My Story: A Painful Start As A Reptile Keeper

a couple of months ago

Hey! Awesome that you actually take the time to read my story, I appreciate it!

My name is Pierre. I was born in the 90s in Germany and I am the creator of this website. The fact that you are here shows that you and I are probably pretty similar in a way. We both love reptiles 🙂

about bearded dragon tank

That´s Me!

My love for reptiles began very early in my life. I think I was 6 or 7 years old when my family and me went on vacation to Italy. There was a small forrest on the way to the beach where my sister and I liked to play. It was the first time we played in that forrest when we suddenly saw something moving between all the branches on the ground.

It was a lizard! Till that day I had not even seen a lizard before. I was so fascinated by those little creatures that I had to hunt them whenever I could during that vacation. Of course I didn´t do any harm to them. I just wanted to hold them and look at those little dinosaurs. For me they were dinosaurs or dragons back in the day ... and they still are...(and sometimes I say that my name is Khal Drogo, but that´s a different story).

Needless to say that I wanted to be a reptile owner after this vacation.

A Frustrating Journey Started

Many years after that vacation my parents allowed me to get a reptile. I saved up a ton of money and did a lot of research on my first reptile. It was a panther chameleon named Fipsi Carlos ... I know this name is crazy.

So why did a frustrating journey start at that point? Everything was awesome. I could finally get a reptile, right? Wrong!

So wrong!

As I said I did a lot of research, I mostly read books and talked to pet shop sellers. However when the big day came, I bought my reptile only to realise that I did not know anything about actually keeping that reptile. Sure I knew that they eat crickets and all that stuff and I knew that they needed a cage and some kind of light.

However what about the details? No book taught me which lights to get, how to set the lighting up, how many crickets I should feed my baby panther chameleon, what supplements I should use .... nothing!

I felt lost! I wanted to get a reptile so badly and I thought I was ready, but I wasn´t - without even noticing it!

The Information You Get On The Internet Is... Confusing

I am pretty sure that you agree with me. The internet can be a very confusing place. Especially if you are looking for some information about reptiles.

Caught A Lizard

Me As A Kid - Caught A Lizard! 🙂

If you visit a forum you´ll find at least five opinions on one single topic. As a beginner reptile keeper how do you know which information is right and which is wrong? I mean, you can do more research, but most probably, you will be even more confused.

Sure, there are many smart people on the internet who know a ton about reptiles, but as a beginner, finding these people can be a very confusing and exhausting road.

The Information You Get In Pet Shops Are.... Questionable

Don´t get me wrong. I do not want to bash all pet shops there are, however the reality is that most sellers give information that is worthless. I give you an example:

When I got my first reptile, Fipsi Carlos, the seller asked me if I already have a heater and a UVB light. Back in the day I didn´t know that I needed it, because I was misinformed through the internet.
So when the guy noticed my confusion he just said: "Maybe get the lighting later."

He knew that I did not have an UVB light, which is a must have, and he´d still let me go out of his shop with a baby chameleon.

He knew that my little baby chameleon would die and didn´t do anything. Only because he wanted to sell a chameleon.
It didn´t bother him if the chameleon would be okay.

Guess what happened:

Fipsi Carlos died.

I cried my eyes out. I felt so guilty because I got the wrong information. I mean I did not even knew that Fipsi Carlos was sick, because I thought that I did everything right until the day he behaved really weird (and he also looked weird).
The vet said that Fipsi Carlos had metabolic bone disease. 30 minutes after that Fipsi died.

I think I never felt worse in my life.

I Only Wanted To Have A Happy And Healthy Reptile

Of course I wanted a happy reptile. For me Fipsi Carlos was a friend. I wanted him to be happy and healthy and I wanted him to feel good.

Chameleon On Finger

Fipsi Carlos On My Finger!

I wanted to have fun as a reptile keeper. I didn´t want to be worried all the time just because I didn´t know how to raise a reptile in the right way. I didn´t want to do tons of research on the internet just to be even more confused afterwards.

The only thing I wanted was a happy new family member!

I Tried To Become A Better Reptile Keeper After That But...

Even though I wanted a reptile so bad in the beginning, I just couldn´t get one after Fipsi Carlos died. I think it took me a year to have the courage to try again.

However this time I wanted to be prepared for everything! I thought maybe reading more books would help. So I bought some more books about bearded dragons and read everything I could.

The problem was, the books only delivered the same information over and over again. Simple and dry. Bearded dragons live in Australia. They eat crickets. They need a tank. And so on and so forth. That information was too basic.  I needed a guide, I needed more details.

So I thought to myself, maybe visiting other pet shops would help. Maybe just this one pet shop was bad. So I went to another pet shop and the people there seemed nice and they actually gave me a couple of good tips.

I bought my first bearded dragon two weeks after that in the same pet shop. His name was Jabba 🙂

The seller recommended an okay lighting and a too small tank, but that was okay. That would not kill a bearded dragon immediately. However he also gave me loose sand as a substrate.

You should never use loose sand as bedding for a baby bearded dragon tank. Baby bearded dragons tend to eat the substrate accidentally while hunting crickets and get impacted from that.

Guess what happened to Jabba? Right, he ate sand and got impacted. 

I was clueless. Someday I noticed that Jabba behaved weird and that he did not go to the bathroom for a couple of days. Of course I took him to the vet and he told me that Jabba is impacted from the substrate I used.

The vet tried to help, but Jabba died a couple of days afterwards. He was too weak.

I was sad and furious. Somehow I felt guilty, but on the other hand I was so angry at the guys from the pet shop where I bought Jabba, since they recommended the loose sand.

How I Found My Way Of Raising Reptiles The Right Way

I still felt guilty, but I knew that there is one mistake that I would not do again. I would not buy any reptile at a pet shop ever again. (Again, I do not try to bash all pet shops here - some are really good!)

I decided to talk to a bearded dragon breeder who was located a two hour drive from my hometown. It was the best decision I made. I learned so much buy talking to him. 

I told him about my two reptiles that died and about the misinformation I got on the internet and in pet shops.  He said to me that it wasn´t my fault. Getting legit information on how to keep a reptile is not easy to find and it is even harder to get if you are an absolute beginner.

He recommended to visit a couple of reptile fairs and talk to the breeders there. That´s what I did 4 weeks later. There was a huge reptile fair in Germany with hundreds of different breeders and probably thousands of different reptiles.

On that day I had a sheet with around 50 questions about bearded dragons and other reptiles prepared. I think I talked to over 40 different breeders that day. I made a lot of friends and I felt like a bearded dragon experts afterwards, haha.

A couple of months later I bought a bearded dragon named Solo. He was happy, he was healthy, the enclosure I built for him was awesome, his diet was great and what can I say? He is still alive and happy and healthy 🙂

A Quick Summary Of What I learned

  • I learned that reading books about reptiles is not enough to learn how to keep a reptile
  • I realised that a lot of pet shops only want your money and nothing else. Good advice is very rare and sometimes they even give advice that might kill your reptile.
  • I learned the hard way that the internet, especially forums can be a confusing place if you are looking for helpful advice on reptiles. There are just too many opinions on one topic and it is very hard as a beginner to figure out which opinion is the right one.
  • check
    I realised that you have to reptile breeders to get good and clear information on the reptile you want. However it is definitely time consuming and not everybody has a reptile breeder nearby.
  • check
    Reptile fairs are another way of getting legit information on your favorite reptile, however this is time consuming as well.

How Is Keeping Reptiles For Me Now?

After visiting a breeder, after visiting a reptile fair and talk to more than 40 or 50 different breeders I gained a lot of knowledge on my favorite reptiles. Way more than I could ever have gotten from books or from forums.

I really felt like an expert afterwards, even though I wasn´t an expert of course. It takes a lot of experience to become an expert in my opinion.

However after that none of my reptiles died. And I raised over 30 reptiles to this day. I even became a breeder for a while.

Now keeping reptiles is pure fun. I do not have to worry about my reptiles anymore, because I know what they need. I know what enclosure they need, I know what they need to eat, I know which lights to get.

And this is just awesome. Just being confident about your knowledge as a reptile keeper and enjoying your reptiles and being fascinated by them is one of the greaters feelings. (At least for me, but I am most probably a weirdo, lol)

However I am really happy that I do not have to look for information in forums, because that was a real pain for me in the past.

I am happy that my reptiles are healthy and that I do not have to make the painful experience of a loss again.

Let Me Help You!

As you know now, I know exactly how it feels to be a beginner when it comes to reptiles. I made some very, very painful experiences as a reptile keeper and I do not want you to go through that as well.

I want to share my knowledge with you. I gathered a lot of helpful information on reptiles over the last 10 years. I exchanged information with well over 100 reptile breeders in all these years and I never stop doing that. There is always something new to learn.

Let me help you to get started with your first reptile. Since you are reading this, I assume that it might be a lovely bearded dragon! 🙂

I know that gathering all the information you need can be a pain. That is why I created a completely free email course for you on how to set up a bearded dragon tank.

Simply sign up for my email course and I´m going to send you the information you need!

Pierre

About the Author

Pierre

Hey! I am Pierre. I own bearded dragons and many other reptiles for a very long time. I know from experience that it can be very hard to find the right information about a specific reptile, since there is so much misinformation out there.That´s why I created this website. To help other people to have the best time with their reptiles.

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