Reptiles aren’t commonly thought of as pets that can be handled and played with, but like their furrier counterparts, they often make for great companions, in or out of their enclosure. Remember though, that not all reptiles are suitable for handling, and some can be dangerous and frightening to small children. For the most part though, with a little training and loving care, a reptile will be comfortable outside of his habitat.
Before you start to handle your pet reptile you should take certain precautions.
- Make sure you haven’t handled any prey animals before handling your reptile. They will smell the food on your hands and be tempted to bite.
- You should not handle your pet in a noisy area. Loud noises will startle him.
- Be sure that pet is no getting ready to shed. Reptiles should not be handled at this point.
Step 1: Starting Slow
Reptiles are wild, not domestic, animals, and won’t be comfortable right away with petting and handling. It’s important to start slowly.
- When you first get your pet reptile, let him get acclimated to his new environment. Don’t try to handle him for the first couple of weeks after you bring him home. Also avoid being around the reptile enclosure too much for the first few days, as your new pet will be intimidated by your presence.
- As your pet becomes comfortable with you and his new surroundings, try visiting the reptile habitat more frequently. If you think your reptile is ready, you can start to handle him. Begin by simply lifting your pet reptile within his habitat, allowing him to climb off as he likes. Do this a few times a day for a couple minutes at a time.
Step 2: Moving Outside the Cage
Once your reptile is comfortable with you handling him inside the habitat, you can try moving outside his enclosure. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Before handling him outside the habitat, make sure you are doing this in a safe area. This means a room with no escapes or dangerous spots. Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas are too dangerous for your reptile, with their machines and chemicals. Also make sure you don’t have any other pets around.
- Make sure you know your pet’s signs of stress. If he starts to thrash or wriggle, this may be a sign that you should return him to his habitat. Likewise, hissing or bellowing is a sign of danger.
- When carrying your pet out of his habitat, make sure you are calm and confident. Your reptile will be scared if you are scared.
- Fully support your reptile’s weight when holding him. This means you should always be lifting your reptile from below, not grabbing from above.
- Always supervise children when they are handling reptiles. Make sure they understand what they are doing before you allow them to hold your reptile, and try to have them sit down when they do so.
- You can allow your reptile to roam a bit, as long as you have pet-proofed the room you are in to make sure it is safe and secure.
- After handling always wash your hands, as many pet reptiles can carry salmonella.