Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Feed Frozen Thawed?

Frozen thawed prey items are just as nutritious as live ones, without the risk. Feeding your snake or lizard live prey might be cool to watch or make you feel tough, but it can actually be dangerous for your pet! Mice and rats of all sizes have teeth, and they aren't afraid to use them. If your snake or lizard doesn't grab a mouse just right, or misses on the first strike the mouse will fight back. A rodent bite is not only extremely painful but can become easily infected. A rodent bite at the very least needs to be kept clean and dry and monitored for infection and at the worse can cause serious tearing and infection which will need veterinary treatment.

Frozen prey items are not only cost effective, but pose no threat to your herp. Once your snake or lizard grabs the mouse it's just as cool to watch, without the guilt. To feed frozen follow these few easy steps 1 - thaw out your prey item in hot water, just like you were defrosting chicken. NEVER use a microwave as this can super heat the center of the prey item and cause internal burns to your pet. 2 - Once your item is thawed dry it off on a clean paper towel. 3 - Using tongs (you don't want your hand to be associated with food in the mind of your snake!!!) dangle the prey item over your snake and wait for it to strike. 4 - Sit back and watch, it's like having the discovery channel in your house.

If you get a snake or lizard that is only used to eating live you can transition them to eating frozen. One of the best methods for doing this is scenting your mouse. This will trick your pet into thinking the item is alive, you can do this several ways 1 - after thawing the prey item place it in a container that has mouse or rat feces and urine in it while keeping it warm. 2 - thaw out your prey item in hot chicken broth. 3 - brain the mouse. This means puncturing holes in the skull so your snake/lizard can smell blood and brains. It is gross but very effective. 4 - rub the thawed prey item with a small lizard or frog. Anoles and tree frogs work well. Many reptile species consume smaller reptiles or amphibians in the wild. The most important thing with any of these methods is keeping the prey item warm. Your snake isn't going to find a cooled body appetizing.

So keep your pet safe and your conscious guilt free... feed frozen thawed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Last but not least, especially in the amount of work I've put in, is Ziggy. Ziggy ended up being my birthday present this year. I gave up getting a Wii and a tattoo in order to bring him home and fix him up. Ziggy, a bearded dragon, was surrendered in a 10 gallon tank with no lighting or heat source to the pet store. He couldn't walk, his femurs were bent, his jaw was bowed and mushy, he was missing most of the toes on his back feet and part of his tail and he hadn't shed in a long time (layers of skin were built up on top of each other). We brought Ziggy to the vet, he was malnourished, dehydrated and diagnosed with metabolic bone disease. Ziggy was in worse shape than Be Bop (see previous blog). I knew he had to come home with me.

Ziggy was put on a course of liquid calcium supplement, and properly fed fresh salad and lots of yummy bugs. I put him into a 40 gallon breeder with proper heating (hot spot of 100 degrees give or take 5 degrees and an ambient temp of around 85), full spectrum UBV lighting and good hides and basking spots. Ziggy eats like a pig. He is successfully shedding on his own and walking! Ziggy's jaw bones hardened, but he still has a characteristic under bite. I don't think Ziggy will ever catch up in size to his brother Be Bop but he has more than enough personality to make up for it!


Sticky is a Crested Gecko. The species was actually thought to be extinct until a group or research scientists found a colony of them alive and well on the island of New Caledonia. Of course, specimens were taken into captivity and now they are becoming one of the most popular lizards in the pet trade. Sticky is an arboreal lizard and spends his days relaxing in a naturalistic terrarium set up, complete with elevated feeding dishes and live plants. I recently received a waterfall kit from a friends and will soon be adding a cool water feature to his tank to complete the natural look and feel of his habitat. The more naturally you have your herp set up, the more natural behaviors you can observe.

Sticky is yet another rescue. He was the smallest gecko in his tank at the pet shop and was being picked on by the bigger males. Sticky had also lost his tail. This occurs in a good percentage of captive geckos, but research shows that most male Crested Geckos are tailless in the wild. The lack of tail makes Sticky look like a strange frog/dragon cross which is actually pretty endearing. In Crested Geckos the tail does not regenerate as in many species. I couldn't help but bring Sticky home and add him to my scaly family. He's now full grown and super handsome. I'm thinking about getting him a girlfriend or two but don't tell my girlfriend because Crested Geckos are rather prolific!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Lilly is my sub adult corn snake. I've had her since she was a hatchling and it has been a blast watching her grow. She now measures close to 3' in length and is slightly fatter than my thumb. Lilly feeds once a week on frozen thawed hopper mice. Frozen thawed is the way to go for feeding your snake. Live mice can attack your snake and cause serious injury. A pre killed frozen mouse or rat has been humanely euthanized and is completely safe for your snake. It's just as awesome to watch a snake eat a pre killed prey item, and it's guilt free! Lilly lives in a 20 gallon long aquarium, I use sanichips as a substrate and she has pleanty of places to hide on both the cool and warm ends of
her tank.


In the beginning of October Lilly escaped. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and I was completely shocked! I underestimated the will power of our cats. Somehow, the let Lilly out of her tank and off she went to god only knows where. After setting many 'traps' and searching the house top to bottom with a high power flash light we still hadn't found her. Almost a month after her escape, when I had started to give up hope, I went out onto the balcony to find Lilly laying out in the open! She was super cold and had some stuck on shed but otherwise seemed ok. I put her right into the warm tank and let her rest. The following day I gave her a warm water soak to help with her hydration and notticed some scale rot. I scrubbed it with chlorohexadine scrub 3 days in a row, after which she shed and the scale rot was removed with the old skin! Normally, when a reptile gets scale rot it's important to get them to a vet ASAP. This type of infection can quickly become systemic and endanger the life of your herp! This just happened to take place on a weekend when my reptile vet was closed and thankfully, it worked out well.

Lilly is the coolest snake I've ever had. Corn snakes are a fantastic beginner reptile, but they're still exciting for even the experienced keeped. Speaking of experience, I'm not a novice keeper and my snake still managed to get loose. Accidents happen, even to the best of us, and it's always important to be prepared for anything. If I know one thing to be true about keeping reptiles in your life it's that things are never boring or predictable!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Be Bop

Be Bop is a three legged Bearded Dragon I adopted. He came in to my job underweight, in a cramped 10 gallon tank, and with the beginning stages of metabolic bone disease. His two, yes two, previous owners claimed he was aggressive. I have never met a mean Beardie in my life. Needless to say I brought him home.

The lizard was dubbed Be Bop because in order to propel himself he has to bop up and down to gain momentum. He's missing his front left leg, which makes walking very difficult for him. Because he was housed in an inadiquate enclosure and didn't recieve proper nutrition with calcium supplements and UBV lighting his remaining three legs are sligtly bowed and don't have the muscular development you would normally see in an adult Beardie.

Be Bop now lives in a 40 gallon breeder (I would house him in at least a 55 if he were able to get around better). He gets proper heating and UBV lighting. Be Bop gets a diet of dark leafy greens, veggies and some fruits. The foods he likes the most are his bugs. Be Bop lives off of several different types of worms and the occasional cricket. He also gets calcium supplemented into his diet several times weekly.

He is a happy lizard who loves to bop aroundt the house and balcony in the company of his best furry friend Toby.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My First Herps

There came a point where gathering reptiles from the swamp wasn't enough for me anymore. I wanted a reptile I could have in my room with me 24/7.

One day mom had to go out of town and I pounced. Dad was a sucker for my smile and I convinced him to get me a pair of Red Ear Sliders and an Iguana. Needless to say mom was not a happy camper when she came home. The turtles were dirty and smelly, and the iguana had a bad temper. We had made a common first time reptile buyer mistake. We didn't do any research first, we went into a pet store and picked out what looked good. We couldn't have selected two more difficult species for first time herp keepers. Mom eventually put her foot down after several turtle bites and a trip to the vet with the Iguana. To my dismay we returned the animals to the pet store. To this day I hope all three of them found good homes with experienced reptile owners.

My parents made me wait several more years until they thought I was responsible enough to get another reptile.

I did a lot of research both online and in the library and I decided upon a Leopard Tortoise. My parents took me to the pet store and I picked out Henry.

Henry was my faithful companion for many years. He loved coming out of his tank for walks, having his neck scratched and he especially seemed to like getting his weekly bath. Unfortunately, Henry has passed away. One winter we got a terrible snow storm and the power went out for days. I wrapped Henry's tank in a blanket and spent as much time holding him close to my body as I could, but I still couldn't save his life. I miss Henry to this day and have not yet added another tortoise to my her collection. RIP Henry.

My point is, reptiles can be a source of great joy in the life of a responsible keeper. Not enough people research the animal they're getting beforehand and are seriously disappointed when it doesn't work out. All reptiles have specific heating and lighting requirements, many have special nutritional needs. Some reptiles commonly available in the pet trade get enormous in size, others will out live their owners. Do the foot work and look into a pet before you buy.

Why I Love Reptiles

My obsession with reptiles started when I was a little girl. My family lived in a suburb, and we just so happened to have a swamp right behind our house. When I was really little my father would venture down into the muck and bring herps back for me to play with. Bull Frogs, Tree Frogs, Garter Snakes, Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles were among the treasures brought back from the swamp by dear old dad. When I got older my dad started bringing me with him on his creature collecting adventures.

I can't even tell you how many hours I logged down in that swamp and in the woods surrounding it as I grew up. Even now when I go home to visit my parents, I am compelled to visit the swamp too. Sadly, much of the swamp has now been filled in to make room for more housing. At about half the size it was when I was a child, I hope the swamp still brings joy to the neighborhood kids.

So, thank you dad. You instilled in me both independence and curiosity. Those qualities have led me to a lifetime of happy herp keeping.