Reptile insurance

Veterinary treatment for reptiles can be specialist and costly, but you can look after the lizard in your life with an exotic pet insurance policy.

Key points

  • Reptile pet insurance safeguards against accidental injury and mortality
  • The policies can cover your vet’s fees for the length of your policy period
  • You can also claim in the event of damaging weather, theft or fire

Man’s best friend has whiskers, paws and wagging tails. What a crock!

Brightly-coloured scales and independently swivelling eyes aren't out of place next to a three-piece suite, and yet it’s still simpler to buy
pet insurance for a Devon rex cat, than your miniature T-rex!

There are more than 3,000 species of reptile raised for captivity, according to the Federation of British Herpetologists, and British homes are snapping them up in their hundreds of thousands.

In fact, a study by the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association showed that approximately 300,000 lizards, 300,000 snakes and 200,000 tortoises or turtles were part of the furniture in 2015.

What reptile insurance should I buy?

You can protect John Cleese (the python) faster than he can blink his third eyelid if you know where to look.

Gocompare.com's partner ExoticDirect offers reptile insurance for bearded dragons, leopard geckos, chameleons, corn snakes, pythons and many other cold-blooded companions.

TortoiseIts policies cover vet fees, mortality and theft, and there’s a simple ‘vet fee only’ policy option, too.

Click on the 'Get Quotes' button to enter Gocompare.com's pet insurance comparison service and follow the ExoticDirect link.

After you’ve answered a few questions about your pet and given your basic personal details, you'll be presented with your quote.

Which insurance policy is the right one for me?

ExoticDirect has three policies for your web-toed wild thing.

The first covers death caused by an accident, illness or injury, plus theft, fire and weather perils cover.

The second policy covers the vet’s fees for accidental injury.

The third protects your pet in case they’re injured in an accident, or contract an illness.

The policy also helps owners safeguard against theft, fire or weather perils.

Pet insurance explainedVet fee cover applies per policy rather than per pet, which means that the additional cost of adding extra animals to the policy is kept to a minimum.

How to shop for a pet reptile

Reptiles have roamed the earth for 320 million years, relishing extreme weather and harsh environments, even inspiring dragon tales in British legend.

It’s little wonder they’ve piqued humanity’s interest.

You’ll find the usual suspects selling or rehoming reptiles: pet shops, breeders and shelters. But before you starting shopping, check the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and ensure your desired pet isn’t on the protected list.

Reptiles for sale in pet shops are usually bred from other captive reptiles.

You’ll have assurances about your pet’s ancestry, particularly if you can see the parents and it’s a one-stop outlet for all the supplies required, such as food and enclosure equipment.

A reputable breeder producing pedigree animals will be able to evidence the reptile’s pedigree and family tree.

They’ll need a licence to sell as some breeds, such as adders, grass snakes, common lizards and slow worms, are European protected species.

Make sure your reptile’s healthy

Quiz the vendor and consult a vet if you have any concerns about the wellbeing of your new pet.

Here’s a five-step health check, just for starters:

  • Eyes should be bright and clear, with no sleepy crust, bleariness or weeping. Bulging eyes may be normal, though, depending on the species
  • Skin should be scratch and bite free, with a firm and clear complexion
  • Check for bumps or lumps in the tail, as these could be cysts or abscesses
  • Its nose should be dry, but salty residue is usually nothing to worry about
  • Reptiles may carry salmonella, so always thoroughly wash your hands after handling

Make a perfect reptile habitat

Reptiles are most comfortable in terrarium or vivarium habitats.

The combi-habitat of dreams, both tanks can support water and land features.

Your crocodilian compadre could a posture on the beach, explore a living jungle, and even take a shower under a waterfall.

Reptiles are exothermic, controlling their body temperature using the environment around them.

Overhanging rocks, a thick sprouting of live plants and well-positioned ornaments give reptiles the element of surprise

The enclosure, whether it’s a terrarium or vivarium, should be large enough to allow for fluctuating temperatures, so they can warm up or cool down with a quick change of scene.

A thermostat will help you regulate the climate (and save you from knitting tiny woolly jumpers).

Desert descended reptiles like nothing more than basking in the hot sun because it helps them produce essential vitamin D3 and absorb calcium.

They probably won’t notice you’ve switched it for a 2-12% UV lightbulb in your terrarium.

The UVB producing light won’t last as long as a regular bulb so regularly test it and keep a spare handy, just in case it blows at an inopportune moment.

Finally, reptiles have a penchant for landscaping.

Observing you from the shadows, under cover or from inside hiding holes makes them feel safe and secure. 

Five reasons why reptiles make better pets than cats or dogs

1. Reptiles are independent creatures and don’t need much fuss, space or exercise to maintain their wellbeing.

They’re happy to be left alone during the day - a big tick for busy workers.

2. Good news, allergy suffers; reptiles are home birds. They’d much rather unwind on their custom-made beach than wander around your home spreading allergens.

In rare cases, iguanas have been known to cause a runny nose, sneezing red eyes and asthma, so keep their environment clean and wash your hands after handling.

3. Reptiles can live much longer than a dog or a cat if they’re well cared for.

The oldest bearded dragon lived for almost 15 years, and a rival iguana doddered on to a staggering 29 years of age.

4. Pungent pongs, be gone.

Providing a reptile’s enclosure is kept clean, fresh, and there’s a regular air flow, undesirable odours will be at a minimum.

5. The A-listers are also shedding fur babies in favour of scaled bellies.

Leonardo DiCaprio was the proud owner of Blizzard, the bearded dragon lizard, and Guns N’ Roses guitarist, Slash, is a snake charmer, adopting many boa constrictors and pythons.

Forget Karl Lagerfeld and his glamour puss, Choupette. Reptiles are en vogue. 

By Amanda Bathory