From Reptiles

Got a beardie? Check out

Squirrel Does the Cactusleap
While I’ve got a couple of tips on this site about caring for beardies, mostly based on my personal experience with them, has got pages upon pages of care and feeding instructions and discussion. If you’re interested in reading more about beardies, or you want more details than are on my Caring for Bearded Dragons post, you should check out this site!

Mikey, the Noto(rious) Viridescens

Mikey, the Noto(rious) Viridescens

Mikey, pictured above, is an Eastern Newt (Latin name Notophthalmus viridescens) whom we found on the doorstep of our house this summer. Since he seemed inclined to the domesticated life, we put him in a 10 gallon tank, and he’s been happily munching on flightless fruit flies ever since. If you happen to find one of these amphibians (and there are hundreds in New England during wet summer nights) and decide to keep it as a pet, I would highly suggest the fruit flies as a staple diet. I spent a couple of weeks trying everything from pinhead crickets to hand-caught pond skimmers, all to no avail. Once I found that Petco has vials of fruit flies, though, at the reasonable price of $5.99, I made the hour-long trip to the nearest one and bought two vials. NOTE: If you buy them online, they’re almost $30. Definitely worth the drive if you have a Petco anywhere near you.

One of the great things about the fruit flies is that they reproduce for several generations in the vials, as long as there is enough medium for them to eat. I have also started experimenting with breeding my own flies, with some materials bought from Ward Scientific (more on breeding flies and how much money it can save you in a later post). I finally had my first generation of home-hatched flies born in one of my cultures, and so far they seem even larger and juicier than the imported generation.

fruit flies, eastern newt, newt care, flightless, petco

Portland Reptile Expo, August 26th, 9-4

If you’ve ever been to a reptile expo, you know why you should be going, but if you haven’t, let me just say that it’s an experience that must be seen to be believed. The reptile show in Portland, Maine is a new one for me, although I’ve been attending the New England Reptile Expo twice a year for a couple of years now.

NE Reptile Expo

If you have any interest in cold-blooded creatures, or you have kids between the ages of 3-18, the reptile expo is a great place to go on a weekend. There are usually 50+ vendors, each with a wide variety of homegrown reptiles. The difference between buying a pet at a reptile expo and getting one in a pet store is roughly akin to that of visiting a charity bakesale thrown by the American Culinary Association versus buying pre-made cookies in a supermarket. Even if you’re not buying, you’ll see upwards of 100 different kinds of reptiles and amphibians at any given show, which is worth the price of admission itself.

Photo Credit:

reptiles, expo, show, new england, portland, reptile expo, amphibian, manchester

Bearded Dragon Cam: why wouldn’t there be one?

In case you were wondering why there was no webcam devoted entirely to watching the activities of a single bearded dragon on a 24-7 basis, you can stop wondering. Why? Because that webcam now exists. That’s right, if you’re so bored you feel the need to watch a reptile that basically only moves to sleep, sun itself, and eat, you can do it. Thank you, the Internet, and thank you person in Germany who created this. If you hadn’t done it, someone else probably would’ve. But later on, most likely. Maybe even a year later.

Perish the thought.

bearded dragon cam, beardie cam, webcam, reptile webcam, bearded dragon, beardie, germany

Thinking about breeding your beardies? offers an interesting article entitled ‘Things to Consider Before Breeding Your Bearded Dragon,’ which lists several of the considerations involved in deciding to breed bearded dragons, then goes on to list various methods of actually breeding your beardies.

The article offers suggestions as to which products to buy to breed bearded dragons, and is clearly written by someone with first-hand experience in breeding beardies. The site also offers several other interesting articles about bearded dragons, as well as other reptiles.

bearded dragon, beardie, reptiles, reptile, breeding, reptile breeding

Packaged salad mix for beardies

veggiesOpinions on the internet vary widely about the benefits and risks of feeding different sorts of veggies to your beardie. There seem to be a few reasons for this, as far as I can tell. Mainly, everyone’s in agreement that you should try to get really high-calcium veggies into your beardie’s diet, with the main exception of spinach. According to more than one site (1, 2), spinach (and, according to another site, also kale)will bind with calcium so, even though it nutritionally contains a lot of calcium, it’s not really all that great for getting calcium into your beardie–in fact it seems to do somewhat the reverse.

There’s an equal number of warnings about iceberg lettuce, for good reason. If you look at a piece of iceberg, you’ll know where they got the name: it’s mostly water. Now, it may seem that something high in water might help your beardie to remain hydrated, but in fact it may make them dehydrated by giving them diarrhea. Also, as mentioned, it’s mostly water, so it contains very little calcium.

The other main point of agreement seems to be that you should try to mix up the greens your beardie eats. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to do this is to use a packaged salad mix. There are definitely bearded dragon owners out there who will no doubt attack this statement, claiming that packaged salad is less fresh and contains more bacteria. To that I would say that I’ll take my chances with a packaged product over the ‘fresh’ greens we often get in my desolate corner of this country, and after all, people can only feel up the un-packaged vegetables and get their grubby bacteria all over them while looking for the ‘best’ one. If you’re a DIY sort of person, though, and you have access to good veggies, you could also try this recipe.

The salad mix I’ve been feeding Squirrel recently is Dole Spring Mix. It doesn’t contain any iceberg lettuce, and the company describes it as a mix of ‘baby lettuces, endive and mustard greens,’ decent staple veggies for beardies, according to the most popular care sheet on the web. Even better, you can make yourself salads with it, and it’s tasty, so that way you’ll be back at the store in two days buying a fresh bag, instead of trying to use an entire bunch of collard greens before they wilt.

salad mix for beardies, beardie, bearded dragon, mustard greens, collard greens, lettuce, leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, packaged salad for bearded dragon, bearded dragon feeding, beardie spinach, bearded dragon spinach, kale, calcium

Heating and temperature in a bearded dragon enclosure

A co-worker who also owns a beardie recently asked me about the ideal temperature for her dragon. She was concerned because she recently bought a large new tank (55 gal) and we live in an area that’s frequently very cold in the winter and stiflingly hot in the summer. In particular, she was worried because the tank, which she could never get above 90 degrees in the winter, was now passing 100 and rising, and might present an overheating hazard to her beardie.

After assuring her that 100 was not too hot for a beardie, I asked her what sort of heating system the pet store had set her up with for the new tank. She said that she had two incandescent but tube-shaped bulbs in two hoods, one on each side of the tank. The store had told her that, if she put both hoods on the same side of the tank, it might cause one to overheat the other and set the tank on fire. So, quite reasonably concerned about heating, my friend had put the lights so that they evenly covered the entire tank.

Now, I’m not sure how hot these particular lights might get, but I’ve run two mercury vapor 160W bulbs immediately next to one another, and they don’t seem to shut off any more often than when alone (the bulbs are self-ballasted and shut off when overheating). I told my friend to put both fixtures on the same side, in order to create a temperature gradient. This, ultimately, is the key that I’ve found to keeping a happy beardie.

Squirrel BaskingSquirrel, our dragon, seems comfortable with temps of 110 on the hot side of the tank. He’ll sit on his rock and occasionally open his mouth, but doesn’t make a move for the cooler side of the tank, a sign to me that he’s able to properly regulate his internal temps with just his mouth. If he ever starts to move away from the heat, I turn the light off for a few minutes to allow cooling. This is why the gradient is key–if you give your beardie the ability to go away from the heat source, this is your best method of determining whether or not your tank is too hot. If your beardie, like Squirrel, is simply ‘sweating’ while basking, don’t worry. A warm beardie is, after all, usually a healthier, stronger beardie. If he or she is on the opposite side from the heat lamp, however, and still gaping, it may be time to reduce the temperature. Just remember, watching your beardie is the best way to tell how they’re doing.

bearded dragon, beardie, bearded dragon care, beardie care, temperature, heat lamp, proper temperature for bearded dragon, temperature gradient

Keeping a Halloween Moon Crab alive

Moon CrabNB: in the 4 years since I wrote this article, Wikipedia has gotten some updated info that might prove useful to new owners. If you have a crab that looks like the one in the picture, check out the Halloween Crab article; if you have a darker-bluish crab, try the Moon Crab page.

After the recent purchase of our second Halloween Moon Crab (or whatever they’re called–it’s ambiguous), Zero Two, the little bastard died. Now, the original Zero was in a sorry state when he arrived in our house, missing three legs, and then soon four. When he keeled over, two weeks into his stay, we were saddened but not overly surprised. At the All New England Reptile Expo, we got a much healthier looking specimen, who seemed to be much more energetic, burying in the sand at night and eating frequently. Unfortunately, the place was so busy they didn’t want to talk to me about an $8 crab, so I couldn’t get any decent (better) advice on his care and feeding.

Then, one day, after we lost power for a few hours, I returned home to feed the fire, only to find Zero Two dead. I figured the cold must have killed him, but it was only down to about 60 degrees in my house, and I found that to be pretty reasonable for Costa Rica (their native habitat, according to at least a few sites (1, 2)) on a relatively cold night.

Upon closer inspection of all the information about moon crabs online (which, like most reptile and exotic info, is always contradictory), it seems that they are a seaside-dwelling creature that needs access to both fresh and salt water. This surprised me, since the first pet store we’d gotten Zero from had called him an ‘African Land Crab,’ but had mentioned that he could also be called a moon crab. PetSmart’s care sheet for African Land Crabs definitely doesn’t jive with the other two pages mentioned earlier, so I’m now thoroughly confused. Either way, I’m planning on getting another moon crab once I’ve gotten a generator for power outages, and I plan to sculpt some sort of hybrid land-water tank, rather than a mostly sand substrate with a water dish. Any information anyone might have about owning one of these critters would be greatly appreciated–I don’t want to kill another one.

halloween crab, moon crab, halloween moon crab, african land crab, enclosure, new england reptile expo, crab care

How to build amazing fake rocks for your reptiles has this excellent article about constructing your own fake rocks for your beardies or other climbing lizards. The author takes you through step-by-step how to construct the fake rocks, and the pictures he has look amazing. The best part is that you only need the following things:

– 3 Polystyrene sheets, 4ft x 1ft-10″ at 2″ thick sheeting
– 1 Polystyrene sheet, 4ft x 1ft-10″ at 1″ thick sheeting
– Floor tile grout
– Poly-expandable foam
– “No Nails” for Polystyrene / or similar contact adhesive
– Appx. 500ml of water-resistant PVA (non-toxic children’s version)
– Paints (non-toxic acrylic paint)
– Plastic artists pallet knifes (6 piece set)
– ½” Paint Brush

That list is easily filled at a good hardware or art supply store, and for not a lot of money, especially when you consider that the end product rivals something that would cost $200 in a pet store.

fake rocks, lizard, bearded dragon, beardie