Tortoises, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and frogs require special care. Venomous snakes should only be kept by people who are experts at handling them. Most reptiles are shy animals and handling should be minimal. Tortoises should not be tied up on a leash.
Frogs and reptiles
For advice contact the Australian Herpetological Society and we would suggest reading the “Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets” by Chris Banks (published by Nelson).
The correct housing is essential for reptiles, otherwise health problems will occur. Reptiles should not be kept in wire cages as injuries can result – use wood, glass or plastic. Correct temperatures are very important and some reptiles need to bask under a heat lamp. A safe heat source such as a light globe should be provided in one part of the cage to allow the animal to select a position that will provide the heat it requires. The globe must out of the animal’s reach otherwise it might burn itself.
Humidity, ventilation and lighting should be checked and be effective. A light source providing a variety of intensities or wavelengths may be best.
Shelter should provide absolute security, clean water for drinking and soaking in, and a rock to help with shedding the old skin.
Space should be available for some exercise. The floor of the enclosure can be sand, smooth gravel, leaf litter or absorbent paper.
Snakes are usually accustomed to eating fresh dead mice, rats and chickens. Lizards can be fed a salad mix (clover leaves, dandelions etc.), a fruit salad mix (finely chopped orange, banana, blackberries, carrots etc.), insects (mealworms and crickets), and/or a meat mix (lean minced beef, two heaped teaspoonsful calcium carbonate per kg of meat, or a complete dry dog food). Tortoises are usually fed a meat-based diet, but calcium must be added otherwise deformities will occur with the shell and bones (a mix of lean minced beef, two heaped teaspoonsful calcium carbonate per kg of meat and complete dry dog food).
Most health problems are due to incorrect temperatures, humidity, housing and feeding. Problems can occur due to intestinal worms, skin mites and a variety of infections and injuries.
For advice and treatment of sick reptiles and frogs, contact a veterinarian specialised in these animals. The local Herpetology Society, the Melbourne Zoo, RSPCA, or the Department of Sustainability and Environment can also provide advice.