What to consider before adopting or buying a snake or other reptile

Keeping snakes and other reptiles as pets has grown in popularity over the past few years. The range of interesting species and vibrant colours available makes them attractive to potential buyers.

However, reptiles are not domesticated animals like cats or dogs, so they have the same needs as their wild relatives. This can make caring for them complex and challenging at times.

Before you adopt or purchase any reptile, make sure you have researched everything you can about your chosen species. How big will it get? What does it eat? What sort of environment will it need?

When purchasing a vivarium for your reptile make sure you take into account how large the animal is likely to grow. Some species of snake, such as pythons, can grow to be several feet in length so their home will need to be upgraded regularly as they grow. Remember also to ensure your vivarium is secure and has locks on it, as many species of snakes are escape artists and can squeeze into the tiniest of gaps!

Most species of reptile will require specialist heating and lighting to control the temperature of their vivarium. They may also need to be able to climb or dig depending on the type of environment the species originally comes from. If you don’t provide these your reptile may suffer from health problems.

Before you bring your reptile home, ensure that there is a veterinary surgery nearby who will treat them in the event that they do become unwell. Some species may need a vet who specialises in exotic animals.

Where should you buy a snake or reptile from?

Snakes and reptiles often end up in our care so we would always encourage any potential owners to visit their local Scottish SPCA animal rescue and rehoming centre.

If you are considering buying a reptile make sure it is from a reputable breeder. Check the species of animal you are being offered is legal to own in the UK and does not require any specialist paperwork. Some species of reptile are also endangered and could have been taken from the wild to fund the illegal pet trade.