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Solitude or Society: The Case for Keeping Reptile Pets Separately



Reptiles make fascinating and unique pets, captivating enthusiasts with their diverse species and behaviours. One of the key decisions reptile keepers face is whether to house their scaly companions individually or in communal habitats. While the idea of a communal setup may seem appealing, it's essential to consider the potential challenges that arise when reptiles share their living space. Obviously reptiles that are to be bred will need to co-habitat, but this is for a limited time frame and only at specific times in the year. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of keeping reptile pets separately, focusing on aspects such as competing for food, heat, hides, and water.


Competing for Food:


One of the primary concerns in communal reptile habitats is the competition for food. In a shared space, dominant individuals may monopolise resources, leaving subordinate reptiles malnourished. This can lead to stress, aggression, and overall poor health. Keeping reptiles separately allows for precise feeding and monitoring, ensuring each pet receives the nutrition it needs without the risk of food-related conflicts.


Heat Requirements:


Reptiles are ectothermic, relying on external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature. In communal setups, achieving the ideal temperature gradient for each species can be challenging. Dominant individuals may monopolise heat sources, leaving others struggling to maintain their optimal temperature. By providing individual enclosures, keepers can tailor heating elements to each reptile's specific needs, promoting overall well-being and preventing thermal stress.


Hiding Places:


Hides are crucial for reptiles, serving as safe retreats where they can feel secure and reduce stress. In communal habitats, dominant individuals might secure the available hiding spots, leaving others vulnerable and stressed. Separate enclosures enable each reptile to have its own designated hiding places, ensuring a stress-free environment where they can retreat when needed.


Water Access:


Just like with food and heat, communal habitats can present challenges regarding access to water. Dominant reptiles may control water sources, leaving others dehydrated. Individual enclosures allow for precise control over water availability, ensuring that each pet has unrestricted access to this essential resource. Proper hydration is vital for digestion, shedding, and overall health.


Disease Prevention:


Communal living increases the risk of spreading diseases among reptiles. In close quarters, pathogens can easily transfer from one individual to another, leading to widespread health issues. By keeping reptiles separately, the risk of disease transmission is significantly reduced, allowing for better control and prevention measures.




While the idea of communal reptile habitats may seem appealing, it's essential to prioritise the individual needs of each pet. Providing separate enclosures for reptile pets addresses concerns related to food competition, heat regulation, hiding places, water access, and disease prevention. This approach allows keepers to create a customised environment for each reptile, promoting optimal health, well-being, and a thriving reptile community within the safety of individual habitats.

JP Wittstock

21 December 2023

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