Reptiles and Husbandry
Reptiles as Pets
Reptiles can be really fun pets. They are ectothermic or “cold-blooded”. This means that, unlike mammals and birds, they can’t create their own body heat. Because of this, their care can be a bit more complicated than “warm-blooded” or endothermic animals. When reptiles get too cold, their whole body slows down. This includes all of their bodily functions - so if they are too cold, they can’t digest their food! As a result, reptiles have to be kept at very specific temperatures (which is usually higher than room temperature)! Reptile enclosures usually use a heat gradient, where one side is warm and one side is cooler. This gives the reptile the ability to choose what temperature it wants to be. Reptile enclosures can be heated through a number of ways including an under-tank heat mat or an overhead lamp! Humidity levels, or the amount of water in the air, are also important in order to make sure these pets are comfortable. For example, if humidity levels are too low, reptiles might not be able to shed their skin! Reptiles can be a reservoir for a type of bacteria called Salmonella, which can make humans very sick. It’s generally best to assume that all reptiles are carrying Salmonella. So, after handling reptiles or touching their environment, always wash your hands. There is a huge variety of care needed by reptile species. So, if you choose to keep one as a pet, its important that you learn as much as you can about your specific species!
Tortoises (Kiya mînî en ûbin) & Turtles (Kiya)
Tortoises and turtles both belong to a group of animals known as Chelonians. Chelonians are known for their unique shells! The main difference between tortoises and turtles is that tortoises live on land and turtles live in the water. Hover over the images below to learn more about tortoises and turtles.
We have a very important task for you. The lead veterinarian (Wodeja Nîkte wîchakiyetha) of Canada has found a new creature that was found in a pile of rubble that looks like a spaceship. The creature has six legs and requires someone to figure out how to house and feed it. As the veterinarian of the Alien Zoo, you have been called! Your task is to design an enclosure, including enrichment to meet the needs of this new animal and design a diet for it. Your research team has been hard at work and found out this information for you.
Your research team has found out the following information for you.
Height 4 inches (10 cm), length 8 inches (20 cm)
Walks on 6 legs- top speed of 20 km/hr
Presence of toe beans on every foot and enjoys belly rubs
Ectotherm required temperature gradient (hot area 36°C, ambient 26°C )
Spends most of time hiding in holes
4 chamber stomach presents, and continously consuming food and chewing cud
Crepuscular and prey animal
Highly intelligent- equivalent to 6th grade child
Absorbs water through skin and likes to soak
How to design an enclosure?
Work your way through the check list below to help you design the perfect habitat. Draw your habitat out and write down all your ideas so that you don't forget anything.
What would be the best type of food for this new species? Are they a monogastric animal like the dog? A ruminant like the cow? A hindgut fermentor like the horse? Does this new animal need to be eating all the time or just a couple times a day?
Think about what each of these species eat and how often and make a plan for this new alien animal.
What would be the best type of habitat or enclosure for this new species? Does it require anything to hide under? Does it need lots of light? Does it need grass to munch on all day? Does it need trees to climb on? Does it need a heat source?
Think about what each of these species needs in its environment make a plan for this new alien animal.
What kind of enrichment do you think this new species needs?
Think about what each of these species needs in its environment so that it is stimulated and make a plan for this new alien animal.