Vacation feeders and “toys” for turtles…reptile care supplies certainly have come a long way since I started on my pet care and zoo-keeping career! Today I’d like to highlight two new automatic feeders designed especially for turtles (I believe both will be useful for African Clawed Frogs, Mexican Axolotls, newts and larger fishes as well). Exo Terra’s Automatic Feeder represents a great step forward in turtle care, allowing for 4 daily feedings of different foods over an extended period of time. The Zoo Med Floating Turtle Feeder, while not technically a “toy”, will keep you and your turtles entertained. Similar to behavioral enrichment tools and activities I employed at the Bronx Zoo, this feeder forces turtles to “work” for their meals, thereby encouraging activity and foraging behaviors. Read More »
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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, burrowers, gliders, giants and many others. Today I’ll review some guidelines that will help you to set up terrariums for a variety of species. The following information can be applied to most available geckos, but details will vary. Please post below for information on individual species.
The family Gekkonidae contains over 1,050 species. Among lizards, their diversity is exceeded only by the skinks.
Geckos may be found in deserts, rainforests, woodlands and grasslands. Some associate with people voluntarily –the aptly-named House Geckos favor our dwellings, while Tokay Geckos are established in Miami and other large cities. Five species are native to the USA, but approximately 15 have been introduced from elsewhere. Geckos range in size from the 1.2 inch-long Reef Geckos to the stout, 15 inch-long New Caledonian Giant Gecko.
The amazing ability of some geckos to run upside-down on ceilings was first recorded by Aristotle in the 4th Century. Gecko feet are being studied with a view towards creating new adhesives. Read More »
The Green or Carolina Anole, Anolis carolinensis, has introduced generations of herp enthusiasts to reptile-keeping. Small, active, and willing to breed in captivity, this handsome arboreal lizard makes a wonderful pet. Although associated with “beginners”, Green Anoles are complex creatures, well able to hold the interest of lifelong herpetologists and pet keepers, myself included. A huge array of relatives (there are over 370 anole species!), many available in the pet trade, can be kept in a similar manner. Today I’ll review supplies for Anoles and similar lizards to get you started off right. Please see the linked articles, and post questions below, for detailed information on care and breeding.
Although small, Green Anoles active and require spacious terrariums; they become stressed in tight quarters. A single animal can be housed in a 15 gallon tank; pair or trio should be provided with a 20 gallon aquarium.
The Zoo Med Repti-Breeze Aluminum/Screen Cage is perhaps the best option. It provides critical air circulation and, when placed outdoors, also allows for UVB exposure (glass and plastic filter-out UVB rays).
The extra-tall Exo Terra Terrarium can also be fashioned into an excellent anole habitat.
Numerous branches should be provided, along with plants and vines. Anoles will be stressed in a bare terrarium – plants provide “sight barriers” that offer security and ease aggression among tank-mates. Read More »
The beautifully-colored and charmingly-pugnacious Argentine Horned Frog, Ceratophrys ornata, may be the world’s most popular amphibian pet. No matter how many rare and wonderful frogs I encounter, I always save a place for Horned Frogs in the zoo exhibits I manage and in my personal collection. Despite their size (females are often compared to salad bowls), Horned Frogs require relatively little living space. However, several important considerations must be kept in mind when setting up a Horned Frog terrarium. Once this has been accomplished, and if their other needs are met, you can look forward to a pet-keeping experience that may last for several decades. The following information can also be applied to the other Horned Frog species – there are 8 in all – that appear in the pet trade; please post below for more specific information on these.
Argentine Horned Frogs inhabit seasonally-flooded grasslands, or savannas, in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil (please see photo). Read More »
Although I have kept reptiles and amphibians since childhood, and worked in zoos for most of my adult life, I remain amazed by the array of herp-care innovations that are available to us today. True, not all are necessary (and some are downright ridiculous!), but many are indispensable to serious hobbyists and zookeepers alike. Advances in reptile lighting technology, for example, help private keepers to breed animals that, not so long ago, failed to thrive even in large zoos.
I’m particularly fond of combination hoods and fixtures, especially when I recall the rat’s nest of tangled wires and lamps that topped every zoo exhibit and holding cage years ago…thinking back to my early years at the Bronx Zoo, I cannot imagine how we avoided fires and electrocution! Combo hoods have space for several different types of bulb, allowing us to keep UVA, UVB, heat and night (red/black) bulbs in one place. In addition to the convenience factor, the movable sockets and integrated timers included in some models increase our ability to establish thermal gradients, natural day/night cycles and “dawn/dusk” periods. Today I’ll review a few reasonably-priced units offered by two well-known leaders in the field. Read More »