October 21st , 2016 was National Reptile Awareness Day, and this is the perfect time to remind yourself of changes that need to take place in the care of your pet during the colder months.
The reptilian family is comprised of turtles, crocodilians, snakes, amphisbaenians(legless worms), lizards, and tuatara. And with almost 10,000 species of reptiles, it’s important to note the differences in care for each kind.
Choosing the right terrarium, heating, lighting and décor is essential to making a reptile feel comfortable in their home environment. Reptiles also benefit from a varied diet rich in protein and vitamins. Most reptiles are carnivores that feed on small insects, however, the few reptiles that are herbivores feed on grasses, fruits, shrubs and marine plants such as algae and kelp.
It is imperative to research what is best for your pet to get them situated and keep them relaxed and happy. As the weather changes though, the climate of a reptile’s terrarium needs to change too.
Veterinarians say that one of the leading causes for reptile illness is inadequate heat control during the colder months. Since reptiles are cold-blooded animals and do not produce their own heat, they need external sources for warmth. Providing a UVB light that imitates the benefits of the sun allows reptiles to synthesize Vitamin D, absorb calcium and maintain appropriate temperatures. When the temperature is not right for your reptile, it can affect its digestion, reproduction, respiration, and immune response; so supplemental lighting in the winter months is key to a healthy, happy pet.
Another thing to consider as the weather becomes colder is brumation, comparable to hibernation in mammals. Brumation occurs when reptiles can no longer cope with dropping temperatures and will naturally move into this sedentary state. During this process, their metabolism, heart rate, and digestion begin to slow to preserve energy for spring.
Reptiles may become lethargic, have a lack of interest in food and water, and sleep for long periods of time. This process is natural. However, temperature control in their habitat determines when they go into and come out of brumation, if they do so at all.
If you’d like more information or care tips for a specific reptile check out the care sheets on our website.