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Questions From A Beginner

Discussion in 'Help *General*' started by LazySummerday, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. LazySummerday

    LazySummerday Member

    I'm new here so let's hope I'm posting this in the right place.

    My parents were against me keeping reptiles as a pet so I had to wait until I moved out. That time is now. I'm not sure what kind of reptile I wanna get, so I've been researching many species. Something that still confuses me is the substrate. Some say this, some say that. I've read that sand is a big no, yet some people say they've kept their reptiles on sand for years without any problems, and some reptile's natural habitat has sand etc.

    So which is it? What is the best and safest substrate?

    Another question. If I read care sheets in my own language, it has difference on the enclosure sizes. How do I know which is the real recommended size for a certain reptile?

    What about those super worms (morio worms), is it or is it not true that they can bite the reptiles intestines and kill it? Do I really need to remove the head?

    And I have a hard time figuring out which reptile species I should get. Any tips or ideas how to determine which is the right one?

    Sorry for the beginner questions, I just wanna be sure
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Welcome to HC!
    First, the worms eating their way out of the reptile is a myth. Doesn't happen.
    Substrate question. It depends on the animal. Some live on sand, some don't.
    Cage size. It depends on the animal and their lifestyle.
    There are a lot of reptiles that are great for a beginner. And a lot which really aren't.
    It might be simpler of you tell us what you are interested in and then we can steer you in the right direction.
    murrindindi likes this.
  3. LazySummerday

    LazySummerday Member

    Thanks for answering so quickly!
    For example Leopard Geckos, they're often kept on sand it seems and there's a lot of debate on whether or not it's safe. The same with bearded dragons.

    Haha, sorry, I know I should've given more details on what kind of reptile I'm looking for.

    I'm looking for an animal that is kind of active and doesn't immediately hide when I come into the room. It's OK if it can't be handled. Size is not that important but it should be able to live in a 3 feet 11 terrarium or smaller. That is important because I don't know anyone that can build an enclosure for me and I can't either. The biggest terraria available in my neighbourhood is 3 feet 11. I'll buy the enclosure after I've decided which reptile I'm gonna get because I find it important to match the enclosure to the animal and not the animal to the enclosure .
    Colors, diet, temps/humidity, etc don't matter because I can provide whatever's necessary. The reptile shouldn't be the type to dig burrows because the Terraria here aren't tall enough to do so.
    It doesn't matter whether it's a desert type of reptile or a rainforest one. I'm into snakes as well but for now I'd like to start with a lizard. If it can live with a buddy or in a small group, that would be even better but I know that's not always doable so its not a necessity.

    Sorry for my English
  4. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Your english is just fine!
    Sometimes people make wrong assumptions about substrate. For instance leopard geckos live in arid desert type areas. People jump to the conclusion...Sand.
    But Leo's do not live on loose sand. They live in areas of hard packed earth and rock. So in their case sand is not appropriate.
    Sand is controversial. Some feel it is appropriate in cases where animals are properly housed. Others choose not to use it because impaction is a possibility. I have always chosen to be safe and not use it.
    How tall are the terrariums you are looking at?
    AmityReptiles likes this.
  5. LazySummerday

    LazySummerday Member

    Thank you for clarifying it. If there is any chance of impaction as you say, then I won't use sand either. Which kind of substrate would be good for leopard geckos then? I read that cypress mulch is safe but mostly used for reptiles who need more humidity.

    The 3 feet 11 long Terraria are 1 feet 11 tall only. There are Terraria that are 3 feet tall but those are the small tall ones, like for a crested gecko for example. So it kind of depend on type of reptile I'm getting. There are of course tinier enclosures too, for if I'm getting a small animal like a green anole.
  6. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Often we see beginners get into something too advanced in care right off the start.
    I'll throw this out there, don't get a Chameleon.
    The Leopard gecko would be a great start.
    Trust me, you will want to handle it.
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    For Leos I like paper on the bottom of the tank with large flat stones. You can stack them making all sorts of caves and crevices.
  8. LazySummerday

    LazySummerday Member

    Kriminaal, thanks for your answer. I've read a little about chameleons because they look cool and beautiful, and it also says that they're not a good beginner reptile because they're so extremely sensitive to stress. So I'm not gonna get them. I've seen a few chameleons in pet shops and they all looked terrible. One even had a vegetables dish..

    Do leopard geckos really like to be handled or is it just that it's forced upon them? They look cute though!

    I was googling if leopard geckos were a good beginner animal and I saw a website with the top 5 (I think) best beginner reptiles. One stated a Savannah monitor but that seems to be bad info, considering the size of the animal alone. It also showed a bluetongueskink? Never heard of it before but wow... I fell in love! Its a ground dwelling animal that is no that good at climbing so my kind of Terraria would be perfect for it. Now I only have to research if a 3 feet 11 long enclosure is enough for one. Is it true that its a good beginner reptile? And that they not only tolerate but even seem to like handling? I didn't know such an animal existed. I'm gonna start reading a few care sheets but if any of you have some tips or even experience with them, it would be really appreciated :)
  9. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    I would put Leopard Geckoes near the top for handling. Of course some will like it more than others but generally they enjoy being taken out and climbing all over you.
    In my opinion Savannah monitors are for advanced herpers with tonnes of space and money.
    I've had a few different species of Blue-Tongues. The Northerns are fairly docile are are generally easy to keep. They are smelly though and have large loose wet stool.
    They are soley ground dwellers. I had mine in a 4ft z 2ft enclosure with a few levels and ramps. It seemed to suffice for size.
  10. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I have quite a bit of experience with Blue tongue skinks both in the wild and in captivity.
    They are not as active as some other lizards but they often do tolerate handling in my experience, and the more time, patience and effort the keeper puts in the better chance of a tractable animal.
    The largest subspecies can reach around 60cm +, and in that case would require an enclosure of around 150L x 120W x 60H (cm). It`s usually better to place the heat/lighting placed inside the enclosure rather than on top so that the conditions can be more easily stabilised (no screen tops).

    I agree with Mike that the Savannah monitor is only for advanced keepers.
    Can I ask which country you live in?
  11. LazySummerday

    LazySummerday Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I guess bleu tongue skinks are out of the question too because I can't find enclosures that big. Would a smaller enclosure also be OK if he's allowed to roam around the room? I read that a lot of people let them roam around most of the time. I have floor heating in my place so would be comfortable. But I'm not sure if doing this is as good as having him in a big enclosure?

    Are there any other suggestions as to what I could keep in a 3 feet 11 long Terraria besides leopard geckos? I'd like to know all my options before deciding. I can also get smaller terraria if there's a reptile that would feel more comfortable in a smaller space.

    I live in Belgium, in a very small town with nothing but farmers and nature. No big clothing stores or whatever. The closest store specialized in reptiles is a two hour drive. And two hours back. I haven't found any kind of breeders here either so I'd have to buy in a pet shop, which of course I know isn't recommended but I don't have another choice.
  12. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Can you tell me the height and width of the enclosure?
    If you can get a smaller subspecies of Blue tongue skink the size you have may be suitable, there is a smaller type called a "Pink tongue skink" (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii) that might be available (perhaps shipped from the Netherlands or Germany if you cannot find one in Belgium) these only reach around 30cm or so...

    [img width="800" height="536" class="display" alt="Pink-Tongued Skink
    Cyclodomorphus gerrardii" src="" border="0">
  13. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    I will add this; "free roaming" around the house (room) is NOT recommended because the animal needs carefully controlled conditions in order to thrive (unless the temperatures and humidity range very closely resemble the areas they originate from) which is normally highly unlikely. The length of time they spend outside of their enclosure should only be for a few minutes (certainly not an hour or more).

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