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In Reptiles We Trust…

 


If  furry cats, dogs and bunnies don’t appeal to you but those scaly and slithering creatures catches more of your attention, then you have just entered into the realm of reptiles and exotic animal hobbyist or enthusiasts.

Keeping reptiles and exotic animals is way out of the mainstream pet ownership and demands a bit more than the cute cats, dogs or bunnies. Reptiles and exotic animals are a bit demanding in terms of their husbandry. As I have always advised would be keepers, “quality time is much more appreciated by these animals than quantity”. This simply means while cats and dogs would require the daily care and attention, reptiles on the other hand generally do not really need the daily attention.

Why Reptiles?

Well, for starters reptiles are really fascinating creatures. Time for a bit of reptile education here. Reptiles are one of the most diverse group of animals in the world. They do have peculiar behaviour and not to mention very colourful physical attributes. This is likely why reptiles are most sought after by exotic hobbyist other than invertebrates, amphibians and mammals.

Reptiles fall under the class Reptilia and are further sub-grouped into 4 which are the Squamata (lizards, snakes), Testudines (turtles, terrapins and tortoises), Crocodilia (crocodiles, gavials, caimans and alligators) and Sphenodontia (exclusively the tuataras from New Zealand). All in all there are over 9,000 species belonging to these sub-groups and the numbers grow every year as herpetologists (people who study reptiles and amphibians) discovers more and more species all over the world.

When people say reptiles are cold blooded, it does not mean that their blood is cold. Cold-blooded refers to the inability for reptiles to regulate their own body temperature like us humans or other mammals. In order to do this they would need to actually bask under the sun when they get cold or seek shelter underground in burrows or under stones and even in caves when their body temperatures reach a maximum. Reptiles especially lizards also need the sun to help them manufacture Vitamin D which is essential for their well-being without which they may get health problems, especially one called Metabolic Bone Disease or MBD in short (more on this in later articles).

All this means that in order to keep your pet reptile happy and healthy, you as the keeper would have to play “mother nature” in the sense that all these environmental issues would have to be duplicated in their enclosure to promote good health. I have always emphasized the importance of proper husbandry for reptiles to would be keepers to ensure that the animals get the best care from their owners. This in turn should make you, the keeper a happier person and enjoy your pet reptile and the animal itself is provided with all the necessities in living a healthy life in captivity.

In future articles, I would be highlighting more issues on reptiles and exotic animals for the benefit of those who have or are planning to have this class of animals as pets.

 

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Mohd Nazri a.k.a. Uncle Herp

Animals always have a place in my heart ever since I was young. There was never a time as far as I can remember that I was without a pet at any time in my life. From cats, rabbits, hamsters, fish and the list goes on.

As I get older, I had gotten more interested in reptiles and exotic animals. They appeal to me in such a way that it became a passion to me and prompted me to start out The Malaysia Herpetology Club and much recently the Malaysia Association of Reptiles and Exotic Animal Keepers (MARAK) https://www.facebook.com/MalaysiaARK.

All this just to get all reptiles and exotic animals together to share experiences and help each other out in matters regarding the pets that they keep.

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