When Lizards will not eat, they have to eat

October 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Reptiles

Like any animal, lizards at times in captivity will need to be force fed. There are situations and conditions which will result in a lizard not eating on their own.

Some diseases lizards can get will result in seizures, or a similar condition. It is imperative not to feed them during an incident like this. They will most likely not be able to swallow the food. It is best to seek the help of a veterinarian at this point. The animal will need to have a tube placed into their stomach to feed. If the animal shows no signs of seizures, they can be fed using a syringe. It is tricky to get their mouth open, but should be possible using the syringe itself.

Using the syringe, squeeze the processed food into the back of the throat, taking great care to avoid the trachea at the back of the tongue. Make sure to only offer as much food as the animal can handle. Larger lizards can obviously handle more food. It may also be possible to force-feed feeder insects. If the lizard is having digestive problems however, the liquid substitute is much easier to digest, as much of the work is already done. Another advantage of liquid feeding is the fact that you control exactly what the lizard is getting into its diet.

For the vegetable part of the liquid diet, vegetable baby food works very well. This food is high in vitamins and can easily be digested by the lizard. Make sure to add in a calcium supplement to the food. Younger lizards need to be fed more often but in smaller quantities, while larger lizards will need to be fed less often, but with higher quantities per feeding. You have to follow the natural way your lizard eats its food, as not to upset their natural metabolism. If your lizard eats both insects and vegetables, you can use a type of cat food (used for sick cats) if they will eat it. You can also try to add insect matter (use fresh insects) into the liquid mix.

Captive Care of the North American Box Turtle

October 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Reptiles

There are 2 species, with 6 subspecies, of North American Box Turtle. They are the : Florida Box Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle, Gulf Coast Box Turtle, Three-toed Box Turtle, Desert Box Turtle, and Ornate Box Turtle.

Box turtles tend to fall somewhere between the truly aquatic turtles and the terrestrial tortoises with their need for access to bodies of water in which to soak and their need for wooded and grassland areas with moist humid soil. Box turtle forage for food on land and spend the time they sleep dug into the earth in burrows, under logs, or wedged under rocks.

HOUSING:
Box turtles need a good size enclosure in order to provide for the proper range of heating and humidity. The smallest size indoor enclosure for one box turtle to be kept in is 3 x 3 x 2 feet. For two turtles, the minimum size should be at least 4 x 4 x 2 feet. Aquariums are not appropriate housing for an adult box turtle. Babies may be kept in aquariums, but as they grow largeer enclosures are needed. Create a land area using 2 to 3 inches of good quality plain sterile potting gsoil slightly moistened. Do not use backyard dirt of soil from a garden. Mix the soil with cypress mulch. Do not used coarse substrates such are gravel or sand, as these tend to scratch the shell and open the way for bacterial infections. Box turtles require a hide box in which to get away from it all and feel secure. A good size box in one corner of the enclosure, filled with alfalfa hay in which to burrow. is essential. The hide box can be anything from a cardboard box to a plastic container with a door cut into it. A water area must be provided tht is deep enough that the water comes to just about the nose of the turtle. It doesn’t need to be swimming, just soaking. If using a kitty litter pan, it is best to sink this into the substrate and provdie a ramp to get in and get out for the turtle. The water area must be kept clean at all times. Box turtles not only use the water to soak in but also relieve themsleves in.

LIGHTING:
Full spectrum lighting is required for indoor enclosures. Full spectrum light mimics the beneficial effects of natural sunlight, enabling the turtle to metabolize vitamin D3. The full spectrum lighting is an essential part of the calcium metabolization process. Without the specific wavelengths and proper diet, calcium deficiencies will result which may ultimately prove fatal. Box Turtles need 12 to 14 hours of light each day. NOTE: UV waves cannot pass through glass, and 40% of the available waves are lost when the light passes through an aluminum screen, try to have the light shining directly on them.

HUMIDITY/TEMPERATURE:
Day Time temps: 85 to 88 degrees
Night Time temps: 70 to 75 degrees.
Most box turtles require a relative humidity of 60 to 80% in at least one area of their enclosure. Turtle that are not provided with the correct humidity often suffer from infected and swollen eyes and ear infections. Providing humidity is simple, in one corner of the enclosure provide some peat moss and wet it down with water until it is fairly moist. A hiding area , such as a cardboard box or large plastic container with ventilation holes should be placed over the wet peat moss. Be sure to check the moss constantly to insure it is moist and has not dried out.

DIET:
It is best to offer food after the turtle has had a few hours to warm up in the morning. Young turtle require feeding on a daily basis, while adult can be fed every other day. Make sure you vary their diet with both plant and animal matter. Vitamin supplements should be added twice a week.
Plants: A variety of vegetables, greens and fruits are a must. Such as a “salad” of carrots, squash green beans, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, and plums. Some cantaloupe (with the rind), mustard greens, dandelions, and collard greens can also be mixed in. For treats you can add flowers like hibiscus, rose petals, and geraniums.
Meat: High quality low fat canned dog food, finely chopped cooked chicken or raw beef heart. Live food can also be offered, like meal worms and crickets.
Young turtles require more animal matter in their diet due to their need of protein. As they grow into adults this should be reduced over time to no more than 10% of their total diet.

BRUMATION/HIBERNATION:
It is a good idea to allow your box turtle to hibernate, especially if you keep it in an outdoor enclosure during the summer months.This is to allow the box turtles internal clock to remian normal. If you choose not to hibernate the turtle, you must keep it warm and provide plenty of UV lighting along with their normal dietary needs.
To prepare a box turtle for hibernation, do not feed the animal for two weeks, but keep the heat on to allow the animal to fully digest any food remaining in its stomach and intestinal tract. Soak the box turtle in a shallow container of lukewarm water a few times during this period for about 10 minutes, this will help to hydrate the animal and to remove any food left in their system. Box turtle hibernated with food still present in their intestinal tract can die from massive infections as the food rots inside them.
Hibernating box turtles indoor requires a hibernation box. A cardboard box half filled with moist sterile potting soil or peat moss with holes punched in the sides for aeration is an appropriate hibernation box. After all the food has been cleared from the turtle’s system, introduce the turtle to the hibernation box. If the box turtle buries down into the substrate and remains still, it is ready for hibernation. If the animal is moving restlessly around after 20 minutes in the box, return if to its enclosure, wait a few days and try again. If the box turtle is ready, move it to an unheated room, such as a garage, where the temperature will remain between 40 to 55 degrees. Check the box turtle weekly to make sure is has not surfaced prematurely. Box turtles usually come out of hibernation after experiencing temperature above 65 degrees for a few days. After the turtle comes out of hibernation, return it to its regular enclosure, provide water, warm it up for a couple of days, and then offer some food. Pay close attention to the turtle during the time after hibernation to observe for any health problems that may occur.

 

Tips For Buying A Pet Snake

October 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Reptiles

Buying a snake can be a sizable investment. Getting a snake requires making a commitment to the pet’s care and well-being. It is important to do your research so you know that the particular species or breed is something you will enjoy owning in the years to come. Find out how difficult they are to feed and house before you buy. Also find out about the snake’s temperament.

Remember that some snakes get extremely large, can be dangerous, and live a long time. Lifespans of over twenty years are not uncommon. Don’t assume getting rid of that unwanted reptile will be a piece of cake either.

Another thing to check out before buying is the laws of your particular city. In many places, snakes of certain varieties are restricted as pets.

That being said, it’s a good idea to get the enclosure, or vivarium, ready for the snake to move in before buying one. Different species have different requirements in heat, humidity, and size of enclosure, so again, do your homework.

Before buying, look your snake over for indicators of poor health. It’s a good idea to hang around the pet store or breeders’ for a while, just watching the snakes for clues to individual snakes’ personalities. The eyes should be bright and shiny. If they appear dull, it’s a sign that the snake is about to shed its skin. Wait until it has shed so you can get a better idea of how it looks.

It is important to get a snake that has been hatched or birthed by a reputable breeder. Make sure the snake is accustomed to eating pre-killed food before you buy it.

The best place to go to find a reputable breeder is your local herpetology society. Most areas have herp clubs for people who are into reptiles. If you’re lucky, you might get to attend a herp show in your area. Breeders attend these gatherings and show off their stock. Search online for information about herp shows you could attend. (Herpetology is the branch of biology that studies reptiles and amphibians. “Herp” is a common nickname for these animals.)

When studying the choices of pet snake species, get to know the Latin names. Common names vary with pet stores and with regions. By knowing exactly what species of snake you want, you can save yourself a lot of trouble. Different species of similar snakes, such as boas or pythons, have different temperaments and grow to different sizes. Just knowing it is a boa or a python is not specific enough to know for sure what you are getting.

Finally, there are some people who just should not own pet snakes. These include homes with children under five and anyone with a compromised immune system, because there is a small possibility of a snake carrying salmonella. The large python constrained be a danger to young children, too. (And to everyone else, too! Be extremely careful, and know what you’re getting into.)
Educate yourself before you start shopping for that cool looking snake. If it’s your first snake, consider getting and prepare to be in it for the long haul.

Ball Python Pet

October 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Reptiles

Ball pythons grow to about 4 feet in length and some may grow to about 5 feet in length. They become nicely rounded if properly fed. They have anal spurs. These are single claws that appear on either side of the vent. Males have longer spurs than females and males also have smaller heads than females. They have blotches on a brown or bluish-brown background color. Colors may vary but there will be shades of yellow found in all ball pythons.

Basic Care:

Glass tanks can be used for housing with a fixed glass top. Ball pythons are more cunning than other snakes when it comes to escaping from the cage. A ten gallon tank can be used for a hatch-ling  A young adult will need a 20 gallon tank, and a full grown adult will need a 30 gallon tank.

These snakes will adjust to the environment it is housed in, but will normally require a more humid area when it is shedding. If one notices that the snake has not eaten for a very long time though it is necessary, and it begins to lose weight, it must be shown to a vetenary.

Diet:

In the wild ball pythons eat amphibians, other snakes, small mammals and birds. They do not eat mice in the wild. In captivity one has to let them grow into the activity of being fed with mice. These snakes do not need to eat regularly and some may even live for up to a year without any food.

Baby ball pythons can be fed with mice that have already been killed. If the hatchling is smaller than usual, a smaller mouse can be used as the feed. Adults may be fed with larger mice. These snakes do not need a regular feeding time table. Fresh water must be provided daily, as the ball python like others drinks and also soaks itself in the water.

Heat and light:

For the snake to be healthy proper temperature range must be maintained. A temperature of 80 to 85 ºF with a 90 degree spot for basking must be maintained in the day time. The temperature may be around 70 to 75 ºF in the cooler area. Heating pads may be used under the glass enclosure.

Hot rocks will not be suitable because ball pythons are susceptible to thermal burns. Special lights are not needed, and a low wattage bulb can be used to view the snake in the day time. Ball pythons are especially prone to getting burned and so the light must not be kept directly above them.

Environment:

Ball pythons in the wild are found in generally temperate to arid areas. Initially paper towels can be used as substrate in the housing. This will also help determine if there are any mites present and also the feces can be monitored. Shredded cypress or fur bark can be used after the ball python is used to living in the enclosure. Pine and aspen shavings are not recommended, as they may get lodged in the mouth causing respiratory problems. Soiled shavings must be removed to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus.

An empty cardboard box or a log must be placed inside the cage for the ball python to use it as a hiding place. One must make sure the box is large enough for the entire snake to fit inside. The hiding place should not be too big as the snake likes to have a small place to hide. Fake branches and greenery may be placed inside the cage for the snake to climb and hang on.

Behavior:

They are active around dawn and dusk. They are comfortable on the ground and in the trees. They curl up tightly and put their heads in the center when they become nervous. They are curious and gentle. Some ball pythons will not shed for a few months when they are initially in captivity. This means they are highly stressed with the surroundings.