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Keeping Chinchillas as Pets

Chinchillas are a rather unusual pet for most people, but they can be wonderful little companions if you’re not bothered by having a relatively high-strung creature as a pet. They’re a bit like squirrels in their quirky, active natures, but they don’t emit any loud or obnoxious noises, they don’t develop any unpleasant odors, and they have relatively long lifespans, so they’ll be with you a while. You will also love picking them up and holding their luxuriously soft fur. Here are some of the things you need to consider if you’re going to make a chinchilla your next pet at home.

Getting the Right Cage

You could make your own cage if you have those kinds of skills, but most likely you’ll want to buy one online, or simply go to the local pet shop and pick one up. The only real characteristics you need to allow for are making sure that it’s roomy enough to accommodate your new pet, and that it can be comfortable when it’s looking to relax.

As a general rule, it would be better to get a bigger cage than you think you need because they’re very active little creatures that do a lot of climbing, jumping, and running around. It’s a good idea to purchase a cage that has several levels to it and is taller than it is wide.

Air Temperature

Once you’ve got your cage picked out, you should figure out where in the home you’re going to position the cage, so that the temperature is right for your new pet. Obviously, you should not place it next to a door or a window, because temperatures have a tendency to fluctuate in those situations.

If you can situate your cage in a spot that has a steady temperature between 60 and 75°, that will be just fine. Don’t allow the temperature around the cage to exceed 80 degrees, or it will be subject to heatstroke, and humidity should be kept below 60%. If you see your chinchilla’s ears starting to turn red, that’s a telltale sign that overheating is in progress.

Installing Cage Bedding

Some woodchips are harmful to chinchillas, so it’s very important that you get the right kind of bedding to put at the bottom of your chinchilla cage. Avoid any kind of bedding that includes cedar or conifer chips. The ideal chips to use for your chinchilla cage are those which are non-treated, preferably of a type like Appletree, Willow, Birch, or Aspen. At least once a week you should clean out your chinchilla’s bedding, and replace it with some fresh material.

Accessories for the Cage

One of the first things you should buy as a cage accessory is a large wheel because exercise is very important to the chinchilla’s health. Most of the time, it will be sleeping through the day and will be more active at night, so it will be best if you have some kind of appropriately sized den for them to sleep in throughout the day.

Little plastic dens are perfectly all right, and you can even make your own by just poking a hole in the side of a container that’s large enough for them to pass through. Make sure to include a few chew toys and a few sticks for your chinchilla to chew on, because their teeth require constant gnawing in order to keep them correctly sized.

A chinchilla is feds a delicious snack that chinchillas enjoy that keep it healthy and happy.

It’s important to make sure you get the proper food for your chinchilla so they remain healthy.

Food for your Pet

Chinchillas are unable to digest most kinds of green plants, and they don’t do well with protein or fatty foods either. In fact, the only kind of food that a chinchilla really does care for is hay, so if you can supply them with some fresh timothy each day, that will be all they really need.

If fresh timothy is not readily available all the time, you can also supply your chinchilla with hay pellets in a bowl, and they’ll be munching on these contentedly throughout the day or night. If you want to mix things up briefly sometime, you can give them a treat consisting of lettuce leaves and nothing else.

It’s better that you don’t mix up their diet much at all, because even small variations tend to give them digestive problems. In short, feeding your chinchilla is going to be one of the easiest aspects of its care, because there isn’t really anything that they like to eat other than hay.

Chinchillas Baths

The first thing you need to know about chinchilla baths is that you should never get your chinchilla wet because their fur is so thick, it’s literally impossible to ever get it dry again. Since this is the case, fungi can start growing in their fur, or it can begin to rot away.

If you happen to accidentally get your chinchilla wet, you should dry it off immediately to the best of your ability, making sure that you use both towels and a hairdryer which blows no heat.

The chinchilla baths that you purchase in a pet shop actually hold dust, which is necessary to soak up the oils and dirt which are on their skin and on their fur. Most chinchillas will do this at least a few times a week on their own if you leave the chinchilla bath in place in their cage, but some enjoy it so much, that they’ll do it several times daily without being prompted.

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How Can Therapy Dogs Change People’s Lives?

Pet therapy centers are springing up all over the country these days, as more and more people are beginning to realize the highly therapeutic effect that pets can have on humans. Building on knowledge learned about how dogs can help humans recover from feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem, these centers are being established for the purpose of providing that kind of assistance to humans who have been diagnosed with those particular issues. Often working with medical specialists, these therapy dogs are matched with human counterparts in need of companionship, to help them cope with their particular mental or emotional issues.

The Physical Aspect of Therapy Dogs

The benefits received by the human partner don’t end with mere companionship, however. In addition to the emotional and mental support provided by therapy dogs, there can be a physical component which is just as important to the relationship.

In the same way that studies have borne out the emotional benefits of pet companionship, similar studies have demonstrated that having a regular pet companion can contribute a great deal to the physical aspect of a person’s life. Numerous studies have shown that the majority of people who have pet companions are more active, because they take them for walks at least once a day and usually more, and they engage in other activities like play time with them.

The increased activity, in turn, is a great exercise that triggers the release of endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones in the body, responsible for improving mood and making people feel better. In the same way, petting and stroking a dog’ fur is also therapeutic, in that it soothes and relaxes, and at the same time tends to shift a person’s focus away from themselves onto their pet companion. This is ideal for patients with mental issues because at least temporarily, it allows them to forget about their own problems, and project outwardly with another creature.

Therapy dogs are being pet by hospital patients which helps relieve their stress and anxiety from their treatment.

Therapy dogs can have a positive, calming effect by simply being physically present in patients lives.

Dog Therapy Certification

Of course, all these benefits provided by therapy dogs are not quite left to chance, in the hope that any given dog will prove to be a suitable companion for a person troubled by mental issues. There are centers around the country which have been implemented for the purpose of selecting dogs with the right characteristics to become therapy dogs, and these dogs are then put through a program to learn skills which will enhance their already suitable nature for this kind of work.

Many dogs which have been rescued from less than ideal home situations, or which have been abandoned, are considered for inclusion in the program, provided they demonstrate the qualities deemed desirable as therapy dogs. The organizations which seek out these candidates, look for qualities in a dog such as being fun-loving, devoted to a master, active and playful, and with no trace of meanness or aggression.

Once a dog has been identified as being suitable for the program, they are put through a series of courses designed to improve on these qualities and to help them respond better to human instruction and commands. Dogs which successfully complete the course are then certified as therapy dogs and are made available to medical professionals who are aware of the program, and understand what can be accomplished with human patients in need of this kind of companionship.

Other Uses for Therapy Dogs

The scenario described above is not the only way that therapy dogs can provide tremendous value to persons in need of their friendship. Some owners of therapy dogs contribute their time and their pet’s time in situations where they can provide benefits over a short period of time, in settings like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.

This, of course, is not usually an ongoing benefit to the people in those institutions, but even a relatively brief exposure to therapy dogs can literally light up a person’s day and improve their attitude noticeably.

It should be noted that therapy dogs are not the same thing as service dogs, because service dogs actually are given special training that helps them perform pre-defined tasks for persons who are in some way disabled. A good example of a service dog is one who has been trained to lead a blind person safely through social situations without harm.

This type of dog would be one which stays indefinitely with its master so as to provide ongoing service in that same specialty. While therapy dogs do undergo training, it is not specialized training to benefit someone who is disabled, but the training is instead more focused on providing companionship and affection on a more limited basis.

Those dogs which been certified for this kind of service receive a title of AKC Therapy Dog, but they do not have the same status as service dogs, which are allowed on planes, in grocery stores, and other settings where ordinary pets would not be allowed. This is because service dogs are necessary at all times for a disabled person, regardless of wherever they happen to be. The same cannot be said of therapy dogs, even though their companionship is very often considered essential by a partner.

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5 Tips on Caring for Your Pet Salamander

Salamanders can be a wonderful source of joy for owners, so it’s important to know how to care for them properly. Since keeping a salamander in your home is far from its natural environment, it stands to reason that the best way to make any pet salamander comfortable in its new surroundings is to provide as many natural features possible.

If you don’t know anyone who has a pet salamander, and you haven’t encountered them in the wild, they are charming little amphibians with slender bodies and long tails. They have no claws, which adds to their appeal as pets, and they generally have five toes behind, with four toes in front. Most salamanders fall within the range of 4 to 8 inches long, and must be provided with a water source, so they can keep their skin moist.

Although as a pet owner you might never see this in action, the salamander has the very useful ability to regenerate limbs and other body parts which have been somehow lost or removed. In order to get the most enjoyment out of your pet salamander, and to keep it healthy, make sure to take note of these five tips.

A Natural Diet

Salamanders don’t usually eat the grain meal and packaged foods you find in pet stores because that’s not what they eat in their natural habitat. They love to chomp on earthworms, woodlice, and slugs – you might be surprised to find that you can purchase these creepy crawlies at your local pet supply store. It’s best to feed your pet salamander at night since they are nocturnal creatures who become active in the twilight hours.

A pet salamander in a moist leafy habitat.

A pet salamander likes moist leafy habitats because they mimic the features of their natural habitat.

Housing Arrangements

As mentioned above, the very best housing arrangement you can establish for your pet salamander is to approximate conditions it would encounter in its natural environment. Salamanders enjoy moist habitats with many nooks and crannies where they can nestle and hide.

You don’t have to buy an elaborate setup that costs a fortune. You can make your own salamander habitat starting with a clear, easy to clean container that comes with a secure lid. The container will have to have holes which are smaller than the salamander’s body size, for ventilation and air flow.

Then you can place wood chips, potting compost, and other absorptive material on the flooring. Next, you should include a few objects like rocks or pieces of wood, which the salamander can hide behind when it wants to. When you’re selecting a place in the home to situate your salamander box, make sure that it never receives direct sunlight, because that would create uncomfortable temperature conditions for your pet. Don’t forget to include a water dish, so your pet salamander can stay well-hydrated.

Environment Control

As we mentioned before, salamanders do not like warm temperatures, and that’s why direct sunlight is such a bother to them. They prefer temperatures between 55 and 65°F, which means that your salamander housing should be stored in a cool place that doesn’t get day-long heat. This is especially important during the summertime when temperatures can soar. A salamander left at home with no air-conditioning will be in serious jeopardy. Place a small thermometer inside its container for convenient temperature monitoring. Since your pet salamander will always need to maintain skin moisture, it must be provided with standard dampness as part of its environment. If nothing else, a dish full of water should be kept in its environment at all times, and this water should be changed daily, so it’s always fresh.

Handling of Your Salamander

Many pet owners enjoy cuddling with their pets as one of the primary perks of ownership, but this is a temptation you’ll have to overcome with your pet salamander. Keep in mind that salamanders have very delicate, moist skin which will not tolerate handling to any degree. It’s best to have the understanding at the outset that you will handle your salamander as little as possible, and just enjoy observing it.

Making Sure Your Pet Salamander Stays Healthy

Whatever kind of housing you’ve set up for your pet salamander must be cleaned approximately every two months. When you do this, make sure to use nothing more than warm water and a very mild cleaning agent, such as dishwashing detergent. There are many kinds of cleaning agents and disinfectants which can be very harmful to your pet salamander (chlorine, for instance), and these must be avoided at all costs. It’s best to not get too adventurous with cleaning solutions and just stick to mild soap and water. Your pet salamander will appreciate the clean environment, especially if their home is free of harsh cleaning agents.

 

Owning a Healthy Pet for an Everlasting Friendship

A healthy pet dog is being examined by a veterinarian.

There’s nothing better than a healthy pet!

The friendship between you and your pet is a special bond. As an owner, you have the responsibility of taking care of your pet and making sure that friendship lasts a long time. The best kind of pet is a healthy pet and that depends on you. How you manage their well-being can make a difference in their quality of life. Need help figuring out what you should be doing? Well, if you focus on any of the following then you’ll be on the right track.

Find the Right Food

If there is one thing that we as humans are constantly careful about, it’s what we eat. We agonize over every piece of food and how it effects our body. That’s because we don’t want to do more harm than good. The same should go for your pet. You should be carefully curating the type of food you are feeding them. Do some research, find out the best diets for dogs, cats, bird, lizards, etc. It all depends on the type of pet you have. You should also focus on key health points like:

  • Building the immune system
  • Maintaining proper digestion
  • Keeping bones and joints healthy and strong
  • Avoiding unhealthy foods

Don’t Overfeed Your Pets

One mistake that a lot of new pet owners make is overfeeding their pets. As eager as we are to make sure that they are eating enough, we tend to overdo it. Pets can suffer from obesity. In fact, it’s a common problem amongst pets that decreases their life expectancy. Moderate how much they eat by checking serving sizes. This will prevent conditions like heart disease and diabetes from cropping up.

Keep Their Mouth Clean

Oral health is important for anyone – pets and owners alike. A healthy pet has healthy teeth, otherwise, they will end up suffering from dental diseases that cause all sorts of problems. No one should have to see their pet struggle to eat because their teeth hurt. Also, the longer you leave the issue untreated, the worse it will become. We suggest finding inventive ways to clean your pet’s teeth like treats and toys.

Don’t Skip the Vet

While you can do everything to clean, feed, and groom your pet, you have to prepare for the unexpected. That means taking your pet to the veterinarian regularly. A professional veterinarian will be able to look for and find signs of trouble that you are certain to miss. Even more, they’ll pass on knowledge and advice to help you keep your pet in great shape. It’s important to find issue early before they become a problem you cannot handle.

Choose Healthy Pet Food and Accessories at the Pet Shop

If you need the right food or toys to help your pet stay healthy, visit us at the Pet Shop. We have plenty of food, toys, and accessories to choose from. We offer the best brands available and cater to a wide variety of pets, so we’re sure you’ll find just what you need. Don’t let your pet’s health slip by, keep them with you for a long time.

Making Water Fresh: Cleaning Your Fish Aquarium

Fish aquarium with colorful tropical fish and corals.

Keep your fish aquarium nice and tidy.

Freshwater fish are magnificent creatures. Just watching them swim or admiring their beautiful scales is a treat. We love these pets because they echo our own need for calm and tranquility. They are also quiet pets who like to interact often. As a pet owner, you have to do everything to please your pet fish. It’s only right, seeing as they add so much to your life. We’ve talked before about sprucing up your fish’s aquarium to make them happy. Now, let’s go through how to clean their fish aquarium to keep them healthy.

Leave Your Fish Aquarium Spotless

Fish are some of the cleanest animals on the planet. Unfortunately, they do leave waste and their living environment tends to grow an overabundance of algae. Without maintenance, your fish can grow sick from naturally occurring chemicals like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. They will eventually eat less, have less energy, and if worse comes to worse, die. It is recommended that you clean your fish aquarium at least once a month. If you have multiple fish, clean it out twice a month as more fish produces more waste.

Getting the Right Supplies

For this task, you’ll need the right tools, including the following:

  • Algae pad or scraper
  • Razor blade
  • Towels
  • Paper Towels
  • Aquarium-specific glass cleaner
  • Filter brush
  • Filter media
  • Water siphon
  • Bleach
  • Large Bucket (five-gallon)

Also, remember to place your fish in a temporary bowl of fresh water until you are finished cleaning.

Working the Glass

The glass walls of your aquarium are easily the most visible section. To keep yourself clean, use rubber gloves. It is also important to use an algae pad and not any old sponge. A used sponge will introduce detergent and chemicals to the environment.

Here’s what to do. Take the algae pad and lightly scrub the affected areas, removing algae that are stuck to the walls. The tougher area with hard residue will require the razor blade. This tool will scrape off any residue that is hard and stuck to the walls.

Use the Siphon Tool and Replace Water

The siphon tool cleans gravel and unwanted debris. It also helps clean the water of fish waste, excess food, and other waste. As it does its job, have your bucket ready. Make sure that the bucket is only used for your fish aquarium to avoid unwanted chemicals.

After you have taken care to the dirty water, add new fresh water to the aquarium. Remember, the water should be the same temperature that your fish is used to. Also, have water prepared. If you use tap water, it needs to sit in a bucket or container to purge on harmful metals.

Cleaning Decorations and Finishing Up

The decorations are pretty easy to clean. They too can be cleaned with an algae pad. You can also soak them in bleach for 15 minutes, and wash them off with previously used tank water. Wash it carefully though. If any bleach remains on the decorations, it could be harmful to your fish.

The last thing you need to do is change the filter. It needs to be switched with a new one every month. If you need any of these supplies, visit the Pet Shop. We have everything your fish needs.

Why You’ll Love Hedgehogs as Pets

The woman one of the African hedgehogs in hand.

Fall in love hedgehogs and bring one home today.

Hedgehogs are the best. It’s amazing how delightful these spiky little companions are. However, we know how hard it can be to introduce a new pet into your life. That’s why we came up with this handy guide for you. Find out why bringing a hedgehog home will be the best decision you will ever make.

Wonderful Personalities

Hedgehogs are similar to hamsters when it comes to how they act. At first, they will be hesitant to do anything because they are adjusting to a new environment. If you learn to be patient and give them positive attention, the both of you will grow to have a positive relationship. You’ll find them to be shy at times but willing to interact with you if you are kind.

Hedgehogs Are Unique Creatures

There are plenty of reasons to love hedgehogs. They are cute, adorable, and their mousy little faces will melt your heart. They are also the perfect pet to show off to friends and family. People love to pet and look at their unique spines. The spines are what protrude out of their back, giving them their distinctive look.

Easy to Manage

Usually, most pets are troublesome to manage. However, you will find that hedgehogs are quite easy to maintain. For instance, they make very little noises and are less likely to cause mischief. Other small pets like rodents or hamsters love to chew on any and everything. You won’t find the same problem with a hedgehog.

Allergy-Friendly Pets

Another great aspect of hedgehogs is that they are allergy friendly. They don’t leave any pet dander around to trigger allergy symptoms. You’ll be able to hold them, play with them, and clean their cage with no issues.

We hope this convinces you to come down to the Pet Shop and bring home your very own spiky little friend. In fact, we are offering $100 off of all hedgehogs this month! Just mention our online pricing offer when you visit.

Keeping Mischievous Pets From Hurting Themselves

A cat, one of many mischievous pets, peeking curiously out of a cylinder.

Are your mischievous pets causing trouble at home?

We all love our pets. They’re our babies, our precious little friends, and our confidants. However, they have a tendency to misbehave. It’s not their fault, pets are naturally curious beings. As a responsible pet owner, you have to protect your home and make sure these mischievous pets don’t get into too much trouble.

Protecting Your Home From Mischievous Pets

The biggest reason to proof your home and protect it is to keep your pet out of harm’s way. Your lovable companion’s pension for messing with your stuff can end in disastrous consequences. And that is the last thing you are going to want to happen.

Here are the things you are going to want to pet-proof:

  • Kitchen/Bathroom – The kitchen and bathroom are no place for pets, especially bigger ones. They tend to get messy and you don’t want fur or dirt roaming around in those areas. Also, the garbage and toilet paper rolls tend to be their number one target. Childproof bottom cabinets, cover trash cans, and always remember to close the bathroom door.
  • Electronics – Wires from electronic devices just end up looking like another toy to your mischievous pets. They will go out of their way to chew or pull on them. You need to either keep low hanging wires out of reach or cover them with cord covers.
  • Bedrooms – You have to regulate your pet to certain areas of the house, otherwise they will see everything as their plaything. In the bedroom, you will often find perfumes, medications, and (in kids’ rooms) toys. Invest in a baby gate if you want to completely keep them out of an area and make sure you put everything away, in an area, they can’t reach.
  • House Plants – Many people keep plants in their home. They make a great decoration. However, they are dangerous. If your pet eats or ingests certain plants, it could potentially harm them. Once again, keep things like this high and unreachable or out of the home.

Once you start pet-proofing your home, you rest easy knowing that your home and your pet are safe.

Keeping Your Freshwater Fish Happy

A green, beautiful, and planted tropical freshwater aquarium with several freshwater fish.

Treat your freshwater fish with care and keep them happy. 

Fish lovers are often misunderstood as shy introverts. However, they are also the funniest and most engaging of pet owners. If you are a freshwater fish owner, then you know that your wonderful personality is due in part to your aquatic friends. Here are some tips to keep your pet just as happy as you are.

Freshwater Fish Tips

Freshwater fish are at their happiest when they have a clean environment to swim in. So, in order to keep them happy and healthy, you need to properly maintain their aquarium. Here are a few things you should remember to do:

Keep Your Fish Safe – Before you can start cleaning your fish’s aquarium, you are going to have to find somewhere safe to put them. Place your fish in a large glass with water from its tank. Using the same water for the tank keeps them comfortable.

Keep the Aquarium Warm – Freshwater fish love to swim in waters that are 72-78 degrees. Buy a heater to keep their aquarium warm and use a thermometer to monitor its temperature.

Keep the Water Clean –  An important part of maintain your fish’s aquarium is to replace at least 25% of its water with tap water every two weeks. Turn off all heaters, pumps, and filters before you change the water, and remove any decorations and pants from the tank. Also, change your tanks filter every two weeks as well, so it is operating at peak performance.

Keep Gunk and Algae OutAlgae can build up quite often in your fish’s tank. This happens when there is too much fish waste dissolved in the water. Changing the water can help prevent this, but we recommend buying an algae scrubber to scrub away any algae and gunk.

In short, a clean tank makes a happy fish. Take good care of them and they will stay with you for a good long time.

Caring for and Feeding Your Pygmy Hedgehog

A pygmy hedgehog sitting and staring into the distance.

Here is how to do everything you can to care for your pygmy hedgehog.

The pygmy hedgehog is an uncommon miniature species of hedgehog that can be very endearing. There’s always something cute about a miniature animal, and hedgehogs are no different. You will have a tough time finding a cuter pet to have as a companion.

But you may wonder if the pygmy hedgehog require special care. What does it eat? Here are a few things to help you get started.

Caring for Your Pygmy Hedgehog

First of all, it is important to know that this is a tiny and fragile animal. It is, therefore, not the greatest pet for kids, who at times can be fairly rough. The hedgehog also take a little bit of time to tame, and you don’t want a child being bitten if the animal gets hurt.

This is a pretty solitary animal, so unlike many other animals, you don’t need to get a few so they can keep each other occupied. Even if you decide to get more, you want only one per 3 x 1.5-foot cage, at a minimum. Make sure it doesn’t have a wire floor for the hedgehog to get hurt on. If the cage does have a wire floor, cover it with a flat walking surface. Make sure the wires are close enough together so this tiny guy won’t get his head stuck or even be able to sneak out. Also, make sure the bars are vertical, not horizontal. The hedgehog might try to climb horizontal bars and get hurt. An exercise wheel is a great toy. Just make sure the running surface is flat and not just horizontal bars.

Feeding Time

Hedgehogs need a well-balanced diet. Fortunately, a high-end dry cat food with plenty of protein may do the trick. Make sure the food is meat and not fish-based. In the wild, this little guy usually eats insects, so if you want it to feel like home, you should include mealworms, silk worms, wax worms, or other insects from a hedgehog’s natural diet.

Pygmy hedgehogs take a little TLC, and you may have to search to find a vet with experience, but they are an adorable and enjoyable little pet.

 

Don’t Let Summer Get Your Reptiles or Amphibians Down

A chameleon on a branch. Reptiles and amphibians like this need to stay cool.

Reptiles and amphibians need to stay cool during the hot summer days

If you have an amphibian as a pet, you may already know that hot temperatures can be dangerous. Even though most reptiles like the heat, it can actually be dangerous for them. Here are a few things to watch out for during hot weather if you have any reptiles or amphibians around.

Keep Amphibians Cool and Moist

Very few amphibians will survive hot, dry conditions for long. In fact, your amphibian may not even love your normal room temperature. Be sure they can stay moist in the terrarium, and don’t be afraid to keep them in a cooler part of the house. Remember too that cool water holds more oxygen, so if you have a pet with gills (certain salamanders, for example), be sure to keep the water cool, too.

Turtles Need Cooler Temps than Tortoises

Turtles seem to do better in cooler weather so you may need to chill the environment for your pet during the hot summer months. Some species of tortoise, on the other hand, can survive in the desert. That doesn’t mean you should let the terrarium become one. Keep the water dish full and provide a warm basking spot rather than letting the temp get above 75. And, if your house is warmer than usual, the terrarium may also be warmer than usual, and you may need a different bulb that gives off less heat.

Snakes and Lizards Can Beat the Heat

While you may need a basking spot for some of your reptiles, they also need a place to cool off in the shade and dip in the water. Don’t automatically assume your reptile or snake prefers the summer just because they are coldblooded. You may need to check on the optimal temp range for your particular pet, and then change the heating bulbs accordingly during the warmer months as you would with a tortoise.

The specific species you are maintaining will have its own needs. These were just some general guidelines to remind you to consider the conditions your pet is in as the seasons change.