5 Ways to Enrich Your Reptile’s Life
Pet stores line their shelves with endless toys for dogs, cats, rodents, and even birds. For these animals, chasing a ball or ringing a bell provides relief from boredom and stimulates a healthy mind. For reptiles, unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. Pets like lizards, snakes, and turtles, won’t enjoy toys and playthings like other animals, which can be challenging for an owner, but also unhealthy for the animal.
Boredom has been proven to be detrimental to animal health, so here are five things you can do to ensure your reptiles are getting the enrichment they need.
- Habitat changes. Everyone likes new furniture! Purchase several different fixtures for your enclosure, such as branches, hides, and logs, and swap them out periodically. Your reptile will be curious of the new décor and will probably pass the time sniffing out and investigating the new surroundings. This is quick and easy and will keep your pet interested and engaged.
- Diet changes. Imagine eating only one food for the rest of your life. Some reptiles, like bearded dragons, can actually eat a large variety of different plants and insects. Superworms, roaches, and silk worms are just a few alternatives to crickets. Don’t forget an assortment of different fruits and veggies as well. Variety in diets is incredibly healthy, as no one food offers complete nutrition on its own. Always check with your vet or a credible animal care site for a list of foods your reptile can and can’t eat.
- Perches for basking. As reptiles are cold blooded, they’ll need to bask under their heat lamp every so often anyways. Placing a perch at different heights from the lamp can give your reptile a nice temperature gradation, so they can choose the temperature most appropriate and comfortable for them. Additionally, a perch requires climbing, which encourages your reptile to be more active.
- Water elements. While you should already have a water source for your pet to drink from, other water add-ons in an enclosure can be enriching for a reptile. Small cascades and shallow pools are great features for your pet to engage with and can also help raise humidity in enclosures. If you have an environment-sensitive animal, be sure to keep an eye on humidity levels when adding water aspects. An occasional misting encourages activity as well.
- Social interaction. This will vary with each pet, but some reptiles can be trained as a form of enrichment. This isn’t like teaching a dog to roll over, but rather, functional behaviors like target training into a crate to make vet trips easier. This provides a challenge for the animal and is hugely mentally stimulating.
Nobody, included reptiles, likes to be bored. These enrichments will vary from animal to animal, but by providing variety in multiple aspects of your reptile’s life, you can ensure a curious mind and a healthy pet.
Featured Image Credit Stever Jurvetson (modified)