Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Emeril & Jade sharing food

So I've noticed a new behavior in my green tree monitors lately. They share their food, or rather Emeril shares his food with Jade. When I feed them insects in a bowl inside their cage both monitors go down to the bowl but only Emeril will get in and get an insect. Jade sits there and waits for Emeril to get one and then she takes half of it in her mouth and they both sit there and eat their halves. He lets her do this and never tries to get away from her to eat his insect by himself. It's so fascinating to watch because Jade could easily get her own insects but she chooses to wait for Emeril to get one for her every time. I took some videos of them doing this. It is in 3 parts because every time I would get close, Jade would try to come out.

The first one they are already eating together and I missed Emeril getting it.

video

The second one I missed him getting it again and they are already eating. Then he gets another superworm and she takes half of it from him but then sees me and tries to come out again.

video

The third one I back up and catch them sharing again a few times.

video

I wonder why they do this? There is really no aggression or fighting. I have never seen this in any reptiles before where they deliberately share food with each other. Oh, well in any case, it's extremely cute!

These monitors are very fascinating!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baby Cuban Knight anole!

This little baby just hatched out yesterday!

This is when I found him hatched out in the incubator


After I got him out and opened the lid


Sitting on me with Hatchrite all over him and yolk still attached


After I cleaned him off and after he ate the yolk off his belly



In his cage



It's been a long wait for me in getting this new baby. It is so hard getting eggs in time to incubate them. Most times the eggs are laid and buried in the soil and I cannot find them in time to get them out(they have a large cage). Either the eggs get too cold or feeder insects find the eggs before I do and eat them. I feed insects in a bowl but every now and then a cricket will escape and munch on the eggs:( This egg that hatched I actually saw being laid. I watched the female lay the egg and start to bury it so I reached in and scooped the egg on to a spoon and took it out before it was buried all the way. The female did not mind, she just sat there and looked at me like "What are you doing with my egg?" I put the egg in the incubator set at 80 degrees and waited for it to hatch! I candled it every week and watched it grow and move inside which was really cool:) I really love this species, partly because of their personalities but also because I grew up catching them in the wild as a kid. I have many fond childhood memories of them. In the future I would really like to acquire and breed other large anoles such as the Ornate Knight anole (A. smallwoodi palardis) and A. baracoae (also a type of Knight anole). These anoles are beautiful, they look like Cuban Knight anoles but have yellow markings all over the body and sometimes some blue color too.
Here are links to pics of these other Knight anole species

A. smallwoodi palardis

Friday, October 16, 2009

House full of reptiles!

This is a tour of my house full of reptiles! We will start at the top of my house and work our way down.

This is my bedroom where I keep Rex (rescued Oustalet's chameleon). Below his cage is a towel/area where I administer medication and clean his skin with Betadine. You will see his carrier is the container with the turquoise lid which I put him in to take him to the vet. Next to this is his spray bottle that I use to mist him and on the towel is a measuring cup I fill with water to hand water him with a syringe. He is kept here with the door closed away from all my other reptiles because he has multiple fungal infections.


Next is my son's bedroom with his pet reptiles. First is Master Toledo (rescued Corn snake). He is kept in very sterile/easy to clean conditions until he is recovered. My son can't wait till then because he really wants to decorate his cage:)



Next in my son's room is Chad (Grays tree frog). I caught Chad 2 1/2 years ago outside my in-laws house in Ohio.


Last in my son's room is Necrid (White Lined gecko). Necrid is also 2 1/2 years old and the first baby White Lined gecko I ever hatched out from my pair of White Lined geckos( Mr& Mrs Stripe).



This is my upstairs hallway where Michelangelo (Midland painted turtle) is kept. Michelangelo was caught in Virginia as a baby and is 10 years old.


This is my living room where Emeril & Jade (Emerald tree monitors) are kept. They are both under a year old and soon will need a custom built cage at least 6 ft tall(one of my current projects). Below them is their spray bottle and one of my incubators filled with eggs! Sitting on the couch next to them is my daughter. Above and on their cage is 2 digital temp gages and a digital humidity gage. They also have foil across the top to trap in heat and humidity and 2 basking and 2 UV lights.


This is my basement where I keep most of my reptiles. This is one end.
This is the other end.
On the top shelf are 5 chameleon cages. From left to right: Anastasia, 1 year old(female Oustalet's chameleon), Mystique, had for 1 year(rescued Veiled chameleon), Wolverine, had for over a year (rescued Veiled chameleon), Smeagol, had for 6 months(rescued Veiled chameleon), 1 1/2 month old baby Veiled chameleons. Bottom row from left to right: Baby(hatchling) rescued alligators, Mrs Stripe, had for 4 years(White Lined gecko), Daisy, had for 4 months(Axolotl), Andy, 5 months old(rescued baby Savannah monitor).
This is my corner/work station:) All my supplements, crested gecko diet, shed ease, water conditioner, fruit fly cultures and bottled water are on the window sill. On the desk is a rescued baby Chinese Fire bellied Newt (had for 3 months) and a picture of my Cuban Knight anoles. On the wall is a dry erase board with all my reptiles and what they eat and how much they eat weekly. The other is a dry erase calendar with dates of hatching, laying, vet appointments, start and finish of medications, supplementation dates and when I check reptile eggs. I also put on there any important dates relating to reptiles or events I have scheduled about reptiles. Below the calendar is a bag full of my daughter's snake's sheds to keep track of his growth. In my desk and on the side shelves are reptile magazines and books. I also keep records of my reptiles, rescued reptiles and research in my notebook and any other paper work related to reptiles. On the side that you cannot see is where I keep UV lights, basking bulbs and hatchrite. In the closet next to the desk(not pictured) is where I keep spare cages, reptile supplies and my egg laying bin/trashcan for the chameleons.
On this wall are my Crested gecko bins. Some are rescues and some are not, ages ranging from 9 years to 8 months old. Each bin has 1 adult/juvie crested gecko in it. These are the equivalent of a 15-20 gallon tank. They have holes drilled all the way around the top, a cave/shelf, egg laying box(for the females), leafy vines and lined with newspaper for easy clean up. Each lid is marked with that geckos name. On top of these bins are their babies kept in small kritter keepers. In each kritter keeper are leafy vines and lined with paper towel or newspaper. Usually there are 2 baby crested geckos in each one as there are 2 babies in a clutch. Next to this is my Cuban Knight anole cage, ages 4 1/2 years. This tank is decorated with live plants and a lighted waterfall. Above their cage is my lizard playground:) This vine and plant are hung from my ceiling and all the aboreal lizards I have love to climb on it. Next to the Cuban Knight anole cage is a plastic container full of Crested gecko eggs in Hatchrite. Next to them is the bag I use to dust insects and feeding tongs. On the floor next to this is my cricket bin where I store live crickets and gut load them tons of good fruit and veggies. Under the table is first my lobster roach tank and then my superworm kritter keeper where these are also gut loaded before feeding. The full bathroom(next to this on the right not pictured) is where I clean cages and keep medications that can be kept at room temps. I also keep my reptile scale, syringes and extra feeding bowls in there.
From left to right on the top: Ariel & Sebastian (Tokay geckos) one was rescued, over a year old and the other I've had for 6 months, Mr Stripe, had for 4 years (White Lined gecko), Gambit & Rogue, had for 1 year(Giant day geckos). On the bottom is Blue, had for 5 months (rescued Blue Tongue skink). On the floor to the left is my sprayer I use to water the reptiles in the basement.
On this wall is a small tank with a rescued baby(hatchling) Yellow Bellied slider turtle. Under his tank is a heated kritter keeper I had to dry dock him in because he had shell rot. Next to it is the silver sulfa ointment I had to use on his shell. In the corner is a young male Oustalet's chameleon, 1 year old I haven't named yet. Behind the dark leather chair is a room humidifier I keep running down there for all my humid loving herps!
I always get in new rescues so my collection is always changing as new ones come and old ones get adopted out.

And that concludes the tour, come again!

Breeding Veiled chameleons

I hatched out a clutch of Veiled chameleons a little over a month ago. They are so cute and tiny and they are growing like weeds!



The whole experience has been truly rewarding. This clutch of eggs, half of them ended up being laid in my hand. This is the story of the first time I bred my Veiled chameleons and how this ended up happening.


When I decided to breed my pair of chameleons I put them together and was totally unprepared for the rough mating I witnessed! I didn't know how forceful it was going to be and was amazed. The male (Wolverine) practically jumped on my female (Mystique) and they fell through the branches and foliage in the cage. Mystique was trying to hold on to the branches as Wolverine was holding on to her doing his "thing". She managed to get away from his grip and he just grabbed her by the tail and pulled her back to him! When they were done she had little claw marks on her body from the male grabbing her. I kept them together for about 24 hours until she turned her gravid/unreceptive coloration.

This is my Mystique displaying gravid/unreceptive colors.

After she was bred I started supplementing her with liquid calcium instead of powdered calcium to insure she was getting enough for egg production. About a month later she was very full of eggs and had started looking around for a nest site.

This is her right before laying eggs and looking VERY gravid:)


I put a large container filled with dirt in with her and she started to dig. She dug for 3 days but did not lay eggs. I was getting worried so I bought a huge trashcan and filled it over half way with dirt, a big branch with vines wrapped around it and fitted screen over the top. I placed her inside and placed her UV and basking lamp over the top. She went to digging right away and after 4 more days and 3 tunnels later she finally laid her eggs.

This is her trashcan set up.

The 7 days she was digging she did not eat or drink and seemed to be obsessed with digging. At night before lights out she would climb out of whatever tunnel she was in and come to the top branches to sleep. In the morning she would resume digging. After 4 days she started to show signs of dehydration as her eyes were always looking sunken in and she looked worn out. I started to hand feed and water her so that I knew she was getting something because I was worried she might die of exhaustion. On the 7th evening I went down to feed and water her but she was busy digging in a tunnel. So I waited another hour but she was still in the tunnel. I decided I'd give her more time as she usually comes to the top at night and I went to do my night time water and feedings of my other reptiles. I came back after I was done and she was sitting in the opening of a tunnel and looked like she was sleeping. I was upset because I thought this meant she was too tired to come up to the top. I knew I had to feed and water her so I decided I was going to wake her up, feed, water and then put her in the branches where she usually sleeps. I took her out and only carried her a few feet when she looked like she was going to poop. I stuck out my hand to catch it before it went on my carpet and out popped an egg! I was freaking out! I was so nervous because the egg was slimy and I didn't want it to slip off my hand. She then laid 30 eggs in my hand before stopping. Only one egg fell off my hand during the whole time. I was shaking I was so nervous! I didn't know how I was going to get her off my hand and put the eggs in the incubation medium by myself while still holding 30 slimy, slippery eggs in my other hand. I slowly climbed 2 flights of stairs in my house, went to my bedroom where my husband was sleeping and asked him to help me with Mystique in one hand and the eggs in the other! He woke up very surprised! He took Mystique and followed me back down and held her until I put all the eggs in deli cups and dug up the rest she had laid in the tunnel before I picked her up. All together there was 59 eggs. The whole time my husband is telling me to hurry up because Mystique needed me. It was taking a long time because I was so nervous I was shaking and afraid the eggs would slip from my hand or that the eggs I was digging up might get broken. After I was done I fed and watered Mystique and put her back in her normal screen cage. The next day she still looked tired/worn out and I ended up hand feeding and watering her again. The day after that she ate a few insects on her own and started drinking water without me taking her out and offering it to her. After a week she was back to her normal self. Since this clutch she has laid 2 other clutches with no problems. I put her in her trashcan and she digs and lays eggs within 24 hours. She goes back to eating and drinking on her own and bounces back to her normal self very quickly. I often speculate that she had such a hard time the first time because it was her first clutch and because she had been digging for so long without eating or drinking. Now it seems she knows what she is doing, does not waste time and goes right to it.

Here is Mystique the last time she laid a clutch of eggs.



The eggs incubated for 190 days till they started hatching out. I candled them once a week and checked the dampness of the incubation medium to make sure it wasn't drying out.

Here is a picture of me candling the eggs a week before they hatched.


Here is when the eggs started to hatch. Look close and see the green noses of the babies as they are starting to come out:)

It took about a week for all the eggs to hatch out. Each one took about 24 hours after pipping to come fully out of the egg. There were a few babies that died before hatching, about 5 pipped but then died in the egg never hatching out all the way. The babies that did hatch started eating fruit flies after a couple days and drank water every time I misted them. I mist the babies about 5 times a day to make sure they are staying hydrated. I also use a dripper. They are set up just like the adults except they do not have branches. They just have a whole bunch of vines everywhere to walk around on hanging from the top of the cage. I also supplement them with calcium more often than the adults since they are growing babies. They all seem to be active and healthy eating and drinking everyday. So far I have found homes for all the babies except for 4 that I am keeping until they are older. I want to watch them grow up into adults and I will probably end up keeping a pair for myself. Well, not really for me but for my husband:) He told me before Mystique even laid eggs that I HAD to keep a pair for him:)

I hope you enjoyed this story and I will post updates on the babies as they grow.

Here is a random picture of Wolverine I took the other day. It was first thing in the morning when I was turning on all the lights. I thought he looked like a sleeping beauty and felt compelled to take a picture of him:)














Monday, August 24, 2009

Oustalet's chameleon

So I got an interesting rescue about a month and a half ago. I got a call that the rescue got in a Veiled chameleon that was found here in Colorado in a tree at 9,500 feet elevation. Two hikers saw it up a tree and climbed up it and got him down. They said it looked like it had wax on it's casque (head/helmet) and that it could not use it's tongue. It was also found with a neon band around it's neck where it looked like it had been tied to a tree and broke loose. I went to pick him up the next day and imagine my surprise when I see it is not a Veiled chameleon but a HUGE male Oustalet's chameleon! To be honest I didn't know what kind of chameleon it was but I knew it was definetly not a Veiled! I went and looked through a chameleon book and found out he was an Oustalet's chameleon as soon as I left. I also did some research on the net and turns out these are the world's longest chameleon species and can get over 2 ft long.

I took him to my vet and we both decided it looked like he had a burn on his head probably from a heat lamp. Other than that his overall condition was good and he was very heavy weighing in at exactly one pound! He is also just over 2 ft long! He could not have been out in the wild for very long or he would have died. Here it gets very cold at night and the humidity can get very low, 20%. These chameleons come from Madagascar where it is warm and the humidity is high, at least 70%. He was put on antibiotics and silver sulfa ointment for the burn. Everything seemed to be going great with this guy, whom my kids named Rex:) He was eating and drinking and looking better every day. He regained the use of his tongue and things appeared to be fine.

During this time I decided to do some research on Oustalet's chameleons because I noticed that Rex looked very different than all the pictures I saw of male Oustalet's chameleons, mostly it was his color. I decided since he was so beautiful I should breed him (once recovered) so his genetics would not be lost after he died. I found a website that discussed Oustalet's as having color locales/morphs. I was trying to figure out which one Rex was so that I could find a suitible female for him from the same locale giving me better odds of reproducing babies that looked like him. I thought I had a good idea he might be an Ambanja locale based solely on his color so to be sure I contacted the author of the site who studies these chameleons in Madagascar. He looked at the pic I sent him and told me he was not from Ambanja and the reason was not just because of color, it was because of his casque. He said Ambanja locales have a more rounded casque than all other Oustalet's chameleons and that the area around the eye is always black and right around the tip of the eye lids are yellow. He sent me a pic high lighting the differences. He also said that if a splitting taxonomist were to really study them that they would prob be declared a separate species. He also said that because of this the color locales should not be mixed. The other locales also have physical differences to them besides just color. Oustalet's from the south west are much larger than other locales especially ones from Morondava which he said would be worth keeping a captive colony of. He said he thinks Rex is probably from the Tulear region because the shape of his casque. Rex has a more pointed casque than some of the other locales. Then he explained my chances of finding a female from there are very slim and why. His quote: "I would estimate that there is about 90% chance that oustaleti imported are from the Antananarivo/Ambatolampy regionand less than 10% that the animals originate from the Tulear region. Very few animals come from Ambositra and even fewer from Ambanja. This is for commercial reasons. There are specialised oustaleti "hunters" in the Antananarivo/Ambatolampy regionwhere the species is common, even in the town center and in people's yards. Oustaleti from Antananarivo are the cheapest oustaleti an exporter can get and because importers overseas generally do not care what local of oustaleti they get and pay the sameprice no matter what locality, almost every oustaleti exporter is from the Antananarivo/Ambatolampy region. Exporters are also all based in Antananarivo so it is convenient to get animals from not to far away." Then he told me what I should do about breeding, his quote: " If I would live in a country other than Madagascar, I would buy several young animals from a single shipment as chances that there are more than one locality oustaleti in a single shipment are slim. In your case, I would either pair your male with an Antananarivo/Ambatolampyor Ambositra female (I think they are , although slightly different, the same phenotype). In the meanwhile , please spread the word that oustaleti "morphs" should not be mixed. If enough people ask, may be one day exporters here will care." Since talking to him through email and learning all of this I thought it was important that I share this info with everyone else who is interested in this species. The website for color locales/morphs is:http://www.adcham.com/html/taxonomy/oustaletimorphs.html

Since then I have searched for a suitable female for Rex and found a young (captive hatched) 11 month old. She seemed perfect for him so I bought her and she has been with me for 2 weeks now and doing great. At the time I bought her I also had to buy the male of the same age that came with her as they were being sold as a pair. They are both around a foot long and the female should be ready to breed soon so I am very excited.

This is Rex
Me and Rex
This is the female I got for him:)
Both of them sitting on me (Rex was head bobbing at her in this pic)

Crested gecko care sheet

Crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus)

Native Habitat: New Caledonia, in shrubs and trees. Highly arboreal.

Average size: 7-8 inches including the tail. 4-5 inches without the tail.

Life span: It is estimated 15-20 years if kept properly.

Lighting: They are a nocturnal species and do not need a UV light if you supplement their diet with calcium and vitamin D3. This is already in Crested Gecko Diet, and you can dust insects with powdered calcium w/ D3. If you choose a natural set up with plants that need a light then use a regular florescent but make sure you turn it off every night so the geckos can wake up and roam around.

Compatibility: Males are territorial and can never be put together or they will fight and bite off tails and/or could injure the other male gecko killing it. Females get along and do well together in the same cage.

Diet: Insects, fruit and nectar in the wild. In captivity you can feed them a variety of insects, crickets, roaches, superworms,mealworms,waxworms and the moths that waxworms turn into. Careful with feeding too many worms because they are fatty. Especially the waxworms, they are like lizard candy. You can also feed Repashy or T-Rex crested gecko diet. Follow the directions on the bottle to mix it. Put it in a shallow dish or jar lid(what I use). You do not need to add anything to the crested gecko diet. It includes calcium,D3 and vitamins already. Crested geckos can be fed this diet exclusively if you choose to. I feed this to them every other day and once a month or so I'll give them a few crickets to chase around:) When feeding them insects it is important to always dust them with powdered calcium with added vitamin D3. Otherwise they could get Metabolic Bone Disease. Sometimes as a treat I let them lick a small bit of natural applesauce from my finger tip. Some will eat whole pieces of fruit too. I have one that takes tiny pieces of grapes or apples from my fingers. I would only give them a treat like this once a week at the most. It is best to feed them mostly crested gecko diet which you can also feed like a treat from your finger tip. Do not use baby food as a food source. It is not natural, can have additives and does not have any calcium or vitamins in it, you could add them but it's guesswork and if you add too much or too little your gecko could get sick and even die.

Heating and Humidity: Crested geckos do not come from a very hot area and do not need a heat source as long as your house does not go below 65 degrees. You also have to make sure they are not subjected to temps higher than 85 degrees or they could die. Normal house temps in the 70's are the preferred temps for crested geckos. Humidity should be around 65%-75%. You can achieve this by misting the cage every morning and night. The night time misting should be heavier because they are just waking up and will drink the water droplets. They do not drink water from a bowl so misting is very important so they can drink. For adults you can use Eco-Earth substrate and it will help keep in the humidity also. If you have trouble with humidity you can add a waterfall or cover most of the screen top with foil to trap humidity in your cage.

Cage requirements: Adults can live singly in a 10-15 gallon size aquarium. Pairs need at least 20 gallons and trios need at least 29 gallons. Bigger is always better if you can provide it. Tall space is also more important then long space since they are arboreal. Babies need to be housed in small-med critter keepers so they are able to find their food easier. When they are around 6 months old you can transfer them to a 10 gal size cage. Use lots of climbing branches and vines through out the cage. If you choose you can add a cave for them to hide in but if you have a lot of thick leaves they can hide in it is not necessary. Substrate should be paper towels, newspaper or Eco-Earth. Eco-Earth can only be used with adults because babies and juveniles will accidentally ingest it and become impacted and die. Babies and juveniles should be on newspaper or paper towels. Cage carpet,sand,bark, etc should never be used because of impaction causing death and cage carpet will snag on their delicate toes and could cause injury.
Handling: Adults tend to be more calm and will hang out or slowly walk around occasionally jumping from one place to another. Babies are more flighty and will be everywhere walking and jumping. Babies should be held for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day until they are halfway grown. They are small and could get stressed or accidentally jump somewhere and get hurt. Never grab your geckos. Always try to get him/her to walk on you or if you must, very gently pick them up and be careful that the tail and toes do not get caught on anything. If you grab or pull on the geckos with their tail or toes stuck to something the tail will come off and the toes will get injured. Tails once off never grow back. Be very careful to not scare your gecko either or it will drop it's tail by itself. Most wild crested geckos do not have tails from fighting each other, breeding or predators.

Breeding: A male can be put with 1-3 females for around a month or so or until you see mating or find eggs. Females should be a little over a year old before breeding and males can be just around 9 months when they are ready. After breeding takes place a female will lay 2 eggs 3-4 weeks later in Eco-Earth or moss provided in an egg laying area or if your whole cage is filled you will have to dig around gently to find them. Females can retain sperm and will continue to lay eggs without a male around for several months. You want to remove the male after a month or so because you want to give the female a break. He will continue to harass her and cause stress or she will get fed up and bite him on the head and could hurt him. The eggs incubate at room temp for around 60-90 days in moss, Eco-earth or Hatchrite inside of a small plastic rubbermaid container. When placing eggs in the container make sure you do not rotate or jiggle them because they can drown in their own yolk. Make an indent in the moss, Eco-earth or Hatchrite with your finger and place the egg in it so it is half way buried. Once a week open the plastic container and check to see if it is damp or drying out. The hatching medium should be damp but not soaked and if it starts to dry just spray a small amount of water on to it but not on to the eggs.

Interesting facts: Crested geckos were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1994. They have no eye lids and clean their eyes by licking them. Their toe pads are actually tiny rows of hair that grab and hold on to any imperfection on a surface, including glass. Their tails are semi-prehensile and they can curve them around branches for extra support and even hang upside down with them. At the tip of the tail underneath is also an extra "toe pad". It has an area with the same type of rows of hair that help them grab and hold on to branches. Crested geckos have a "cool" color during the day when they sleep and at night when they are awake they have a "fired up" color which is more bright and might even make them look like a totally different gecko.

A great informational site/forum on Crested geckos is Repashy Forums. There is excellent info as well as a lot of knowledgeable people on there about this species.
Here's the link http://www.forums.repashy.com/ Check it out!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Green tree monitors (Varanus prasinus)

I got my first V. prasinus this year in April as an early birthday present to myself. I have always wanted one ever since I first saw a picture of one many years ago. Back then they were terribly expensive(thousands of dollars) and I didn't have room for one. They are still expensive but not out of reach and now I have my own house. This first one I got was a captive born and bred(CBB) baby male. CBB V.prasinus are very hard to find because not many people have success breeding them here in the USA. As soon as I saw him on an internet ad I knew I had to get him, I was afraid of not finding another CBB baby for a long time. I was so scared in the beginning, worrying if he would be ok during shipping, would he dart out of the box and get lost when I opened it, and hoping that he would adjust to his cage once he came to my house. I had also heard they were a very delicate and skittish species so I was worried about that too. Well I had nothing to worry about at all. When he came, I opened the box and opened the bag he was in and he crawled right out on to my hand and looked at me. It was like he was sizing me up and not sure if he should run but at the same time he was curiously bold. He then started to stick out his tongue and check me out. He did not seem afraid at all. I put him in his cage and he drank water when I misted him and then went over to the food bowl and started eating crickets! I was amazed! He seemed right at home as if he had not just spent the last 24 hours in a box. He then wanted to come out. He would follow me as I walked in front of the glass. He would try to jump at me through the glass too. I couldn't take it so I opened the lid and stuck my hand in there. He walked over to it and then climbed right up and out of the cage and sat on my shoulder! I just couldn't believe it! He started to walk all over me checking me out, in my hair, around my neck and even flicked his tongue on my face for a few minutes. I put him back in the cage after about ten minutes because I was worried about him adjusting/stress from being shipped. He still wanted to come back out. Kept trying to come out the rest of the day every time he saw me. He still acts like this today. He is very friendly/curious. He likes to jump on me a lot when I get close enough for him to make it. I think it's funny. He follows me too. I named him Emeril. I absolutely love him, he is my spoiled rotten baby. In May I saw another ad for a juvenile V.prasinus that was wild caught. It looked to be a female and it was beautiful! I decided that if Emeril was so curious and outgoing maybe if I got a young wild caught one it would not be as afraid as an adult and might be like Emeril eventually, but if it wasn't that would be ok too. Well I had nothing to worry about again. After getting her she tried getting away when she came out of the bag but I just put my hand in front of her and she settled and looked at me. She just sat there staring at me while on my arm. I put her in her new quarantine home(not with Emeril) and she drank when I misted her and then went to her food bowl and ate crickets! Reminded me of when I got Emeril. She was not afraid to eat in front of me and did not try to hide from my view. She was not as active as Emeril was, just mostly basking and walking around, looking at me and looking at things in the room. The next day I saw her wanting to come out. I stuck my hand in there and she would walk over but not climb up. She was curious but still unsure of me. I slowly slid my hand under her and lifted her out and she sat there looking at me. I was ready for her to bolt at least that would make sense because she did come from the wild and should be afraid of me. She did not though. She sat there for a few minutes and then started walking around on me very slowly as if she still wasn't very sure about me but she was more curious than scared. She checked me out just like Emeril did but slower, more carefully, delicately. After 10 minutes I put her back in the cage. After a few days of this she started coming out on her own when I would stick my hand in the cage. She would beg to come out and just climb up my arm onto my shoulder! Her name is Jade and she is just as friendly/curious as Emeril is. These monitors do not seem skittish or shy at all to me. Both monitors are very spoiled and beg to come out and be held every day. I let them run around on my living room furniture, my fake 6ft tree(which they both jump out of and onto me frequently) and a vine/hanging branch hung across my ceiling. They love to crawl on me and anyone else that is around. They use me like I'm a tree, lol! They climb up and down my body and sometimes go in my clothes. I recently tried hand feeding them and they have no problem with it and actually prefer sitting on me to eat nasty roaches:( I do not like roaches by the way(something about living in FL and dealing with palmetto bugs!). They are very good at taking food and have never bitten me by accident or anything. I do feed the roaches with the tongs most of the time but sometimes I will do it with my fingers. I feed them crickets and superworms with my fingers sometimes too. They still have the food bowl in their cage they eat out of also. Jade is now done with quarantine and her and Emeril live together. At first she seemed annoyed with him because he was always nosing her and climbing on her checking her out. It's funny because she would just put her head down and submit, she is actually bigger than him and could get away if she wanted. Now they are fine and act as if they had always been together. It's really cute because they sleep in the bird house together and bask together even though there is more than one basking area. It's funny to watch them too because now they both try to get out at the same time when they see people and when I stick my arm in the cage they both jump and climb up at the same time, sometimes climbing over each other while getting to my shoulder. They both climb everywhere! I absolutely love these curious, friendly and bold tree monitors! I can't wait to get more, I'm hooked! Hopefully I will get lucky and Emeril and Jade will breed for me when they become adults:)

This is Emeril the day I first got him

This is Jade the day I first got her(a little skinny)


This is them basking together in front of the back patio door(Emeril is the smaller one)


Peaking out of the birdhouse:)


Jade on me


In since getting these Green tree monitors (V.prasinus) they have become my all time favorite species! I love their personalities!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cuban Knight Anole (Anolis equestris) Care Sheet

Cuban Knight Anole (Anolis equestris)

Distribution: Native to Cuba but has established itself as a non-native species in Southern Florida. ( Wild caught specimens in the pet trade are from the Florida populations.)

Habitat: Highly arboreal. Lives high up in tree canopies and rarely descends to the ground unless they are laying eggs or males are looking for new territory.

Diet: In the wild they eat a large variety of insects, smaller anoles including their own species, frogs, basically anything they can catch that fits in their mouth and occasionally fruit.

Size: This species is the largest of anoles and can attain lengths in the wild of 18-22 inches. Young Cuban Knight anoles raised in captivity are usually smaller at about 13-15 inches as adults.

Active: Cuban Knight anoles are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night.

Sexing: This species has sexual dimorphism. Both sexes may have a throat fan but usually this is only present in males. In the cases where females have one it is usually smaller as males have a very large pink throat fan. Males also tend to be bigger and have larger, bonier heads than females. During mating season a male can also exhibit hemipenal bulges under the tail base. As babies I have heard that females have white bands on the body and males do not. I am not sure how accurate this is though.

Behavior: The males of this species are very territorial. They often are seen doing a variety of displays with their throat fan and doing push-ups to communicate to males that they are dominate or to females when courting. In the wild there is a single dominate male with two or three females in his territory. If other males are present he will attack, fight and defend his territory and females until the new male leaves. For this reason two males cannot be kept in the same cage or one of them will die, either from fighting or the dominate one stressing the non-dominate one to the point where it won't eat, drink and hide until it wastes away and dies. Cuban Knight anoles are best kept singly or one male with one or two females.

Breeding: Breeding season is between spring and early fall. Females lay 10-12 eggs in a clutch being spaced out at 1-2 eggs every couple of weeks until they are all laid. They can lay 1-3 clutches each breeding season.

Captive care: Minimum of 30 gallons of space per anole. The cage must be taller rather than wider. They must have lots of climbing branches, vines and plants in the enclosure for them to feel secure. Substrate in the cage should be eco earth/bed a beast, moss or pestcide/fertilizer free soil to prevent impaction from accidental ingestion. They require heavy water misting at least twice a day for humidity and for drinking as they will not drink water from a bowl. Humidity should fluctuate between 50%-80%. Lighting must be with a 5.0 UVB bulb (replaced every 6-8 months even if it still gives off light because the amount of UVB being put off will "wear out") going across the top and also a heat lamp for basking at one end of the cage. The cool side of the cage should be at 70-80 degrees and the warm side under the basking area should be 95-100 degrees. Lights should be on 12 hours during the day and turned off at night. You only need night time heat if your room temp goes below 70 degrees. Feeder insects should be dusted once a week with calcium only, no added vitamin D3 as they are able to produce D3 on their own with proper UVB lighting. Prey items should be dusted with a vitamin powder with added vitamin D3 once a month. They can be offered crickets, meal worms,super worms,wax worms, phoenix worms, roaches, small green or brown anoles, and various sweet kinds of fruits in small pieces. Prey items may be offered daily to every other day and fruit may be offered once a week.

Lifespan: 10-15 years in captivity.

Additional notes: This species sometimes has a hard time adjusting to captivity especially as adults. When first getting one make sure you follow this care sheet and set everything up correctly or they will get stressed and die. It is normal for them to not eat or drink right away after getting them home, but still offer both every day. Leave them alone for the first week or so until you notice them eating and drinking normally/regularly. When they are stressed, sick or cold they turn brown. When they are happy they stay bright green. When your Cuban Knight anole is adjusted and remains green in his/her cage for a week or so and is happy, you may attempt taming it. This species has the ability to become very tame. They will sit on your shoulder or head as you walk around, can be hand fed (watch your fingers when hand feeding, they can break skin if they bite you on accident) and likes being stroked under the chin. You can also get a 6ft tree to put in your house so they can sit in it, they usually will not run away or jump out of it.

If you have any questions or concerns about this species email me at: thereptilewhisperer@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Species I have personal experience with

These are a list of herps I have had experience with either as pets, cared for, or observed and then caught in the wild.




Cuban Knight Anole (Anolis equestris)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

Bark Anole (Anolis distichus)

Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus)

Tokay Gecko (Gekko Gecko)

White Lined Gecko (Gekko Vitattus)

House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Marbled Gecko (Christinus mamoratus)

Golden Gecko (Gekko ulikovskii)

White Spotted Gecko (Tarentola annularis)

Crocodile Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)

Giant Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis)

Lined Day Gecko (Phelsuma lineata)

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skink (scientifically undescribed(Tiliqua sp)

Schneider's Skink (Eumeces schneideri)

Five Lined Skink(Eumeces fasciatus)

Ground Skink (Scincella lateralis)

Broad-headed Skink (Eumeces laticeps)

Eastern Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)

Short Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi)

Eastern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Bearded Dragon (Pogona Vitticeps)

Veiled Chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus)

Oustalet's Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti)

Emerald Tree Monitor (Varanus prasinus)

Dumeril's Monitor (Varanus dumerilii)

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus)

Yellow Bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)

Red Eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Common Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)

Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Common Musk Turtle (Sternotherus oderatus)

Narrow-bridged Musk Turtle (Claudius angustatus)

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus)

Giant Bufo Toad (Bufo marinus)

Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)

Gray Tree frog (Hyla versicolor)

American Bull Frog (Rana catesbeiana)

Green Frog (Rana clamitans)

African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis)

African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri)

Argentine Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata)

Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

Spring Peeper Frog (Pseudacris crucifer)

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Chinese Fire Belly Newt (Cynops orientalis)

Ridge Back Newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis)

Redback Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

Longtail Salamander (Eurycea longicauda longicauda)

Northern Two-Lined Salamander (Eurycea bislineata bislineata)

Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus)

Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus fuscus)

Axolotol (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans)

Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata)

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta)

Leucistic Texas Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri)

California King Snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae)

Yellow Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata)

Cottonmouth Snake (Agkistrodon piscivorus)

Copperhead Snake (Agkistrodon contortrix)

Ring neck snake (Diadophis punctatus)

Black Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor priapus)

Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)

Ball Python (Python regius)

Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus)

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

This is all I can think of at the moment but I'm sure I'll have to put more up here as I remember them. The venomous snakes on here are the only animals on this list I caught and released the same day. Everything else I've kept as pets, cared for or at least observed in captivity for a week or more. Most on the list have been or are currently my pets:)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Compact UVB bulbs, harmful to reptiles?

I have seen a lot of people on the net say compact UVB bulbs are harmful to reptiles. Compact bulbs meaning they are shaped like a regular tube bent in half, corkscrew or in the shape of a halo/circle. These are being made by several different reptile product manufactures. The lights are said to cause blindness in your animals. Well, I've done some research on the net and found a website that actually did studies on these bulbs and had reported cases of effected reptiles along with some pretty sad pictures. This is the site, I encourage you to check it out! http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor.htm

Basically the information in the sites I've found on the net( not just the one I created the link to) states that these bulbs put out harmful amounts of UV radiation which can harm your reptile in more than one way. First off it states that because they are too bright and put out low wave length UVB and UVC your reptile gets photo-kerato-conjunctivitis ( basically the same thing as snow blindness in humans). It states that the eyes swell up and eventually swell shut. Accompanying this your reptiles exhibit lethargy, decreased appetite, sometimes even lesions that look like burns and exfoliation of the skin on the eyelids. Luckily they state that this is not permanent and if the bulbs are removed your reptile should be fully recovered in 2-14 days. Also (my theory from past experience) If exposed for a long period of time your reptile is unable to control how much D3 it makes and the calcium levels increase making it susceptible to getting Hypercalcemia, especially if you are giving it a D3 supplement. (I am currently working to prove this with the help of my vet) Look at the previous post to learn about Hypercalcemia.

Here are some pics of different compact bulbs







I have talked to my veterinarian about this subject and sent her to the above link. She had not heard about this before and started looking for the illness "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" in her reference books. So far she has not found anything. This is a relative new thing with reptiles being that these bulbs have not been around for very long so it may be that that's why she can't find it. The both of us are very interested in learning the truth of the matter. She has told me she will be talking to some experts in the reptile veterinary field and let me know if she finds anything out. I will keep you posted on anything I find out! If you have anything you would like to share about your personal experiences with these lights please leave a comment or email me about it.
Part two: 01-29-09
Alright, so I did some more research since first writing this post. I looked at some of the medical websites and found definitions for Photokeratitis and Photoconjunctivitis which combined is what "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" seems to be referring to. Photokeratitis is a burn of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) by ultraviolet B rays (UVB). Also called radiation keratitis or snowblindness. The World Health Organization(WHO) explains that Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, while photoconjunctivitis refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and eye socket. These inflammatory reactions may be compared to a sunburn of the very sensitive skin-like tissues of the eyeball and eyelids and usually appear within a few hours of exposure. Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis can be very painful, however, they are reversible and do not seem to result in any long-term damage to the eye or vision.
I also read(from the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Heath ) overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, increasing sensitivity to sunlight, diminishing the effects of immunizations or causing reactions to certain medications. And also( from Encyclopedia II), prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye, and immune system.
This (below) was from a fact sheet on ultraviolet radiation.
Exposure and Hazards of UVExposure to UV light posses a serious threat to both the eye and skin. Diagnosis of exposure may vary but are commonly set into two categories, photokeratitis (eye injury) and erythema (sunburn). Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea (outer protective coating of the eye) that is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Eye injury can occur due to very brief exposure or with just a flash of intense UV. Erythema is sunburn of the skin and can occur within a few seconds of exposure to a concentrated form of UV. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light also causes premature aging and cancer of the skin. So what would a lizard look like if it had sunburn? It would look like it was shedding continuously, especially around the eyes. This is also described as being apart of "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis".
Here is a link to a recall page from R-Zilla discussing the affected bulbs and that it causes "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" http://www.zilla-rules.com/assets/006/13278.pdf

Here are two websites about reptile lighting that briefly mention "photo-kerato-conjuctivitis" http://www.beardeddragoncaresheet.org/lighting.html http://web.mac.com/breadnbutterdesign/%5BCND%5D/MegaRay_Lamp_Review.html
This is a very interesting thread I found(below), it actually has the people from the UV guide website talking on here. This thread talks about how these lights can cause toxic levels of D3! It's kinda lengthy but worth it to hear what they are talking about.
RE: [UVB_Meter_Owners] Re: New file - R-Zilla advert - toxic D3 from abnormal spectra? http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/UVB_Meter_Owners/message/6216
I will continue to keep you guys posted with whatever else I might find!
4/5/09
So I have been doing a lot of research on this matter and have contacted the author of the UV guide website. Talking to her has really made me understand why the affected bulbs are "bad". She has been a great help in understanding what to look for in a reptile's blood to prove or disprove Hypercalcaemia in affected reptiles. I had a pair of lizards that were affected by a "bad" bulb and that is what started my interest in the matter. The pair of lizards I have, have almost fully recovered. The author of the site is currently working on a publication about this and I have given her my case history of my lizards as well as other affected reptiles I have aquired affected by "bad" bulbs. I started asking around and found some reptiles that were affected and I asked permission to document their recovery. I have been taking them to my vet and I'm trying to see if any of them are Hypercalcaemic. In the future I will be trying to get a solar meter so that I may test "bad" bulbs myself. This little research project has now become much bigger than I ever thought. It has really intrigued my interest and when I am able to post my findings and results on affected reptiles I will. I will also inform you about what the author of the UV guide website has found out about these harmful bulbs after she publishes it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Diurnal Species of reptiles-VERY IMPORTANT

Diurnal species(active during the day) need UVB exposure to make the vitamin D3 that is required to absorb calcium. If they do not have adequate UVB exposure they will not be able to do this and the result is Hypocalcemia or better known as Metabolic Bone Disease(MBD). This is fatal and a horrible way to die. Symptoms are bone deformities, loss of proper motor functions(shaky when walking,unable to hold on to things,laying there unable to move), lethargy, loss of appetite, caving in of body structures such as the casque on chameleons, dehydration from not drinking, sunken in eyes, change in normal skin color(sign of stress), Bones feel spongy. This can also lower your reptiles immunity making them susceptible to other illnesses and/or parasite infestations. If your reptile displays any combination of the above symptoms take them to the vet right away. Something is wrong. Most often reptiles don't show they are sick until the illness is moderate to severe. The way to prevent MBD is to expose them to natural unfiltered (no glass or plastic in between the source and your reptile)sunlight all day every day or using a UVB light above their enclosure with (no glass or plastic) in between the light and your enclosure. The UVB light must be changed every 6 months even if it still puts off light. The reason is because the amount of UVB put out decreases over time. Some people do test their lights on a regular basis to check UVB output and change them when it starts going down, but most people don't so I recommend changing it every 6 months to be safe. You must provide the UVB lighting over the whole length of your enclosure.

When feeding always dust food with a calcium supplement or you can also give reptiles calcium in the form of a liquid and give it to them by hand. VERY IMPORTANT: If you give a calcium supplement to your lizards and they receive proper UVB exposure(with changing the bulb every six months) at least 12 hours a day you DO NOT need to give them the vitamin D3! You will see in pet stores calcium supplements with added vitamin D3, don't use them. Get calcium only. Your reptile if it has proper UVB exposure and proper heating it is already able to make enough of this vitamin on their own. Giving them calcium with added D3 will give them Hypercalcemia which is where they have an excessive amount of calcium in the blood. This is caused usually by overdosing the calcium or D3 intake. This can also be fatal if not caught in time. NOTE: It is normal to have high calcium levels in the blood if your reptile is producing eggs. Symptoms are lethargy, decreased appetite,dehydration,color change(from stress), laying on the bottom of the cage if they are normally arboreal. As with Hypocalcemia(MBD), Hypercalcemia also lowers the immune defenses and they can be susceptible to illnesses and/or parasite infestations.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tokay geckos

For those of you out there who think Tokays can't be tamed, your wrong. Tokay geckos are one of the most misunderstood lizards out there. They have such a bad reputation. Most geckos run when scared but not Tokays, they stand their ground. That doesn't mean that they are mean and nasty, they are just scared. To them we look like huge predators. Heck yeah I'd bite someone if I was a gecko and someone grabbed me! So you ask "How do I tame a Tokay?" Well you have to gain their trust of course. Stick your hand in the cage next to them but move really slow when you do it. After a minute move closer but watch the gecko for signs that they might bite you. If they start puffing up and make noises stop moving and just keep your hand still. After another minute try to get closer, slowly barely moving. Keep doing this until you are touching the side of the gecko and he is not showing signs of being defensive. After another minute try to very slowly push your hand under the gecko. Very important to do this as slow as possible and remain still if he shows defensive posture. Once you have him on your hand just sit there for a min or two. He might jump off but then you just try again to slide your hand under him. Eventually he will see you aren't trying to hurt him. This is the first step in getting him to trust you. Once he has been sitting in your hand for awhile slowly lift him up out of the cage. If he jumps off just do it again. Once you get him out watch his posture to see if he is going to jump. Be ready because he probably will try. If he does don't grab him. Instead catch him with your open hand when he lands. If you grab him at all you lose all trust he has for you and he will bite and you will be back at square one. Eventually he will calm down and sit in your hand. When he starts to trust you he will start walking hand over hand sticking out his tongue tasting you. After you hold him for a long while with him walking hand over hand or with him just sitting on you put him back in his cage. Don't put him back if you haven't gained any ground. Do this every day for a week or more depending on your gecko and the amount of time spent holding it and he should become completely tame for you. Some tips and pointers: Most geckos love applesauce and Tokays are no exception. Put a little on your finger tip and touch his nose. At first he will probably just sit there but if you keep it there long enough he will become curious and taste it. I give it to mine as a treat and they readily lick it up. Once they are comfortable with you they will also take superworms and crickets right out of your hand. Another thing to remember is when taming your Tokay never move fast and keep them away from people or things that make sudden movement or they will take off. The Tokays I have were tame in just days after getting them. My male I got as a baby and my female I got as a wild caught adult.

My Tokays are so tame and nice that my 5 yr old daughter can play with them. Tame Tokays are awesome, they have very laid back personalities and love to just chill and hang out with you.