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When Your Animal Arrives

Inspect The Animal

The first thing you will want to do when your new reptile arrives is to give it a thorough inspection. This way, if there are any problems you can inform the seller immediately. While inspecting the animal you want to be looking for things like:

  • Alertness – Is the tongue flicking, or for animals without a Jacobson’s organ, are the eyes moving and focusing quickly? Both of these are signs that your animal is acutely aware of its surroundings, as they should be after the ordeal of shipping.
  • Body Compsition – Is the animal in good general health? Look for scars, build-up around the eyes, nostrils and ventral scales, viscous or bubbly saliva around the mouth and open mouth breathing. Feel for broken bones (especially ribs), spinal kinks that may not be visible, herniated areas or internal lumps of any kind. If the reptile you have received is a lizard, gecko, skink or tortoise make sure you feel all four feet and make sure they have good movement and dexterity. Listen for crackling, wheezing or labored breathing.

Soak The Animal

The shipping process can really dehydrate the animal being shipped so soaking the animal will give it a chance to re-hydrate and to clean it off should it have passed any urinates or fecal matter while in the shipping container. Make sure the water is around room temperature, not too hot and not too cold.


It can be very exciting getting a new animal but try to resist the urge to show it off, photograph it, or open its enclosure to look at it every 10 minutes. The animal needs times to de-stress and to become familiar with and secure in its surroundings. I usually leave new additions alone for a few days and then attempt feeding. Unless we are talking about a turtle or tortoise then I will offer food that night or the next morning. Once the animal is secure and feeding well you’ll know you’re good to go with a happy healthy animal!


Once your animal has had time to settle in and become comfortable with its surroundings, offer him or her a small meal. I usually offer meals in the evening or just after dark if they are a nocturnal species or a few hours after sun up if they are a diurnal species.