A wild reptile typically spends many hours a day basking in the sun, absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light; necessary for the manufacture of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is manufactured in the skin and is required for proper calcium absorption from food. Failure to provide UV light can predispose a pet reptile to nutritional metabolic bone disease, an overly common condition of pet reptiles that is fatal if not recognized and treated. Bulbs should be replaced every six months or as directed by the manufacturer. Regular exposure to natural direct sunlight outside is encouraged and recommended whenever possible. Most reptile owners are advised by veterinarians to keep light exposure and temperature variations consistent in their pet’s enclosure to help reptiles maintain appropriate body temperatures and feeding cycles and to stimulate proper immune function, thereby helping keep pets healthy.
Several species of snakes are commonly kept as pets including king snakes, rat snakes, garter snakes, corn snakes, various pythons, and various boa constrictors. Some snakes, especially the ball python, may not eat for weeks to months after the stress of going to a new home and new environment. Snakes shed their skin every few weeks as they grow. A healthy snake in a healthy environment sheds its old skin in one piece. Young, captive-raised animals make the best pets. Within 48 hours of your purchase, your snake should be examined by a qualified reptile veterinarian. Like all pets, snakes should be examined at least annually, and a fecal examination, looking for parasites, should be part of every examination.
The Colubridae comprises the largest family of snakes, with over one thousand species. The vast majority are harmless, although they can bite. Some colubrids are small insectivorous species while others can be larger (constrictor snakes such the racer and the indigo snake).
Boas are a group of medium to large sized, non-venomous snakes found in South and Central America, Madagascar, Papua and the Pacific Islands. Pythons are a group of non-venomous snakes found in Africa, Asia and Australia. Some members of this family are amongst the largest snakes in the world.
You should try to provide the biggest cage possible. The type of cage you set up must be appropriate for the specific needs of the different species. Smaller species or juvenile snakes often do well in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium, or even a plastic container (cut small air holes!).
For the purpose of this discussion, the common and popular Red-eared Slider will be used.An improper environment is the second most common cause of health problems encountered in reptiles (number one is nutrition). Properly housed and fed turtles grow rapidly, are healthier and happier.