Remember when you were in school and your math teacher came up with a completely new topic, gave your whole class the task to figure out a math text problem and you read the text and just thought to yourself:
“THIS ISN´T EVEN ENGLISH FOR GOD´S SAKE!”
That was the feeling I had when I set up my first reptile tank (and I always had that feeling during math as well…just to be honest). I am pretty sure you can relate to that.
You want a reptile, you start doing your research and then you realise – this could be more complicated than you thought.I mean, if you start with reptiles there are so many questions that come up and it seems that the deeper the research gets the more questions appear.
What lights to get?How many light bulbs do I even need?What tank should I get?What substrate should I get?Do I need a substrate?Do I need plants?Do I need to get a background?What´s my name again?…and so on and so forth.
And we are only talking about the tank here, we are not even talking about diet or diseases or brumation. One could think that keeping reptiles is as complicated as math, but I would not go that far.
Especially because there is a way to make this whole topic way easier. (And because math is a horror)
You Have To Know What Really Matters
As always, things get easier if you break them down in important and not important. While almost everything in keeping reptiles is important, there is only one thing you really have to know when it comes to setting up a reptile tank.
What I Mean With That
What is your biggest fear about getting your reptile and setting up the tank the wrong way? Right, your biggest fear is that you could do something wrong and kill your pet slowly.
I know the thought of killing your beloved new friend slowly without even knowing is horrible.
I know it from experience, because it happened to me…twice. However this is another story, you can read about my story here.So, the most important thing is to make sure that your pet is healthy and survives.
The One Thing You Just Have To Know In Order To Keep Your Reptile Alive
The one thing you just have to know is that reptiles are ectothermic. This means that reptiles can´t maintain a constant body temperature. Their body temperature depends on the ambient temperature.
If you do not give your reptile the chance to regulate their temperature, it is going to die. So that means, the key is to know the ambient temperature of the natural habitat of the reptile you want to own.
You have to be aware where your reptile comes from originally. Does it live in a warm and dry place? Does it live in an area that is more like a jungle? What is the temperature in those areas?
So lighting and temperature are the key to keep your reptile alive.
The Tank Size Is Not Vital
I get asked a lot by readers what tank size they should get. Don´t get me wrong here, of course you have to offer enough space for your reptile (and by enough I mean as much space as possible, the bigger the better), of course you have to have the proper substrate for your reptile, but think about this:
Will your reptile die if it lives in a tank that is a little too small for it? No!
Will your reptile die if you use newspaper as substrate, because you just don´t know which substrate is right for your reptile? No!
On the other hand, your reptile is not going to be happy in a tank that is too small and most reptiles are not going to be happy if you use newspaper as substrate.
However, that is not the point of this article, the point of this article is to show you what you should get right first and after you have the right information on lighting and temperature, you can continue to get information on the other stuff.
But What About The Other Fancy Stuff?
First of all, forget about all the fancy stuff you think you need or pet shop shop employees wanna sell you. Yes, it is great to get a reptile hammock, because a lot of reptiles like them. Yes, a fake rock background looks fantastic in a reptile tank.
But do you need these things in order to keep your reptile alive? No!This doesn´t mean you shouldn´t get that stuff, I just mean it makes the whole topic more complicated and way more expensive than it has to be in the beginning.
It is better to spend the money on the right light bulbs first and make sure that your basic setup is on point.
Please Be Aware Of Your Responsibility
I don´t want to make the wrong impression here. I do not recommend you to buy the wrong stuff for your reptile. This isn´t good for your reptile and it isn´t good for your wallet, since you have to buy everything twice if you get the wrong stuff at first.
I said it above, but I need to say it again: The point of this article is to show you what matters most. The point of this article is to give you some kind of direction, to let you know where you should start.
You have to get a lot of information if you want to set up your reptile tank the right way and you always wanna make sure that your reptile´s enclosure is appropriate.
That´s just part of being a reptile keeper and if you love your reptile, I am pretty sure that you are okay with that.
However if you are totally confused or you just hate do research all this stuff, which is somehow understandable, I can do the work for you!
P.S. I hate math!