Reptiles and amphibians range from low- to high-maintenance care
Thinking of adding an exotic pet like a reptile or amphibian to your household? While they’re not exactly cuddly and affectionate, many ‘herps’ (coined from the Greek word for creeping thing) can make great pets, but different species will need different levels of owner experience and investment. Because reptiles and amphibians may require varying degrees of specialized care, it’s important to
do some research! Before you consider adopting one of these critters, here’s some basic information on reptiles and amphibians that could help you make the right decision for you and your family!
Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians
For kids and adults who may be allergic to furry or feathered pets or just want a pet that’s out of the norm, low maintenance reptiles and amphibians can be wonderful options. Some notes of caution – many herps do not like being handled and do not do well being handled, so there can be a risk of biting or injury. Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians include corn snakes, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, tortoises, and frogs, making them a great beginner options for families with children.
Smaller carnivorous lizards and amphibians feed on a varied diet that includes insects dusted with supplements, such as calcium and other vitamins. Larger carnivorous reptiles, such as monitor lizards and snakes will eat rodents – whether live, freshly killed or thawed from frozen. Others may need to be fed live crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, or worms.
How long do reptiles live?
Another thing to consider when deciding to adopt a reptile is how long do they live? When properly cared for, many reptiles will live far longer in captivity than in the wild, so owning one may be a longer commitment than having a dog or cat.
Snakes: Many types of snakes can live for decades. Corn snakes have a lifespan of 10-20 years. Ball pythons can live for 20-30 years. Kingsnakes average between 12-15 years. Some can even grow well over 5-feet long, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before bringing a snake home.
Turtles & Tortoises: Turtles are water-lovers; tortoises live on land. Turtles and tortoises have the longest potential lifespan. With proper care, some species can live up to 40 to 60 years or even longer. Tortoises often live to a ripe old age, so they’re definitely a long-term commitment – especially since they could outlive you.
Frogs: It’s difficult to answer this as tracking the lifespan of a single frog is next to impossible unless it’s raised in captivity. Depending on the species, frogs can live anywhere between 2 to 40 years, but the average age to expect a frog or toad to live is about 4 to 15 years.
Setting Up a Healthy Habitat
Aquariums, terrariums, tanks, and other habitats will need some specialized equipment, regular cleaning, and care. Reptiles cannot regulate their own body heat, so you will need to have temperature and brightness-regulating devices like:
● A humidifier to help keep the air warm and moist.
● Daytime lights and heat sources. Reptile tanks need a “hot side” and a “cool side” to regulate body temperature.
● Nighttime lights and heat sources. The cool side of the tank needs infrared heat lamps for nighttime use. Most reptiles – like iguanas – also require ultraviolet light.
● Thermometers. Get two thermometers: one for the hot side and one for the cooler side.
Required Accessories For Reptiles and Amphibians
● Hides where they can retreat from the heat and rest.
● Food and water bowls, some will need deeper water for swimming.
● Tile, newspaper, or reptile carpet bedding.
● Rocks, logs, plants, and other accessories.
Health considerations with reptiles and amphibians
With owning a reptile or amphibian comes some health considerations for both the animal and humans. Regular cleaning of the pet’s habitats, as well as lots of handwashing, is a must to help keep your family safe. All children should be closely supervised when caring for reptiles and amphibians because they can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria.
Each year, around 70,000 people in the U.S. contract salmonellosis from direct or indirect contact with reptiles and amphibians. Children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illness or death. If you or anyone in your household have health conditions that could put you at risk, it may not be the best fit.please consider another type of pet.
While many people would not consider owning these types of pets, some reptiles are prohibited by the Arizona Department of Wildlife. Illegal reptiles (without proper permits/licenses) include exotic venomous reptiles, such as cobras, cottonmouths, copperheads, mambas, etc., and any endangered or protected species. Crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials) are also illegal to own without proper permits.
Finally, remember that reptiles and amphibians need veterinary care, too. Regular wellness exams can help keep them happy and healthy for years to come.
Click here for a list of AZPetVet hospitals that treat exotics and reptiles.
Quick pet poison control tips for any pet owner and what to avoid
Pet poisoning is far more common than you think. The 2018 statistics show that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 213,773 cases concerning potential poisonings. Knowledge and prevention is the first step in keeping everyone in your family safe.
Signs of Poisoning
Many symptoms of poisoning look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:
● Black/bloody stools
While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on.
Most households have prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxicants. In 2018, drugs accounted for just over 37 percent of all calls to the APCC. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications.
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. Even just a single ibuprofen pill can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, kidney failure, liver failure, and
seizures. If you think your pet has consumed a pill (even an accidental drop of a pill on the kitchen floor), contact your veterinarian right away.
Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Make sure you keep these away from your four-legged friends:
● Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two harmful ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.
● Grapes and Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.
● Xylitol (sweeteners) – This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.
● Raw meat
Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet approved foods only. When in doubt – remember no human foods for pets!
3. Household Cleaners/Items
Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around. Items like oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these products, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately and share the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with. Provide as MUCH information as you possibly can.
Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek veterinary treatment IMMEDIATELY as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.
5. Rodenticide Exposure
Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether if at all possible in order to reduce the risk to your pet.
6. Insecticide Exposure
Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (OP). Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures, and even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.
7. Flea and Tick Products
Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various generic flea and tick products. Be sure to put your pet on a flea and tick preventative that meets the safety standards recommended by your veterinarian.
Although houseplants have many benefits (and for some of us, are used as home décor), you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home. A good alternative could be artificial houseplants; they still look nice, but are much safer for your pet!
In Case of an Emergency…
· Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference.
· Keeping materials like activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide around the house in the case of an emergency is also a great way to be prepared. Activated charcoal (NOT the kind you grill with!) can help absorb and remove toxicants, and can be administered orally to pets via syringe. Diluted hydrogen peroxide in some cases can be used to induce vomiting in pets to purge toxins. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately. NEVER try to try to administer any of these treatments or induce vomiting in your pet without consulting an emergency veterinarian and/or the poison control center FIRST. The safety of your pet is the #1 priority. · Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
Although this list of poisonous items to your pet seems a bit daunting, we share this information in an effort to keep your furry family member(s) healthy – and most importantly, safe – for years to come!
Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
Some of the most well-known amphibians are frogs. Evidence suggests that frogs have been around for over 200 million years. With the abundance of different species, it’s amazing how little many people know about these four-legged hoppers. Here are a few interesting facts that might just surprise you!
Five fun facts about frogs you might not know:
1. A group of frogs is called an army
Mimicking an army, large groups of frogs come together during the breeding season to search for food. Moving in a large group provides frogs who would otherwise be vulnerable traveling alone with an increased chance of survival.
2. Frogs drink water through their skin
Frogs drink water through what’s known as a ‘drinking patch’, which is located on the underside of a frog’s belly and thighs that allows them to absorb water through their skin.
3. Frogs are found all over the world
Except for Antarctica. Far too cold! While frogs live both on land and in water, they move more efficiently on the ground by jumping and climbing. Using their long legs, many frogs can leap 20 times their body height!
4. The world’s largest frog species is known as the ‘Goliath Frog’
The ‘Goliath Frog’ lives in Western Africa and can grow to be around a foot long and weigh up to 7 pounds! In contrast, the world’s smallest frogs are less than 1/2 inch long.
5. A frog’s eyes and nose are on the very top of their heads
This allows them to see and breathe while most of their body is underwater. The protruding eyes on the frog able them to see in front, to the sides, and slightly behind them. Their eyes also allow them to swallow their food. Each time the frog blinks, they are pulling their eyes down to the roof of their mouth to push the food down their throat. Some of the most common foods that frogs eat are bugs, spiders, worms, slugs, larvae, and sometimes small fish.
Now that your knowledge of frogs has expanded beyond Kermit, you can share these facts with your friends. Have a favorite frog fact that we missed? Tell us in the comments below.
As dogs, barking is undoubtedly part of the job description. However, some breeds of
dogs just can’t help but bark more than others. From a bloodhound bark to a
chihuahua bark, no matter the size, every dog barks. It’s always a good idea to know
in advance whether your eardrums are compatible with your four-legged friend. If
you’ve found this out too late, you could always buy earplugs in bulk packets to hand
out liberally to family, friends, and neighbors. Better yet, the best bet is to nip this
habit in the bud. Take the time to work with your dog to teach them to control this undesirable behavior. Here are some of the barkiest breeds and insights into why
they bark as much as they do.
Chihuahuas – One of the barkiest breeds out there, chihuahuas are most definitely known for their shrill yip. This behavior is more common than you’d think, however.
Because of their size, chihuahuas are often mistaken as not needing much exercise.
Instead, the breed’s highly enthusiastic demeanor warrants loud barks to release this
A result of their territorial nature, chihuahuas also bark to warn others of their presence. So, while these cute and tiny little terrors may let loose with a string of
brain-shattering barks that could raise the dead, the bark often has the most sincere
intentions to protect.
Terriers (except for bull terriers, who are quiet in comparison) – Terrier breeds are dogdom’s kings and queens of barking, with honorable mentions going to Schnauzers and beagles, who, during the contest, were clearly barking up the wrong tree.
Although they might not look the part, terriers were bred to hunt, which is why their barking habits can be attributed to their acute animal instincts. When they’re not
out in the woods sniffing for small game, these pooches are guarding the home.
Even a little noise might trigger these terriers into a barking frenzy. Next time your
terrier barks, try making a distracting noise of your own to get your dog to stop
barking. Reward the silence and repeat.
German Shepherds – The handsome and intelligent policeman of the dog world has
a deep, throaty howl that could scare even the spookiest of monsters. Loyal and
affectionate in nature, German shepherds use this low bark to draw human
attention or to express their anxiety and yearning for their owner to return home.
Bred to herd (and to be heard), German shepherds fulfill their duties by barking
orders at those being herded. Proud of their success, a German shepherd bark also
indicates pride and confidence.
Regular exercise and training can help them learn to control their instinct to bark.
Miniature Schnauzers – Like many of their larger dog-relatives, a miniature
schnauzer is bred as a guard dog. Their bark can be triggered by sounds coming
closer to the home.
One way to get your miniature schnauzer to stop barking is to reduce your
dog’s view of the outside world. This way, they won’t feel so intimidated.
Bloodhounds – A bloodhound’s bark is instantly recognizable. Distinctive and deep,
it’s no wonder why this dog was bred for hunting and search-and-rescue. Not only
do bloodhounds use their bay to sound the alarm, but they also bark when they feel
lonely or anxious. Giving your dog plenty of exercise can help curve this loud habit.
Huskies – While huskies rarely bark, these dogs are quite vocal and will provide
endless rambling commentary about their day. Because huskies were bred as wild
dogs, they are often non-territorial, leaving them feeling like they don’t need to
protect much. Instead, they are passionate about sharing their opinions using
alternative howls and grunts.
Alaskan Malamutes – Similar to their close cousin the husky, the malamute name is
a lie. There is no “mute” in the Alaskan Malamute. They’ll hold entire conversations
with anyone who will listen. Often, their vocalizations are playful and asking for
attention. When an Alaskan Malamute barks, you can be sure there’s something
Miniature Pinschers – “Min Pins”, as they are affectionately known, are actually
willful little dictators that are determined to bend you to their wishes. A big dog in a
small body, miniature pinschers bark to assert their power…even if they are only 11
If pinschers are not active enough, they will bark just to hear themselves bark. It’s
essential to train these dogs early on so that their nuisance barking doesn’t become
Great Pyrenees – Bred to guard flocks of sheep and cattle, Pyrenees use their bark
language to express alarm at everything from a light breeze blowing to actual
predators afoot! Unfortunately, it’s all the points in between alerts that will really test
While we’ve poked fun at the topic, no matter what the breed, excessive barking can
be a severe problem, for you and for your neighbors. With a little bit of training and
lots of rigorous exercise, your dog is sure to wag more and bark less.
Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know
There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!
Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs
Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!
Benefits of Purebred Dogs
One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.
Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.
Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences
When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.
So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).
What does this mean?
In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.
Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.
Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy
Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.
Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!
Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!