Looking for a beginner herp?

Here’s 3 common beginner herps and just a very brief description of their minimum care requirements.

Leopard geckos are a great beginner reptile. They’re easy to care for and tollerate handling well.

The first thing to realize with most reptiles is that you have to get used to a pet you won’t be handling much. Most reptiles to not enjoy being handled, and some can even be very stressed by it. Others tollerate handling well, and those are what I’d suggest for a first reptile pet. Here’s some basic care info on my top picks for beginner herps and we can go from there.

Leopard gecko:

Habitat: Needs minimum of a 10 gal tank with a screen top
Temperature: Needs a basking spot that gets into the 90’s (F). Can drop down into the mid to upper 60’s at night. This can be accomplished by either a basking light or and under-tank heater. NEVER use a heat rock. Reptiles don’t sense heat well through their bellies and can be burned by these devices.
Light: A nocturnal gecko (but one with functioning eyelids!) so avoid bright lighting.
Foods: mostly appropriate sized crickets (fed daily when young) dusted with a vitimin/calcium suppliment with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:0. Mealworms can be given once or twice weekly as can other critters like pheonix worms, wax worms, and silkworms.
Decor: Rocks with crevaces for the gecko to wedge himself in, caves and fake plant matter of your choice.
Substrate: A contentious issue. Many believe firmly that sand should never be used as a substrate for anything because of the risk of impaction. Most breeders do not experience this and believe that over-ingestion of calcium based sands is due to nutritional defficiencies. However, better safe than sorry is many times the way to go so I suggest using critter carpet as a safe alternative. Paper towel can also be used, but I’ve found that feeder insects escape underneath it.
Adult size: Males can get up to 10 inches from tip to tip, females smaller.

Crested Geckos

Habitat: At least a 10 gallon tank, when adult a 20gal high or the addition of a screen tank topper. They are arborial and need the climbing space.
Temperature: One of the advantages of these cuties is that they’re a temperate species, which means they’re ideal temp range is between 70-80 F. They can tollerate cold much better than heat.
Light: No studies have shown the need for UV lighting in cresteds. They are nocturnal and bright lighting should be avoided.
Foods: These are mostly fruit and nectar eaters, but will take bugs too. When they’re young, feeding small crickets will speed their growth. But the basis of their diet should be a powdered food mix by T-Rex called Crested Gecko Diet (CGD) made by Repashy super foods. It accurately repecates their natural diet. While in the past, many used baby foods mixed with things like raw honey and calcium powder, but this is an imcomplete diet for these critters.
Humidity: While temperate, they do need high humidity, so misting the habitat a couple times daily is needed.
Decor: Lots of fake greenery! Check out the local craft store and stock up on fake ivy garlands and the like. Create your own jungle of branches and garlands. These geckos do not use caves or other such structures.
Adult size: aprox 8 inches, though half of this is tail.
Substrate: Again, the safest bet is critter carpet but many keepers use bark chips or coconut coir.

Bearded Dragon

Habitat: When young needs at least a 10 gal tank, at full size needs at least a 40gal breeder sized tank or custom cage (see www.reptarium.com)
Temperature: Needs at least 1 basking spot that gets into the high 90’s. The rest of the tank can be cooler and the temp can drop to the upper 60’s at night.
Light: Beardies need high amounts of UV light, both UVA and UVB. This can be acomplished by using a UVA basking bulb and a florencent strip light with a high output UVB bulb like the Repti-Sun 10.0
Foods: When young they’ll eat mostly crickets (gut loaded and dusted), but veggies should be offered daily. By the time the dragon is an adult, they will eat about 60-80% veggies. Veggies should be varied greatly, organic if possible and topped with a vitamin supplement.
Decor: Rocks, branches, etc. Beardies love to climb!
Substrate: Again, sand can be used, but the safest bet is critter carpet.
Adult size: up to 24 inches including tail.
Very friendly reptiles!

Feel free to add your own beginner herp suggestions and minimum care requirements!

Title: Re: Looking for a beginner herp?
Post by: mikedmatthews on October 05, 2007, 09:40:08 AM
that’s funny. when i was a kid they always billed the anole as the beginner herp. i didn’t have much luck with them, but i’m not so sure it was the selection so much as i wasn’t good at taking care of them.

Title: Re: Looking for a beginner herp?
Post by: Guitarchiq on October 05, 2007, 03:02:34 PM
I still think they’re begginers, but I didn’t include them since they’re not hadleable (ok, I’m sure someone holds theirs, but most shouldn’t be!). I can add them though!


Habitat: 10 gal tank minimum, preferably something taller like a 15-20gal tall tank or custom cage as they’re arborial.
Temp: A tropical reptile, they need to get to 86F to digest food properly. It’s best to create a warm area and a cool area so they can move to different “temperature zones” in the habitat.
Light: These guys do need UV, though not as intense as Beardies and Iguanas. I like the Repti-sun 5.0 for these for UVB but there are plenty of other brands. UVA can come from a standard basking bulb.
Foods: Small insects like crickets, flightless fruit flies (for hatchlings) etc fed 3-5 times a week depending on age and how many you’re keeping.
Decor: Lots of plants (fake or real) for climbing. These guys won’t use a hide much, so fill up the habitat with climbing structures. Should have a dish to soak in.
Substrate: I like the products like Bed a Beast, Eco Earth etc. Holds humidity well.
Humidity: They like it steamy! Mist the habitat once or twice a day to maintain humidity in the 70-85% range
Adult size: 4 inches but very active.