Most native reptiles are protected by law which means they cannot be kept as pets. Usually only zoos and fauna parks are given permits to hold these animals. Non-native reptiles are even more stringently controlled by law as they pose significant risks to Australian ecosystems.
If you’ve found or rescued a reptile, tortoise, lizard, crocodile, snake or frog, it’s best to immediately arrange with an organisation like WIRES for the animal to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Reptiles and Frogs as Pets
Keeping non-protected native reptiles as pets requires special care and handling. Tortoises, lizards, snakes and frogs require special living environments and healthcare routines. In general, most reptiles are shy animals and handling should be kept to a minimum.
**VENOMOUS SNAKES, LIZARDS OR TOADS SHOULD NOT BE KEPT AS PETS**
Domesticated snakes are usually accustomed to eating fresh dead mice, rats and chickens. Lizards may require a more complex omnivorous diet with special supplements mixed in. Turtles (water-based) are usually fed a meat-based diet, but calcium must be added to prevent shell deformities from developing. Tortoises (land-based) require a herbivorous diet, but require calcium supplementation like turtles. For all reptiles, it is essential to get specific dietary advice from us to meet the needs of the particular species.
The correct housing is essential for reptiles, otherwise health problems will occur. Reptiles should not be kept in wire cages as injuries can result. The correct type of wood, glass or plastic enclosures must be used. Correct temperatures are very important and some reptiles need to bask under a carefully regulated heat lamp. The heat lamp must out of the animal's reach to prevent burns. Reptiles require exposure to unfiltered (not through plastic or glass) natural sunlight every day, as they need UV light to produce vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism. UV lamps may be used as an alternative, but these need to replacedregularly as the UV emissions fall after 3-6 months.
Humidity, ventilation and lighting need to be carefully proportioned and monitored.
Introducing larger rocks and gravel may be necessary to help with shedding old skin.
Space should be adequate to allow the animal to move about, explore and get some exercise. The floor of the enclosure may need to be a combination of sand, smooth gravel, leaf litter or absorbent paper. Special allocations may be required to enable the animal to find a suitable area for hibernation.
Clean water (preferably rainwater) must be constantly available for drinking and also for swimming or immersing to help regulate temperature and skin moisture.
Keeping reptiles as pets is much more involved than common pets, so health problems are often encountered due to the incorrect housing, temperatures, humidity and diet. Problems can present from parasitic diseases caused by intestinal worms, skin mites, and a variety of infections and injuries. Ensure that you bring your reptile in for medical attention at the first signs of sickness or injury.
All reptiles have specialised needs. Please visit our clinic to discuss the needs of your reptile with our veterinary staff at the earliest possible opportunity.