Thursday, March 25, 2010

New York Metro Reptile Expo

The next New York Metro Reptile Expo will be Sunday, April 18th. It will be held from 10am-4pm at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY. More than 200 vendors will be there. Adult admission is $10.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Big Ben

This is the story of How I caught Big Ben. He is my Southern toad, that I haave had for nearly 13 years. No names will be used.

Every summer when I was little (below the age of 11) my family would take a vacation to Virginia Beach. It's not that nice of a beach but when you are cheap it will do. We would often go around the 4th of july so we could sit on the balcony and watch the fireworks over the ocean. It was always a beautiful time. The summer of my 8th year we visited my second cousin and her family. They lived near the beach. It was fun to be with my cousins for a time, but it soon got boring. To pass the time I went outside to see what creatures I could find. My cousin followed (to my dismay).

When we came to the front yard we saw another kid across the street. My cousin introduced me to him, and he wondered what I was doing. I proceeded to explain my interest in nature and that I was just looking around for something interesting. He offered to take me to a pond near his house, so we went. As I looked around the water I saw no movement. The pond looked dead. Then to my surprise I saw him jump. He caught a small frog and placed it in a jar. I looked at it and jealosy overcame me. I wanted to catch something, but there was nothing else, so we walked back to my cousin's house where the subject of bicycles came up.

I couldn't ride a bicycle and so he offered to teach me, but I would have no part of it. I would not let the one who out-frogged me show his superiority once more by teaching me, no I wouldn't. Besides it was getting dark and I wasn't going to learn to ride a bike in the dark. I left and went inside for dinner- mmmm ribs, if my memory serves me correctly. After dinner, still unsatisfied that I had caught nothing that day, I went outside and started looking around for some nocturnal specimens. I started rummaging around some old wooden boards when I saw something move. I jumped back. At first I thought it was a rat. I don't know why, but then I noticed that the shadowy creature hopped. I grapped at the dark figure and felt bumps- A toad! I had caught one other toad in my life at this point, and it was nowhere near as big as this one.

I ran inside hands covered with toad pee. My mother screamed, my father said "what the hell is that", My cousin said "oooo your gonna get warts". I placed the toad into my critter keeper and looked at him with pride. I had caugh something! I went outside and saw the kid across the street. I showed him my find and smuggly remarked "Mine's bigger than yours". He said he didn't care, and he probably didn't, and neither did I really. I was just glad I caught something. When we left my cousins I bought the toad with me. I hid his cage under my coat since I was worried about the hotel we were staying at's "no pet policy". On the trip back home to NY, the toad that would one day be called Big Ben road in the back seat with me. If you had told me then that 12 1/2 yrs later I would still have this toad I would have called you crazy and said "silly you, toads don't live that long!" Well they can.

When I left for college I gave all my pets away. all except Ben. For this reason I call him the Alpha and Omega. Of my initial group of pets he was the first, and the last.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Late but Interesting!

Biologists find proof of first confirmed species of monogamous frog

ScienceDaily (2010-03-12) -- Amphibians may be a love 'em and leave 'em class, but one frog species defies the norm, scientists have found. Biologists have discovered in Peru the first confirmed species of monogamous amphibian, Ranitomeya imitator, better known as the mimic poison frog -- a finding that provides groundbreaking insight into the ecological factors that influence mating behavior. ... > read full article

Saturday, March 13, 2010

How to Care for Tadpoles

tadpole care
We all remember as little kids the awe we felt at the power of nature, when we first learned that frogs came from fish-like tadpoles. My grandfather recalls not believing it until he was a grown man and actully saw the mtamorphosis with his own eyes over the course of a few months. I've raised many tadpoles in my day. I consider it a right of passage for an kid who claims to be interested in science. Upon raising my first tadpole my mother was so proud that her son had given her "a grandbaby" even if it was a frog. I almost raise at least two every summer and promptly release them where they were caught.

Raising tadpoles is a fun and rewarding experience, that's not just for kids. And since Spring is just around the corner and soon the ponds will be full of these little critters I thought it appropriate to write a little on thier care.

 First use clean dechloriated water in thier tank. pond water is good if you can get it regularly, bottled water is fine, and tap water will do as long as you use the dechlorinator drops from the pet shop.

Secondly, please do not crowd them: it is stressful, they'll nibble each othes tails, and it will make clean up to hard. 2 two or 3 tadpoles in a medium sized critter keeper.

Third, keep the water clean. Take out half the water and replace it every other day. Do a full change once every week or week and a half. You dont have to remove the tads when doing a partial change, only on a full change- think aquariums.

 Fourth, lets talk food. Most tadpoles you will have will be herbivorous or omnivorous. Some species are carnivorous (ie:Mexican spadefoot toad, or pacman frog), but I doubt you have then in your local pond. Feed your tadpoles frozen thawed spinach (no butter please), algae, algae pellets (like spirulina), fishfood, and you may try prepared tadpole food. Variety is the key to health in all diets.

Lastly, remember that when your tads front and back legs come out (back is always first) lower the water level, stop feeding them, and give them something they can climb onto when they start breathing air (this will occur before the tail is fully gone.

This is simply an overview that does not guarantee success. It is important to research your species. If you do not know the species then following this guide will at least put you on the right track to proper care. (and as far as temperature goes a rule of thumb is: the warmer the water, the faster the tadpole will change but room temperature is fine for most species, as overheating is possible).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Global Warming Didn't Do It?

This is an interesting article on the causes of the extinction of a tropical toad species from Science Daily. It shows that understanding the current extinction crisis is not going to be cut and dry. There are many variables as with anything in science.:
Link to Article