Category: Reptile

Why You Shouldn’t Release Snakes into the Wild

Why snakes shouldn't be released into the wild. (Corn snake)

Releasing pet snakes into the wild has increasingly become a big problem in the US. Sometimes snakes grow too large, become too expensive to feed, or too dangerous to handle. And for some, releasing the snakes into the wild seems like a viable option, and is done with good intentions. But releasing a captive snake into the wild can be cruel, as well as illegal.

Having been raised by humans, these reptiles have little to no survival skills and can succumb quickly to the harsh environmental elements that are foreign to them. They can wind up dying—from exhaustion or starvation, getting hit by vehicles, or being killed by a predator.

If the snake does survive, it can become known as an invasive species, if it’s in a non-native environment. This can have serious implications for the greater ecosystem. Invasive species can cause problems by preying on native plants and animals, competing for limited resources, or by introducing parasites and diseases not normally found in the area.

So what are the alternatives?

  • Find a reptile rescue shelter that can care for the snake and find it a home
  • Contact the store or snake’s breeder to discuss returning it or having them help you find a home
  • Talk to local zoos—they may be able to house the snake
  • Search online for people looking to adopt a reptile
  • Contact your vet for recommendations or assistance

Choosing one of these alternatives will protect your local ecosystem and the native species in it, as well as helping your snake live a long, healthy life.

Common Myths About Snakes

Snakes are often misunderstood. This may be due to human fear or the way snakes have been portrayed throughout history. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that there are a lot of misconceptions about snakes.

Here’s a look at some myths about snakes that have been debunked.

They Don’t Have Maternal Instincts
You’ve probably heard snakes aren’t exactly maternal animals. The female lays her eggs and slithers away or snakes that are born alive head off on their own. While many species of snake don’t care for their young (snakes are mostly self-sufficient when born), a recent discovery showed one species does have a maternal instinct. The African rock python, which resides in central Africa, has been studied protecting their egg clutches and keeping their young close by for the first few months. It might not be common, but there are maternal snakes.

Snakes Chase People
Many are under the impression that snakes chase after people, especially when they’re angry. While this is true about some species (the bushmaster of Central America), not all species chase humans intentionally. In fact, when a snake does chase a human, it’s usually because it has been startled. Chasing is a defense mechanism that sets in once they feel they’re in danger.

Heat Causes Blindness in Snakes
Another common misconception is that snakes go blind when temperatures get extremely hot. While it’s true that snakes do suffer from temporary vision impairment, it has nothing to do with the heat. When snakes are shedding, they also shed their ocular scales. As a result, their eyes develop a milky appearance and their vision is compromised. They do regain their sight when new ocular scales develop, however.

Snakes are interesting creatures and fascinating pets. We hope this debunks some of the myths you may have heard.

Strange Turtle Facts

If you have a turtle, you might be surprised to find that your shelled friend exhibits some pretty interesting and even strange traits.

Here are a few strange facts you might not have known:

  • They are vocal
    Though they don’t have vocal cords, turtles can still make sounds. They suck in air and then force it out of their lungs, which can create some pretty distinctive sounds. The red-foot tortoise makes a sound similar to the cluck of a chicken. The male Travancore tortoise lets out an ear-piercing whine, similar to the sound of an electric motor, when they’re looking for a mate. You’ll hear a loud yelping sound, similar to a dog’s, when the giant musk turtle is afraid or is under attack. Also a female leatherback sea turtle, when nesting, will make sounds that are similar to a human belching.
  • Tail sniffing
    Similar to dogs, turtles seek sniff tails as well. They search for their mates by sniffing their tails since their sexual organs are hidden inside the cloaca, a cavity that is used for reproduction. Turtles have an excellent sense of smell and males can smell a female’s pheromones from this part of her body.
  • They don’t have a diaphragm
    While humans and other beings use their diaphragms to pull air into their lungs, turtles breathe air, even though they don’t have a diaphragm. They rely on their neck, limbs and other muscles. These muscles are attached to the pleural cavity, which surrounds the lungs and help them breathe.
  • They have keen eye sight
    Turtles have an incredible sense of sight and rely on it to help them find food, spot danger and find other members of their species. Not only do they have keen eyesight, but they also seem to have favorite colors. They tend to be more attracted to warm-colored objects that are in red, yellow or orange.

These traits make turtles even more unique and endearing.

The Difference Between Reptiles and Amphibians

The Difference Between Reptiles and Amphibians

Which animal has dry, scaly skin, usually with bony plates? If you know the difference between reptiles and amphibians, you’d answer reptile.

Read on to learn more about the difference between these two animals.

Reptiles…

  • Have dry skin with scales and bony plates.
  • Are cold-blooded and depend on the sun to maintain their body temperatures.
  • Some reptiles lay eggs, while others deliver live young.
  • Vary greatly in size, from 2-inch lizards to 20-foot pythons.
  • Are most often in the tropics, although some species live in forests & deserts.
  • Include alligators, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and turtles.

Amphibians…

  • Have soft, smooth and scale-less skin, possibly with warts.
  • Mostly hatch from eggs laid in water or in moist ground.
  • Live in moist habitats near water.
  • Are also cold-blooded and get heat from outside sources like the sun.
  • Are generally smaller and grow up to 6 inches, with a few exceptions.
  • Include frogs, toads, salamanders and newts.

Did you know?

  • Amphibians became the first vertebrates to live on land.
  • Frogs can absorb oxygen through their skin.
  • Boa, python and viper snakes have infrared heat receptors that can sense nearby animals by temperature shifts as little as 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turtle Care 101

Turtle Care 101

Turtles are beautiful animals that can live up to 10 years or more with proper care. The tips that follow will give you a foundation for basic turtle care. Be sure to also research specific care information for your turtle’s species.

Turtle or Tortoise?
Unlike land-dwelling tortoises, turtles live in or near water, have webbed feet and eat meat or a combination of meat and vegetation. Some of the most popular species include Red Ear Sliders, Painted Turtles, Northern Map Turtles and Wood Turtles.

Turtle housing
Turtles should be kept in tanks that provide water for swimming and a dry area for basking. Make sure the water area is large enough for swimming and diving. Tanks should also be at least 20 gallons or larger, especially as the turtles gain in size. Red Ear Sliders, for example, can grow up to 11 inches and will need more space as they grow.

Heat and lighting
Since turtles can’t generate their own body heat, heat and lighting are needed. They will help your turtle regulate his body temperature and maintain a healthy shell. You should provide both fluorescent light for his health and incandescent light for heat.

Clean
It’s essential to keep the water clean in your turtle’s tank. For healthy water conditions, clean and/or partially change the water at least once a week. Also consider a canister filter or a power filter, depending on your tank setup.

Diet
Because turtles are omnivores, most will eat mealworms and insects such as live crickets. Leafy vegetables and turtle food are also part of a nutritious diet. Start by feeding young turtles daily, then feed switch to 4 or 5 times per week for adult turtles. Provide variety with insects, dark leafy greens and canned or pelleted turtle food.

Salmonella
Like other animals, turtles can carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts and feces. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your turtle or cleaning the tank.

How to Feed Your Turtle


Because of the variety of pet turtles, knowing what to feed one can be confusing. Pet Supermarket associates can answer your turtle questions, but it helps to research the dietary needs of your specific turtle as well. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Variety is key
Whether your turtle is a carnivore or eats a little of everything (omnivore), a varied diet is crucial. For omnivores, offer 50% meat or protein and 50% plant-based food.

Turtles need calcium
Since calcium is vital to healthy bones and turtle shells, a calcium supplement is recommended. Just make sure it doesn’t include phosphorous in it as turtles get enough of that in their diets. Make sure your calcium supplement contains vitamin D3, which aides in calcium absorption. Also, dairy products should not be fed to turtles as a source of calcium.

What’s on the menu
Depending on the species, turtles can be fed commercial turtle food and a combination of protein, vegetables and fruit. Start with fish, insects, crickets and worms. Add plant-based food with vegetables like chopped squash, grated carrots and green beans. Dark, leafy greens like romaine, collard greens, dandelion greens or radicchio are also healthy. Fruit should be treated as dessert and can include grapes, apples, bananas and cantaloupe.

Feeding time
Unlike other pets, daily feeding isn’t necessary, except for baby turtles. Once they reach eight months of age, feed turtles every two or three days.

Turtle Don’ts
Plants or insects from your backyard may have pesticides or parasites, so don’t use them as food. Also avoid raw meat, which may contain salmonella. Dairy is best avoided as well, since turtles don’t have the enzymes to break down lactose. Turtles can live 20 years or more with good care. Visit Pet Supermarket for the food and supplements that can lead to a long, healthy life for your turtle.

How to Clean your Turtle’s Shell

How to Clean your Turtle's Shell
A turtle’s shell is made of living tissue and needs oxygen and sunlight to remain healthy. If you own a turtle, it’s important to inspect his shell monthly and clean it of the fungus and grime that could mask an infection.

Here are a few tips on cleaning your turtle’s shell safely:

  • Soak the turtle for a while in lukewarm water to loosen any debris.
  • Using a wet washcloth, gently rub the turtle’s shell to lift off any algae or grime. Shedding small flakes is normal, as long as it isn’t excessive.
  • Clean beneath the shell or carapace and wipe carefully around the head, legs, tail and neck as these areas are more sensitive.
  • Rinse the turtle in water. If needed, use a soft toothbrush to remove some of the algae.
  • Do NOT use detergents or cleansers as these will strip the shell of its oils and may harm your turtle.
  • Now inspect the shell and rub it with your fingers to feel for any soft spots, cracks or discolorations, which could be signs of shell rot or infection.
  • If the shell looks healthy, dry it off. If it seems dry or brittle, however, apply a coat of turtle shell conditioner.

A monthly cleaning and visual check will keep your turtle healthy and happy. Need turtle food and other care products? Visit Pet Supermarket for food, aquarium supplies and more.

Why Reptiles Should Bask in the Spotlight


Pictures of reptiles basking in the sun are reminders that heat is vital to their survival. As ectotherms, they can’t produce their own body heat and rely on heat from external sources. In the wild, that’s usually the sun, but for pets it’s an artificial heat source.

As a reptile owner, you have to provide the right heat source for your pet’s health. While there are various supplies on the market, such as heat rocks and heat pads, we recommend basking spotlights.

Basking spotlights

These lights provide a more natural heat source for reptiles. A spotlight can create a basking site or “hot spot” that your reptile can move in and out of. These hot spots help reptiles digest food and fight off disease. Basking lights also mimic a reptile’s natural heating method, since reptiles heat their bodies from top to bottom, not bottom to top, as used by heat rocks or pads.

They are also more suited to a reptile’s heat receptors, which are quite deep in the skin. Unlike humans, reptiles don’t feel heat immediately on their skin. They may get third-degree burns from a heat rock before actually feeling the burning sensation.

How to use basking spotlights

The type of bulb to use depends on the size and depth of your terrarium. Your goal is to provide a heated basking site and a cool site that’s comfortable for your pet. If the temperature difference between the two sites (the thermal gradient) is not enough, your pet won’t be able to cool off sufficiently and can overheat.

Use the chart below as a quick guide to correct wattage for various tanks. Keep in mind, the thermal gradient that is needed varies by reptile and habitat. Also, some tank sizes are not recommended for certain species.

Keep your reptile warm and healthy with basking lights and other reptile-care supplies at Pet Supermarket

Good Reptiles for Beginners


For many people reptiles make the perfect and most rewarding pet, but sometimes the care and cost of a reptile may be misleading.

It is important to remember that reptiles may require the same time and cost commitment as a cat or dog, and before you purchase your reptile from the store you must be properly prepared.

There are many species available that are suitable for beginners and require relatively low maintenance, but remember you will have to invest in equipment at first. It is important to be aware of the proper lighting and heating reptiles require to meet their environmental needs.

The most popular reptiles for beginners are several species of lizards and snakes. Leopard Geckos, Bearded Dragons, and Blue-tongued Skinks are all easily tamable lizards. Although each species has a different diet, all three of these lizards are entertaining and easy to keep healthy and happy. Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons are popular snakes that are relatively easy to care for and only get as large as 3-5 feet. It is important when having a pet snake to be aware of their specific diet, while they can sometimes be fussy eaters.

Before purchasing your pet reptile be sure to do the proper research on the species so you are fully prepared to care for your pet.

You’ll find answers to your questions, and what you need to feed and care of your new reptile, at Pet Supermarket.