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A REPTILE'S MOVING IN

Some reptiles are easily stressed and need assistance acclimating to their new home, but with time, patience and effort, you can ease the adjustment. Plan to research as much as possible about your reptile before you venture out to buy one. While some reptiles find it hard to adjust, others make the move easily, as long as their new environment meets their needs. Large lizards, most aquatic turtles and many snakes adjust quickly. Regardless of how easy or how difficult the move, you will need to quarantine your pet for one to two weeks. To make sure your pet is healthy and to properly introduce him to his new environment, don't skip the quarantine.

You will need to acclimatize your new reptile to your home. Reptiles can suffer from stress, and they need to adjust to their surroundings. You will also need to accustom your pet to human activity. Many reptiles consider humans as predators, and having humans around causes them stress. Accustom new animals to human activity very slowly, over a period of weeks and months. It is ironic that some of the most beautiful lizards are also the most secretive. In a well-designed environment, they won't be easy to spot.

Try to establish feeding patterns immediately. However, this may be a difficult task since the first symptom of stress is usually refusal to eat. First acquaint yourself with what constitutes suitable food for your pet. Is it herbivorous, insectivorous or carnivorous?

When creating a quarantine tank, make sure it is simple and functional. It must have appropriate lighting, a heat source at one end that reaches the correct temperature, a water bowl, a hiding box, a substrate and a secure lid. It is good to keep the quarantine set-up as basic as possible, but you do need to research what your specific type of pet requires. Some animals need much more than a simple water bowl or hide box. For example, chameleons and many tropical geckoes require a fairly elaborate microenvironment from the very beginning.

Place a hiding box in the tank, as your reptile will need to be able to hide from what he perceives as predators. If you have cats or dogs, they must not be allowed near your reptile's cage. You should also only handle pets when it is required. Many reptiles, particularly certain species of lizards and chameleons, do not like to be handled at all. While you have to satisfy yourself with looking only, they have to accustom themselves to being looked at.

If you must handle your new pet, always wash your hands before and after handling it or after touching anything in his tank. This will ensure no diseases are transferred into or out of the tank. Your new pet is essentially a wild animal, even if he is captive bred. Consequently, he will experience some difficulty adjusting to a new captive environment and may suffer stress. However, if you arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before you buy your pet and apply plenty of care and attention, you will be able to make the transition into his new home comfortable and nearly stress free.