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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Treating Sick and Injured Emperor Scorpions

Scorpion with babiesHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Reptile and amphibian keepers know how hard it is to find veterinary care for their pets, but those who keep scorpions  face even greater difficulties.  I found one or two vets willing to experiment while working at the Bronx Zoo, but in private practice your options are just about non-existent.  What little we do know has resulted from trial and error, and is constantly evolving.

Pre-dating the dinosaurs, scorpions are a hardy lot, and rarely present us with health problems (at least any that we can identify). Spiders are a bit more prone to illness and injury, and some fine work has been done by private keepers (virtually none by vets, however).  Much of what follows is drawn from conversations with spider keepers, and from my own and others experiments in scorpion health care.  In this regard, Sam Marshall’s chapter on spider first aid in his fine book Tarantulas and Other Arachnids is a must read for scorpion fans. Read More »

How Snakes Lost Their Legs – New Technology Offers Some Answers

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Pythons and boas bear small spurs, used by males during courtship, near the cloaca (please see photo).  These vestigial legs provide us with evidence that snakes may once have walked about on 4 limbs, but until recently we could only speculate as to further details.  However, new technology has now enabled us to fill in some of the blanks, and may offer insights into other creatures that seem to be “losing their legs”, such as Worm Lizards and Sirens.

Snake Ancestors

Utilizing a developing technology known as Synchrotron-Radiation Computed Laminography, researchers at the Paris Museum of Natural History were able to microscopically examine snake fossils in new detail.  They concluded that swimming or burrowing lizards were the most likely ancestors of modern-day snakes. Read More »

Frog Reproduction Made Simple – Breeding Fire-Bellied Toads

Chinese Fire Bellied ToadHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Although no frog can be classified as “easy” to breed in captivity, the Chinese or Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad, Bombina orientalis, is at least “reliable”. Two related species that appear in the trade, the European Fire-Bellied Toad, B. bombina and the Yellow-Bellied Toad, B. variegata, are also regularly bred by hobbyists.

The Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad is the most colorful and readily available of the 6 described species.  Ranging from eastern Siberia to northeastern China and Korea, it makes a wonderful introduction to the fascinating world of amphibian reproduction. They are also among the most interesting anurans that one can keep – owners invariably describe them as “amusing”, and I must agree! Read More »

World’s Largest Arachnids – Eight-Foot-Long Scorpions of Ancient Seas

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  While the Emperor Scorpion and the South African Flat Rock Scorpion are, by today’s standards, huge and impressive, they pale in comparison to their extinct relatives.  Imagine, if you will, an 8-foot-long scorpion sporting spiked claws that extended 2 feet from its body!  Well, thanks to newly uncovered fossil evidence, we need not imagine so hard – such fantastic beasts did indeed exist.  Known as Sea Scorpions or Pterygotid Eurypterids, some, such as Acutiramus, were larger than a person!

Natural History

Sea Scorpions are the ancestors of modern-day scorpions, and perhaps of all Arachnids.  Pre-dating the dinosaurs, they emerged approximately 470 million years ago, and roamed the seas (and fresh waters) for over 100 million years.  Read More »

Hot Weather Herp Tips – Summer’s Effect on Reptiles and Amphibians

Green AnoleHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Most herp enthusiasts know that amphibians are usually quite sensitive to warm temperatures.  However, reptiles, even those native to tropical and desert habitats, may be severely impacted as well.  Following are some general guidelines to keep in mind at the height of summer – please write in for more detailed information about the animals in your collection.

General Considerations

Even within the hottest of natural habitats, herps find ways to escape temperature extremes.  Millions of years of evolution have brought us a great many surprises in this regard – Australia’s Water Holding Frog, for example, thrives where most unprotected creatures, even reptiles, would cook in short order.  So while desert adapted animals may be better suited to withstand heat, do not assume that they will be fine without special attention. Read More »

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