About ReptiFiles

Welcome to ReptiFiles, where better reptile care begins!

I understand if you’re a bit skeptical. After all, a lot of people will tell you not to get your reptile care information from the Internet, and readily write off any information that comes from “Google.”

That’s why I started ReptiFiles, actually — so people would be able to find reliable, high-quality reptile care information from the convenience from their computer or smartphone. 

You might notice that some of the care advice and articles provided on ReptiFiles are a bit different from other sources that you’ve read and advice you’ve received.

That’s because a lot of the advice out there is outdated, minimalistic, or based on a misunderstanding of how reptiles work.

We don’t do that here.

As a reptile husbandry specialist, I work every day to determine the most up-to-date, factual, and science-based methods of reptile care. As a consultant, I help individuals and businesses across the reptile industry raise the standard of modern reptile husbandry.

Some say that ReptiFiles is a biased source of information. If you consider promoting optimal reptile welfare a bias, then yes, I am biased! Because that’s what our reptiles deserve, right?

As part of our effort to promote a higher standard of reptile care (especially in the U.S.), ReptiFiles’ core mission is to replicate the conditions of each reptile’s natural habitat in captivity. This is because reptiles are not domesticated animals like cats, dogs, horses, etc. — they are still very much wild animals at heart, and have the same needs in captivity as in the wild. 

What do wild reptiles need, then? They need the elements of their natural habitat. Each species of reptile evolved slowly over the course of literally millions of years to thrive within a very specific habitat, utilizing everything that habitat had to offer in order to maximize their chances of survival. My research has led me to believe that re-creating the conditions of each reptile’s natural habitat (light, temperatures, humidity, shelters, plants, etc.) and supplementing that with enrichment is the key to promoting optimal physical and mental welfare for reptiles in captivity. 

(For more info about how I create ReptiFiles care guides, go here.)

Join me on this journey — there is so much yet to do, and the end is nowhere in sight! Together we will raise the standard of reptile care and pave the way to a world where reptiles are no longer just throwaways or hidden in the basements of weirdos, but embraced as the beautiful, incredible, unique creatures that they are.

Yours,

Mariah Healey

Reptile Husbandry Specialist and Consultant

Owner/Author of ReptiFiles.com

Meet the Collection!

 


Do you have a question?

And if you have any questions, please email me at reptifiles@gmail.com. I’m always happy to help!

37 Comments

  1. Yes, the same applies to blue tongue skinks. Many lizards will close at least one eye when you’re bothering them and they want you to leave them alone.

  2. Hello Mariah thanks for all the great information! I see varied opinions on lizards with parietal eyes, I understand beardy’s have the closed eye stress response but is it the same for blue tongues do you know? Thank you!

  3. For a bearded dragon with gout, you’ll want to provide insect prey only 1x/week, avoid fruit, and prioritize hydration by making sure that both greens and feeders are well-hydrated. Misting your dragon’s salads with a bit of water isn’t a bad idea. Be sparing with bee pollen supplementation, and in terms of greens, it’s best to provide high-fiber, low-protein “weeds” often used for feeding tortoises (believe it or not, most salad greens from the grocery store are surprisingly high in protein from a leafy greens perspective). You will most likely have to grow these yourself, but it’s worth the effort! Arizona Tortoise Compound’s Edible Weed Mix and Tortoise Supply’s Broadleaf Testudo Mix are a good place to start.

  4. Hello. What is considered a low protein diet for a bearded dragon with gou?

  5. Thanks for the suggestion! That would definitely be a good topic to address. As for your question on vacation care, the nice thing about reptiles and particularly snakes is that they don’t necessarily need a petsitter to come by daily, and boarding is usually unnecessary unless in the case of very long trips. For a 2 week vacation I would recommend installing a wifi camera aimed at the enclosure to keep an eye on things, and a surge protector to help protect against electrical fires if you don’t have one already. Have someone come by every few days to refresh the water and check on things, but otherwise daily interaction/feeding/etc. isn’t necessary. I like to just get a housesitter who’s comfortable with reptiles so they can check on my animals when they come by to collect my mail and packages.

  6. I appreciate all the work you’ve put into these guides, it’s been very helpful in preparing for a rescue boa I’m adopting. One thing I’d love hear your opinion on and even see a section added is about vacation care. Boarding care vs house sitter, duration of absence, etc. If I took a 3 day vacation and had a dog I know I’d need to probably board it, but if I had a cat I know I could probably just leave it food and water and a clean litter box and have a friend check on it. Take a 2 week vacation though and you’ll want to board the cat. Any insight would be appreciated!

  7. Congrats on your new pet! Lack of feces and trouble shedding could be a hydration problem. Thoroughly check the entire enclosure for poo, and make sure your humidity levels are staying between 40-60% during the day, with higher at night. Nightly mistings and pouring water into the substrate can help with this. Your snake should also have plenty of fresh water available for drinking – changing it out daily can encourage your snake to drink.

    As for cleaning, make sure to check for waste every day and replace any contaminated substrate, but the entire substrate itself should be replaced every 4-6 months, depending on how good you are about keeping it clean.

  8. Hi. I’m so happy I found your site… Thank you.
    I’m in Cape Town South Africa and purchased my first ever reptile 2 months ago today.
    She is a blue eyed Leucistic ball python aged about 15 months.
    She is super relaxed with I think a lovely nature.
    She us eating well
    Her first shed about 4 week’s ago was not in 1 piece and I was told it was an humidity problem which I think it’s how sorted… Hope so and hope she has a successful all in one shed this time around..
    I’m concerned because I don’t seem to find any poop in the tank….. Now for a while anyhow

    How often should I remove the full substrate of cocoa mulch and fibre and lay new batch?

  9. Thanks for catching that! I’ll fix it right away.

  10. Hi, I was reading through your boa guide for handling and noticed you accidentally referred to them as pythons a couple times. Here’s the link
    https://reptifiles.com/boa-constrictor-care/boa-constrictor-handling/
    Not trying to nitpick just noticed a minor simple mistake and thought I’d help in the process of perfecting the amazing info you’re sharing with everyone. Hope this finds you well. And enjoy your weekend

  11. I am glad to hear it! Feel free to send an email if you have questions.

  12. Hi Mariah. Thank you for writing everything on this site. I took home my first ball python yesterday and it has been very helpful.

  13. First, it’s important to consider that 14 years is a fraction of what boas are capable of living to. Since you have read the ReptiFiles Boa Constrictor Care Guide as well as this page about ReptiFiles’ mission and philosophy, what do you think my thoughts are on your statement?

  14. Hi, Mariah
    my name is Art and have a question , back in the day 40 years ago I did not have a heating pad or lights for my BOA and it did fine for 14 years. my question now is i have two BOA’s in a 4x2x2 enclosure with 2 vents 1 on each side two light vents on top for my lights and a hole for my humidifier, my temp does fluctuate between 72/79 daily and my humidity ranges 60/68 with being said would they be fine if i pull the lights and heating pad out and just leave the humidifier. According to the info i read on your blog they really don’t need the bulb or pad. Your thoughts.

    Thank you for all your experience and knowledge that you give us.

  15. Hi Thorton, I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but there is quite a bit of scientific research demonstrating the benefits of UVB exposure to reptiles, and that body of evidence is only growing. Here’s a short list to get you started:

  16. Acierno, M. J., Mitchell, M. A., Roundtree, M. K., & Zachariah, T. T. (2006). Effects of ultraviolet radiation on 25-hydroxyvitamin D3synthesis in red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans). American Journal of Veterinary Research, 12, 2046–2049. https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.67.12.2046
  17. Baines, F. M., Chattell, J., Dale, J., Garrick, D., Gill, I., Goetz, M., Skelton, T., & Swatman, M. (2016). How much UVB does my reptile need? The UV-Tool, a guide to the selection of UV lighting for reptiles and amphibians in captivity. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 1, 42–63. https://doi.org/10.19227/jzar.v4i1.150
  18. Carman, E. N., Ferguson, G. W., Gehrmann, W. H., Chen, T. C., & Holick, M. F. (2000). Photobiosynthetic Opportunity and Ability for UV-B Generated Vitamin D Synthesis in Free-Living House Geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus) and Texas Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus olivaceous). Copeia, 1, 245–250. https://doi.org/10.1643/0045-8511(2000)2000%5B0245:poaafu%5D2.0.co;2
  19. Diehl, J. J. E., Baines, F. M., Heijboer, A. C., van Leeuwen, J. P., Kik, M., Hendriks, W. H., & Oonincx, D. G. A. B. (2017). A comparison of UVb compact lamps in enabling cutaneous vitamin D synthesis in growing bearded dragons. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 1, 308–316. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpn.12728
  20. Ferguson, G. W., Brinker, A. M., Gehrmann, W. H., Bucklin, S. E., Baines, F. M., & Mackin, S. J. (2009). Voluntary exposure of some western-hemisphere snake and lizard species to ultraviolet-B radiation in the field: how much ultraviolet-B should a lizard or snake receive in captivity? Zoo Biology, 3, 317–334. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.20255
  21. Gould, A., Molitor, L., Rockwell, K., Watson, M., & Mitchell, M. A. (2018). Evaluating the Physiologic Effects of Short Duration Ultraviolet B Radiation Exposure in Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius). Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery, 1, 34. https://doi.org/10.5818/17-11-136.1
  22. Palmer, K. (2011). Does exposure to UVB light influence the growth rates and behaviour of hatchling Corn Snakes, Pantherophis guttatus?
  23. If you need help breaking them down, there’s lots of discussion on this topic on the Reptile Lighting group on Facebook, which is led by published reptile lighting expert Dr. Frances Baines.

    To address your other statement, in the wild, temperatures naturally decrease at night because sunlight (which is what provides heat in nature) is no longer present. Of course, there are other factors, and nighttime temperatures vary based on geographical locations. For example, nighttime temperatures tend to be warmer in the tropics than at high altitudes, in deserts, or at higher latitudes. This means that it’s important to research the average nighttime temperatures in a reptile’s natural habitat, account for the nighttime temperatures in your own home, and choose your heating equipment accordingly. For example, low nighttime temperatures as cool as 50°F/10°C are a necessity of keeping Jackson’s chameleons (Trioceros jacksonii) healthy, but Chinese water dragons (Physignathus cocincinus) need high nighttime temperatures of 75-77°F (24-25°C) to stay healthy. So a Jackson’s chameleon may need an evaporative cooler as part of its array of life support equipment, while a Chinese water dragon may need a lightless heat source such as a radiant heat panel.

  24. You do know that there is no scientific proof that isn’t based off a blog or article in the news a UV bulb gives any benefits to an animal besides a light tan, except for a chameleon. Also, when you turn off the lights at night any temperature gradient you did have when that light was on isn’t there any more, which isn’t exactly safe especially in winter, it’s the equivalent of sleeping without a blanket in the cold.

  25. I’m so glad to hear it! Congratulations on your new pet, and I wish you many happy years together.

  26. Thank you so much for your fabulous site! I’m a new ball python owner, and my head has been spinning a bit as I’ve researched temps, lights, mats and humidity–so many differing opinions, and many failing to take into account a home’s temp and humidity levels. I have found your care guides and articles to be extremely helpful, and within a few days have been able to get all of our temp/humidity levels on track, and we just got a nice clean shed! thanks again!!

  27. Hi Gabrielle, thank you for the tip, I will take it under consideration. Prolapse is generally a topic covered in the Health sections of newer care guides, but it’s not covered in the leopard gecko guide because it seems that hemipenal prolapse is not a particularly commmon issue with that species.

  28. Hi Mariah, I’ve had my leopard gecko for a little over 5 months now and I’ve noticed there is not a lot of information concerning seminal plugs, femoral pores/clogged femoral pores, and hemipene prolapses in male reptiles. I was only able to find one really well written article (http://www.anapsid.org/seminalplugs.html) and YouTube video (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2gD0WcXchg0) covering these topics. As a beginner owner myself I believe this information would be very helpful to include in the care guides.

  29. Great question! As far as I can tell, yes, ReptiFiles still gets a percentage of the purchase if you use Amazon Smile.

  30. If I use your affiliate link through Amazon then use Amazon Smile (charity donation) do you still get a percentage of the purchase?

  31. That’s very kind of you! I’m glad you’ve found it helpful.

  32. This website is an amazing resource. Thanks so much for making this available!

  33. Hello Kile, please see this article from the ReptiFiles blog: Does Loose Substrate Cause Impaction in Bearded Dragons and Other Reptiles? for the answer to your question. Pertaining to aquatic turtles, sand does not usually cause impaction – this problem is more often observed as a consequence of gravel ingestion. Stone ingestion does not seem to be a common occurrence in wild turtles and those kept in outdoor ponds, so I speculate the behavior may be a vice derived from lack of enrichment.

  34. Where is the proof that sand doesn’t cause impaction? This article is a fucking lie if aquatic turtles can get intestinal impaction from sand.

  35. So our male leopard gecko Dexter hasn’t pooped for a few days. After some research online I am almost positive he is impacted. However he isn’t like our female D’vorah where I can pick her right up no issues. He’s the complete opposite. He’s more difficult to handle. So my question is is it possible or a good idea to put a drop of the vegetable oil on a cricket and feed it to him? He eats just fine.

  36. Hi Garnet, Coleonyx variegatus is very similar to leopard geckos. Think of them as North American leopard geckos, essentially, so it should be safe to use the ReptiFiles Leopard Gecko Care Guide as your baseline. As with leopard geckos, make sure your western banded gecko always has access to a humid retreat, and that will help mitigate any potential shedding issues.

  37. Couldn’t find care info on Coleonyx variegatus. Could use advice, just adopted my first gecko, have cared for turtles and frogs before.

    Was wondering what the start of their shedding cycle looks like? After just picking him up, he looks like he has dry skin.

  38. Hi there, thank you for your concern. I will take another look at it.

  39. Hi, Love the mission but I couldn’t help but notice your brumation page for western hognose is a bit of an outlier from other sources, specifically multiple top breeders, and it looks very much like how I would brumate an unevaluated northern species rather than being dialed in to the needs of a specific species. If you have sources to cite for those conditions, I would love to see them, but that page may be due for an update since people have been experimenting with different brumation conditions and refining the care a lot the last decade or so. It may also be worth noting on it that brumation needs could vary depending on what population the animal is from. Most of the captive ones are southern, but i could see northern population animals needing a more intense brumation.

  40. Hi Brad. Most starter kits are inadequate for meeting reptiles’ needs, and often need to be partially or even wholly replaced to achieve good husbandry. For more information, I recommend reading ReptiFiles’ article, “Why Reptile Kits Are a Useless Waste of Money.” Meanwhile I recommend housing your anole in no smaller than a tall 18″x18″x24″ front-opening terrarium, as these are a fairly active, arboreal species.

  41. Hi Mariah, just curious if a Temperate Reptile 10 gallon Starter kit would be fine to use for 1-2 Female Green Anoles? I have no intention of putting a snake or a different species in this tank, only 1-2 Green Anoles

  42. My leopard gecko’s life was diagnosed with only 6 months to live with MBD that was almost 2 years ago. TODAY he’s Healthy an gained weight. However he decided about 2 weeks ago to stop eating I have given his Worms to him he’ll occasionally have 1-2 every few days. I’m not sure if it’s his way of saying that he only wants crickets (those are treats). What do you suggest before I begin force feeding him I’d rather not do that to Titan he has always been a good eater.

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