Bringing home a new reptile pet can be an exciting, fun experience for everyone involved. Before the festivities begin, however, it is important that you take the time to set up a quality, biologically appropriate environment that will help your reptile stay healthy and happy throughout its life. With these four steps, however, you will see that setting up a good reptile terrarium doesn’t have to be a difficult, time-consuming process with the proper planning.
Step 1: Get Your Tank and Accessories
The first step of building your new pet’s home will, naturally, be assembling the materials. While the exact accessories you will need may vary depending on which species of reptile you get (a gecko won’t need feeding tongs), you can expect to gather:
- Reptile lights
- Heat Mat
- Climbing tools (e.g., vines)
- Water/food dish
- Separate enclosure for feeding/quarantine
Of course, these materials are in addition to an appropriately sized tank and lid.
Step 2: Clean Tank
Before setting up your vivarium, you’re going to need to make sure that it’s properly cleaned for its new arrival. Simply wash the tank with gentle soap and water and thoroughly rinse before drying. It is also advisable to clean accessories that your new pet may use often – such as food and water dishes – before first use.
Step 3: Planning Out Your Terrarium
When setting up a reptile tank, you are going to need to choose a “hot” and “cool” side. This will help your pet better regulate its body temperature. Typically, the warmer side will be kept at 90+ degrees and used as a “basking spot” with the help of heat mats or reptile lights. At this point, you may wish to install digital thermometers, which will be important for ensuring that the temperature in your tank stays consistent. If you do utilize a heat mat, be sure to place it under another mat or a layer of bedding to prevent it from burning your pet.
Naturally, the cooler side of your tank will look slightly different from the warmer. You will want to make sure that area is absent of a lamp and has a shallow dish with a constant supply of fresh water in it. Both sides should be equipped with hides and climbing toys like vines and sticks.
Step 4: Introducing Your Pet
Of course, the star of your terrarium will be your new pet itself. However, you want to take some basic steps to ensure that its transition into a new home goes smoothly. You want to make sure that everything is set up exactly as you want it, and the tank is ready to be lived in. That means setting out fresh water and making sure the humidity/temperature is where it should be. Stay calm, interact with it as little as possible, and make sure that the environment around it is non stressing.
Remember, your reptile will be in a new, somewhat scary seeming environment. It may be fearful or shy for the first week or so of bringing it home. Be patient, make sure that its needs are met, and your new friend will be showing off its new personality in no time.