General Considerations When Raising Tadpoles

Frogs are fascinating amphibians which are increasingly being kept as pets by enthusiastic herpetoculturists. Caring for frogs in captivity naturally results in a desire to have a go at breeding them, providing other frog-keepers with captive born stock, making some money to recover the costs of buying the animals and equipment, and an amazing opportunity of observing the amphibian life cycle from egg to frog. Any successful frog breeding project must include research about, and a plan of how to raise the tadpoles.

Tadpoles are the larval form of frogs. The vast majority of amphibian species reproduce through externally developing eggs which result in aquatic tadpoles, and after a period of growth, undergo metamorphosis, which completely changes their morphology to froglets, which can live on both land and water. Because of the huge variety of types of frog that are bred in captivity, this article will not be able to provide detailed information about raising tadpoles of a specific species, but will discuss some universal considerations that are applicable to all tadpoles.

The vast majority of frog species start their life cycle as complete aquatic larvae, making the care of tadpoles is not dissimilar to that of aquarium fish and fish fry. Once the eggs are laid by the female they should be removed from the frog terrarium and placed in their own aquarium. The water in which the tadpoles will be reared must be dechlorinated, the easiest way to achieve that is by treating tap water with an aquarium fish water conditioner, which removes chlorines and chloramines. The water should be maintained at a temperature that is specific for the particular species of frog that you are breading, which might necessitate adding a heater to the aquarium.

It is best not to use gravel in the tadpole rearing tank, since it makes cleaning easier. Initially no filtration or aeration should be used, since the tiny tadpoles will find it hard to swim against the currents created and could be sucked up into the filter. It is easiest to start with a low water level, and gradually increase it by adding more dechlorinated water at the same temperature as the tank water, since water changes with tiny tadpoles are difficult. As the tadpoles grow in size and the rearing tank becomes filled with water, daily water changes of 50% of the water will become necessary to keep the water quality high. Gentle aeration with an airstone and an air pump should be added about 2 weeks after spawning. Biological filtration may be added using a simple sponge box filter driven by an air pump.

Feeding strategies for the tadpoles will depend on their species, and should be researched for each species that is raised. During the first few days after hatching, the embryos will not require food, since they will be absorbing their yolk sac. It is however preferable to start feeding too early, rather than too late, since starvation at this early stage in development can seriously delay growth and might lead to developmental abnormalities. Many frog species are herbivorous during their larval stages and can be fed on lettuce and other greens, which should be blanched under boiling water to soften them. Tadpoles of the African clawed frog are basically filter feeders and should be raised on infusoria, or powdered algae tablets. Providing some light over the tadpole tank will encourage the growth of algae and green water, providing a non-polluting and self-sustaining source of food. Carnivorous tadpoles such as those of the horned frogs, are perhaps the most difficult to feed, since they need live food and would probably do best on fish fry. They are often cannibalistic and will require isolating as they grow.

Choosing Among Several Reptile Cages and Terrariums

If you’re the type of pet owner who loves to raise cold-blooded animals as a hobby, then you should be familiar with the equipments that these species need, including a convenient home. However, with so many of these reptile cages and terrariums available in the market today, it will be harder for you to settle on a single brand, also considering that these products are often equipped with features, which satisfy a specific function. Fortunately, there are some helpful hints by which you can quickly go in and out of the store in record time, while still getting that prized furniture.

1. Reptile cages and terrariums come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and thus, you are required to take note of the body measurements of your pets, as well as its ability to crawl and climb from one place to another. If you feel like your pal needs more room to stretch its legs, or exercise its muscles, then a long vivarium should accommodate these needs. However, if your pal loves to attach itself to the glass walls, adjustments to the heights are required.

2. An ideal terrarium should already be equipped with a special fixture, where you can install your reptile lighting. It doesn’t matter whether the equipment is meant for fluorescent strips or small bulbs. What’s important is that there is an allocated space to accommodate these vital devices. If you’re having problems with locating these cages, then you’d be surprised to learn that you’re more likely to find the perfect pet home in the aquarium section of the store.

3. Your reptile supplies should also fit inside the terrarium. While this is one of the factors, which should be at the top of your priority list, it is surprising to know that many owners overlook this fact, resulting to an overcrowded home or a messy interior decoration.

4. Common reptile supplies, such as the terrarium, are always available in the market with a wide range in price that is meant to satisfy everyone’s budget. However, when picking the perfect home, you should also take the time to check every aspect of the house, without looking at the expenses. This way, you know that your decision will not be influenced by your savings. Instead, you will be more driven to settle on a product based on its quality.

Considering these few tips is sure to guarantee that you will bring home the perfect terrarium for your beloved friends.

Crested Gecko Care Made Easy

The crested gecko is a popular choice for reptile keepers. These geckos are great for beginners, but many experienced reptile keepers enjoy keeping these charming creatures as well.There is a large variety of patterns and colors that make this herp a distinguished favorite. Even though they are a cute pet, you should not purchase one before you know exactly how to care for them. Proper Crested gecko care is crucial to maintaining the health and general well-being of your pet.

The crested gecko is a nocturnal animal, i.e. most activity takes place at night. This may deter you from keeping them as pets as you may not see much of them during the day. There are advantages to this behavior too though; providing the right light is not a problem anymore. Most reptiles require light that contains UV rays to maintain their health. Installing a bulb that emits UV rays in a small cage can be a bit of a challenge. Crested geckos don’t require any significant amounts of UV rays and you therefore don’t have to worry about the light in the terrarium.

Unlike most reptiles, crested geckos are omnivorous, i.e. they eat both vegetables (actually berries and pureed fruit) as well as meat (mainly insects, though they may actually eat their own offspring).

Are you wondering how they got their name? They got their name from the fringe that is running down their back, starting right above their eyes. You may also hear people calling them the “eyelash gecko” because of that fringe. Their scientific name is Rhacodactylus ciliatus. Rhakos is Greek for spine, Dactylus means “finger” and Cilia is latin for “fringe”.

At one point in time, it was believed that this species was extinct, but then, in the year 1994, it was rediscovered off the coast of Australia in the islands of New Caledonia.

Breeding Crested Geckos

If you are thinking about breeding this species, you are in luck, because they are fairly easy to breed. Before you breed them, they should be at least fourteen months old, at least 35 grams and of course, healthy. In order to produce the eggs properly, the female will need to receive the right amount of calcium, it is therefore important to add supplements of calcium to your crested gecko’s diet. Calcium specifically produced for reptiles is readily available in pet shops and online. The gestation period for this species is between 30-35 days. During this time, the female crested gecko produces two eggs. Sperm can remain in the female for up to eight months after mating, so eggs can be fertilized even after males have been removed from the cage.

Size

The hatchlings are three inches long – the adults will range from 8-10 inches in length (this includes their tail).

Lifespan of Crested Geckos

The lifespan of this reptile is 15 to 20 years, as long as you properly take care of the creature.

Diet

The diet is always an important part of caring for any pet. Crested geckos feed on insects and fruits in the wild. Many people feed meal replacement powder, pureed fruit and live crickets when they have them as pets. You should never feed them citrus fruits as the acid may harm them. Calcium, nutritional supplements and vitamin D3 should be sprinkled lightly on their food in order to maintain their health. You can find these supplements in your local pet store or online.

Crested Gecko Cage

When you have one of these creatures as pets, it is important that you have the proper home for them. In the wild, they are arboreal, i.e. they live mainly in trees. They also like to have places to hide so that they feel secure. You should have only one male in the same enclosure. If you have two males, they will fight over the territory. You can, however, keep two females and one male in a 29-gallon aquarium without having problems. You should carefully consider the set-up and decoration of your crested gecko cage, as it needs to fulfil your pet’s needs for shelter, warmth and humidity.

Temperatures in your crested gecko cage: The gecko should be kept at temperatures between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You should mist their enclosure daily in order to keep them hydrated and supply them with humidity. In temperatures that are below 65 or above 80, the gecko will become stressed.

As for handling, this is something you should not do so much. When you first get them, you should let them adjust to their environment. They love to jump, so only handle them while you are sitting down and only handle them for fifteen minutes at a time.

How To Find Quality Breeders Offering Baby Turtles for Sale

When looking for a source for baby turtles for sale, it is always important to pay attention to the quality of the breeder as well as the health and condition of the baby turtle. The quality of care that a breeder offers to their turtles is usually a good indicator of how seriously they take breeding and whether these turtles are likely to thrive later in life. Recognizing the key aspects of caring for a turtle successfully will make it easier to look out for these signs in a turtle breeder, eventually making it possible to choose a breeder who will also be a great source of information and help.

The first consideration is the facilities in which the breeder keeps their turtles and breeding stock. All habitats, including breeding areas and exercise enclosures, should be well cared for and kept clean at all times. Additionally, the areas should be appropriate in size for the age and species of the turtle. Large species should have enclosures that give the turtle enough time to move around, and newly hatched turtles should have space to move but not so much space that they get tired or lost trying to navigate their home. Breeders who fail to offer enough space to their turtles are often careless in other areas of their turtles’ care.

Specialization may also be a factor, since some breeders tend to focus on one species while other breeders offer baby turtles for sale in many different types. Whether the breeder specializes or not, it is important that they provide specialized care for every one of the species represented in their facility. This is especially true across types of turtles that vary significantly, such as terrestrial species and aquatic species. All terrestrial turtles require large enclosures with plenty of space to reflect the adult size of the turtle, while aquatic turtles need deep aquariums with clean water and heavy filtration. This is especially important to consider for hatchlings, since turtles that live in clean areas at the start of their lives are more likely to thrive as adults later, especially if the standard of care continues.

Lastly, an ideal breeder will be a willing source of information and continue to stay in contact with their acquaintances long after a sale. Ideally, a new owner should be able to call up their breeder if a question arises regarding their turtle, whether it is a question about family history, medical history or simply a general question about caring for the species. Breeders who are happy to help new turtle owners adjust to keeping a turtle also offer healthy, thriving baby turtles for sale that are more likely to continue to thrive well into adulthood.

The Importance of the Right Reptile Lighting

It is no secret that your cold-blooded creatures are in desperate need of an outside source of heat to survive. In spite of this knowledge, it is often too surprising to learn that more owners still believe that any reptile lighting is enough. This is a common misconception since the wrong brand could lead to serious illness, and even death. One of the obvious ways to prevent this is to learn for yourself the different types of luminosity, which is available in the market. It is also a great idea to study the physical make-up of the species you own to get a clear grasp of its toleration to heat.

First of all, you have to consider the dimensions of your reptile cages and terrariums before settling on any type of lighting. Once you’ve already determined the exact measurements of your pets’ home, it will now be easier for you to choose the precise length, and even type, of the device that your cold-blooded friends need. Of course, you also have to consider the shape of the glass case. For example, if you’ve settled for the usual, rectangular frame, then the fluorescent strips are the perfect piece for you. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go for a circular or a hexagonal bowl, small bulbs would suffice.

Before you install a particular type of lighting, you are required to make an inventory, if not a mental note, of the reptile supplies, which are kept inside the terrarium. This list includes the permanent items, such as your decorative pieces, substrates, food and water dishes, and the like.

By doing this, you are given a clear idea on the kind of device, as well as the power of its radiance and heat, which you need to set up. However, if you find that a particular bulb suits the needs of your cold-blooded friends well, while the ornaments cannot handle the warmth, it will be wiser to replace the items with more durable ones.

Your choice of reptile lighting should also be suitable to the species of cold-blooded creatures you keep. For example, ordinary pets, like the iguana and lizards, require less heat, and they are happy with a mere basking lamp. On the other hand, snakes also need less warmth, while the small crocodiles mandate more radiance constantly.

The reptile lighting for you also depends on its setup procedures in the sense that you should choose a model, which is not too tedious for you to install. You may decide on a brand, which is meant to be fixed inside the terrarium in the same way that you would do your decorative adornments.

Finding the perfect lighting to give your reptiles a comfortable home is not a problem when you have already considered every aspect, which may affect your purchase.

How to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Vivarium

During a visit to a pet shop recently I was disturbed to see a sign on the front of a vivarium containing young beardies which read ‘ideal for beginners’. I think this gives the very wrong impression of this reptile. Whilst they are not difficult to look after, their needs and requirements have to be properly understood in order for them to have a happy, healthy life.

Reptiles are similar to fish in that they need to live in the correct environment for them. You wouldn’t put a marine fish in a tropical aquarium, for example, and expect it to live, and even different tropical fish like different types of water – acid, alkaline or brackish for example. Most pet shops are fairly clued up on fish keeping. But many shops selling bearded dragons have only a basic knowledge about their requirements, and are all too often guilty of letting a new owner buy equipment which is totally inappropriate. Or more worryingly, even encourage them to buy it. Worst of all are ‘bearded dragon complete set ups’ – most of which contain vivariums that are too small with heatmats and substrate which are actually harmful to beardies.

As with aquariums, you need to understand the natural habitat of a bearded dragon before setting up what will be its home for life in your house.

Bearded dragons come from the hot, dry deserts of Australia. The earth is baked dry so they are used to a hard surface to walk on. They are semi arboreal, and are known to climb fenceposts and tree stumps to bask. The hot sun bakes down on them from above. They spend most of their time basking and sleeping and sleeping in full sunlight, and when they are too hot, they move to a cooler place in the shade as, like many cold blooded animals, they thermoregulate. That is, they control their body temperature by moving from a hot place to a cooler one.

In the desert they very rarely, if ever, come across standing water. They have evolved to extract the moisture they need from the food they eat, and therefore it is not unusual never to see a bearded dragon drink. Their lungs can only cope with low humidity levels.

So what does this tell us? Firstly, that they need a good sized vivarium where a wide temperature range is possible. Secondly, they need something to climb on. They need to get their heat from above – not underneath them, and water features in a vivarium will harm their health. They also need exposure to UVB rays that they otherwise would get from the sun. That does not seem to stop shops selling too small vivariums, heatmats (which can actually burn the bearded dragon’s stomach as they cannot feel heat through their bellies), waterfalls, loose substrate that can be swallowed and impact in the gut, and sometimes they even neglect to tell the purchaser that they need a UVB tube. So be warned.

So, now we know what we don’t need, how should the bearded dragon’s vivarium be set up to ensure it lives a long and healthy life?

First of all, an adult bearded dragon will need a vivarium that’s 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm x 60cm). When you consider an adult beardie will be close to 2 ft (60 cm) in length you can see how anything less wide will be uncomfortable for it. Baby beardies are quite happy being put straight into a full size vivarium – in the desert no one partitions off a part for them to use! For babies the decoration should be kept simple so that they can catch their food easily. As juveniles grow so fast it is false economy to start off with a smaller sized vivarium.

There should be a heat source at one end of the vivarium – a 60 or 100 watt spotlight is ideal. You can buy these from supermarkets or DIY stores if you don’t want to buy the ones made specifically for reptiles.

It is important to control the temperature at the cool end of the vivarium – your bearded dragon will not survive if it cannot heat up and cool down when it needs to. In order to control the temperature you will need a thermostat. Many people assume this is to ensure the basking temperature is kept high – the opposite is the truth. The thermostat should be kept to make sure the cool end of the vivarium does not go higher than 85f (30c). Once this is right it should be easy to manage the temperature at the basking spot which should be 105f (41c) – the important word being ‘spot’. This does not mean the whole of the hot end of the vivarium should be at this temperature, just the spot where the beardie will bask. The ‘spot’ can be a log, branch or rock on which the beardie can bask to expose himself to the maximum heat. Raising or lowering the basking spot will alter the temperature until it gets to the right level.

It takes a little time to get the probe of the thermostat in the right place to maintain the temperatures accurately – you should start by placing it at the cool end, and then moving it up the vivarium if the temperatures are too low. A good digital thermometer with dual inputs and dual readouts will let you see the temperatures at both ends of the vivarium at once. As it’s a bit tricky for beginners to get it all right, it’s recommended to set up the vivarium and have it running for a week before introducing the bearded dragon.

Depending on your location and your house you may not need any night time heating at all – they need a good temperature drop at night in order to be able to get to sleep. The temperature can go down to 60f (16c) for adults, 65f (18c) for juveniles. If your house gets very hot during summer you may find you need a reptile fan to cool it down.

The other vital piece of equipment is the UVB tube. This should be the strongest that you can buy – currently tubes are selling at 12% UVB which are the best. 10% should be the minimum you choose. The output fades after six months, so tubes should be replaced on a regular basis. The tube should run the whole length of the vivarium, so for a 4ft vivarium you should select a 42″ tube. This will mean the bearded dragon is exposed to UVB for all the time the light is on. 12 hours under a UVB tube is only equilvalent to about 20 mins in the full heat of the sun in the desert, so do not use any hides or caves as your beardie need the most exposure to UVB as he can get.

The heat and light should be on for at least 12 hours a day – in summer you might want to raise this to 14 hours to mimic a change in season.

The final necessity is substrate. When young, bearded dragons are inaccurate feeders, and if they are on sand can take mouthfuls of this as they try to catch their food. Their smaller stomachs are also less able to cope with grains they might swallow, and loose substrate in their gut can lead to impaction which is generally fatal. Wood chippings or pellets should be avoided at any age. Another dangerous substrate is Calci Sand, which can be marketed especially for bearded dragons – this clumps together when wet and so is far worse than normal sand.

Until the age of six months plain kitchen towel is the safest substrate and carries no risk to their health. When they are six months old they can go on children’s play sand which is clean and very fine. Pets shops don’t usually give this advice as they don’t sell either product! The best substrate for an older beardie is a mixture of broken sandstone paving slabs with some playsand between the cracks. The hard surface is more natural for their feet, and helps keep their nails down. This substrate looks good too.

They do like to climb, so branches and rocks are welcomed. You can get these from the wild as long as they are sterilised before putting in the vivariums.

Other accessories are backgrounds – beardies do like climbing on the polyrock walls often sold in pet shops, but really the background is a matter of choice. As are any other decorations such as fake plants. Real plants cannot cope with the dry conditions, and are likely to be thrashed in any event. Food bowls and perhaps a shallow water bowl will complete your set up, and the result should be a happy healthy bearded dragon who will give you pleasure for many years to come.

Interesting Facts About Reptiles You Need to Know

What makes it a reptile?
There are countless species and varieties of reptiles around the world. Even though there are many differences, reptiles do share a few common traits.

For starters, they use lungs to breathe. Lizards might breathe using the same muscles they use to run and crocodiles have a more flexible diaphragm, but overall, reptiles have lungs that are more advanced than amphibians, but not as refined as mammals. Reptiles also have scales made of keratin protein. Scales provide protection from predators, help retain water, and can play a role in courtship and territorial clashes. Reptiles are not the only animals to have scales, but it is a common characteristic among all reptiles.

Another characteristic is that they’re all four-legged vertebrates (or descended from four-limbed animals, like snakes). This is another shared trait with other types of animals, which indicates that reptiles are an evolutionary middle ground of sorts between amphibians and mammals. For the most part, female reptiles lay eggs but it’s not exclusive to all reptiles. There are some species that develop their young inside their bodies and give birth to live young, like the Viviparous Lizard and the Adder.

Reptiles are known for their cold-blooded metabolisms. If you’ve ever seen a reptile in an enclosure, you might have noticed lamps and other forms of heat. That’s because basking in heat increases their internal body temperature to give them the energy they need for daily activity.

What are the different types of reptiles?
Reptiles can be classified into four major groups:

Crocodilia
Which has 23 different species of Alligators, Caimans, Gharials, and Crocodiles.

As you may know, the Crocodilia are large, semiaquatic and predatory animals. They’re commonly found in the lowlands of the tropics and usually have long, flattened snouts and canonical, peg-like teeth. Certain species of crocodilian are traded as exotic pets when they’re young but are often abandoned as they grow larger and more dangerous.

Squamata
Which are lizards and snakes, and have almost 8,000 species.

These reptiles vary in size (from a dwarf gecko that’s less than an inch long to an anaconda which can reach over 17 feet). Their ability to move their quadrate bones is what helps them open their mouths wide enough to consume larger prey. If you’re thinking of getting reptiles for sale of this classification, be sure to research the specific type you want to get to make sure you have the necessary equipment to keep them healthy and happy.

Testudines
Which is made up of turtles and tortoises and have around 300 species.

These are considered primitive since they’re some of the most ancient reptiles among us. Their shells make them easily distinguishable from other reptiles and they’re also a popular choice as reptile pets.

Sphenodontia
Which is known as the sister group of the Squamata and has only 2 species of tuataras from New Zealand.

It’s also known as a Rhynchocephalia, which means beak head. They have a unique set of teeth which is presented as two rows in the upper jaw and a single row on the lower jaw. The single species of tuatara is the only living member of an order that flourished about 200 million years ago.

Which reptiles for sale are best as pets?
If you’re just starting out with a pet reptile, you can find some great reptiles for sale. Geckos can be a great pet for beginners because they don’t require much handling. Too much stress on the gecko can cause its tail to fall off though. A Bearded Dragon can also make for a great pet as they’re extremely easy-going reptiles with personality. They require a hot habitat and are fairly easy to maintain.

A Tortoise House For Every Tortoise

Having the right kind of tortoise house for your pet is a big part of keeping her healthy. Every type of tortoise is different and has different requirements as far as housing goes, so be sure that you know what your tortoise needs.

There are two basic types of tortoises, those that live in tropical regions and those that live in temperate regions. Do your research before you even make a purchase and choose a tortoise whose natural habitat is close to the one in which you live.

Whether they are herbivores or omnivores, tortoises like to graze and will typically eat small amounts of plants as they wander around. For this reason and more, tortoises do not make great indoor pets. The space requirements for an average-sized tortoise are 100 square feet (10 square meters). Unless you plan on converting your spare bedroom into a terrarium, you will need to keep your tortoise in a secure pen outside.

Tortoises thrive in outdoor living areas, so long as they have plenty of food, access to water, and a good tortoise house. You will also need to be sure that your tortoise cannot escape from your yard, as they are known for trying to escape. That means burying fencing so they can’t dig under it. The needs of your tortoise based on her species will determine the type of house you will need to provide.

Tortoises from temperate climates will need a solid and enclosed house that will protect her from rain, cooler temperatures at night, and predators. It is also good to have a part of the house that has good ventilation for warmer summer months so she can get shade without overheating. This may also be the place your tortoise chooses to hibernate in during the winter, so you will need to watch for signs of going into hibernation in the fall so you can bring her into your house to keep an eye on here there.

Tortoises from tropical climates will need a house that gives them some extra heat. This is especially important if you don’t live in an area that gets as hot as her natural climate. You can find different greenhouses that are designed specifically for houses that will give her a place to go to warm up. Make sure that you choose a tortoise house that is strong and that will stay at the right temperature.