This excellent list was sent to me via email - unfortunately I do not know the author to express proper credit or to ask permission for this posting. If anyone reading this knows of the author I would appreciate contact information.
1. Don't buy impulsively.
Reptiles are not merchandise on a shelf --they are living creatures that need to live a normal life, even in captivity. Learn about the requirements of the species you may be considering so you can care for them properly.
2. Don't buy "the poor little sick one."
It is probably too far gone to save, even with the expense of professional veterinary care. Take advantage of the retail system and select an active, healthy reptile.
3. Don't buy from a store with overcrowded and filthy tanks.
You are probably buying problems along with the reptile. Proper care does not start after you buy it... it starts long before (or, at least it should.)
4. Don't buy from a store that keeps or cares for their stock improperly.
If you are considering an iguana (a vegetarian lizard) and they tell you to feed it crickets, *STOP* ...as in #3 above, don't buy a problem waiting to happen.
5. Don't buy solely because of that super low price.
There are many considerations to be taken into account, one of which is the price. But a super price on a sick reptile won't be "super" very long.
6. Do attempt to purchase captive bred reptiles.
If the store has its own breeding program, all the better... Many of the reptiles available today are captive bred although wild caught are still available. In purchasing captive bred stock, you will get a healthier, better adapted animal (without parasites) and you will not contribute to the over collection of wild reptiles that can lead to endangered species or non sustainable populations.
7. Do have the enclosure prepared before you bring home the reptile.
Stress causes many problems. Eliminate the stress and you eliminate problems. You can freely redesign the enclosure and check the heating, lighting, shelters, etc. before the reptile is ever introduced.
8. Do make sure you have supplied all the necessary accessories.
For example: snakes normally prefer a hide box (to get away from it all) and a water bowl that can't easily be tipped over. The water bowl should be large enough to accommodate the snake if it wants to have a soak. Each reptile has specific needs --supply them and you will have a healthy and happy reptile.
9. Do locate a reputable (exotic) veterinarian and have your reptile checked periodically.
In performing the examination and learning how you keep the reptile, your vet can often detect problems before they get serious. We take our dogs, cats, and birds to the vet (and ourselves to the doctor) and reptiles deserve the same consideration.
10. Do learn as much about your reptile as possible.
Read, ask questions, and use the Internet to locate information.
Join your local herp society. You will never learn everything there is
to know, but book knowledge in conjunction with practical experience will
give your reptile the best chance for a long healthy life.