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Contains articles on a wide variety of both reptile and amphibian species. Commonly addresses topics which affect herps in capitivity as a whole.

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

Freeze-dried BloodwormsThose 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 staples, Brine Shrimp and Blackworms.  Today I’d like to introduce a useful aquatic food item that is popular with aquarists but often over-looked by herp keepers – the Bloodworm (Chironomus spp.).

Natural History

Bloodworms resemble, but are unrelated to, aquatic worms.  Rather, they are the larvae of tiny flying insects known as Midges (often called “Gnats”) of the Family Chironomidae.  They have long been sold in stores specializing in tropical fishes, and can also be ordered from internet dealers.  Read More »

Egg Retention (Dystocia) in Turtles – the Problem and Some Solutions – Part 1

One of the most common and serious problems faced by turtle keepers involves female turtles (mated or unmated) that develop eggs but refuse to deposit them in the terrariums or aquariums in which they live.  While this can be the result of any number of health problems (i.e. low calcium levels, tumors), the lack of an appropriate nesting site is more often than not the cause.

Retained Eggs

It’s very difficult to keep turtles, especially semi-aquatic and aquatic species, in an enclosure that allows for year-round access to a nesting site.  Providing a terrestrial nesting site, as well as adequate swimming space, usually involves the use of a pool or pond as opposed to an aquarium.  Read More »

Reptile Intelligence – Red-Footed Tortoises Learn by Imitation

Red footed TortoiseReptile enthusiasts have long known that tortoises are highly intelligent, and quickly modify their behaviors to meet new challenges.  Recent work at the University of Vienna (Biology Letters, March, 2010) has broken new ground in this area.  Red-Footed Tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) have provided us with the first example of “social learning by imitation” in a reptile.

Learning by Doing

In the experiment, a hungry Red-Footed Tortoise was presented with a dilemma – in order to reach its food bowl, the tortoise needed to negotiate a screen barrier. After a great many unsuccessful attempts to reach the food, the tortoise learned to walk out of the maze and go around the barrier to retrieve its reward. Read More »

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Smokey Jungle Frog – Part 2

Smokey Jungle FrogPlease see Part 1 of this article for information on the natural history, amazing reproductive biology (including terrestrial nesting) and captive breeding of the Smokey Jungle Frog (a/k/a South American Bullfrog, Leptodactylus pentadactylus).


The hefty, robust adults are capable of taking quite large prey, including small birds, snakes, other frogs, mice and other rodents, scorpions and tarantulas as well as earthworms, roaches, moths and other invertebrates.

Smokey Jungle Frogs they are one of the few animals known to consume the highly toxic Poison Frogs, Dendrobates spp.

I’ve had good success with a diet comprised largely of earthworms, roaches, crickets and wild-caught insects (please see my article on Collecting Feeder Insects).  I use shiners and crayfishes as a calcium source, but a pink mouse may be offered every 6-8 weeks if desired. Read More »

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 »

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