There are lots of ways to keep habitats for reptiles and many great resources to research. We work with our exotic veterinarians to recommend the most healthy options for our adoptable animals. Please bear in mind that as rescues, many of our animals came to us not having been kept in the right enclosures or having been fed the right diet. We work hard to get our rescues into good health and following these guidelines will help your adoption to be successful.
Please follow these guidelines for building an enclosure. Our adoptable animals have specific needs for habitats to keep them healthy and happy . We want you to be successful!
Juvenile ball pythons should be kept in 20 gallon tanks with locking lids; adults in 40 gallons minimum. More space is not always best with younger ones. We recommend the use of coconut substrate which helps ensure your snake has the proper humidity levels, which should be around 70%. We ask for your habitat to have an under-tank heat mat (size appropriate) plugged into a thermostat and set to around 90°. Your snake will also need several hides (one is recommended to be a moist hide), climbs, and a water bowl large enough for the snake to submerge its whole body. Having proper enrichment for your snake ensures he/she stays happy and stimulated.
Current research indicates that larger-bodied snakes, such as ball pythons, should have a diet of rats as opposed to mice. This is due to their slow metabolisms and the lower fat value of rats. All of our snakes are fed a diet of frozen, thawed rodents and we ask that potential adopters keep to this regimen for the continued health and well-being of the animal. The foster home for the snake you are wanting to adopt will inform you of the current size rodent the snake is eating.
Note that the lights on this snake tank are NOT heat emitting--you can also use a ceramic heat emitter if your house stays cold in the summer and winter months.
Juveniles beardies should be kept in 10-20 gallon tanks; adults in 40 gallons minimum. Our rescue bearded dragons should not have any loose substrate in their tanks. The bottom of the tank should either be slate, shelf liner or another hard surface material. They require the use of both UVB and heating lights. The ideal basking spot (hottest spot directly under the heat lamp) of your tank should reach 100°, the warmer side directly below the basking area should be 88-90°F and the cooler side 77-80°F. To achieve the ambient cooler side temperature (if your house stays cold or during the winter months), it will be good to have a ceramic heat bulb to use during the nighttime hours. Actively checking these temperatures will be part of a daily check of your pet. Proper lighting can be achieved with either a mercury vapor bulb or a combination of a UVB 10.0 strip and a basking bulb. Coiled UV bulbs should be avoided as they do not disperse the UVB throughout the entirety of your tank. Your dragon will also need climbs (repti-hammocks are great), bowls for veggies/bugs/supplements and a water bowl for soaking. Anything decor that can fit into the bearded dragon's mouth should be avoided as they will try to eat and taste almost everything.
Current research states that adult bearded dragons should have a diet consisting of 80% vegetables and 20% protein. The vegetables should be a mixture of "greens" such as collard or mustard (no lettuces and kale is not recommended every day). Supplemental vegetables like bell pepper, carrots or broccoli should be added. Proteins should consist of super worms, dubia roaches and crickets. Mealworms should be avoided as they are high in fat and low in calcium, consequently, we do not recommend their being fed to our rescues. Calcium with vitamin D is recommended to be dusted on food several times a week. Water should only be supplied during soaks or sprayed on salads as exposure to standing water in enclosures has been known to cause respiratory infections in desert animals. Bearded dragons should NOT be given freeze-dried bugs.
Note that the water bowl is in this tank for the dragon's soak day, but should not be left in the enclosure.
Juveniles should be kept in 10 gallon tanks; adults in 20 gallons; no size should exceed 30 gallons as the humidity becomes difficult to maintain. Leos should not have any loose substrate in their tanks. The bottom of the tank should either be repti-carpet, slate, shelf liner or another hard surface material. Adult leos do not require UVB, however, juveniles should have access to this. Being crepuscular creatures it is not necessary for your application and many rescued adult leos do not react well to intense light. Leos absorb heat from below, not above and should have an under-tank heat mat (plugged into a thermostat to ensure the mat continues to work properly). Ideally, you are looking for 95-100°F on one side of the tank with an ambient cooler temperature on the other side so that the gecko can regulate its own body temperature. If your house stays cold (or during the winter months), it might be a good idea to add a small ceramic heat bulb at night. Leos needs several hides (one should be a moist hide with reptile moss), climbs (repti-hammocks are great), a bowl for supplements/bugs and a water bowl big enough for the leo to fit its body into. You can also add small decorations such as medium sized reptile-safe rocks or decor to help bring enrichment to the enclosure. Leopard geckos should have a humidity range of around 40%--the use of over head lights reduces the humidity and leads to shed problems; therefore we cannot approve applications that use heating lamps.
Leopard geckos are solely insectivores and the more diverse your offerings of bugs are, the better it is for your leo. Live mealworms, super worms (size appropriate), wax worms, calci worms and crickets are all suitable. Your leo should have access to Calcium with Vitamin D at all times as well as a water bowl with fresh, clean water changed out daily. Leos should NOT be given freeze-dried bugs.
Note that the lights on this tank are NOT heat emitting--one is a heat-less UV bulb, but you can also use non-heat emitting LED light if you so choose.
Chameleons require a very specific set-up in order to thrive. Repti-Breeze tanks (mesh or screened) enclosures should be purchased bearing in mind that chameleons are arboreal and need a lot of room to climb (avoid buying the smallest size). Proper lighting can be achieved with a combination of a UVB 5.0 strip and a lower-watt basking bulb. Coiled UV bulbs should be avoided as they do not disperse the UVB throughout the entirety of your tank. Chameleons do best with having their light mimic a natural day/night cycle, so do not have any heating element on your chameleon at night. The ambient daytime temperature in the enclosure should be around 80-90°F. Chameleons do not actively drink from dishes but should have their climbs and leaves moistened several times a day. This can be achieved either with a hand mister or with an automatic mister. Having a dripping watering device ensures that water is readily available. Having several climbs and fake plants attached to the walls ensures that your chameleon always has shade somewhere in the enclosure.
Chameleons should have a mixture of greens given to them, as well as a variety of bugs. Anything with "greens" in the name, such as collards or mustard, is great. Live bugs should be size appropriate for your chameleon (nothing too large) and should be dusted often with Calcium powder WITHOUT Vitamin D. Current research indicates that Calcium with Vitamin D should be offered on bugs once a week.
Smaller desert tortoises such as Russian and Hermann's
While these torts may be small, they do require a good amount of space for foraging and digging. These are *very* smart animals and should have enrichment in their habitats as well. No tortoise should be kept in a glass enclosure but instead we recommend either tortoise boxes or tables. These are made out of reptile-safe wood and have reinforced bottoms so that the tortoise cannot dig out. They require a basking temperature of 95°F and an ambient "cooler" side to their habitat that measures in the 80s°F. Their night time temperatures should be in the 70s°F so if your house is especially cold (colder than the low 70s°F), you should add in a ceramic heat emitter for night time heat. Despite being "desert" tortoises, they need humidity and would get such in their natural environment. Your humidity should read around 50% and to achieve this, the substrate should be a mix of coconut, potting soil mix (WITHOUT fertilizer) and play sand. They should also have a large, ramped bowl that they can fit their bodies into for water and soaks (although giving your tortoise a soak in something larger is part of its weekly care), a hide where they can escape the heat of the bulb if they choose, and a slate for eating. Using a slate as opposed to a bowl, helps keep their beaks trim, but taking your tortoise to the vet for an annual beak trim is also part of its care. Proper lighting can be achieved with either a mercury vapor bulb or a combination of a UVB 10.0 strip and a basking bulb. Coiled UV bulbs should be avoided as they do not disperse the UVB throughout the entirety of your habitat and only emit UV for a few months.
Desert tortoises should have a mixture of greens given to them, daily. Anything with "greens" in the name, such as collards or mustard, is great. You should also mix in hearty vegetables like shredded sweet potato, carrot, or bell pepper. Adding in Mazuri tortoise pellets that have had a slight soak in water is also a good idea. Fruit is not good for them and should only be given sparingly. Calcium powder WITH Vitamin D should be a part of your supplies as current research shows that it is best if you give those supplements along with exposure to adequate UV-B.
Note screen shots of products are from Chewy.com but these products can be purchased from any reptile retailer.