Reptile Care

In Australia, all native animals are protected by law. Permits are therefore required for keeping native reptiles as pets. Non-native reptiles (exotics) are illegal as household pets, as they pose significant risks to Australian ecosystems.

If you’ve found or rescued a reptile or amphibian, such as a turtle, lizard, crocodile, snake or frog, it’s best to immediately arrange with your local wildlife care organisation for the animal to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Keeping reptiles and frogs

Keeping reptiles and frogs as pets requires special care and handling. Turtles, lizards, snakes and frogs require special living environments and healthcare routines.


Domesticated snakes are usually accustomed to eating fresh dead mice, rats and chickens. Lizards may require a more complex omnivorous diet with special supplements mixed in. Turtles (water-based) are usually fed a meat-based diet, but calcium must be added to prevent shell deformities from developing. For all reptiles, it is essential to get specific dietary advice from your vet to meet the needs of the particular species.


The correct housing is essential for reptiles, otherwise health problems will occur. Reptiles should not be kept in wire cages as injuries can result. The correct type of wood, glass or plastic enclosures must be used. Correct temperatures are very important and some reptiles need to bask under a carefully regulated heat lamp. The heat lamp must out of the animal's reach to prevent burns. Reptiles require exposure to unfiltered (not through plastic or glass) natural sunlight every day, as they need UV light to produce vitamin D3 for calcium metabolism. UV lamps may be used as an alternative, but these need to replaced regularly as the UV emissions decrease after 3-6 months.

Humidity, ventilation and lighting need to be carefully proportioned and monitored.

Space should be adequate to allow the animal to move about, explore and get some exercise. The floor of the enclosure may need to be a combination of sand, smooth gravel, leaf litter or absorbent paper. Introducing larger rocks and some coarse gravel may be necessary to help with shedding old skin. Special allocations may be required to enable the animal to find a suitable area for brumation or rest.

Clean water must be constantly available for drinking and also for swimming or immersing to help regulate temperature and skin moisture.