How to Choose a Healthy Reptilian Pet

Reptiles can make wonderful pets for the right family, but you’ll want to pick a healthy one when choosing what pet to bring home. Here, an Oakville veterinarian tells you what to look for.


Examine the overall condition of the reptile’s body. If it looks too skinny or bony, or overly plump, you should ask if the reptile is healthy. Skin that appears dull or wrinkled may be a sign of dehydration. Before going to the adoption agency or pet store, research what a normal, healthy version of the particular pet looks like. This way, you’ll have something to compare the real thing with.

Eyes and Nose

Reptilian eyes should be clean and clear, and the nose should be clean without any visible mucus or discharge. Crusty, dried material or fresh mucus could indicate a disease or infection.


If you have a chance, try to look inside the reptile’s mouth. Most reptilian mouths should be a healthy pink hue—a whiter shade or grey color could indicate health problems, and small white, yellow, or green spots is most likely a sign of mouth rot. Again, research what your potential pet’s body should look like so you know the warning signs of disease.


Take note of how the reptile seems to behave. A healthy reptile pet should look alert and responsive—one that seems weak or indifferent to your presence could have a health problem. Of course, already-tamed reptiles might be comfortable enough with human presence, so make sure you’re aware of this ahead of time.


Look at the reptile’s behind and belly area. Dried or fresh fecal matter in these locations could indicate unsanitary living conditions, overcrowding, or even in-fighting with other cage dwellers. Note the condition of the cage itself, too—if there’s a lot of soiled, crusty material on the walls and floor, your reptile may come home with health problems that you’ll have to take care of on your own.

Call your Oakville veterinarian for further advice, and remember to take your time picking out your reptilian pet!