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Reptiles Aren't Just for Looking At: How to Keep Your Exotic Pet Happy

Do you ever have one of those moments where you and your lizard are just staring at each other through terrarium glass? Yeah, so in most cases you can’t take a reptile for a walk or play frisbee with them, but just because they’re different from dogs doesn’t mean they don’t need any attention.

Reptiles can get bored too, and your exotic pet will have a longer, happier life if you learn how to play with it. In fact, pets that don’t move around enough can get obese or develop bone problems.

Here are some ideas to help you keep your snake, lizard, or tortoise happy.

Make the habitat as natural-looking as possible

A natural terrarium isn’t just about aesthetics for you or any friends you bring over to gawk at your pet. Providing natural terrains and plants make wandering the terrarium more interesting for your reptile, too.

Tortoises, for instance, are highly inquisitive animals. Putting pieces of bark or balls made of natural grasses gives them things to move around and climb over.

Cork bark like this is easy to use:

Arboreal species like chameleons and geckos absolutely must have somewhere to climb and perch, but you can have as much fun as you want with creating a jungle gym in their terrarium.

Naturalistic branches look really good in most habitats:

This also goes for the type of substrate you select. If you have a species that likes to dig or burrow, you want to make sure the substrate allows them to do so safely.

Keep them busy

You want your animal to move around and explore, and one way to do that is to provide objects in the enclosure or to give them challenges or new situations.

Rocks to climb over or under are a great option because most reptiles would encounter rocks in their natural environments. You can get rock structures at an exotic pet store:

One idea for herbivores is to place their food somewhere unexpected, where they have to get past an obstacle to get to it. (Obviously this is not ideal for a snake or other animal that eats meat or insects.)

Basically you want to make sure they can continue activities that are normal for their species, like hiding, climbing, and digging.

Note that you don’t want to change up their environment too often because it can cause stress, but the occasional change to mix things up helps keep their brains stimulated.

Provide a variety of textures

Reptile enrichment should cater to the animals senses, and touch is a sense that they use often. By having a variety of natural objects in the terrarium, such as substrate, cork bark, safe plants, moss and rocks, they’ll be able to feel different textures as they move around.

Even fake plants provide a change of texture:

Additionally, rough objects help reptiles with shedding their skin.

Providing live plants, bark, hay, and other objects in the enclosure also provides different smells for your reptile to explore.

You don’t have to do a lot to keep reptiles happily stimulated. It’s mostly about providing an interesting and comfortable environment. Show us how you keep your snake, lizard, or tortoise happy on The Tye-Dyed Iguana Facebook page.