Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rat Recall

The FDA has issued a recall on certain batches of frozen mice and rats from Mice Direct due to a possibility of salmonella infection. If any of you order from this company you should click here and here for more information about the recall. I don't usually order from Mice Direct because I have a longstanding relationship with Rodent Pro, but they are a good company and I hope that they don't lose business due to this incident.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ZooMed Repti Heat Cable

A Flexible Heating Alternative

About nine months ago I started experimenting with Zoo Med's Repti Heat Cable as an alternative to pads or lamps for heating some of my snake cages. Available in lengths of 11.5 to 50 feet, this water-resistant cable has proven to be a durable, more versatile solution. While it can be used inside of cages, my application involves running the cable in parallel lines on the back third of a set of metal shelves. The cable is easy to install on any smooth flat surface using standard electrician's tape. 
Other than some inconsistency in the temperature of the cable (some spots seem to get hotter than others), it has performed perfectly and has saved money compared to other heat sources. It's also much easier to remove and reconfigure. There are claims that a thermostat is not needed when using these heat cables, however I found it necessary when used on a shelf that didn't have adequate air flow.
Depending on your setup and the number of animals you keep, this may be the hot ticket (pun intended).
You can find Repti Heat Cable in most reptile-friendly pet stores and, of course, online. I like to shop at LLL Reptile and Pet Mountain.

Do a little homework. Here are the manufacturer's instructions for use.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

All You Can Eat

This is what feeding 20+ snakes looks like. It's about one week's worth. 
I buy frozen mice in bulk in several sizes from pinky (newborn) to XL adult. I also keep a stock of frozen rats for my pythons. The mice are left on a towel to thaw and then fed to the snakes according to size and appetite. Some of the snakes demand mice scented with a little blood or brain matter. Gross, right? The best feeders are the ones that will eat two or three (or more) mice at a time. I give the females all that they'll eat to keep them healthy for breeding. The males are fed all they'll eat until they reach adulthood. Then I cut them back a little to avoid obesity.
I spend $500-$1,000 per year on mice and rats, buying direct from RodentPro. The shipping for each box costs $48. That might sound expensive, and it is; but buying in bulk is the only way I can afford to keep so many snakes. Pet stores typically have a 400-1000% markup on feeder rodents, which is okay if you only have a few snakes. By the time you get to about five it's worth it to order a year's worth of mice at a time. I have, at any one time, up to 1,000 rodents in my freezer, and I order about 3-4 times a year. Mice...they're what's for dinner.


Here's a new project I want to keep you updated on.
This is a 3 year old female ghost Honduran milk snake. The ghost morph is a actually a combination of two other morphs: hypomelanistic (reduced black pigment) and anerythristic (lack of red pigment). It's a pretty common combination nowadays. What makes this snake different though is her condition. You may notice from the picture that she is tiny for her age and extremely thin. She weighs only 75 grams (I have a 2 year old Honduran that weighs over 500 grams) and shows signs of dehydration. She also hatched with some unusual lumps in her body which have remained.
Why is she in such poor condition? This snake is both a problem feeder and a chronic regurgitator. The previous owner had trouble getting her to feed and when she did, she often regurgitated. Throwing up a meal is very difficult on a snake's digestive system, draining the animal of fluids and bacteria necessary to properly break down food.
I received this snake from a friend who hatched her and eventually grew tired of working with her. Rather than euthanize the snake, he (and I) wanted to try and give her a chance. After all, the poor little thing has struggled for 3 years; it would be a shame to give up on her now.
This snake is known for accepting only live prey and she throws up anything that has hair! This prevents her from eating anything except pinkies (newborn mice and rats). A few days after I brought her home I offered her a pre-killed mouse (not a pinky). She ate the mouse! A few days later my heart sank when she threw up the mouse. I waited a week or so and tried again with the same results. At least she was eating...there was that.
After giving her a few more days to rest, I offered her a live pinky rat. She took it and kept it down. That brings us to today. A few minutes ago I placed two pinky mice in her cage and she ate them both. Let's hope they stay down.
I'll post periodic updates on her progress. Wish me luck.

Python and Boa Ban

We are all still in limbo with regards to the proposed ban on nine large species of constrictor snakes, including the ubiquitous boa constrictor. USARK has offered amendments to make the bill more acceptable, but the authors and supporters of the bill have not been receptive and are making every attempt to railroad this bill through the legislative process. The $3 billion pet reptile industry in the United States is expected to take a major hit if this bill becomes law. A number of professional breeders, some of which have been in business for over 30 years, will instantly lose their livelihoods. In addition, this will set the precedent for further bans, which are already being considered, on other popular pet reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals.

Track actions relating to this bill here:

Join USARK here:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lamentation for Lizards

As global temperatures rise, world's lizards are disappearing: 20 percent of all lizard species could be extinct by 2080

ScienceDaily (2010-05-13) -- After decades of surveying Sceloporus lizard populations in Mexico, an international research team has found that rising temperatures have driven 12 percent of the country's lizard populations to extinction. An extinction model based on this discovery also forecasts a grim future for these ecologically important critters, predicting that a full 20 percent of all lizard species could be extinct by the year 2080.