders

Owning a reptile usually means you will also be owning insects or other small animals. It makes life a whole lot easier when you understand how to properly care for feeders. This include housing, feeding, and even preparing feeders for your reptile as well. You will want to know the importance of gutloading and ensuring you are feeding your feeders a nutritious diet so that when your reptile eats they also are benefiting from their foods.


Lighting matters

Reptiles need the proper temperature and proper UVB in their enclosures. This means that you will need both a basking bulb that projects heat AND a bulb that projects UVB. Basking temperatures are vital for optimal digestion while UVB helps your reptiles to synthesize D3 naturally which helps the absorption of calcium. Without proper lighting, your reptile can develop digestion issues and weak bones that will begin to deform and cause pain.


Buy from reputable breeders

Major pet store chains are notorious in the reptile community for selling sick animals. While this isn’t always the case, it’s so important to make sure you buy from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will let you ask questions about the animal and will provide you with all the information you need in order to bring your reptile home.



You may be thinking there are a lot of unique needs to owning a reptile and in some way you are correct. Don’t let their uniqueness discourage you from bringing one into your. Like with any animal, it just takes a little bit of time to prepare and accommodate for what your reptile will need. Reptile keeping provides you the opportunity to foster a little part of nature in your home! We assure you that after doing the research and preparing, you will find great satisfaction in the world of reptiles.

As always,  we hope our top picks for what to consider before getting yor first reptile helps you in making the right decision. Of course, if you ever want to reach out with further questions, we’d be happy to help!

-Tifani and Whitney


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