Honey, I Shrunk The House!

In this post, Honey I Shrunk the House, I am going to talk about apartment living and reptiles. In today’s economy, it is readily apparent that people are opting to live in smaller environments by simply looking at the number of homes for sale and of apartment buildings with no vacancies. A lot of these people, myself included, have pets like dogs, cats, etc., and in order to ease the living expense, are choosing to relinquish ownership of their beloved pet. The sad fact is that many apartments require a “pet deposit” for our mammalian friends, and may even require a higher deposit for “water filled furniture” such as an aquarium.

Reptiles and Apartments

Whether you’re moving into or are already living in an apartment and have decided to acquire a new pet, this is an undertaking that can be somewhat overwhelming. There is such a large selection of pets, both in pet stores and shelters, that it can be difficult to decide which pet to choose. Obviously, I am going to encourage you to purchase a reptile pet. This is not to say that I dislike mammalian pets in any way. I own, or rather I’m allowed to share a residence that I pay the rent on, with my two cats. Come to think of it, I paid a hefty pet deposit on the cats; however, for ten reptile pets, I didn’t pay any sort of deposit.

I have always examined the pet policy of any place where I am interested in renting very closely. There are places; typically rare in my personal experience, that have very strict policies of owning any type of pet at all. For the most part though, apartments have a statement which states “pets” are restricted to certain weights and or breeds. I have as yet to find any apartment anywhere where it is stated outright that they would not allow “reptiles”. To the best of my knowledge, this is due to the general presumption that most, if not all persons are responsible enough to not allow their pet reptile to roam free throughout the apartment. For more on the general rules of apartment living and reptiles see my post.

I am presuming you went to the other page and read up on the general rules. If not, I really encourage you to do so. I will wait. (tick, tock, tick, tock,) OK, so now that you have read the general rules, we can move on.

Why are the general rules so important? Basically they give you an overall insight into what is required by most reptiles in captivity. Now we must also consider the “human” requirements.  There are several aspects of owning a reptile that people seem to forget, especially when at the pet shop looking at the cute little reptile or insect or reading about it in the magazines. Here are a few of the most common questions that should be answered.

Reptile and Apartment Q&A or FAQ’s

1) How much space will my reptile need and how much does that leave me?

When moving from a house to an apartment, there is typically a significant reduction in living space that is now available and with them come certain standards.  Most people are not interested in living in an 1,800 sq. foot space and giving up half of that to their pets.  Therefore, none of the reptiles outlined in this site will ever have an enclosure that exceeds 24 sq feet. This means a length of 6’ (1.8 meters) and a width of 4’ (1.2 meters). The tallest an enclosure will be is 6’.

2) Where should I keep my new pet reptile?  (Are reptiles affected by sound, high traffic, etc?)

There are many reptiles to choose from when selecting a new pet and some, like the Chameleouns Chameleonidae sp. could be stressed by being placed in a high-traffic area. The more “hands-off” pets such as this should be placed in lower-traffic areas of the home, to reduce stress that could lead to overall health implications.

3) Where should I store cleaning supplies, etc.?

Any cleaning supplies, or anything for that matter, used in or around your reptile should be kept away from places where contact with human food is possible. Also, if you clean your enclosures in the bathtub, like many who live in an apartment, make sure to use bleach to clean the tub or shower area when finished.

4) What if I like my apartment cooler?

If you keep your home below an average temperature of 76˚ F you will be required to purchase larger heating elements during the winter months in order to facilitate proper temperatures for your new pet reptile. There are some reptiles that can tolerate lower temperatures, and those that require higher, so make sure and do all the research you possibly about your pet prior to purchase.

Most of the reptiles that are purchased today come from either typically tropical environments or desert-like conditions. Keeping reptiles below their prescribed temperatures for any length of time will eventually cause stress and sickness, leading to serious health issues.

The above are all good questions that I have heard over the years I’ve worked in the industry. Well, here are some generalized answers, but for more in-depth information I would look into the overviews and the other posts within the blog to get specific information on the species you’re interested in.

I’m ready for My New Pet!

Given that you have asked yourself and the family about owning a reptile, I presume they have all agreed that this would be an adventure worth taking, and so we’re off to the local pet shop to buy our first reptile right?


Let me give some insights that you won’t get anywhere but right here. You see, I am not out to sell you a new pet, so I am going to be completely and brutally honest with you, because honestly, I don’t want you killing a reptile due to missing or inaccurate information.

They both like the birds!

See, I told you I was going to be brutal. I have worked in the Pet Superstores and the local independent shops as well. In my experience they both make an effort to train their employees in the proper care of the animals they sell; however, it is true that most employees are there to make the sale. That’s the bottom line. They have little to no actual knowledge of the animal they are selling and will give generalized information based on care sheets written by someone who has also never kept the species they are selling.

I would recommend you examine all the options and availability of the reptile pet you choose, which means not select a reptile or amphibian based solely on the fact that it “looks cool.” This is one of the biggest mistakes commonly made in the reptile industry when acquiring a reptile, amphibian, or insect as a pet. There are literally hundreds of reptile, amphibian, and insect species that can be kept as pets within an apartment setting. This site is the only one dedicated to helping you select, care for and enjoy those species you choose to keep. From our clutchmates to yours, thank you for taking the time to learn before leaping.

Your best bet is to do your own research, which you’ve already started by reading this site. Do more internet research on the species you want to keep, but also purchase a book or two on the species you like. This can only give you more information than you need, and that’s never a bad thing. To help you further, I have a pet selection page over at I Want A New Pet.  By answering 10 questions you can quickly discover what type of reptile, amphibian, or insect pet you may be interested in.

For more in-depth information on a specific species, I again encourage you to look under the feature articles listed elsewhere in the site. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, let us know via the Contact Us page and we’ll pick our brains  to come up with the same quality information on captive reptile care that you have come to expect from us. Chances are if it’s bred in captivity, we’ve cared for it somewhere along the way.