An Overview of Herp (Reptile) Keeping as a Hobby
Herp keeping, or the hobby of keeping reptiles and amphibians as pets, has gained popularity in recent years as people have become more interested in exotic animals and their care. These animals, known as “herps” for short, can make fascinating and rewarding pets for those who are willing to take on the responsibility of providing for their unique needs.
Herp keeping requires a significant amount of research and preparation, as these animals have specific requirements for their diet, housing, and overall care. For example, snakes and lizards need appropriately sized enclosures and heating, lighting, and humidity levels that mimic their natural environments. They also require a diet that is appropriate for their species, which may include live insects, rodents, or plant matter.
In contrast, amphibians such as frogs and salamanders have different care needs. They require a moist environment and may need a water source in their enclosure. Their diet may include live insects and worms, as well as prepared foods such as pellets or crickets.
It is important for herp keepers to do their research and choose a species that is suitable for their level of experience and resources. Some species, such as large constricting snakes or venomous reptiles, are more challenging to care for and may not be suitable for beginner herp keepers. It is also essential to ensure that the animal is acquired legally and ethically, such as through a reputable breeder or rescue organization.
In addition to the physical care of herps, it is important to consider their social and behavioral needs. Many species, such as reptiles and amphibians, do not have the same social needs as mammals and can be kept alone. However, others, such as some species of geckos and tortoises, may benefit from the companionship of their own kind.
Herp keeping can be a rewarding hobby for those who are willing to invest the time and resources into providing for the unique needs of these animals. It is important to do thorough research and choose a species that is suitable for your level of experience and resources, and to ensure that the animal is acquired legally and ethically. With the proper care, herps can make fascinating and rewarding pets.
Is it expensive to look after reptiles and/or amphibians?
The cost of caring for reptiles and amphibians can vary greatly depending on the specific species and the type of setup required to meet their needs. Some species may have more specialized or expensive housing and dietary requirements, while others may be less demanding in terms of care.
In general, reptiles and amphibians tend to be less expensive to care for than other types of pets, such as dogs or cats. However, it is important to carefully research the specific needs of the species you are considering as a pet and make sure you have the resources and commitment to meet those needs before bringing a reptile or amphibian home.
Here are some factors that can affect the cost of caring for reptiles and amphibians:
- Housing: Some reptiles and amphibians may require specialized tanks, enclosures, or terrariums that can be expensive to purchase and set up.
- Diet: Some species may require a more specialized or expensive diet, such as live insects or specially formulated reptile or amphibian food.
- Temperature and lighting: Many reptiles and amphibians have specific temperature and lighting requirements that must be met in order to keep them healthy. This may require the use of specialized equipment, such as heat lamps or UVB bulbs, which can add to the overall cost of care.
- Health care: It is important to regularly monitor the health of your reptile or amphibian and seek veterinary care if necessary. This can add to the overall cost of care.
- Enrichment: Many reptiles and amphibians benefit from having a varied and stimulating environment, which can require the purchase of additional equipment or supplies, such as climbing structures or hide boxes.
Overall, the cost of caring for reptiles and amphibians can range from relatively inexpensive to more costly, depending on the specific needs of the species and the level of care provided. It is important to carefully consider the costs involved before making the decision to bring a reptile or amphibian into your home.
What equipment do you need to look after herps (reptiles and amphibians)?
To keep herps (reptiles and amphibians) as pets, you will need the following equipment:
- A terrarium or vivarium: This should be large enough to provide enough space for your herp to move around, hide, and thermoregulate. The enclosure should also be secure and escape-proof.
- Substrate: This is the material that you will use to line the bottom of the enclosure. Options include cypress mulch, coconut coir, orchid bark, or reptile carpet.
- Lighting: Most herps require some form of lighting to maintain proper health. This may include a basking light, UVB light, or both.
- Heating: Most herps require a heat source to regulate their body temperature. This may include a basking light, heat pad, or ceramic heater.
- Water dish: Your herp will need a clean water dish to drink from and soak in.
- Decor: You may want to include decorations such as plants, rocks, or hide boxes to provide your herp with a more naturalistic environment.
- Thermometer: A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature inside the enclosure and ensure that it is within the appropriate range for your herp.
- Hygrometer: A hygrometer will help you monitor the humidity levels inside the enclosure and ensure that they are appropriate for your herp.
It is important to research the specific needs of the particular species of herp that you are interested in keeping as a pet before setting up its enclosure. Each species has its own unique requirements for temperature, humidity, lighting, and diet, and it is important to provide these conditions in order to ensure the health and well-being of your herp.
10 Fun Facts About Reptiles and Amphibians
Here are some fun facts about reptiles and amphibians:
- The oldest known reptile is the Hylonomus lyelli, a small reptile that lived about 312 million years ago.
- The largest reptile in the world is the saltwater crocodile, which can grow up to 23 feet (7 meters) in length and weigh over 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms).
- The chameleon is known for its ability to change the color of its skin, which it does to blend in with its surroundings and protect itself from predators.
- The Goliath frog is the largest frog in the world, weighing up to 7 pounds (3 kilograms) and measuring up to 32 centimeters (12 inches) in length.
- The gecko is a type of reptile that can climb vertical surfaces and even walk upside down on the ceiling thanks to special toes that have millions of hairy structures called setae, which allow them to stick to surfaces.
- The horned frog, also known as the Pacman frog, is a type of amphibian that gets its name from its large, round mouth, which it uses to catch insects and other small prey.
- The poison dart frog is a type of small, brightly colored frog found in Central and South America. Despite their size, these frogs pack a powerful punch, as their skin secretions contain toxins that can be deadly to predators.
- The axolotl is a type of salamander that is native to Mexico and is known for its ability to regenerate lost limbs.
- The giant salamander is the largest amphibian in the world, growing up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and weighing up to 140 pounds (64 kilograms).
- The caecilian is a type of legless amphibian that resembles a snake or a worm. They are found in tropical regions of South America, Africa, and Asia and are often burrowers, living underground or in water.