Catering for exotic pets in your product mix: amphibians
From dogs and cats to bunnies and guinea pigs, our furry friends make up the majority of the UK’s pets, and indeed, pet retailers’ customer base. But they’re not the only critters that need love and attention. That’s why, we’re dedicating a series of guides to our feathered, scaled and six- and eight-legged friends; from tarantulas to tortoises, and everything in between. Today, find out what you should be stocking for amphibious friends.
It’s pretty common for amphibians such as frogs, toads and salamanders to be kept as pets. Like their reptile counterparts, amphibians have slightly more complicated requirements than other pet types.
Heat & humidity
A key feature of amphibians is their soft, moist skin, which requires a damp environment to stop them from drying out. This means that they need carefully controlled environments within their tanks.
Tropical amphibians, such as tree frogs, require warm and humid conditions which need to be closely monitored, whereas most other amphibians prefer cool environments. Understanding where the animal would live in the wild can help owners recreate the conditions their pet needs. As a rule, tanks and vivariums should be kept away from heat sources and direct sunlight to ensure greater control over the conditions.
As the name may suggest, amphibians need a mixture of both dry land and water in their habitat, so enclosures should have both. Rocks and logs should be provided for enrichment in dry areas, giving the animal plenty of places to hide and climb. The amount of water in the tank will vary, depending on the animal. Some amphibians like to swim so will need bigger and deeper pools, whereas others will just need water to bathe in and will prefer to climb. Owners should do their research before setting up a habitat to understand if their animal is semi-aquatic, or more land based. It’s also important not to use unfiltered tap water as many amphibians are sensitive to the chemicals used to sanitise water; this can be easily rectified at home by using a water conditioner.
Most amphibians are nocturnal, so lighting should also be considered to ensure the animal is kept in optimum conditions with regular cycles that correspond with day and night. Any light source should not release too much heat, and there should be plenty of hiding spots for the animal to shelter from the light.
Most amphibians require regular feeding but what they eat will vary from species to species. As the stereotype suggests, though, most frogs prefer an insect-based diet. Locusts, crickets, cockroaches and mealworms are all good options. The insects should be live to provide enrichment to the animal, so owners will need to keep these separately. Some larger amphibians require larger prey, such as mice or goldfish. Again, it is best to feed these to them live.
Paw-some tips for amphibians:
- Horned frogs and fire salamanders are very popular starter pets and are much simpler to care for than other amphibian species.
- Many frog species have been known to eat each other, so it is best to keep pets in separate enclosures.
- Amphibians have very sensitive skin and should not be handled excessively or without the protection of gloves.
- Many amphibians have defensive toxins on their skin which can be dangerous to handlers or other animals in the home.
- Some amphibian species will shed or hibernate, so it’s important to understand these patterns and notice if any changes occur; alterations in natural processes like these could be a sign of illness.
- Find an exotic pet vet in your area who can answer any health questions if needed.
Discover more about catering for exotic pets right here on the Pawexpo blog.
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