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Reptiles require a special license to be kept as pets. These can be obtained from the Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage Protection.


The food your reptile needs depends largely on the type of reptile it is. Food intake of reptiles also varies greatly, depending on the ambient temperature. If you need specific advice please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic. When feeding lizards it is important to use a plate rather than putting food directly on to the substrate in the cage – otherwise your lizard may eat some of the substrate as well and end up with a very upset belly!


The cage that your reptile lives in once again depends on the species. Tree-climbing snakes prefer tall cages with branches in them that they can get up high on. Lizards often prefer more room to roam so a wide/long cage suits them. It is important to provide your reptile with fresh water not only to drink but to bath in, especially species such as water dragons. The substrate you use in your cage should be easy to clean and non-toxic; newspaper, Astroturf and reptile sand are all good substrates to use. Reptiles are private animals and need to be provided with areas to hide in their cage, this can be as simple as a hollow log or upside down cardboard box.


In the wild reptiles bask in the sun at least once a day, when kept in captivity the sun is unable to provide reptiles with much needed Vitamin D that is used to metabolize calcium. For this reason a UV light should be provided for your reptile. The UV light should be left on for 12 hours a day in summer and around 9 hours a day in winter. It is important to place a cage around the light as some snakes will curl up around it and burn themselves.


Reptiles are ecto-thermic, this means they rely on the outside temperature to change or maintain their internal body temperature. For this reason it is important to provide you reptile with an external heat source. Heat sources come in many shapes and sizes – heat lamps, heat mats, heating rocks and heated tiles. It is important to remember that any source of heat can cause burns to your reptiles skins – all heating instruments should be attached to a thermostat so you are able to set them at an appropriate temperature and checked regularly to ensure they are not to hot. Thermometers should also be kept at each end of the cage so you can monitor the ambient temperature.

When establishing a temperature gradient in a cage one end should be approximately 1 degrees Celsius below your chosen reptile’s preferred body temperature, and the other end 1 degree Celsius higher than the preferred body temperature. This allows your pet reptile to move around in different temperatures depending how they feel. The table below provides the preferred body temperature to a few of the more common pet reptile species:

Species Preferred Body Temperature
Carpet Python 30-32 degrees Celsius
Bearded Dragon 33-35 degrees Celsius
Blue Tongue Lizard 28-32 degrees Celsius
Turtle 26 degrees Celsius



Exotic Pet & Reptile Medicine
Queensland DEHP: Keeping wildlife for recreational purposes

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