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.