Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to Care for Eastern Newts

Eastern Newts make wonderful and interesting pets. Many people are probably familiar with their juvenile form, the red eft, but don't realize that they are the same animal. They are native to the Eastern US, and I often see them and their efts on my summer hikes. They like water and so the tank should have 2 or more inches for them. A filter is also necassary unless you wan't to do frequent water changes. They are docile and agree in groups so 3 or 4 individuals can live in a 10 gal tank. For mine I used gravel as a substrate, with drift wood, and live aquatic plants for decoration. They eat worms (chop them if big) and other invertebrates. Some individuals will accept pelletized food but I'm not a fan of it for more than supplementation. They do not require external heating. As they do breed in captivity, I will be discussing how to raise newt larvae in a later post, maybe closer to Spring.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: Turtles: The Animal Answer Guide

I grew up loving turtles. The 1st pet I ever had was a box turtle my parents got me. I kept him in a cage next to my bed. I was young and didn't know a quarter of what I know about reptiles and amphibians now. The turtle died after 6 months. Boy was I surprised years later when I learned they could live 100 years! I really don't think children under the age of ten should be given the responsibility of caring for herps (this new found wisdom is too late to save that first turtle of mine,though). Years later in high school I took A job working as a volunteer at a nature center. There I worked with many turtles and tortoise (over 10 different species, and more than 2 of each species). I learned a lot of valuable knowledge there. The other day I was walking through Barnes and Noble and I saw a book called Turtles: The Animal Answer Guide, by Whit Gibbons and Judy Greene. Usually I stay away from books that are so general and that seem to be playing the part of the "complete difinitive book" on a subject if I want real information, bu this book impressed me. It consists of many different questions people may have about turtles organized in to categories, and then provides answers to these questions. Not a very original setup but it is an essential book if you want to learn abot turtles. Gibbons and Greene blend natural history with captive care (though the book is definitely not a caresheet. They answer hundreds of questions. It is not for the seasoned herper, but definitely the type of book you should buy when you first enter the hobby. Now for a funny Story. There isa sction in the book on what to do if you see a turtle in the road. They say it is perfectly fine to move it off the road. This made me laugh, not because I'm some weirdo who finds turtles in the road funny, but because of what happended to me on a past trip to Virginia. I was a warm morning in Louisa County. Me, in the backseat, my mother dozing off in the passenger seat and my father driving. We were making our way to visit grandma, when all at once I spotted something in the road ahead. From my previous experience, as mentioned earlier, I immediately was able to identify the object as a box turtle. I had never seen on in the wild before and was a little to exited. I screamed "stop! we gott get him of te road". My day begrudgingly said alright. I opened the door and place my left foot on the pavement. just as I did my father got the bright idea to pull up closer to the waiting reptile. He proceeding to run the back tire onto my foot. I screamed in pain, my mother turned around and I thought oh Sh*t it's broken! He quickly backed up and I pulled my foot in to the car. My mother in rage hit my dad on the shoulder, as he ran around to check on me. He asked me how I felt and I said "go get the turtle off the road". He said "how" and I said "just throw it in the woods", big mistake because my genius father picked up the turtle and literally threw it through the air in to the woods. To make a long story short i got an x-ray and it wasn't broken, I limped the rest of the trip, My mom remained angry at my father told me "next time we drive by the turtle". For my sake and the turtles sake he's right.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speak up

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to Care for Crickets

gut loading crickets
Crickets are the number one food we herpers feed our pets. They are nutritious, easy to handle, and readily available. They are even considered good luck by the Chinese. Now how many of you buy your crickets everytime its your animal's feeding day? This is time consuming, buying 10 crickets here and there. Instead I recommend you buy 60 or more and keep them in a tank for when you need them. They are not hard to keep alive, and by caring for them you are "gut-loading" them with nutritious food, thus making them better for your animals.

Simply select a suitable glass or plastic tank like a spare 10 gal or a critter keeper. You may add paper towel tubes or egg cartons for them to crawl on (The paper towel tubes are also great for moving them). For protein you can provide them with store bought cricket food like flukers or oatmeal. Give them grated carrot and peices of green leaf lettuce for moisture, as well as some additional vegetables and fruit pieces if desired. I also like to give mine moistened paper towels for water. Change the wet food every other day. Crickets like warmth but if you keep them too warm they might grow too fast. Use the crickets as necessary.

And please don't forget to dust them once a week with calcium powder at you animals feeding time. If your animals are juveniles dust their crickets more often.