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A Bearded Dragon

Reptiles originate from hot, dry deserts or habitats with very specific requirements for their survival.


It is very important when considering whether to keep a reptile as a pet, that you understand what sort of controlled environment you will need to provide, and that you learn as much as you can about how to care for them beforehand. At PAWS we have the knowledge and expertise to guide you in caring for your reptile. On these pages we have provided some general information and guidelines about caring for the most popular reptiles, however, we advise that you come and visit us in the shop for a chat about your reptile's specific needs.

Bearded Dragon

A bearded dragonBearded Dragons are one of the easiest lizards to care for. They get their name from the pouch under their neck, which they inflate whenever they feel threatened. Bearded Dragons are docile, friendly and easy to handle making them great pets for older children and adults.



An adult bearded dragon will need a vivarium with a minimum length of 90cm. If you’re keeping a pair of dragons, the vivarium will need to measure at least 120cm in length. You will need to provide a hot/basking spot for them and arrange some hiding spaces. Male bearded dragons are territorial so are best housed singly.



The bottom of the vivarium should be covered in a substrate such as sand, coconut bark chips, aspen wood-shavings or artificial grass. Provide something for your dragon to climb on such as a branch or secure rockwork. Provide shelter such as a piece of cork bark and additional bark. Include a spotlight or UV lamp for basking.



One end of the vivarium should be heated. This creates a thermal gradient allowing lizards to choose its preferred temperature.

Thermal gradient: 26°C-28°C at the cool end, up to 40°C at the hot end.

Night Temperature: minimum 16°C-18°C for adults.



Bearded Dragons require high intensity UVB lighting in order to fully absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. Lighting should be left on for 12-14 hours per day.



Bearded dragons require low humidity and good ventilation.


Diet and Feeding

Bearded Dragons are omnivores so enjoy a varied diet of live insects, fruit and vegetables.

Their diet should include: crickets, locusts, giant mealworms, pinkie mice, kale, dandelion, watercress, carrots, courgettes, parsley, apples, pears and berries in limited quantities.

We can advise you about how much and how regularly to feed your dragon based on its age. Ask us in-store.


Bearded Dragons may not recognise still water as drinkable – shallow food and water bowls should be provided as they respond to reflection of light on moving water.



To pick up your dragon, place one hand above the shoulder and support the underside with your other hand.

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Leopard Gecko

a leopard geckoLeopard geckos are beautiful to look at, easy to keep, stay relatively small (about 25cm) and become very tame. They are mostly nocturnal reptiles and you should keep this in mind before buying one.



An escape proof, wooden, plastic or glass vivarium with fitted air vents, minimum size of 60x30cm, are suitable homes for your leopard gecko.

A larger vivarium will be needed if you are keeping a group, but you should only keep them as groups of one male with several females.



Desert sand or reptile carpet is a suitable substrate. We sell this in our shop. Do not be tempted to use any other type of non-specialist sand.

Smooth rocks and artificial cacti can be used as décor.

Your gecko will need a hideaway such as a small cave filled with moist moss.



You should have a cool end and a hot end of the vivarium monitored by thermometers and controlled with a thermostat. The hot end should be 30°C-32°C, while the cool end should be 22°C-24°C

Night temperature: 21°C-24°C

Heat should be provided using either underfloor heat mats or spotlights.




The Leopard Gecko is a nocturnal species, so UVB lighting is not needed. It can be a good idea to provide a weak source of UVB (around 2%) for 2-3 hours a day to re-create the basking conditions that the reptile would typically enjoy in the wild.



As leopard geckos come from desert areas, they require low level humidity and good ventilation.


Diet and feeding

Leopard geckos enjoy live insects such as crickets, locust hoppers and waxworms as a treat. Larger geckos feed on mealworms and adults will take pinky mice.

Feed youngsters daily and adults every other day.

Remove live food from the vivarium after feeding.

Provide a shallow water bowl.


IMPORTANT: Food should be dusted with a vitamin and calcium supplement on a regular basis – once or twice a week for non-breeding adults but 3-4 times a week for juveniles and egg-laying females. Failure to do this is highly likely to result in bone malformation and other health problems.



Leopard Geckos are very docile and rarely bite. Movements should be slow and gentle, but confident. Place one hand above the shoulders and support the underside with your other hand.

Never pick your gecko up by the tail, which the animal will drop at the slightest touch. Although it will re-grow, it will not look the same and there is a risk of infection if broken.

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Corn Snake

a corn snakeCorn snakes are even-tempered and have many different colour variations including blood red, striped and albino. They become tame with regular handling, do not grow very big compared to other species and make the ideal first snake.



A well ventilated, heated, escape-proof vivarium is the best housing for your corn snake.

The size of the vivarium you’ll need should be calculated as follows: diagonal of the cage floor = more than half of the snake’s length.



Bark or wood shavings are an ideal substrate material.

Avoid newspaper as this is too slippery and can damage the snake’s spine

Provide a hide for the snake at the cool end as well as the hotter end of the vivarium to give the snake a choice.

Provide a climbing branch and artificial plants


Ensure there are no sharp edges on any rocks that you place in the vivarium, and make sure they cannot fall and crush your snake



Corn snakes need a hot area of around 32°C, with a background daytime temperature of 27°C. At night the temperature should drop to around 22°C.

Gentle heat can be provided using heat mat or heat rocks which are an appropriate size for the vivarium.

More intense heat can be provided using spotlights or heat lamps.




Corn snakes do not need UVA or UVB lighting as they are mostly nocturnal.

Provide an incandescent daylight bulb or a Reptiglo 2.0 flourescent tube that can be set on a timer to give 10-12 hours of daylight.

A Night Glo bulb could help with nocturnal viewing if required


Diet & Feeding

Corn snakes are carnivores and feed on defrosted mice or rats of an appropriate size, as they consume their food whole.

Young snakes can be fed every 2-5 days and adults every 7-14 days.



Hold your snake loosely, supporting the middle and the rear of the body. Your movements should be slow and deliberate.

Always wash your hands after handling your snake as reptiles can carry a form salmonella, so good hygiene practice is important.

Never handle your snake just before, during or just after feeding as this is likely to result in a bite.

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a tortoiseThe most common species of tortoise available in the UK is the Horsefield tortoise, the Hermann’s tortoise or the Spur-thigh tortoise. They can reach a size of around 20cm and have specific requirements regarding their care. You should also carefully consider their lifespan. Tortoises can live between 50 to 80 years, which is a long time to be responsible for a pet. If you do decide to opt for a tortoise and can provide all their requirements, they are ideal for the first-time keeper as they are hardy and do well in our climate.



Do not keep your tortoise in an old fish tank or small wooden vivarium. They need an open-topped container with plenty of ventilation.

The guide for cage size for an adult tortoise should be 182x60x60cm, but the bigger and more varied the habitat provided, the better.

Adults can go outside on warm days, but should have a shady area where they can retreat. Outside accommodation should be escape and fox-proof, situated away from toxic vegetation and have a basking area and opportunities to climb. The enclosure should be fully covered to protect the tortoise from airborne predators.



Cover the floor of the cage with a suitable substrate such as aspen. Create an interesting environment with a mixture of substrates.

Provide shelter and an area for climbing.



Create a gradient by heating both ends of the cage to different temperatures so the tortoise can choose its preferred temperature.

Heat should be provided using spotlights and or UV lamps. Visit our shop for further advice on the heating products that are suitable for your tortoise.

The warm end of the cage should be heated to a daytime temp of 30°C-32°C and 18°C-20°C at the cool end. Night temps can be dropped to around 19°C.



Tortoises require UVB lighting to help them absorb and utilise the calcium in their diet. This light should be left on for 12-14 hours per day.



Maintain low levels of humidity. A damp habitat can increase the risk of breathing problems.


Diet & Feeding

Tortoises are herbivores so feed them a varied diet including dark greens, dandelions, weeds, kale, herbs and dried grass. Ensure that you wash all food before feeding it to your tortoise and remember not to pick plants from the roadside.

Tortoises also enjoy fruit including apples, berries, grapes, kiwi and pear. Fruit should be kept to a minimum, as high sugar content in the diet is dangerous.

We stock commercial pellets in our shop, which provide your tortoise with all the nutrients required for a healthy, balanced diet.


Do not feed your tortoise with spinach, cabbage, beans or peas. Spinach and cabbage will inhibit the uptake of calcium and beans and peas contain too much protein.



This is a complicated procedure and we advise you to come and speak to us for advice about how to prepare, and safely hibernate, your tortoise.


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Reptile Boarding

Did you know we board reptiles? All pets love Paws, so when you go on holiday, send your V.I.Pet to us and they will be cared for like our own pets


tortoiseAt Paws we offer reptile  boarding all year round. Even on days we are shut, someone is on-hand to cater for our animals and yours too.

We have a number of enclosures your pet can stay in, either on the shop floor or out the way of the “limelight” if you prefer. For any pets boarded on the shop floor, they will have an “I’m not for sale, i’m on holiday” sign put by them and our premises is constantly monitored by CCTV, so you can be sure they will be safe.


All pets are fed on their existing diet, so if it is something we do not regularly stock, please bring some with you.

We want your V.I.Pets to feel at home. All pets are handled, health-checked and given attention each day, by our dedicated staff members. If you have a bonded pair of the same animal, these will be housed together to ensure they feel safe and secure.

Tip: Depending on the reptile, we will need to set up your V.I.Pet’s vivarium up to a week before arrival, to ensure the temperature and humidity is correct. Please bear this is mind when booking.

Prices vary dependent on animal and is charged per night of your pet’s stay, with bonded animals receiving a discount.

Our main request is to board Bearded Dragons and our rates per night are as follows:

bearded dragon on log


Single Bearded Dragon – £4.50

Pair of bonded Bearded Dragons – £5.50





We have had requests to board other animals, such as invertebrates, including cockroaches, African Land Snails and Millipedes. This is possible, as long as we have the appropriate enclosure, or in the case of small animals, if they are brought into store in their enclosure.



Please call 01600 715367 to discuss your needs and the pricing of your pet’s boarding. A deposit is required at time of booking and you will be asked to fill in a form on arrival with your details and the needs of your pet.


Please note, we will always try and accommodate your pet, but at busy holiday times of the year we require plenty of notice.

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