Below are 10 examples of incorrect information that I have received in my 15 years of keeping reptiles.
1. Snakes need to eat live food
I have not had a single captive bred snake refuse to eat pre-killed rodents. My older snakes have eaten pre-killed mice every week for over a decade without any health problems.
2. Mealworms Cause Gut Impactions
The logic behind this myth is that mealworms have a hard exo-skeleton that cannot be digested by insectivorous lizards, or that the mealworms can eat their way out of the lizard. I have fed Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, Axolotls and African Clawed Frogs on a diet of almost 100% mealworms for years and never had the above problems.
3. Dwarf Caimans
Buyer: How big do these Caimans get?
Seller: The Caimans are five years old and will not get any bigger
Fact: No Caiman or Crocodilian species is adult size at 60cm.
4. A Bite From That Viper Isn’t That Serious
Buyer: How dangerous is a bite from the White Lip Tree Viper you are selling?
Seller: Oh its just some pain, swelling and some local tissue damage, nothing a trip to the ER can’t cure.
Fact: Medical problems associated with a venomous snake bite can range from allergic reactions, blood clotting problems, amputated fingers, secondary infection, loss of function of hands, nerve damage and possibly death. No doctor can cure a snake bite without antivenom which is not available for most exotic venomous snakes.
5. Snakes have to be kept on Newspaper
I have kept my snakes on many different substrates ranging from astroturf, pine shavings, kenaf, newspaper and corn cob. In the wild snakes ingest substrate when feeding and do not die. In captivity ingestion of substrate can be kept to a minimum by using feeding tongs and making sure food is dry as substrate will stick to wet rodents. Snakes cannot dry out from a substrate, do snakes living in deserts dry out? As long as a water bowl is provided your Corn Snake will live happily on a substrate of aspen shavings or corn cob. Click Here for an article on snake substrates you should avoid
6. The More Species I Keep The More I Know
Many reptile keepers including myself have kept multiple reptile species successfully. A reptile enthusiast who keeps multiple species and has dozens of reptiles that are unhealthy and improperly housed does not make him/her more knowledgeable than the keeper who has only a few reptiles in excellent health.
7. Keeping Venomous Snakes is the Next Step in Snake Keeping
Keeping venomous snakes such as Copperheads or White Lip Tree Vipers is only challenging because they can cause you physical harm if you are careless not because of their difficult captive care. Some really cool harmless snakes that are a real challenge to keep include: Tentacled Water Snakes, Mexican Burrowing Snakes, Calabar Ground Python, Mandarin Rat Snakes and many more.
8. Selling Unsuitable Reptiles to New Reptile Keepers
As reptile pet store owners we should not sell a Green Iguana to a first time lizard keeper or a Reticulated Python to a novice snake keeper. Never sell large constrictors or Monitor Lizards as a children’s pet. I do not believe venomous snakes should be sold to the general public and most certainly not to children or teenagers. Never sell reptiles which are illegal to own and always inform the buyer if a permit is needed.
9. Saving Money Can Cost You Money
Never skimp on essentials such as UVB Lights, Calcium Supplements and proper food as this will result in a sick or dead reptile a few months after purchase. There is no point in buying a huge tub of calcium with no brand behind it when you have a single Bearded Dragon. Rather buy a calcium supplement which is made by a well known manufacturer and is produced just for reptiles.
10. Avoiding the Vet
With more and more reptiles being kept as pets more and more vets are specializing in reptile medical care. Rather see a reptile vet than try and treat the reptile yourself. I have a policy that what a qualified reptile vet advises trumps any advice I have given you in regards to the health care of your reptile. There is a reason why vets study for nearly ten years or more, so if in doubt take your reptile to a vet.