There are many reasons to get a reptile as a pet. You may be allergic to furry, cuddly pets or you may not have enough room to give them the space they require. Or maybe you just love these unique, magical creatures that hearken back to the age of the dinosaurs. No matter your reasonings, bringing a reptile into your home can be a fun addition to any home. But before you bring your new pet home, there are a few things you should know.

From a gargoyle gecko and bearded dragon to a corn snake and a python, here are some tips for caring for your new scaly friend.

Invest in pet insurance.


No matter what kind of pet you have, one thing is for certain – pets are extremely expensive! Unfortunately, you never know what can go wrong or how much a veterinarian bill will be, so it is always a good idea to invest in pet insurance so you are covered. Pet insurance works very similarly to human health insurance. You pay a premium every month and then the insurance company will cover the vet visit or procedure either in full or a partial amount. This option comes in handy as you will only be paying a small amount every month, but it can save you hundreds, if not thousands, down the line. Of course, you hope that no ill will befall your gargoyle, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be a good pet parent, and keep your gargoyle gecko healthy.

Be confident.


Animals can pick up on our state of mind — they know when we’re feeling nervous or apprehensive and can react accordingly. To bypass this, you’ll want to always handle your gargoyle gecko, snake, or turtle with confidence from the get-go. Remember, you are the handler, and when you handle the reptile with confidence, they will become comfortable and will trust you. Go slowly and start handling them for only a few minutes at a time every few hours or so. After many times of doing this, your reptile will slowly start to understand what is going on and will ease into your touch. Your gecko will be able to handle being held for longer in no time.

Train your reptile to understand that not all handling involves food.


Most reptiles will strike and bite you because they have two defensive mechanisms: one to capture food and the other to defend themselves against something unwanted. If you want to get in the habit of handling your gecko or snake frequently, you’ll need to teach them that not every interaction you have will involve food. You can easily accomplish this by poking their nose with a stick or removing them from their cage with a hook. Do this interminably between feeding times so your reptile — whether chameleon, gargoyle gecko, or turtle — comes to understand your physical cues and won’t always be on the defensive.

That being said, reptiles have specific feeding needs so you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of food lined up for them ahead of time. For example, a gecko diet includes live insects (Dubai roaches, waxworms, or crickets to name a few) so be sure that you’re fine with have insects around before you become a pet parent to a gecko. Your gecko family members will love their crickets for lunch, and the live insects are available from vendors who will be able to provide you with all the vitamins your gargoyle gecko needs.

Know that one enclosure won’t be enough.


Reptiles grow extremely fast, especially if you buy a gecko that has recently hatched. To ensure that it has the proper space to grow, buy an enclosure with enough space for the next six months of growth. Reptile enclosures can be quite pricy, as they require specific heating elements and escape-proof features, so make sure that purchasing a new enclosure after about six to eight months of ownership is well within your budget.

Always wash your hands first.


Reptiles have incredibly strong sensory organs, making them extremely sensitive to any residual smell that can linger on your hands, including that of any previous pray that you may have already fed them. To prevent them from thinking you are giving them more food, such as crickets or waxworms, always wash your hands after feeding before you handle them. Additionally, you’ll want to wash your hands before you even interact with them as they can negatively react with any scented perfumes or chemicals on your hands.

Owning a reptile-like a snake or a gargoyle gecko can be quite rewarding, as long as you follow these basic ownership care tips and tricks. Remember to be gentle with your new buddy, and you’ll soon develop a partnership for many years to come.