The most commonly found reptiles in homes throughout the UK are snakes and lizards. They range in size and requirements and are a specialised pet to keep at home.

Both lizards and snakes need special habitats to live in and also require different foods. Tortoises and turtles also fall into the reptile family and also needs specialised care. Frogs, toads and turtles belong to the amphibian family and are becoming more and more popular as pets for children and adults.

Caring for your Reptile, Amphibian and Invertebrate


The safest way to handle a snake is to hold it behind the head with one hand whilst the other hand supports the body. Snake hooks and grab sticks are fundamental tools for handling large or dangerous snakes.

Larger lizards should be picked up by one hand held behind their head whilst the other hand secures the base of the tail and hind legs.

Smaller lizards can be caught just wearing protective gloves or just pin them with a soft cloth before picking them up. Most tarantulas are too dangerous to be handled due to their hairs which when shed can sometimes cause skin irritation to humans. Despite this, they are still very popular as pets.


Containers to house lizards and snakes in are known as vivariums and are usually constructed from glass with a metal panel to allow adequate ventilation.

The type, size and number to be housed together will differ depending on the breed of snake or lizard. Tarantulas are housed in containers called terrariums and these too are made from glass. Again the number that can be safely housed together will depend on the breed.

Whether a vivarium or a terrarium, they will need to be;

  • Secure and escape proof
  • Easy access for cleaning
  • Adequate size to allow for growth and movement
  • Heating and lighting must be adequate and maintaine
  • Adequate size to allow for growth and movement
  • Heating and lighting must be adequate and maintained
  • Humidity and ventilation must be adequate and maintained

20253 Reptihabitat Snake Kit 20Gal


Most snakes will need a diet of rodents and these need to be purchased in frozen form.

Lizards need a mixed diet of insects such as crickets or locusts which they usually prefer alive, so they can catch and eat them. Some lizards also like fruit and vegetables added to their diet. It is important to dust a calcium supplement onto the food, to ensure that they receive the correct nutritional balance in their diet.

Tarantulas have a diet of insects or insects such as crickets, locusts, moths and caterpillars. Some of the larger spiders also eat mice too!


Snakes, Lizards and tarantulas all require specialised equipment in their containers in order to remain in good health. These include a suitable floor covering (substrate), lighting equipment with the correct type of spot bulb and heating equipment set to the correct temperature.

Some species of tarantula will also require specialist equipment to keep their environment humid.

Common illnesses

Some snakes will shed their skin once or twice a year and once this has happened the discarded skin should be removed from the vivarium straight away.

Poor diet or bad living conditions such as too high humidity or the wrong temperature can lead to respiratory and/ or skin infections.

Dehydration and stress through incorrect handling are the main concerns to be aware of, however poor diet or bad living conditions can lead to respiratory or skin infections.

Tarantulas shed their skin once or twice a year and during this time they can become quite aggressive. This process can take anything up to a week to complete and their dietary requirements will change during this time. Once shedding is complete the discarded skin must be removed from the terrarium.

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