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Preparing to Adopt a Reptile?

Chat with Our Chapel Hill and Durham Veterinarian Before Bringing Home a Reptile

Reptiles can fascinate a family for years, but they have very different living requirements from those of furry pets. Our Durham and Chapel Hill exotic pet veterinarian, Dr. Kay Bishop uses this blog to share some critical preparations families need to make before bringing home a scaly new family member.

Our Animal Clinic Will Answer Questions
About Reptile Care

We love reptiles here in our animal clinic, and encourage pet owners to call us with questions about any of the following reptile living requirements.

Housing-The reptile's terrarium must be escape-proof and mimic his natural habitat. It also needs to allow for growth and natural movement, and may have to be custom designed. Iguanas, for example, can grow up to 6 feet long and need tree-like structures for climbing. Turtles, however, enjoy low, wide enclosures.

Heating and Light-Reptiles cannot control their body temperature, so research the temperature gradient your species needs and provide areas in the terrarium that span that range, with some areas on the cooler end, some on the warmer end.

Substrates-Each species needs different flooring materials. Moss, newspaper or rocks may be appropriate, but what works well for one reptile may be dangerous for another. For example, if a gecko ingests any sand or gravel, it could die from an intestinal blockage. Call us here at our veterinary hospital for tips on the proper substrate for each species.

Diet-Every species is different. Ball pythons enjoy rodents, but leopard geckos want live crickets. Research and follow the species' dietary requirements exactly to avoid problems.

Handling-Not all reptiles tolerate handling very well. Taking a reptile out of his temperature-controlled environment too often can endanger him and make him sick or aggressive, so be sure to understand this before you bring home a reptile.

Again, please call our animal hospital if you have any questions about caring for a pet reptile.

And for families out there who have a lizard, snake or turtle: What suggestions do you have for a rewarding reptile experience? How has your reptile surprised you?

Hospital Hours


8:00 am-6:00 pm


8:00 am-6:00 pm


8:00 am-6:00 pm


8:00 am-6:00 pm


8:00 am-6:00 pm


8:00 am- Noon



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