Lizards and snakes and geckos, oh my!

Find out whether you're ready for a reptile, PLUS updates on pet diabetes, volunteer opportunities and recommended reading.

By Joanne Ingrassia

Ready for a reptile?

Are you ready for a reptile?
Lizards and snakes are among the more popular reptilian pets. Do some research before you make one your roommate. Here are a few things to consider.

• Space, lighting, heating and humidity requirements. Tanks or cages need to be big enough to provide a proper environment. For instance, some midsize snakes require tanks that are larger than 100 gallons.

• What do they eat and how often, do they need supplements and where can you buy supplies? Some lizards are herbivores and can eat vegetables such as lettuce and zucchini, but they may need supplements to complete their diet. Most snakes, on the other hand, eat live rodents -- for instance, one small one per week.

• Temperament (theirs). Some, such as leopard geckos (a type of lizard) or corn snakes, are docile, gentle animals that can be readily handled and make excellent pets. Others, such as the larger pythons, can be nervous or aggressive and don't make good pets.

• Commitment (yours). Most geckos and smaller species can live between 10 and 15 years. Some lizards and snakes can live more than 30 years. Be prepared for a long commitment, and if you ever find you can't keep a reptile, never release it to the wild. Call a reptile rescue group instead.

• Be sure to find a veterinarian who can treat reptiles.

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