What to Look for When Purchasing a New Animal
When getting a new pet whether it's a reptile or a mammal, there are some basic things you want to look for to make sure the animal is healthy. These principles apply to most animals especially reptiles however there are exceptions, so you want to do your research on whatever animal you are planing to get. But typically there are a few key things to look at. The animals eyes, nose, mouth, ears, weight, alertness, activity, skin, feet, age, and the seller. This may seem like a lot to check but it doesn't take very long and can be a good indicator to see if the animal is healthy or not. Here's a quick overview of what to look for.
Eyes- Make sure the animals eyes are clear. They should not have any discharge or mucus around them.
Nose- Make sure they are breathing through their nose and don't have a runny nose. They should be breathing normally and have a clear airway. Discharge from the nose could be signs of respiratory infections.
Mouth- Similarly to the nose make sure there is nothing abnormal around or in the animals mouth. Also check to see that the jaw of the animal is strong and not sagging or if the animal is not able to close its mouth properly. If you can look inside the animals mouth make sure it is of a normal color and nothing is swollen or really red or black. Depending on the species, what you are looking for in their mouth can be very different so this should be done only if you know what your looking for.
Ears- Obviously this can vary between species but again make sure there is no visible discharge or redness in or around the ear.
Weight- This can be one of the most important factors to indicate good heath. Again depending on the species weights will differ but in most cases you can look at the animal and see if it has any noticeably skinny parts like the tail in the case of leopard geckos and other lizards. Look at the spine of the animal it shouldn't be noticeably pronounced(which in snakes is a good way to see if it's underweight.) Look at the head of the animal, if it looks sucked in or extremely skinny this could be a cause for concern. Proper weight is one of the things that you want to know about before you buy an animal that way you can know what the proper weights are for specific species.
Alertness/activity- If you can hold the animal(which most sellers should allow you to do) see how it moves. It shouldn't be lethargic(in some cases with reptiles if it's really cold then this could be an exception.) It should move around normally and walk correctly. Look at its eyes it should be alert and react to things like touching it or a finger moving by its face.
Skin- This can obviously vary vastly between species but I would suggest you know about the species you are looking for and do research on any skin conditions and what to look for. But in general with reptiles there shouldn't be heavily stuck shed, or legions on the skin. In fur covered animals you want to look for any balding or redness in the skin as a sign for concern.
Feet- Check to make sure the animal isn't missing any toes or claws(if they have them in the first place) Also make sure they are not cut or have any noticeable redness on them. Again do research on the specific species.
Age- Ask how old the animal is. Depending on the species this can give you valuable information on how well it's growing, and if it's growing fast or slow. This can tell you if the animal might have been underfed or overfed or if it is a slow grower or a fast grower.
Seller- Lastly you should ask questions from the person you are buying the animal from and make sure they know what they are doing and that they have taken proper care of the animal. The best way to know right away is to buy from a reputable seller, whether it's a pet shop that's reliable or a breeder. Asking people who have bought from them can be a good way as well.
These are the basic things that I look for when buying new animals, however like I said early it's very important that you do research on the animal you are purchasing and know what to look for specifically as all species vary.
- Rohman Taylor