Thursday, February 18, 2010

Calcium Sand Substrates: My Review

They are useless.

Go to a PetCo or other chain store that sells reptiles, and ask a staff member what substrate you should use for a bearded dragon or leopard gecko. The worker will invariably tell you to use a calci-sand, Bone-Aid, or a similar substrate. Look in the cages on display, and you'll find they keep their own animals on such products. You'll usually see a large selection of sand substrates available in the stores.

The selling points behind these substrates are:

1. Your Gecko/lizards needs calcium and may benefit from occasionally ingesting the sand


2. The sand won't cause impactions

The problem is...

1. Your gecko/lizard should be getting its calcium from its diet and supplements.


2. The sand CAN and DOES cause impactions.


I honestly don't know why companies manufacture these products and stay in business.

Caci-Sand, Bone-Aid, and all the other sand substrates available are useless, and I do not recommend they be used. 

You have a leopard gecko? Use paper towels. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can't keep dogs or cats as pets? Try sssomething different

It is often stated that pet owners don’t choose their pets, pets choose their owners. But, often enough, it is our own situations that narrow down the options for what pets we can keep.  Our choices in companion animals may be limited due to our living arrangements or health issues, such as allergies. Apartment dwellers are often prohibited from keeping cats and dogs, and those who share a residence with others must respect the space and wishes of their roommates. Not everyone appreciates the smells, the messes, the shedding fur/hair, and the noises that come from pet dogs and cats. So what do you do?

Imagine if there were pets that you could keep that are quiet, low-maintenance, you never have to walk, take up very little space, eat once a week, and don’t chew up your shoes, make messes all over your dwelling or scratch up your favorite curtains and furniture. 

Consider a pet snake! Now, such an animal isn’t going greet you at the door wagging its tail ready to hop up on your lap. It isn’t going to fetch you the paper or learn to perform tricks to impress your friends and neighbors. But, if those sorts of things don’t matter to you, a pet snake can bring you years of enjoyment and even spark a new addiction for a hobby that many have already discovered.

Handling a pet snake can be just as enjoyable and provide the same therapeutic health benefits as petting a dog or a cat. Also, if provided with a naturalistic enclosure, your pet snake can be as enjoyable and relaxing to watch as any exotic fish aquarium.

Keeping a Pet Snake

Snakes are fascinating animals that many people enjoy keeping as pets. Most can be kept in a reasonably small space and live out their entire lives, happy and healthy. In general, snakes will need only one meal a week and will defecate just as often. As long as you house them appropriately, keep their enclosures clean, meet their temperature and humidity requirements, and provide fresh clean water, your pet snake should be perfectly content for years to come. Many species live well over 20 years, in captivity.

All snakes are carnivorous, and you will need to feed them prey items. However, you may be surprised to hear that many snake keepers offer frozen/thawed rodents, rather than live feeders. This practice of feeding dead prey is preferable for several reasons.

1. Frozen feeders are less expensive than feeding live rodents
2. Frozen feeders won’t bite and harm your snake.
3. Frozen feeders are humanely euthanized ahead of time.
4. The freezing process kills many parasites that may potentially inhabit the gut of rodents.
5. You can keep a large number of feeders on hand, in a freezer, ready to go.

Your First Snake

Pet snakes come in all sizes, temperaments, colors, and care requirements, and for the potential first-time snake owner, there are many species that he or she should consider.
The following list includes species that I would recommend as appropriate for anyone considering such a pet. Please, research each species, thoroughly, as you consider your first snake.

o Corn Snake
o Bull or Gopher Snake
o California King Snake
o Milk snake 
o Rosy Boa
o Ball Python

While this list is by no means complete, it will give you a good place to begin in your research. All of the above snakes are small to medium in size as adults and are readily available as captive bred animals.

Where do I find my pet snake?

Avoid large chain pet stores and local pet shops. I say this because, the majority of the time, the animals available have inflated price tags, and you usually wont find staff to be terribly knowledgeable beyond the basics of their care.

Once you’ve decided what species you are looking for, it is best to locate a reputable private breeder. You’ll find they will offer their animals for a fraction of what the pet stores charge, and the animals tend to be much healthier. To illustrate the dramatic difference in what you’ll be paying, a baby ball python at Pet Co. will run you up to $80, whereas a private breeder or reptile specialty shop will have captive-bred offspring for as low as $30. A private breeder will also be able to provide you with the animal’s entire life history, ensure the animal is eating, and will often allow you to see the parent’s of the snake you are considering.   

Another good option is adoption! Many rescues will offer snakes for adoption for a small fee, and as long as you can show that you are prepared and capable of providing the animal a good home, rescues will be happy to help you in your search.

Once you researched the snake you are looking for, and you have the appropriate housing ready to go, you can begin searching for an individual animal to take home. Be sure you do plenty of information-hunting; read books and several care sheets, available on the internet, talk to owners and other keepers to get as much information to ensure you’ll give your new snake the best home possible. Internet reptile forums are another place where you can talk to experienced keepers and breeders.

Is a pet snake for you?

Snakes are beautiful creatures that can make great pets and be with you for a long time. They can provide just as much enjoyment for you as others receive from their pet dogs or cats. Snakes are a great option if you live in an apartment or rented house that wouldn’t normally allow furry pets. Or, maybe you’re simply not a dog/cat person and want to keep something a little different. Every year, many people discover the joy of keeping snakes and other reptiles as pets, and it is certainly something to consider in search for the perfect pet.

You wouldn’t want to miss them, would you?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Python Ban based on fear and misinformation

A bill sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has been making its way through the legislative process--threatening to ban the import/export and interstate transport of nine species of pythons and boa constrictors. If senate bill S373 passes, reptile business would feel a significant blow with an estimated 1/3 of the 1 billion dollar-a-year industry at stake.

While supporters of the bill demand a solution to the feral pythons inhabiting the Florida Everglades, informed opponents of S373 and hr2811 believe the proposed legislation is far over-reaching and not the solution to the localized problem of non-native pythons breeding in the state's southern-most tip. That fact remains that the problem is entirely localized to one small area of Florida, yet many media outlets continue to use scare tactics, suggesting that the United States will be swarming with wild pythons from New Jersey all the way into California, if action isn't taken immediately--an absolutely absurd claim unsupported by science and based on little more than ignorance and fear.

Misinformed proponents of s373 and hr2811, such as the Humane Society of the United States and PETA, two organizations seeking to end the keeping of reptiles as pets, entirely, also cite the July 2009 incident, in which a child was killed by an escaped Burmese python in the Florida home of irresponsible owners. While this incident was quite tragic, it is fortunate that incidents such as these are few and far between. If legislation were to be passed to ban pet animals responsible for a significant number of deaths, each year, dogs and horses would surely be on the chopping block. When compared to deaths by these commonly kept mammals, accidents involving pet pythons are extremely insignificant.

Supporters of the proposed python & boa ban fail to take into consideration the significant economic impact such a ban would create. Revenue gained from private breeders, pet shops, supply companies, cage manufacturers, feeder suppliers, agricultural businesses, shipping companies, and countless other businesses directly and indirectly supported by the trade in the species in question, would be entirely lost. Perhaps the loss of tens of thousands of businesses throughout the United States, and the rise in unemployment that would occur, if this ban is passed, doesn't matter to supporters of these bills, but is should matter to the rest of us--whether we like snakes or not.

While much of this matter has now been handed over for review by US Fish & Wildlife Service to consider adding the Burmese python and the eight other species to the Injurious Wildlife list in the Lacey Act, much misinformation and fear continues to circulate in an effort to mislead the public into embracing a very bad idea.

Hopefully, in the end, good science will prevail, and a new better solution will be proposed to combat the ecological imbalances that may be plaguing Florida's Everglades. Until then, it is my hope that public education efforts will go a long way into creating a well informed community that will see through the fear-mongering and encourage law makers to make the right decisions.

Please, write your senators and representatives and encourage them to oppose s373 and hr2811, "The Python Ban".

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reptile and Bug Lovers Convene in Concord, Ca

The California Reptile & Invertebrate Society (CRIS) will be holding its first public meeting in Concord on Saturday, February 20, 2010. One of the many rewards of belonging to, and helping organize this club, is the variety of reptile and invertebrate lovers I get to meet. My favorite thing about it is gathering with members for activities and events, like this upcoming meeting. Present will be individuals including keepers, field herpers, bug hobbyists, and members of other herpetological societies and groups; all uniting in one place to be among others who share their affinity for a group of often misunderstood creatures. In addition to being among like-minds, CRIS members are excited to be sharing these exotic snakes, lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, geckos, tortoises, and other animals, with the public.

We will be pleased to have, with us, experts and hobbyists answering questions and sharing their knowledge with members of the community who attend this event.

While around the world, and on television and film, reptiles are so often put on display with the goal of shocking audiences, it is exciting to see so many people ready to dispel myths and share an appreciation for animals far too often falsely portrayed as beasts that are to be feared and eliminated. CRIS's message will be one communicated through allowing attendees to (should they choose to do so) get up close and even touch many of the reptiles on display. This experience is often enough to quickly dispel long-carried fears and misconceptions. In return, reptile-lovers enjoy knowing they've communicated their valuable conservation message.

The event is FREE to the public, and families, scout groups, and the curious are all welcome and encouraged to attend.

I hope you'll join us!

(click on image to see the flyer)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A warm welcome for the cold-blooded

Hello, and welcome to my blog. Here you will find regular posts about issues in the herp world and in my world working with reptiles, amphibians, and other fascinating creatures.

I plan on blogging about issues important to me and other keepers, field herpers, the latest research in herpetology and other realms of the bizarre animalia. I'll also be blogging about.. pretty much anything else that interests me.

Snakes use their tongues to gather information about the environment surrounding them, which is interpreted through their unique nervous system. In this way, I'll be gathering information on various topics, which may be consumed to gather a clearer image of the bigger picture of the world, in which we live--the human habitat and our interaction with beast and man.

Please, subscribe, add to your Bookmarks/Favorites, and visit back often to see what's new.

I'm eager to get started, so away we go.

Welcome to The Serpent's Tongue.