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Top 4 Easy Reptile Pets

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

Thinking about getting a reptile for yourself or a loved one but worried about the care or possible feeding of bugs and live food? No worries, there is a reptile species for everyone. This is my pick for what I consider to be easy reptile pets. By easy I mean that their needs are minimal compared to more extreme exotics and most don’t require live food. Please remember that all reptiles need special care and attention daily to live healthy long lives. So for my pick I looked at things such as the diet needed, the type of lighting and heating requirements and illness/malnutrition seen in my practice. My husband and I have owned all of these so I can speak from experience about their care and needs.

1. Crested geckos


These are wonderful little lizards that do not require any additional heat and a simple fluorescent light will suffice. They do not get very large (about hand sized) and can become tame. Please note though that they will drop (and not regrow) their tail when stressed. The typical diet is a commercial crestie diet that has the consistency of baby food and many people keep them on only this diet with a small dish of water in the cage. We have found that they grow better  and faster with supplemental bugs (crickets) as a regular part of their diet.  The caging needs are simple with a space of 1ft x 2ft high for adults, some climbing branches and plants (real or fake) for hiding. The bedding should be kept moist and the cage should be misted daily.  The following is a good source for crestie info and supplies – Pangea

gecko cage 2

2. Uromastyx Lizards

Ornate Uro Hatchlings: Deer Fern Farms

Ornate Uro Hatchlings: Deer Fern Farms

Not all lizards need bugs and some don’t even need water! Yes it’s true, consider these small lizards tortoises without the shell as their care is very similar. Uros come in a large variety of colors and as adults they are bright and beautiful animals that will become very hand tame. They do require a high heat and a low moisture environment with full spectrum uvb (10.0 bulb) and a basking spot of 120 F (yes hot- not a typo). Their diet consists of only greens and we feed an assortment of spring greens daily. We keep ours on bird seed (millet) and have found this to be safe and easy to clean. The will eat some of the seeds and weekly we offer ground up lentils (place in coffee grinder). They don’t need, and shouldn’t have a water dish, in their cage as all their water is derived from their greens. At least weekly, they need a multivitamin and calcium supplement added to their greens.  For more information and some beautiful photos of Uros check out Deer Fern Farms 

Uro at Deer Fern Farms

Uro at Deer Fern Farms

3. Tortoises


Tortoises come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors but in general all are herbivores (they eat only greens) and should be feed a diet of leafy greens daily and even grass hay as adults. Favorite treats include small amounts of fruits and I’ve found that my desert tortoises love hibiscus flowers and leaves over all else. Tortoises will become very tame with their owners and live very long lives. In the desert Southwest of AZ many are kept as outdoor yard pets but this should be done with caution as we frequently see them attached by dogs and when young they can be susceptible to birds. Also if kept in an outdoor enclosure care must be ensured that they cannot dig out as many have dug out of their yards and gone for a stroll. If kept indoors they require supplemental heating and full spectrum UVB light 10.0 bulbs or mercury vapor. For specific needs please research your particular species.  Some suggestions for pets include desert tortoises (available for adoption), as well as Russian and Greek tortoises commonly sold in pet stores. These guys don’t get too big and become nice pets. Sulcatas or African Spurred Tortoises are another popular pet but please realize that while they start out smaller then your hand they quickly grow to 90 lbs or more so ensure adequate housing for the adult size as many are re-homed  once they reach this size due to lack of space. See tortoisecare for more info and Wildside pets is worth a visit for AZ locals.


4. Snakes – yes snakes!


Snakes are actually the easiest reptile pet to care for. They do not need and should not be fed live food and only need a frozen thawed mouse about weekly (will vary with age and size of snake). Snakes do not require supplemental light and many will not need extra heating (see requirements for your species).

Our recommendation for snake pets include:

  • Ball pythons – they do not get very large and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns
  • Boas – Several types are available but the red-tail is the most common. Many color morphs are available in the pet trade. These are typically quiet and gentle snakes but will get big.
  • Kingsnakes – beautiful snakes that are shiny and colorful but can be reclusive
  • Corn and Milk Snakes – smaller snakes that can become very tame and are available in many colors and patterns
rep show and home 346 DSCN0161
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For more snake info visit kingsnake  and lllreptile for supplies

Reptile Resources

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

I thought I’d take a moment to post some of the reptile resources I’ve used and found helpful in keeping all sorts of reptile critters.  Please feel free to provide further suggestions by replying below.



Web Sites:

  1. Wild Side Pets – A local Mesa, AZ petshop with great reptile knowledge
  2. – Great resource for finding animals and discussing care on forums
  3. LLL Reptile – Loads of supplies shipped to your door
  4. Melissa Kaplan’s Herp Care collection – Excellent species care articles from a well-respected author
  5. ARAV  – reptile and amphibian vets
  6. AZ Herpetological Association – local AZ herp group
  7. Poison Dart Frogs at AZDR
  8. Reptiles of AZ 
  9. Fauna Classifides
  10. Field Herp Forum 

Facebook Pages and Groups:

  1. Reptile Chat Group on FB
  2. SnakeBytesTV – great care videos
  3. The Reptile Report 
  4. Uromastyx Lizards
  5. Pro Exotics
  6. Arizona Reptile Center
  7. WildSide Pets

Why Do Pooches Eat Poop?

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

Now for the big question: what should you do if your dog likes to feast on feces? Well, don’t bother with the commercial products. Hart’s survey found that of the 12 commercial anti-copraphagia food additives on the market—For-Bid, Nasty-habit, and Potty Mouth to name a few—none worked in more than 2% of dogs and many didn’t work at all. On the other hand, what could possibly taste worse than poop?  Yet, lacing with chili pepper didn’t work either. Nor did using an electronic collar, yelling “leave it!” or trying punishment-based techniques that people tend to use. That’s most likely because the dog still has a desire and may just learn to avoid performing this nasty habit in front of you.

A more successful, but inconvenient, solution is to just deny access to the delicacy by cleaning it up ASAP. Also, instead of reactively punishing Fido, proactively call him to you before or as soon as you see him heading towards the stinky delicacy. Then reward him for coming when called and staying where you want while you go out and scoop the waste.

read more via Why Do Pooches Eat Poop?.

Do I Have To Take My Cat To The ER?

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

cat blue and gold eyes

Some sure signs to bring your cat to the ER include:

Difficulty breathing (like open-mouth breathing, panting, or a respiratory rate over fifty breaths/minute [hint: count the number of breaths in fifteen seconds and multiple by four to get the total breaths per minute])

Hiding (under the bed, in the closet)

Not moving

Straining or making multiple trips to the litter box

Excessive grooming “back there” with the penis sticking out (seriously – this is really dangerous and is typically a feline urethral obstruction or urinary blockage, which I’ll talk about in a future blog)

Lack of urine in the litter box for more than 36 hours

Painful when picking up

Profuse vomiting (more than 2-3 times in a night)

Excessive drooling

Sitting over the water bowl and not moving

Seizuring or twitching

Any kind of trauma

Any kind of poisoning

Any string hanging out of any orifice (For real. Please don’t pull and leave all orifices to veterinary professionals).

READ MORE via Do I Have To Take My Cat To The ER?.

Can mass spectrometers rival the canine nose?

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

Good article on the Canine sense of smell and how it may help better technology….

Locating survivors trapped within rubble is a demanding job. Dogs are the best tool we have at the present time but they have difficulty identifying the victims most in need of help, namely, those that are still alive. Meanwhile, man’s answer to Fido’s soggy snout, the mass spectrometer, has been improved to the point that many diseases can be detected from the breath alone. This suggests the possibility that they might be adapted to detect the signatures of life from the gases exhaled by trapped victims. Will the technology be enough just to match the canine nose or will these machines also need to perform the more subtle task of navigating these plumes to be effective?

READ FURTHER:  Can mass spectrometers rival the canine nose? | ExtremeTech.

Dog Trainers Mesa AZ

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

Exciting training facility in Queen Creek, AZ

– meet Club-Doggie”

As a member of Club-Doggie’s dog training, many options are available to you: beginners to advanced classes in dog agility, trick training and obedience classes, access to daily practice sessions*, plus exciting dog agility events and dog training seminars. Our indoor dog park provides the ideal environment for training, exercising and having a great time with your dog while encouraging fitness in a fun, safe environment. As members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), it is our mission to advocate positive training techniques and a mutual respect between handler and dog, and to help you both gain the most out of your experience.

via Dog Agility Training Mesa AZ | Dog Trainers Mesa AZ Best Dog Agility Training.

Join Pomeranian Dog Lovers on Facebook

Little Critters Animal Hospital, Jill Patt, DVM

A fun and informative page dedicated the the wonder of the Pomeranian dog. Share your photos and stories with others.

Review lines, colors and breeders… Discuss health problems and solutions. Share the wonder of the breed with others.

fur kids

Join Us Today – share photos and stories of your pom