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Reptile, Amphibian, Scorpion and Tarantula Feeding Tools

t259648Today I’d like to highlight some interesting feeding tools, automatic feeders, live food dispensers and other products designed for herp and invertebrate keepers.  Included are items that can lighten our work load, ensure safety when feeding aggressive creatures, and automatically provide meals in our absence.  I especially favor products that dispense live insects at irregular intervals, and also those which force turtles, newts and aquatic frogs to work for their food.  This concept, known as behavioral enrichment, became standard zoo-practice while I was working at the Bronx Zoo.  In addition to encouraging exercise, such devices add greatly to the range of interesting behaviors we can observe among our pets.

 

Hanging Mealworm Feeder

The perforated bottom of Zoo Med’s Hanging Mealworm Feeder allows grubs to find their own way into the terrarium.  Mealworms that escape detection will encourage natural hunting behaviors.  Animals of all kinds quickly learn to recognize the feeder…if you remove it when not in use most, will respond right away when it is returned.

 

t259647I’ve employed similar feeders in zoos for a wide range of creatures.  Zoo Med’s modal should also be useful to those who keep oscars and similar fishes, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, finches, shama thrushes, and other insectivorous pets.

 

The first worm feeders were designed to provide tubifex worms to tropical fishes.  I still use the same modal I first purchased as a child…and the price hasn’t gone up much!  In addition to being a great fish-feeding tool, Lee’s Four-Way Worm Feeder is perfect for offering blackworms to newts, axolotls, African clawed frogs and small turtles.

 

Cricket Feeders

Available in 3 sizes, Exo Terra’s Cricket Pen takes much of the hassle out of keeping those pesky but ever-present crickets.  Detachable dispensing tubes, which are used as sheltering sites by crickets, are set into a ventilated, plastic cage.  A flap seals the tubes lower end when it is removed, allowing crickets to be added to terrariums with a tap of the finger.  Cricket food and water receptacles are also included.

 

Depending upon the species and terrarium set-up, you may also be able to simply place the Cricket Pen into your pet’s tank and let the crickets escape on their own.  Covering the pen with dark paper will keep animals from trying to reach crickets through the plastic walls…you should notice an increase in alertness and foraging behavior if you use it in this way.

 

Asian Forest Scorpion

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Chris huh

Feeding Tongs

Gone are the days when we had to modify tweezers and cooking utensils for use as herp-feeding tools.  Zoo Med’s 10-inch Stainless Steel Feeding Tongs is perfect for presenting meals to snakes, scorpions, mantids, and tarantulas, and for removing debris from tanks where one’s fingers are best kept out of reach.

 

As most frogs seem to lack any sort of reasonable control over their feeding lunges, I use Zoo Med’s Plastic Feeding Tongs   when feeding mine (this tendency is not limited to pets – I’ve seen wild American Bullfrogs crash into rocks, and one landed so close to a larger frog that it too wound up as a meal!).  Lizards vary in their feeding responses…over-zealous feeders may injure themselves on metal tongs, while others are not at risk.  You might want to stay with plastic tongs for certain snakes also.

 

Feeding tongs can also be used with various fishes and birds…or, if you’ve been as lucky as I. with captive short-tailed shrews and least weasels (two of the most insanely-ferocious creatures I’ve worked with!).

 

Turtle Feeders

The Zoo Med Floating Turtle Feeder is the best behavioral enrichment -type turtle product on the market.  Amazingly simple in design and easy to use, it will keep sliders, musk turtles, map turtles and similar species well-occupied…and their owners very amused!

 

Exo-Terra’s Automatic Turtle Feeder, similar in design to automatic fish-feeders, is a much-needed addition to the turtle-keeper’s supply kit.

 

You can read more about these useful turtle-feeders in this article.

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio.  I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable.  I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly.  Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

Further Reading

Canned Insects and Snails

 

Collecting Insects for Captive Herps

 

The Best Infrared Temperature Gun for Reptile and Amphibian Terrariums

Hi, Frank Indiviglio here.  I’m a herpetologist, zoologist and book author, recently retired from a career of over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.  Remote-sensing infrared thermometers, or “temperature guns”, have revolutionized reptile and amphibian husbandry.  I first used them at the Bronx Zoo, and was instantly hooked.  I was under the impression that my experience in herp care had left me with a good “feel” for exhibit temperatures, and the standard thermometers I used confirmed this.  That belief was shattered by infrared thermometers, which provide an instant digital read-out when pointed at an animal, surface, or the air.

In several cases, I was able to make major environmental improvements that fostered better health and breeding.  Early models were unwieldy, but inexpensive, pocket-sized units are now available to pet-owners.  I consider infrared thermometers to be an indispensable piece of equipment for both seasoned keepers and novices alike.  My favorite is the Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer.

t255193Avoiding “Beginner’s Mistakes”

The Zoo Med ReptiTemp Digital Infrared Thermometer allows newcomers to our hobby to start-off on a somewhat more advanced level than was possible in days past.  By simplifying the process of recording temperatures, this thermometer encourages us to look more deeply into the needs of our pets.  The time and effort involved in setting up healthful thermal gradients and naturalistic basking, hibernation, incubation, and nesting sites is greatly reduced. Read More »

Holiday Gifts for Reptile and Amphibian Keepers, Young or Experienced

Hi, Frank Indiviglio here.  I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career of over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.  Today I’d like to offer some gift suggestions for the herp enthusiasts on your holiday shopping list.  I’ve made my choices with younger folks and novices in mind, but all are useful to long-term keepers as well (indeed, we dinosaurs often stick to “ancient” products and ignore new innovations!).  I believe that the products I’ve highlighted are important because they will start hobbyists thinking about concepts that are often overlooked early-on, such as water quality, temperature gradients, UVA, dietary variety and reading materials.  Some of my recommendations will need to be fine-tuned to fit individual species.  Please post below and see the linked articles for further information, and be sure to add your own thoughts and gift-giving suggestions.

 

t255193Hygrometers and Thermometers

When I first began using sophisticated testing equipment in zoos, I was surprised to discover how widely humidity and temperature levels can vary within even small exhibits.   Back then, hobbyists were pretty much limited to aquarium thermometers and the like.  Today, pet owners have a wide assortment of professional-quality hygrometers and thermometers from which to choose. Read More »

The Best Reptile Egg Incubator – the Zoo Med Reptibator

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Breeding reptiles is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of our hobby.  It is quite important as well, as zoos have neither the time nor space to care for all the species that are, or will soon be, in need of help.  Relatively common reptiles also deserve attention, as lessons learned about their reproductive biology are often applicable to rarer relatives.

t248523ZooMed’s reptile egg incubator, marketed as the Reptibator, utilizes heating technology that is a vast improvement over older (and very expensive!) incubators that I used while working at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos.  In addition to allowing for finer temperature and humidity control, the Reptibator’s Pulse Proportional Thermostat conserves energy while cutting electric bills. 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 »

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