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

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

Congregation of Hermit Crabs in St. ThomasHermit Crabs protect the soft parts of their bodies by moving into the discarded shells of snails and other creatures.  Finding the right-sized home is a matter of life and death, as shell-less crabs are quickly eaten by predators.  It is also a constant concern for the crabs – as they grow, they need to find increasingly larger shells.

Deprived of shells, the crabs will try anything – one researcher described as “pathetic” their attempts to shelter within bottle caps and pen tops! Read More »

New Edition of Newts and Salamanders, A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, is Published

Barred Tiger SalamanderI’ve recently finished writing a revision of my 1997 book Newts and Salamanders and would like to introduce it here and to thank everyone for their past support and kind comments.

Care and Natural History

Although technically a captive care manual, I’ve included a great deal of natural history information garnered from a lifetime of working with amphibians as well as research updates from technical and popular journals.  Captive breeding is stressed, with specific advice given for each species covered.  Read More »

The Natural History of the Leopard Tortoise – Part 1

The Leopard Tortoise Stigmochelys (formerly Geochelone) pardalis, stands out in both attractiveness and personality among a group of reptiles well known for possessing both attributes.  Although among the most responsive of reptile pets, their very specific husbandry needs must be met if they are to thrive.  An understanding of the Leopard Tortoise’s natural habitat and habits is very useful in helping to keep and breed them in captivity (please see Part II).  Read More »

Discovery of a Huge, Arboreal, Fruit-Eating Monitor Shocks Herpetologists

Emerald Tree Monitor
It’s well-known that the world still hides countless “undiscovered” animals and plants – even Central Park in NYC recently yielded a previously unknown centipede.  However, it is still something of a surprise when large, colorful creatures remain unseen into modern times.  Such is the case for the Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor (Varanus bitatawa), a spectacularly colored, 6-foot-long lizard that has been designated as a new species in the current (April, 2010) issue of the journal Biology Letters. Read More »

A Reader’s Diet for the Filter-Feeding Tadpoles of the African Clawed Frog

Xenopus Laevis, wild caught female
The African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) is a very common pet and lab animal and yet holds many surprises for those willing to look – it has no tongue, produces skin secretions that have yielded valuable medicines, was once used by the millions to detect pregnancy and thrives as an invading species in habitats ranging from Texas cattle ponds to brackish marshes in England… and their tadpoles feed by filtering organic material from the water. Read More »

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