Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Dust Fruit Flies with Calcium

fruit flies
Dusting small insects like fruit flies with calcium/vitamin powder can be very difficult. It's hard to get just enough dust on them without extra going into the tank. Fruit flies also crawl up the side of the container and have to be constantly shaken down when not covered. A very simple way to avoid this problem is to:

1) Shake the fruit flies into a container. Put a top on it and place the container into a refrigerator. Let the flies cool for at least 10-15 minutes. They will stop moving.

2) Working quickly sprinkle dust on them and shake.

3) Dump them into a fine mess strainer and shake off the excess dust. They are now ready to feed to your animals.

The flies quickly warm up in the tank and start moving again. This is the method I use to dust flies for my dart frogs. I like it because flies that aren't moving are easier to deal with, and you don't get extra dust in the tank.

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Get My Snake to Eat?

A few tips for getting a stubborn snake to eat...

1) Make sure the snake is warm enough. If the snake is in a cool area it's metabolism will be significantly lower.

2) Make sure the food is warm. A living mouse will obviously have a higher temperature than a dead room temperature mouse. If you soak the mice in warm water before using them the snake may think they are alive and be more interested.

3) If a ball python is rejecting mice or rats try gerbils.

4) Don't be afraid to rub the snake with the food in order to get it's attention.

5) Make sure you are not feeding your snakes too often. if the snake doesn't eat today wait a few days and try again. It may still be digesting its last meal.

6) If the snake is new let it get acclimated to it's new environment before trying to feed it. Also ask if it had been fed just before you purchased it.

7) Some snakes may be more accepting of live food. Live food is nothing to be afraid, just don't leave the animal with the snake if it doesn't accept it.

8) If your snake grabs the food off the tongs and then drops it you can try holding on to the prey item and lightly tugging and wiggling it. This will make the snake thing it is alive and he will hold it tighter to try to kill it (gives him satisfaction). Tugging on it for 10 seconds is enough.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Care for Poison Dart Frogs

Poison dart frogs are some of the most stunning and beautiful animals you can have as pets. They have very specific care requirements and require very small foods, With proper research and the right supplies anyone can care for them. Dart frogs are native to Central and South America. They contain powerful toxins in their skin in the wild, but captive bred individuals loose them. They can live 7-15 yrs. These frogs are active during the day and known for being bold. They can provide you with hours of enjoyment watching them search for food and interact.

Keep your dart frogs in tropical, planted vivarium with plenty of hiding and climbing places. Two frogs can be kept in a ten gallon tank. Add 10 additional gallons for each additional frog to avoid territorial fights.

Water and Humidity
Water should be provided at all times. It can be in the form of a moving water feature or a water bowl. Perform frequent partial water changes if using a water feature, and change the water daily if using a water bowl. Humidity should be between 70-100%. The higher the better with these frogs. Mist the tank daily or hook it up to a fogger to maintain the humidity.

These frogs due well with daytime temperature ranging from 72-82 degrees F. Night time temperatures can be allowed to drop down to 70 or high 60s. A heating pad stuck to the back of the tank will provide sufficient heat.


Dart frogs require small foods. Feed them pinhead crickets, fruit flies, spring tails, termites, flour beetles and other small foods (Phyllobates terribilis can take up to quarter inch crickets). I culture my own fruit flies, spring tails, and crickets to feed mine.Young frogs should be fed everyday. Adults can also eat everyday, but every other day is just as fine for them. Dust the food with a calcium/vitamin supplement 2-3 times a week and offer a variety of foods.

Good Beginner Species

Dendrobates Auratus (pictured above)
D. Leucomelas
D. Azures
D. Tinctorius
Phyllobates Terribilis
P. Vittatus
P. bicolor

Sunday, September 18, 2011

12 New Species of Frog Discovered!

Very interesting article. Link to Article

There is so much left to be discovered on this planet it makes you wonder just how many species there are.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New York Metro Reptile Expo

The reptile expo is back at the Westchester County Center today, Sept. 11 2011 from 10am-4pm. Adults:$10, children;$5, Children under 7:free.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Look at the Color on this Toad!

This beautiful southern toad (Anaxyrus terrestris...I still like bufo but I guess I'll get used to it)was foud in virginia at my aunts house. It was hiding under a wooden board.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eyelash Viper

I was lucky enough to see an eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlebelii) on my trip to Costa Rica. The eyelash viper is a small, venomous pit viper, rarely exceeding 2.5 ft (with females being larger than males). These snakes are arboreal and known for their wide range of colors (red, yellow, brown, green, and pink). Their name comes from scales above their eyes that resemble eyelashes. They can be found in the moist forests of Central and South America from sea level to 2640 m in elevation, though they prefer lower altitudes. These snakes are mostly nocturnal and eat rodents, frogs, lizards, and birds. They are also ovoviviparous meaning that they give birth to live young from eggs stored in the body instead of being laid. They have 10-12 young in this manner.

The snake pictured above was found crossing a trail on a night hike in Poco Sol, after being nearly stepped on by a companion. It was no more than a foot long.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New York Metro Reptile Expo

The New York Metro Reptile Expo will be held at the Westchester County Center on Sunday, July 10. It is a great place to get your pets and supplies. Time is from 10am- 4pm. Adults are $10. Children 7-12 are $4, and children under 7 are free.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Smokey Jungle Frog

smokey jungle frog
Early during my trip to Costa Rica I managed to find one of the biggest frogs down there, the smokey jungle frog (Leptodactylus pentadactylus). I heard a frog calling early one evening and managed to track it down to the edge of a man-made tilapia pond. Immediately upon my grabbing it, the frog jumped into defense mode and began to yelp like a puppy, and secrete a noxious fluid from its skin. I found many frogs in Costa Rica, but this one was absolutely my favorite.

These frogs are native to Central and South America. Their native name translates into "common bulfrog". indeed they are bull frog size with the males growing up to 7.3 inches. They are found near water in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and into montane forests. These frogs are nocturnal and during the day can be found in burrows, under logs, and in leaf litter.

After many pictures were taken (in which I look terrible, and the frog looks almost demonic), the frog pictured above was returned to the pond where he called for the rest of the night.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Leopard Gecko Care

leopard gecko
Leopard geckos make great pets. I listed them as one of the best beginner reptiles in a past post. They are easy to care for and can live 20yrs.

Housing: A ten gallon tank is fine for one adult. Use a safe reptile sand, turf, or newspaper as a substrate. I like sand because it is more naturalistic. Provide the gecko with a hiding spot of some kind, and a water bowl. Sticks, rocks, and fake plants may be used as decoration.

Heating and lighting: Leopard geckos come from warm regions in Afghanistan into Pakistan. They thus require added heat. An under tank heat pad will serve this purpose perfectly. The temperature can be in the 80s during the day and drop down to 68 degrees F at night. They are nocturnal and thus do not require special lighting like most other reptiles, but a UV light will make the tank easier to see into and it certainly won't hurt.

Feeding: Leopard geckos are insectivorous. Feed them crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and any other insect. A big adult can even eat a pinkie mouse (but these should not be fed often). Dust the food with a calcium powder once a week.

Handling: Leopard geckos are not very fast, and are very docile, so they can be handled. Don't handle then excessively, though, and be gentle with their tails.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Exitement in the Neighborhood

Sounds like a fun day in the condos, but seriously if you are going to keep a big lizard, keep it locked up when you are not around.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Breeding and Raising Crickets

young crickets
If you have a lot of insectivorous reptiles and amphibians then chances are you have to buy a lot of crickets. Or maybe you already breed them yourself. If you do, read no further. if you don't, why don't you? If a1l you need is 20 crickets a week breeding them won't be worth it (but it will still be fun). If on the other hand you need 100 or more crickets a week then you should definitely look into breeding your own. Be warned, though, crickets smell and they chirp. So find a place not near your sleeping area to store your colony.

Sexing Crickets
You will need adult crickets to begin your colony. Adult crickets are about an inch long and have fully developed wings covering the abdomen. Males have 2 appendages sticking out of the end of the abdomen. Females have three. The middle one on the females is long and black and is called the ovipositor. It is from here that they lay their eggs.

How Many Crickets Do I Need?
Not as many as you might think. A female cricket lays about 5-10 eggs a day, for a total of around 100 in her life (this does not mean the only live 10-20 days just that they will lay up until they reach 100 give or take). So 10 females should give you 1000 baby crickets if you let them lay for 10 days right? Well some females will inevitably die and some may be more or less prolific (not to mention some eggs might not hatch and some babies will die also) Basically the longer you let the females lay eggs the more baby crickets you will get. I recommend starting off small. Go to a pet shop and ask for 20-30 large crickets. You should get a good mix of males and females to start with. Make sure they are adults, though. Not all crickets sold as large may be adults (look for fully developed wings- if you can see the abdomen the wings are not fully developed).

The Setup
A glass tank or critter keeper is good for a small colony. Provide the crickets with food, water, heat, something to crawl on, and a place to lay eggs. Food can include store bought gutload, cricket gels, chicken mash, fruits and vegetables, and oatmeal. Water can come from the foods if they are well like fruits, wet paper towels, or a shallow dish of water with cotton swabs on them. Heat can come from a heat lamp, heating pad or placing the cage next to a radiator. Crickets like it between 85-88 degrees F. Toilet paper tubes and egg carton (paper) will give them climbing surfaces. The egg laying container can be any old plastic container filled with moist coco fiber or other clean soil. Keep it moist not wet. I use old margarine tubs. Clear containers are nice also because you can see the eggs around the edge.

The Babies
Remember that the females will lay 5- 10 eggs a day. The average of that is 7. If you have 15 females, in 3 days you will have around 315 eggs (I you do not heat the crickets you will have significantly less). I would remove the egg laying container at this point, since you don't want to many for you first time. Put the container in another heated cage. Keep it moist! The eggs will hatch in 10-14 days. The young are called pinheads because they are very small. If you have small animals you may use them now. If not you will have to raise them. The young eat what the adults eat, but I would chop it smaller for them. Crickets go through eight sizes. How fast they grow depends on temperature, but in a few weeks they should be standard pet shop "small" size.

Breeding Crickets can be a fun and rewarding experience. It is not all that difficult either. It is so easy. I did it by accident many yrs ago. I was feeding my toad Ben large crickets (the pet shop was out of small). As usual I poured the crickets directly into the cage. Ben ate greedily but missed a few. "He'll get those later" I said. Sure enough he got them. well two weeks went by. I look into his cage and what do i see?. An area of soil covered with little white dots. My first thought was "springtails! why are they swarming?" But upon closer examination I noticed they were baby crickets hatching and I wasn't even trying!

You can buy crickets from many places including Amazon using the link below.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Feeder Insect Nutrition Facts

Nearly all amphibians and many reptiles kept as pets are insectivorous. While larger species can eat mice for health reasons the bulk of your non-herbivorous herps diet should be insects. Their are well over a million species of insects in the world so their is no end to your options for feeding your pets. Indeed if you live in a relatively rural area you can get away with turning on the porch light at night to attract all the insects you need. Alas most of us have to buy our feeders. Nearly all pet shops sell four main feeder insects: crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms (all of which you can breed on your own but that's another post). I call these the "Big Four". If you can't find them you're looking in the wrong place. Their are many other feeder that you usually have to order. These include fruit flies, springtails, phoenix worms, cockroaches, butterworms, and flies. I will be dealing with the "Big Four" here.

There are many charts online outlining the basic nutrition facts for various feeder insects. You may find that their numbers differ. This is due to the fact that no to feeder population sill be the same. One company may have more fat in in their gutload. Another may have more calcium. These charts are simply guides and they are usually not far off. Below I will compare the fat, protein, fiber, phosphorous, and calcium for the "Big Four". No exact numbers will be given since they are not useful here.

Crickets are the lowest in fat. Wax worms are the highest.

Crickets and mealworms have nearly the same amount of protein with waxworms and superworms not too far behind.

Waxworms and superworms have the most fiber with crickets a far second.

Crickets have the most phosphorous with mealworms close behind. Waxworms and superworms are almost the same with the least.

Crickets have the most Calcium, followed by waxworms, superworms and mealworms have the least.

What Should I feed my Pets?
Short answer: crickets. Of the "Big Four" they can't be beat. Long answer: use your better judgment. You obviously wouldn't want to feed them waxworms regularly because of their high fat content. Also keep in mind that in the wild these creatures have a wide selection of insects to satisfy their nutritional needs. so it is good to give them a selection. Gut loaded crickets fed a healthy diet (like Flukers high calcium cricket food) and dusted with a vitamin/calcium powder can make up the majority of the diet but supplement it with other insects too. Even venture into more exotic feeders (cockroaches are great).

You can buy Flukers cricket food by clicking on the link below.