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Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Penn Plax Turtle Pier – a Useful New Basking Site for Turtles and Amphibians

Late Stage TadpoleAfter decades of struggling to create makeshift land areas for semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians, I was very happy when pre-formed Turtle Docks, Turtle Logs  and Turtle Banks became available.  Today I’d like to review the recently-introduced Penn Plax Turtle Pier, which eliminates certain drawbacks associated with the previously mentioned products.

Drawbacks and Advantages of Various Platforms

Since their introduction, I’ve put the first line of basking docks and platforms to good use in my collection and in several of the aquarium and museum exhibits I’ve designed (please see article below).  Their only limitations are that large turtles tend to sink them below the surface (which keeps the plastron from drying out completely) and robust individuals sometimes dislodge the platforms from the aquarium’s sides. Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Smokey Jungle Frog – Part 1

Smokey Mountain FrogI’ve studied and cared-for a great many frog species in my time, but count the robust Smokey Jungle Frog, also known as the South American Bullfrog (Leptodactylus pentadactylus), as one of the most beautiful and mysterious of all.  I’ve been very fortunate in having bred this frog in captivity, and today will examine its natural history and reproduction.  I’ll move on to diet and its unique habits in Part 2.


This frog occurs from Honduras and northern Nicaragua through Venezuela to French Guinea and south to southern Columbia, Ecuador, northern Brazil, Peru and Bolivia.  Due to its secretive nature, the southernmost limits of its range are not well known. Read More »

The Conservation and Captive Care of the Diamondback Terrapin

Diamondback TerrapinTurtle enthusiasts find the Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) very difficult to resist. Sporting a beautiful carapace that is deeply etched with concentric rings, and clad in a bewildering array of gray, silver and black markings, this estuary specialist does, however, present a few challenges to prospective keepers.

A Unique Natural Habitat

The Diamondback Terrapin is the only North American turtle completely restricted to estuaries, tidal flats, lagoons and salt marshes. Neither a fresh water nor marine species, it is uniquely adapted to brackish habitats. Read More »

Something New for Insect-Keepers – The Aquatic Sunburst and Green Diving Beetles – Part 2

Diving BeetlePlease see Part I of this article for information on the natural history of the Sunburst or Marbled Diving Beetle (Thermonectes marmoratus), the Green Diving Beetle (Thermonectes sp.) and related insects.  These wonderfully interesting aquatic beetles sometimes appear in the pet trade, and they and related species are also rather easy to collect.  Today we’ll take a look at their captive husbandry.


The beetle aquarium should be tightly covered, as all species can and do fly, especially at night.  The tank should be stocked with a variety of live aquatic plants (i.e. Elodea, Anachris, Water Hyacinth) and sticks…despite being strong swimmers, Diving Beetles need to take frequent breaks by clinging to submerged objects; egg deposition occurs on live plants. Read More »

Study Hints at Global Snake Population Decline

A recent review of studies involving 17 populations of 8 snake species, including Ball Pythons, Asps, Rhinoceros Vipers and Gaboon Vipers, has raised the alarming possibility that steep declines may be in progress in many countries.  While it is too early to draw conclusions, this news is disturbingly similar to the origins of the global amphibian decline first uncovered in 1990.

Ominous Findings

The most frightening aspect of the study is the fact that unrelated snake species in widely varying habitats and locations (Italy, Nigeria, France, Australia) were involved.  Some of the largest declines – 90% in several cases – were recorded in protected areas.  Much like the extinction of the Golden Toad, which disappeared from a pristine cloud forest in Costa Rica, these mysterious declines point to causes that are difficult to identify and remedy.  Read More »

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