HappyDragons is committed to upholding the breeding standards we have created in collaboration with breeder advisors, zookeepers, and husbandry researchers.
Our standards are founded in evidence-based science and we are constantly in pursuit of insights into how we can improve reptile care and reptile breeding. As new findings emerge and change our understanding of reptiles, our breeding standards will change too.
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We acknowledge that there is no ‘best way’ to breed and raise reptiles and that there are many ways to be a responsible breeder. The space, time, and expenses associated with breeding require a different standard of care than that of pet-owners.
Still, we believe that breeders should always be focused on providing the best care possible. Our breeding standards take a holistic view of reptile health and focus on prioritizing animal welfare over rating specific practices. We hope to build open communication with breeders and create a system where breeders feel encouraged to improve.
Animals thrive when they are given nutritional variety and breeders should be open to offering more than one food type when appropriate. For insectivores, the most important way to provide nutritional variety is by live, gutloaded feeder insects with a very nutritious and diverse diet. Fresh diets with proper supplementation should be emphasized.
Reptiles should also have easy access to fresh water at all times, provided in a manner that best suits the species’ needs.
Bare enclosures with no decor are not mentally stimulating to the reptile, can cause stress, and fail to create the local temperature gradients reptiles need to properly thermoregulate their body temperature. Items such as hides, sticks, rocks, and live or artificial plants create opportunities for reptiles to properly regulate their heat and light exposure and provide forms of environmental enrichment.
Reptiles should be housed in enclosures that can provide species appropriate temperatures, lighting, and humidity. UV is a requirement for diurnal reptiles and strongly encouraged for crepuscular, cathemeral, and even nocturnal species. In addition to having their basic environmental requirements met, reptiles require heat and humidity gradients so they can properly thermoregulate their body and shed easily. These gradients are most easily created with adequately sized enclosures and decor such as hides or shaded areas.
Enclosures should be large enough to accommodate the breeding standards outlined on this page. While meeting the most basic size requirement may be all that can be provided under certain circumstances, bigger is always better for adult reptiles, and breeders are encouraged to house their animals in the largest enclosures they are able to provide.
The best breeding enclosures can be defined by one word: choice. By adding hides, humidity boxes, substrate, and other such items, reptiles have a choice of where they are and what they are doing. Choice is crucial both to mental stimulation, proper temperature regulation, and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.