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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Senegal Chameleons and Related Species – Common Health Problems

Senegal ChameleonHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The Senegal Chameleon (Chamaeleo senegalensis) occupies a unique position in the pet trade.  Inexpensive and widely available, it can be a hearty captive if given proper care.  However, this West African native is more easily collected than bred, so most that become available are wild-caught.  Collection and shipment, hard on any creature, is particularly difficult for chameleons to endure.  As a result, a variety of health problems are commonly seen in newly-acquired Senegal Chameleons. 

In some ways, the Senegal Chameleon situation reminds me of that faced by Green Anoles in the 1960’s and ‘70’s.  Because they were interesting and cheap, these fascinating little lizards were often purchased without much forethought.  It took many years, and untold numbers of dead anoles, before we understood their specific husbandry needs. Read More »

Amphibian Medicine – Cold “Resurrects” Hellbender and Sick Frogs

HellbenderHello, Frank Indiviglio here. During my years with the Bronx Zoo, I have twice observed cold temperatures to revive salamanders (a Hellbender and a Greater Siren, please see photo) that seemed, by external appearances, to be quite dead.  A recent paper caused me to think back on these events, and to other examples of low temperatures being used to “treat” ailing Axolotls, Leopard Frogs and other amphibians …I would greatly appreciate your own observations and thoughts on this topic.

Cold Tolerant Amphibians

Many amphibians are well-adapted to surprisingly low temperatures.  On Long Island, NY, Eastern Tiger Salamanders may migrate to breeding ponds in February, and Spotted and Alpine Salamanders will cross snow for the same purpose.  Wood Frogs occur within the Arctic Circle, and I’ve found Gray Tree Frogs hibernating beneath a mere 2” of leaf litter in NYC.  Several Fire Salamanders under my care remained active at 38 F. Read More »

Newts as Pets – an Introduction to their Care and Feeding

Eastern NewtHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Although my interests are wide, newts and salamanders have always held a special fascination for me.  Beginning in childhood, I sought to keep and breed as many species as possible, and I focused on their husbandry and conservation when I entered the zoo field.  In time, I wrote a book summarizing my experiences (please see below).  The passage of so many years has not dulled my enthusiasm for these fascinating amphibians, and I can highly recommend them to both beginning and advanced herp keepers.

The following information may be applied to the care of Japanese Fire-Bellied, Eastern, California, Ribbed and Paddle-Tailed Newts, as well as most others that appear in the pet trade.  Please write in for detailed information on individual species.

Newts as Pets

An ability to thrive on commercial pellets distinguishes newts from other amphibians, and endears them to folks who prefer not to handle live insects.  All are brilliantly-colored, active by day, and usually live well in groups at average room temperatures.  Most become quite tame over time, and will even accept food from your hand.  Several California Newts in my collection have lived to age 20, and others seem bent on exceeding that. Read More »

Frog Communication – Study Shows Frogs go far Beyond Croaking

Rana adenopleuraHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  A recent study has challenged what we know, or thought we knew, about frog communication.  Researchers were astonished to discover that the calls of male Emei Music Frogs, (Babina daunchina) inform females of such details as the length and width of the singer’s burrow. 

Construction Skills Needed

Named for the males’ banjo-like calls (they really do sound like banjos, please check video below), the Emei Music Frog is native to marshy habitats in central and southwestern China.  Females deposit their eggs in burrows constructed by the males, and the tadpoles develop there as well.  The ability to construct a safe burrow is, therefore, an important consideration when females go “mate shopping”.  You can see photos of the unique nests and egg masses of a related species, Japan’s Ryuku Brown Frog, here. Read More »

Cricket Care and Breeding – Keeping Your Live Food Alive

Domestic CricketThe Domestic, Brown or House Cricket, Acheta domesticus, is the most widely-used live food for reptiles, amphibians, tarantulas, scorpions and other pets. At once hardy and delicate, it eats just about anything and is easy to breed, yet a colony can be wiped out in hours if conditions are not perfect.  Whether you need only to keep a few alive so that they can feed for several days (thereby increasing their nutritional value) or plan to save money by ordering in bulk or breeding your own crickets, die-offs can be avoided if you follow a few simple rules.

Primary Concerns

Poor ventilation, crowded conditions and high humidity are the most common reasons for cricket colony failures. These three factors are related to one another, and will be discussed below.

Natural History

Domestic Crickets are native to southwestern Asia. Escapees have established populations throughout the world, usually in close association with people. Their taxonomic order, Orthoptera, contains over 20,000 grasshoppers, katydids and related insects.

The USA is home to over 120 cricket species; my favorites, the bizarre Mole Crickets, tunnel below-ground with spade-like front legs (please see photo).  Over 3,000 species have been described worldwide. New Zealand’s “super cricket”, the Giant Weta, is the world’s heaviest insect…at 70 grams, it weighs as much as a House Sparrow!  Read More »

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