The Best Filters for Axolotls, Clawed Frogs, Newts and Other Amphibians

BullfrogHello, Frank Indiviglio here. With their highly-permeable skins, amphibians absorb ammonia and other pollutants over a greater surface area than do fishes.  Surinam Toads, Axolotls, tadpoles and other aquatic amphibians are most at risk from poor water quality, but even terrestrial species such as toads and Fire Salamanders can quickly succumb to water-borne toxins while soaking in terrarium pools. Keeping their water clean, both visibly and chemically, can be quite a challenge. 

General Considerations

Natural History

Your pet’s natural history will determine the type of filter that should be used.  For example, newts and Dwarf Clawed Frogs will be stressed by fast currents, Hellbenders are extra-sensitive to water quality, many species are prone to bacterial attack in highly-oxygenated waters, and so on.  Please post below if you need help in selecting a filter. 

Types of Filtration

Biological filtration, wherein aerobic bacteria convert ammonia to less harmful compounds (nitrites and nitrates), is the most important of the three basic filtration processes. Ammonia enters the water via dead animals and plants, uneaten food and the occupants’ waste products. The organisms involved in the process, Nitrosomas and Nitrobacter bacteria, live on substrates that are bathed with oxygenated water (i.e. gravel, filter pads). Read More »

2012’s New Reptile and Amphibian Species – Snakes, Frogs and Lizards, Which is Your Favorite?

Sibon nebulatus in bromeliadHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  An amazing array of newly-discovered reptiles and amphibians grabbed our attention this past year.  The unexpected discoveries of an undescribed Leopard Frog in New York City and a Rainbow Skink in an Australian backyard reminded us that wonderful surprises surround us, if only we take the time to look and learn.  Frogs that dye human skin yellow, snakes that specialize in eating only eggs or snails, iridescent skinks sporting tails twice their body length…the list is simply astounding.  Today I’ll highlight a few that have especially captivated me; please post your own favorites (whether covered here or not) below.

Australian Rainbow Skinks

2012 was designated as the Year of the Lizard by several conservation organizations, so I’ll lead off with 3 new skinks that turned up in Queensland, Australia.  The brilliant colors of breeding males lend these tropical lizards their common names (please see article below). 

The Elegant Rainbow Skink, Carlia decorata, was well known to folks in Townsville, Queensland, as a common garden resident. Upon taking a closer look, however, herpetologists realized that the colorful creature was an undescribed species. Read More »

2012’s New Species – Spiders, Roaches, Millipedes, Wasps – Which is your Favorite?

Trogloraptor marchingtoniHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Invertebrate enthusiasts have learned to expect the discovery of fantastic new species on a regular basis.  But even old timers such as I were shocked by some that came to light this past year. Large, claw-bearing Cave Robber Spiders, giant bio-luminescent roaches, brilliant arboreal tarantulas, neon-colored freshwater crabs, dive-bombing wasps…the list boggles the mind.  Today I’ll highlight a few that have entranced me; please post your own favorites (whether covered here or not) below.

Cave Robber Spider, Trogloraptor marchingtoni

The Cave Robber Spider, arguably 2012’s most “otherworldly” discovery, turned up in a place not known for hiding unseen species – southwestern Oregon.  In fact, not a single new spider has been described in the USA in the past 130 years.  Read More »

Chameleons as Pets – 5 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Chameleon

Veiled ChameleonHello, Frank Indiviglio here. Perhaps the most fantastically-bizarre of all lizards, chameleons have long been popular in private and public collections. However, the world’s 195 species, ranging in size from the 1.5 inch-long Pygmy Leaf Chameleons (Rhampholeon spp.) to the 30 inch Oustalet’s Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti), often prove to be difficult captives.  Although great strides have been made, chameleon husbandry remains challenging, if intriguing. The following points, drawn from notes taken during my years working at the Bronx Zoo, are useful to consider before embarking on a chameleon-keeping venture.

Chameleons Do Not Like Company – Human or Otherwise!

Wolverines and Tasmanian Devils are more sociable than the average chameleon!  Highly territorial, both males and females will fight among themselves and with the opposite sex. Pairs may get along in large, heavily-planted enclosures, but they must be watched closely.

Chameleons abhor handling, and are best considered as animals to observe only.  Don’t worry, for when properly kept, chameleons will reward you by exhibiting fascinating behaviors…but this will not be the case if you disturb them with unnecessary handling! Read More »

Jumping Spiders – Captive Care, New Species and a Surprise (They Watch Videos!)

Phidippus audaxHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  As a bug-hunting child, I was once startled to come upon a housefly that appeared to be walking on its hind legs.  Closer inspection revealed that the unfortunate insect was being carried in a head-up position by a Jumping Spider.  I was aware that a variety of these brilliantly-colored little beasts inhabited my Bronx neighborhood, and became interested in how they managed to capture such elusive prey without a web. I began reading and collecting, and was soon fascinated by their keen eyesight and cat-like stalking techniques.  They would follow my finger, leap on a feathers pulled by a string, and even display to a mirrors. 

I’ve recently learned that biologists are showing videos to Jumping Spiders in an attempt to learn more about their remarkable eyes (which allow for forward, backward, an sideways vision simultaneously), and that a new ant-mimicking Jumping Spider with enormous fangs has turned up in Borneo.  I’ll highlight this new information below, and review their natural history and captive care. 

A 360 Degree Field of Vision

Animals that are on the menus of other creatures generally have eyes set well back and to the sides of their heads.  This arrangement gives mice, deer and others a wide field of vision, with the only bind spots being well to their rear.  Predators, such as foxes and hawks, usually have forward-facing eyes, to allow for accurate focusing on prey. Read More »

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