Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Expert Witnesses Speak to House Subcommittee

Read a summary of the latest developments in the fight against restrictive reptile pet legislation. We finally have some positive news!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crested Gecko

Last week we took in a crested gecko donated by a family who felt they could no longer devote the time necessary for his care.
This is our first crested and we hope to add him to our presentations if he calms down a bit (he likes to jump).
The crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is an endangered species native to New Caledonia, an island near Australia in the South Pacific. For years it was thought to be extinct until it's rediscovery in 1994. While it's survival in the wild is being threatened by a species of fire ant, which attacks the geckos and the insects on which they feed, the thriving pet trade among captive bred crested geckos will help insure that the species does not become extinct. Crested geckos are no longer exported from New Caledonia.
Named for the short, soft spines over their eyes and along the sides of their heads, these nocturnal lizards eat insects and fruit and can climb glass walls with unbelievable speed. Like most geckos, they can drop their tails when attacked to distract predators. Unlike other geckos, however, their tails do not grow back. Crested geckos come in a variety of colors and patterns and their skin has a unique texture, feeling like extremely soft suede.
In captivity, crested geckos are easy to keep. They feed readily on crickets and baby food or a special commercially made crested gecko diet. The specimen I have is still flighty, preferring to jump out of the hand onto whatever surface is nearby, be it a table or a person or a wall. I don't know if he will calm down or remain flighty, but he is a fun little creature all the same.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Man who staged capture of 14-foot python gets probation, admits mistake | Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota | 10 Connects

Man who staged capture of 14-foot python gets probation, admits mistake | Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota | 10 Connects

So if pythons are running rampant all over Florida, why does this guy have to intentionally let one go just so he can come in and "save the day", wasting taxpayer's money (911 call and law enforcement) and causing a media circus?
Make sure and look at the photos of this "dangerous" beast being handled and petted by a petite female reporter and some children.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reptile Vocabulary: Brumation

Brumation is a period of reduced activity and slowed metabolism in reptiles that is similar to hybernation. Unlike hibernation, however, reptiles in brumation are not asleep for the entire time. They still move about occasionally and drink. Brumation is triggered by cool weather and shorter daylight hours. As the temperature cools and days grow shorter, reptiles eat less and finally stop eating before looking for a safe, secure place to retreat for the winter. Brumation serves to help protect reptiles from cold temperatures, keeps them from starving when food is in short supply and triggers breeding processes the following spring.
Most reptile breeders cool their animals for 2–3 months each year to simulate the natural brumation process.

67 Million-Year-Old Snake Fossil Found Eating Baby Dinosaurs

67 Million-Year-Old Snake Fossil Found Eating Baby Dinosaurs

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Monday, March 1, 2010

How Do You Keep A Snake?

Part 5: Heat

Reptiles, being exothermic, or cold-blooded, depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. For proper digestion, they must have an area of increased heat, while at other times they may prefer cooler temperatures. 

There are a number of suggested temperature "recipes" for keeping snakes. You can use specially made heat lamps, heat pads or heat cable to warm one end of the snake's enclosure. The idea is to give the snake a thermal gradient, allowing it to choose the temperature that best suits it at any given time. This is very important for the snakes health and digestion.

Here is what we use: We keep the room at an ambient temperature of around 71-72 degrees. Some fluctuation is acceptable. On one end of each snake's enclosure, we use a Zoo-Med Mini (4x5) undertank heating pad to achieve a warm spot of around 88-92 degrees. We do not use other brands of heating pads or heat lamps, and we don't use other sizes of heat pads for our snakes as they can get too hot. 

We are also experimenting with Zoo-Med heat cable, which looks almost like a thin extension cord with a plug on one end and a cap or terminal on the other. We've had great luck with this product so far. It is safer than many other heat sources, allows for custom installation and is the best value in my opinion.


It's important to get an accurate temperature reading of the floor of your snake's enclosure. Don't bother with stick-on type aquarium thermometers, as they will only give you a reading on the cage wall. There are a few solutions for monitoring temperatures. I recommend using a thermometer with a remote probe which can be placed inside the cage. These can be purchased at any pet store that deals in reptiles or online. I also recommend a temp gun. This is a small device about the size of a pack of gum that can be aimed at a spot to instantly tell the temperature of that area. These can be found online and in some finer pet stores and cost around $30. It is worth the investment.

Next time: A Place to Hide

On a Less Political Note...

Today I observed the first breeding activity of the season between a young pair of California kings. The male is a nice aberrant patterned black and white from Don Shores and the female is a blue-eyed blonde from Jim Sargent of Split Rock Reptiles. 
The blue-eyed blonde mutation is one of the rarest morphs in California kings. It is a simple recessive genetic trait that originated from a single male that was captured in an area known as Elfin Forest in San Diego just before bulldozers leveled the entire area to build a new neighborhood. It was bred with a number of females to produce heterozygous offspring to introduce the trait to the hobby. This mutation is believed to be a form of hypomelanism (reduced black pigment) that lightens the brown coloration of the coastal phase California king snake to a rich tan color and brightens the yellow bands. The eye color also changes from a dark ruby color in hatchlings to a beautiful denim color as the snake matures, hence the name, blue-eyed blonde. Jim has some better pics of the blue-eyed blond here.
Very few breeders work with this morph so I'm excited at the prospect of producing some heterozygous offspring (which will not display the morph, but will carry the recessive gene necessary to reproduce it).

Hunting Season?

I just discovered something interesting:

With all the rage over wild Burmese pythons in Florida you'd think they (the state, Fish & Wildlife, etc.) would be thrilled to have as many of them removed as possible. I thought the same thing. Wrong! As it turns out, there is a Burmese python hunting season, requiring a $26 management fee and a hunting license. If you take a Burmese python from the wild in Florida out of season or without a license you can be cited and fined, just as if you had taken a deer or other animal out of season.
It was never about the environment, people.