Earwigs as an Alternative Food for Pet Reptiles and Amphibians

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Throughout my long career as a zookeeper and pet keeper, I have used wild caught insects to improve the diets of the amphibians, reptiles, fishes, invertebrates and birds under my care.  While some cautions apply, the benefits conferred by the nutritional value of such foods far outweigh the risks involved.  I have covered the collection and care of sow bugs, sap beetles, leaf litter invertebrates and many others in the articles linked below.  Today I’ll discuss earwigs – common, hardy, and largely-ignored insects that have great potential as pet food.  They are also extremely interesting in their own right, with females caring for their eggs and actually carrying food to the young!

Female with eggs, young

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Nabokov

Why Earwigs?

Earwigs are readily accepted by a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, tarantulas, fishes, and scorpions, and provide nutrients absent from commercially-reared insects.  They are quite common even in large cities, and can provide a significant amount of food for captive herps during the warmer months.

Earwigs are an ideal size (1- 1¼ inch) for both small and larger pets, and will be taken by animals ranging in size from Green Anoles to American Bullfrogs.  They climb well, and quickly attract the attention of treefrogs and arboreal lizards.  Despite the tough wing covers and pinchers, earwigs seem readily digestible, are not known to cause any related problems.  As with crickets, earwigs should not be offered to ailing or debilitated animals, or to expectant females, as they have carnivorous tendencies. Read More »

The Best Pet Tortoise – Greek Tortoise and Golden Greek Tortoise Care

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  I do not believe that any tortoise species can be classified as “easy-to-keep”, but several are better-suited as pets than others.  I’ve covered on of these, the Russian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi), in an earlier article (read article here).  The Greek Tortoise (T. graeca), while interesting enough for the most seasoned hobbyist, may also be the best pet tortoise, and an ideal choice for first-time keepers.  Topping out at 8 inches in length, captive-bred individuals are readily available.  They are as personable as any of their relatives, and decades of popularity among European keepers has left us with a good understanding of their needs. I’ll summarize these in the following article, and will also draw from my own experiences with this and related species during my long career at the Bronx Zoo.

Greek Tortoise (Tunisia)

Uploaded to wikipedia commons by Richard Mayer

A Note on Classification

Also known as the Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoise (not to be confused with Africa’s Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata), the Greek Tortoise is one of the smaller of the world’s 53 tortoise species.

Its taxonomy is somewhat complicated, with up to 13 subspecies being recognized.  Traditionally, T. g. ibera comprised the bulk of those in the pet trade, and it remains the most widely-bred subspecies.  The parent stock seems to have originated mainly from Turkey. Read More »

Milksnake Care – Keeping the Sinaloan Milksnake and Related Species

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The various Milksnakes are among the world’s most beautifully-colored reptiles.  Most are quite hardy, easy to handle and breed, and can be kept in modestly-sized terrariums.  Milksnakes are grouped with Kingsnakes in the genus Lampropeltis, which contains 16 species.  Sometimes referred to as “Tri-Colored Kingsnakes”, the most popular types are considered to be subspecies of L. triangulum.  Among the 26 subspecies of L. triangulum  we find the gorgeous and highly-desirable Sinaloan, Pueblan, Nelson’s, Black, and Honduran Milksnakes, along with others that are a bit more difficult to keep but well-worth the consideration of experienced keepers.

Honduran Milksnake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by :Haplochromis

The following general information can be applied to Milksnake care of both popular species and subspecies.  However, details vary, especially as regards those native to higher elevations or with specific food preferences.  Please post below for detailed information on the care of individual species. Read More »

Feeding Bearded Dragons – A Review of Zoo Med Bearded Dragon Food

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Commercially-prepared diets for reptiles have become quite popular lately, but we do not have long-term research concerning the value of most.  However, when used with care, some can simplify the feeding of certain species while contributing to their health.  Reptomin, for example, is used in many major zoos, and I relied upon it heavily during my years working at the Bronx Zoo’s Reptile House.  Success with commercial diets is a matter of choosing one produced by a well-respected company, and pairing it with natural food items in the proper proportions.  Today I’ll review one such product now marketed by a leader in pet reptile nutrition, Zoo Med’s Bearded Dragon Food (Adult and Juvenile).

t204480The Evolution of Prepared Diets

The Inland Bearded Dragon, Pagona vitticeps, is likely the world’s most popular lizard pet.  Yet this fascinating lizard was virtually unknown in the USA, even in zoos, not long ago.  Indeed, many lizard enthusiasts are surprised to learn that all pet trade animals seem to have originated from a small group smuggled out of Australia to Germany in the early 1980’s (please see this article for further information).

Due to the great interest in keeping and breeding this species, hobbyists and pet supply companies have researched its captive husbandry quite thoroughly.  As a result, we now know have a very good understanding of the Bearded Dragon’s dietary needs, health care and reproduction (please see articles linked below).  An interesting offshoot of this work has been the formulation of several prepared Bearded Dragon diets.  Because of the care and research that Zoo Med puts into all of its products, and the company’s outstanding reputation among professional zookeepers and private hobbyists alike, I favor the Zoo Med’s formula over others. Read More »

Giant Centipede Care, Feeding and Supplies…and Warnings!

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The serious centipede enthusiast can look forward to a lifetime of interest and discovery.  Over 3,000 species (class Chilopoda) have been described so far, and we know little about most!  Biologists place Centipedes and the world’s 10,000+Millipedes in the same Super Order, Myriapoda, but any similarities end there.  The name “Giant Centipede” is applied to a variety of species.  Those most commonly seen in trade are the Amazonian Giant Centipede (Scolopendra gigantean) and the Vietnamese or Red-headed Centipede (S. subspinipes), but as many as 6 species have been recorded as being sold under the same name.

Amazonian Giant centipede

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Katka Nemčoková

Centipede ownership requires consideration, and should only be undertaken by mature, cautious adults.  Bites from various species have caused fevers, dizziness, cardiac problems, breathing difficulties and fatalities.  Allergic reactions to their venom can occur – as evidenced by a Bronx Zoo co-worker of mine, who was hospitalized after being bitten by a species considered to be harmless.

The following information can be applied to then the care of most commonly available centipedes.  Please post below for information on individual species. Read More »

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