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​Does your reptile need a roommate?

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If you’re a human and a herp enthusiast, it’s a lovely thought: all of your reptilian and amphibious friends living together in perfect harmony. Turtles swimming together gracefully while a nearby lizard basks under a light, smiling as its best friend, the rat snake glides by to grab a bite to eat. One enclosure, one habitat, and one big, happy family. In reality, this dream can be futile, and truly, most herps prefer to live alone.

It’s in our nature to humanize our pets, as most of us see them as an integral part of our family. Primates, dogs and many other animals are born to live in groups and when we think of any kind of creature living life alone, it’s easy to perceive those animals as lonely or isolated. While it’s true that many small pets such as guinea pigs and ferrets prefer to have a friend or two, herps see it another way: they are made to live in seclusion and enjoy the peace that it brings.

In addition to their solitary nature, housing multiple species, or even multiple herps of the same species, can be next to impossible logistically:

  • Herps tend to live in “microenvironments” and can have very different needs regarding temperature, humidity, and lighting. If you don’t have a massive tank, these mini-living quarters usually can’t be created simultaneously.
  • Our scaly and slimy friends are more likely to want to eat each other than entertain each other. Most herps are predatory, and are willing to go after their tank mates. For example, the leopard gecko in the wild regularly feasts upon other lizards!
  • Amphibians will toxify the habitat’s water, and not all herps can handle other species’ toxins.
  • Many herps are movement-driven feeders, attacking anything that moves. Even if they don’t intend to eat one another, they can inadvertently cause harm or trauma by attacking any tank mate.
  • Males can be especially aggressive, driven by the urge to breed and claim their turf.

If your heart is set on creating a large habitat for multiple herps, there are some methods that can work. Ensure you’re choosing species that can live together in the right conditions (humidity, temperature, lighting), and are docile and will be less likely to prey upon each other. Try to avoid animals that have sharp teeth or claws that can inadvertently harm their neighbor. Be prepared for frequent tank cleanings, and have space for a large habitat available.

Most importantly, remember that doing your research beforehand is always the key to enjoying pets for years to come. Please stop by the store to visit our herps, or to check out our feathered or furry friends. See you sss-soon!