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Medications Based on the Immune System of the Mealworm or Darkling Beetle (Tenebrio molitor) may someday prevent the Emergence of Drug Resistant Microbes – Research Update

Relevance: 83%      Posted on: January 19, 2009

  The mealworm has long been valued by pet keepers, but medical researchers are now giving it some respect as well.  A recent (December, 2008) article in the journal Science reveals that antimicrobial peptides manufactured by the mealworm beetle destroy any bacteria that happen to survive the original onslaught launched…

Feeding Leopard Geckos – Beyond the Cricket and Mealworm Diet – Part 2

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: March 12, 2010

Please see Part I of this article for Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) feeding basics.  Today we’ll cover 2 of the “finer points” you should keep in mind when feeding your pet. Mice Perhaps the biggest mistake pet keepers make regarding Leopard Geckos is to use pink mice as a regular…

Frog Diets – Nutritious Foods for Popularly-Kept Frogs and Toads – Part 1

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: December 2, 2010

Many frogs and toads that are collected or purchased and kept as pets will greedily accept crickets and mealworms, the food items most easily obtained from pet stores.  Most thrive on this fare for a time, but eventually develop nutritional disorders and expire long before they have reached their potential…

Product Review: Gel-Based Water Sources for House Crickets (Acheta domestica)

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: November 26, 2008

The house cricket is something of an insect oddity...at once both an adaptable, widely introduced species and a somewhat delicate captive.  Native to southwestern Asia, it fares poorly in the damp conditions favored by field crickets and other North American species. Providing a Water Source: the advantages of gels House…

Reptile, Amphibian, Scorpion and Tarantula Feeding Tools

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: April 11, 2014

Today I’d like to highlight some interesting feeding tools, automatic feeders, live food dispensers and other products designed for herp and invertebrate keepers.  Included are items that can lighten our work load, ensure safety when feeding aggressive creatures, and automatically provide meals in our absence.  I especially favor products that…

Earthworm Flakes – a New Food for Tadpoles, Newts and other Aquatic Pets

Relevance: 29%      Posted on: October 14, 2010

I have long been witness to the nutritional value of earthworms, and have even experimentally reared several amphibian and fish species on “earthworm only” diets (please see article below).  In my experience, whole, well-fed earthworms come very close to being a perfect food item for a wide variety of carnivorous…

Frog Diets – Nutritious Foods for Popularly-Kept Frogs and Toads

Relevance: 28%      Posted on: October 7, 2010

I caution frog keepers against the all-too-common “cricket and mealworm only” diet.  Today we’ll cover additional means of providing amphibians a varied diet that will promote longevity and breeding.  The following information applies to the care of American Bullfrogs, White’s Treefrogs, Budgett’s Frogs, most toads and many similar species.  Please…

2010’s Amphibian Discoveries – New Species and New Information – Part 2

Relevance: 27%      Posted on: May 3, 2011

Global amphibian declines and extinctions spurred herpetologists to pay special attention to frogs, salamanders and caecilians in 2010.  In Part 1 of this article, I reported on the discovery of several new species, and the re-discovery of a few that had not been seen for decades.  Today we’ll look at interesting…

Feeding Leopard Geckos – Beyond the “Cricket and Mealworm” Diet – Part 1

Relevance: 26%      Posted on: February 26, 2010

The Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius), a pet trade staple, is sometimes promoted as an easy-to-keep “starter-lizard” that requires little more than heat and some vitamin-powdered crickets.  Those who follow this advice may keep their pet alive for a few years, and may even feel satisfied that they have provided it…

My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) americanus and Related Species, Part II

Relevance: 25%      Posted on: November 17, 2008

Click: My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) americanus and Related Species, Part I, to read the first part of this article. Temperature American toads are, in contrast to many amphibians, quite resilient in terms of temperature tolerance.   However, they do best at moderate temperatures, and…

Ant Control for Reptile and Amphibian Owners – Diatomaceous Earth

Relevance: 24%      Posted on: May 15, 2012

Drawn by uneaten food, shed skins and other organic material, ants sometimes become pests around reptile, amphibian and invertebrate collections. As pesticides are harmful to humans and other creatures alike, eliminating ants in areas used by pets and people takes some care.  Today I’d like to highlight a substance that I…

Chameleon Diets – The Best Foods for Pet Chameleons

Relevance: 23%      Posted on: September 2, 2011

Most chameleons will eagerly accept crickets and mealworms.  However, even if you use reptile vitamin/mineral supplements, a diet comprised of 2-3 insect species is not suitable for chameleons - or for hardly any reptile or amphibian.  Your lizards will survive on such fare for awhile, but will inevitably develop nutritional…

Live Food Care – Reptile, Amphibian, Tarantula and Scorpion Diets

Relevance: 22%      Posted on: March 16, 2012

I’ve covered a number of less-commonly kept food animals in this care guide, along with pet trade staples.  Please consider as many as you can, as dietary variety is critical to the health of most pets.  The extra effort on your part will be very worthwhile…novel foods also inspire enthusiastic…

The Orange Spotted Roach: an Interesting Pet and Valuable Food for Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Birds and Fishes – Part 1

Relevance: 19%      Posted on: December 1, 2008

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. The orange-spotted or guyana roach, Blaptica dubia, often starts out as pet food but winds up as a pet. It's small wonder, as these attractive insects are very interesting in their own right, and most agreeable to exhibiting their natural behaviors to the patient observer. Coming into Their…

Cricket Care and Breeding – Keeping Your Live Food Alive

Relevance: 18%      Posted on: February 14, 2012

The 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…

Geckos – Setting Up a Terrarium, Gecko Supplies, and Gecko Facts

Relevance: 17%      Posted on: July 29, 2013

Gecko fans are fortunate indeed (I included, as I’ve worked with a great many in zoos and the field)…over 150 species are available in the pet trade, many of which do quite well in modest enclosures.  Among geckos we find lizards of every conceivable description - rainforest dwellers, desert specialists,…

Has Anyone Observed This?….. Madagascar and Standing’s Day Geckos (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis, P. m. madagascariensis, P. standingi) maintain excellent health and reproduce without a UVB source

Relevance: 17%      Posted on: August 1, 2008

It is well known that many species of lizard, turtle and crocodilian require ultraviolet light of a specific wavelength (290-310 nanometers) in order to synthesize Vitamin D3.  This vitamin, in turn, allows the reptiles to make use of the calcium in their diets.  Such reptiles (which generally bask in the…

Attracting and Collecting Earthworms – a Simple Technique

Relevance: 16%      Posted on: December 28, 2010

Earthworms are one of the most nutritious food items available for amphibians, and for those reptiles, invertebrates and fishes that will take them.  Collecting them (in one piece!) can, however, be frustrating, and they are quite costly at bait stores.  One trick I stumbled upon years ago has greatly simplified…

Hermit Crab Social Behavior – Not Such “Hermits” After All!

Relevance: 16%      Posted on: May 17, 2010

Researchers at Tuft’s University and the New England Aquarium have uncovered an amazing example of social behavior among the common pet trade Terrestrial or Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita clypeatus). Crab Real Estate Markets Hermit Crabs protect the soft parts of their bodies by moving into the discarded shells of snails…

The Veiled Chameleon: an Ideal “First Chameleon” and its Care

Relevance: 16%      Posted on: April 17, 2009

  Chameleon fanciers are indeed fortunate that the chameleon best suited for captivity, the veiled or concave-casqued chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) is also among the most beautiful and interesting of the group (it is also pathologically anti-social, but so are most of its relatives!).  Turquoise, emerald green, yellow and tan, each…

Leopard Geckos in the Wild – the Natural History of a Popular Pet

Relevance: 15%      Posted on: August 19, 2011

The Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is one of the most popular of all reptilian pets, and much has been written on its care and breeding.  But this lizard’s other side – how and where it lives in the wild – is less familiar.  Classification First a bit on where the…

Feeding Captive Savannah Monitors (Varanus exanthematicus) and Black and White Tegus (Tupinambis merianae): Zoo Med’s Canned Tegu and Monitor Diet

Relevance: 15%      Posted on: January 30, 2009

  Browsing the pages of Herpetologica and other journals over the years, I several times came across field studies indicating that certain populations of savannah monitors consumed diets composed entirely of invertebrates.  In certain seasons, the lizards gorged on either locusts or land snails exclusively for months on end.  When…

Raising Springtails as Food for Poison Frogs, Mantellas and other Small Amphibians – Part 1

Relevance: 15%      Posted on: January 11, 2010

The diets of captive Poison Frogs (Dendrobates, Phyllobates, Oophaga), Mantellas, small salamanders (i.e. Red-Backed Salamanders) and tiny, newly-transformed amphibians are usually limited to the two readily available foods of appropriate size – pinhead crickets and fruit flies.  The minute, wingless insects known as Springtails (Order Collembola) are easy to procure…

Live Bloodworms – An Important Food for Small Amphibians and Their Larvae

Relevance: 14%      Posted on: July 16, 2010

Those of us who keep and breed small aquatic amphibians usually have a difficult time providing our pets with dietary variety.  This is especially true as regards salamander larvae and other creatures that usually accept only live foods.  In most cases, such animals must make do with the pet trade…

The Monitor Lizards (Family Varanidae) – Family Overview and Species Accounts; – Some Interesting Monitors and Their Care – Part I

Relevance: 14%      Posted on: October 1, 2008

Note: Please see The Monitor Lizards (Family Varanidae) – Family Overview and Species Accounts for information on the natural history of monitor lizards. Storr’s Pygmy Monitor, Varanus storri This is the smallest monitor regularly available in the pet trade.   Also nearly the tiniest member of the family Varanidae, this species has…

Feeding American Box Turtles – Formulating the Best Diet for Your Pet

Relevance: 14%      Posted on: December 6, 2011

Three of the 4 species in the genus Terrapene – the Eastern, Three-Toed and Ornate Box Turtles - as well as several of the 10 subspecies, have long been popular in the pet trade.  However, they should not be classified as “beginner’s turtles”…in fact, their dietary and other requirements are…

Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator, Care – Part 1

Relevance: 14%      Posted on: March 6, 2009

Please see Scorpions in Captivity - An Overview of Popular Species for information on scorpion venom and natural history. Emperor Scorpion, Pandinus imperator One of the world's largest scorpions, the emperor is also the most widely kept, and captive born specimens are readily available.  Other than females with young on their back, emperor…

World’s Smallest Frogs Added to 2011’s List of Newly-Discovered Amphibians

Relevance: 13%      Posted on: January 2, 2012

Two frog species recently discovered in southeastern New Guinea are smaller than any other 4-legged vertebrate.  Within their pea-sized bodies, they pack a brain, lungs, heart, digestive system and most of the other organs that people have…simply astounding! Tiny Frogs and Fish The frogs, Paedophryne dekot and P. verrucosa, were…

Frog Diets: Supplement Raises Poison Frog Egg Output & Tadpole Survival

Relevance: 13%      Posted on: February 27, 2015

Tulane University researchers have published an important study concerning captive frog nutrition that should be of interest to all amphibian and reptile keepers. A colony of Strawberry Poison Frogs (Oophaga pumilio) was maintained on a diet comprised of fruit flies. When carotenoids were added to the fruit fly diet, the…

Hunting the Huntsman – Keeping the Giant Crab or Huntsman Spider – Part 2

Relevance: 13%      Posted on: December 30, 2009

In Part I of this article I talked a bit about collecting (or trying to collect!) the Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, in a most unlikely setting.  Usually purchased as a “curiosity”, the Huntsman often surprises its new owners with a range of interesting behaviors – if you thought that spider…

Meet the Green Frog – Typical Pond Frog of the USA – Part 3

Relevance: 13%      Posted on: June 2, 2010

Please see Parts 1 and 2 of this article to read about the natural history of the Green Frog (Lithobates/Rana clamitans) and some personal observations on its behavior. An Agreeable Personality Green Frogs make wonderful pets…even wild-caught adults settle down and hand-feed in short order (please see video below). This is in…

Breeding Leopard Geckos

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: February 3, 2012

At some point, lizard keepers usually think about breeding their favorite species.  The ever-popular Leopard Gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is an excellent choice for both novice and advanced hobbyists.  It is a reliable breeder, yet the conditions that must be established if one is to succeed are similar to those required…

Leopard Gecko Care – The Ideal Gecko Terrarium – a Zookeeper’s Thoughts

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: June 7, 2013

Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) possess distinct personalities, accept handling, are easy to breed, do not require UVB radiation and are content with modestly-sized terrariums - surely as close to a “perfect reptile pet” as one can imagine.  However, while some have reached ages of 20+ years, Leopard Geckos will not…

Beyond Webs – Swimming, Spitting and Other Spider Hunting Methods – Part 2

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: October 28, 2010

Please see Part 1 of this article for a look at the unique hunting techniques employed by Fishing, Trap Door and other spiders. Orb Webs I’ve been avoiding “traditional spiders”, but wanted to include an observation I made over 20 years ago in Costa Rica.  I was tossing katydids into the…

The Best Diet for Captive Newts and Mexican Axolotls

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: October 3, 2011

I usually hesitate to recommend an “all purpose” diet for any group of creatures, as even slight differences between species can be greatly affect their nutritional needs.  However, long experience with many newts has led me to a diet that works well for nearly all those that one might encounter. …

Scorpions in Captivity – An Overview of Popular Species – Part 1

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: February 4, 2009

  As is true for tarantulas, reptile enthusiasts (myself included) are often interested in scorpions.  Today I would like to provide an overview of these most ancient of animals (they were likely the first creatures to leave the sea for a terrestrial existence), with specifics concerning some readily available species…

Pet-Safe Cricket and Roach Control for Reptile and Amphibian Owners

Relevance: 12%      Posted on: May 1, 2012

Almost every zoo building in which I’ve worked was home to roach (2-3 species) and House Cricket populations.  In most, pesticide use was not an option. An older animal keeper whom I befriended let me in on his favorite insect pest control technique – the molasses trap.  He was content…

Vitamin D3, UVB and Pet Reptiles: Important New Information for Pet Owners

Relevance: 11%      Posted on: February 2, 2014

We’ve long known that many reptiles need Ultra Violet B (UVB) light exposure in order to manufacture Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, which is essential for proper calcium uptake, is also present in many foods, and some reptiles can utilize it in this form.  However, there are some gray areas.  It…

“My Emperor Scorpion Has Babies…What Should I Do”?

Relevance: 11%      Posted on: April 30, 2013

Emperor Scorpions give birth to live young, and most hobbyists are thrilled when this happens.However, scorpion reproduction breaks many of the “rules” that apply to other pets.For example, a female that has been alone for 14 months may one day be found with 30 tiny white youngsters, or “scorplings”, on…

The Best Small Snake Pet? Suprise! The Brown Snake

Relevance: 10%      Posted on: May 6, 2014

The first wild snake I encountered as a child, on a dead-end street in the Bronx, measured a mere 10 inches long. However, it excited me as much as did the huge anacondas and pythons I visited regularly at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos, and the American Museum of…

Pet Lizards – Fascinating Species for those who keep Reptiles as Pets

Relevance: 10%      Posted on: August 30, 2013

 From minute House Geckos to massive Water Monitors and endangered Rhinoceros Iguanas, an amazing array of fascinating lizards is now available in the pet trade. Fortunately, many are being bred in captivity, and new discoveries concerning their needs occur regularly.  But the range of choices of pet lizards can be…

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Frilled Dragon or Frillneck Lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii – Part II, Frilled Dragons as Pets

Relevance: 10%      Posted on: July 31, 2008

General Although not what might be termed an ideal “first lizard”, frilled dragons make fascinating, long-lived additions to the collections of those with a bit of reptile-keeping experience.  This week we’ll take a look at how to provide for these unique animals in captivity.  Please see Part I of this…

The Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma maculatum, – Care in Captivity – Part 1

Relevance: 10%      Posted on: July 11, 2008

Welcome to our new blog location! Please see here for more background information on this animal’s natural history and life cycle in the wild.   General Despite living largely underground in the wild, captive spotted salamanders adjust well to artificial caves and shelters, where they are more easily observed.  Well-adjusted captives quickly…

Snake Lizards – Legless Lizard-eaters in the Wild and Captivity

Relevance: 10%      Posted on: August 1, 2012

While working at the Bronx Zoo some years ago, I was delighted to receive a surprise shipment of New Guinea Snake Lizards (Lialis jicari).  Also known as the Long Headed Scaly-foot or Flap-Footed Lizard, it and the related Burton’s Snake Lizard (Lialis bertoni) have long fascinated herpetologists and hobbyists alike. …

Reptile and Amphibian Foods – Breeding and Rearing Grasshoppers and Locusts

Relevance: 9%      Posted on: November 25, 2011

The Domestic or House Cricket is perhaps the world’s most popular herp food, the closely-related locusts, grasshoppers and katydids have been neglected as a food source here in the USA.  However, many are easily collected and bred in captivity, and offer important nutrients lacking in commercially-bred insects.  What’s more, they…

Giant Turtles – Working with the World’s Largest Freshwater Species

Relevance: 9%      Posted on: February 10, 2012

Turtle enthusiasts seem always to remain interested in even the commonest species. I’ve worked with world-renowned herpetologists who keep Sliders and private breeders who care for 2,000+ turtles (not a misprint!) yet find a place for Common Snappers.  I’m the same way…as I write, I’m watched by a Stinkpot that…

The Best Live Foods for Pet Salamanders – Ensuring Dietary Variety

Relevance: 9%      Posted on: December 10, 2013

  Although many salamanders will eagerly gobble-up crickets and mealworms, a diet restricted to these food items usually leads to nutritional disorders and reduced life-spans.  This holds true even if supplements are used.  A varied diet is essential if you are to have success in keeping salamanders long-term (my 32…

Do Newts and Salamanders Make Good Pets? Five Points to Consider

Relevance: 9%      Posted on: March 13, 2015

Despite my very wide interests (my career with animals has, quite literally, spanned ants to elephants!), I’ve always been partial to newts and salamanders. I focused on them from my earliest days working for the Bronx Zoo, and had the good fortune to author two books on their care and…

How To Breed Green Anoles and Raise the Youngsters

Relevance: 8%      Posted on: October 11, 2013

With proper care, the Green or Carolina Anole, Anolis carolinensis, is quite willing to breed in captivity.  However, being relatively inexpensive, it is often considered a “beginner’s pet” and not worthy of serious attention.  This is a serious mistake, as anoles of all species are among the most interesting of…

Scorpions as Pets – an Overview of their Care

Relevance: 8%      Posted on: January 26, 2012

I can’t remember a time when scorpions did not fascinate me, and their lure grows stronger with each new species I encounter.  In the past, I’ve written on the care and natural history of Emperor, Flat Rock, Asian Forest and other popular scorpions.  Today I’d like to present a general…

The Best Foods for Poison Frogs, Mantellas and Other Tiny Amphibians

Relevance: 8%      Posted on: April 18, 2013

I began working with Poison Frogs and Mantellas in zoos just as the secrets to longevity and breeding were being discovered.  Today, captive-bred animals are almost mainstream.  This is wonderful, but there is a downside – they are sometimes viewed as “simple to keep”.  But while these tiny gems can…

Venomous Snakes: Care and Habits of the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin

Relevance: 7%      Posted on: September 3, 2014

Big and bold, the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin is one of the most frequently-encountered of the USA’s venomous snakes. Stories of its alleged ferocity abound, and many folks living within its range are convinced that it goes out of its way to attack people. I’ve had the chance to work…

Guam Brown Tree Snake Eradication: Bad News for People & Wildlife

Relevance: 7%      Posted on: March 16, 2014

As a Bronx Zoo animal-keeper in the early 1980’s, I became involved in a breeding program for Guam Rails and Micronesian Kingfishers. Both birds were facing extinction due to a most unusual threat – the introduced Brown Tree Snake, Boiga irregularis.  Back then, major problems caused by trans-located snakes were…

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