Reptile and Amphibian Care – Size

Many herptiles purchased in captivity are juveniles. This means that they will grow over time (provided, of course that they are well cared for). It is important to provide your herptile with an appropriately sized enclosure. As your herptile grows, the size of its “house” will need to be increased. For example, iguanas are often sold as “babies” or juveniles in pet stores. Typically they are under twelve inches long and can do well in a 20-30 gallon terrarium. However, iguanas do most of their growing in the first 18-36 months of their life, and reach lengths up to six feet. While most do not reach this size in this short period of time, many do get three to four feet long. At this size an aquarium of sixty gallons or greater is recommended. Be prepared to upgrade your enclosure as your pet grows. A simple rule (but not always the best way) to determine proper enclosure size is this: the enclosure should be at least twice as long as the total length of the pet, one and a half times wide as the pet is long, and, depending on the natural inclination or habitat of the pet, one and a half times as high as the pet is long in body length. That being said it is important to realize what type of environment your herptile comes from in the wild. Many snakes are mostly terrestrial (lives on land) and require very little vertical area in their habitat, however, some are mainly arboreal (lives in trees) and require a lot of vertical climbing are in order to thrive. Another example is the difference between different species of frogs. Horned frogs are terrestrial and need virtually no climbing are, while green tree frogs are almost exclusively arboreal and need lots of climbing space. Consider your pet’s natural environment in designing your herptile’s enclosure.

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