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Author: Tim Zedi

Should You Feed Your Crested Gecko Crickets

Introduction

Crested Geckos and Gargoyle Geckos are two very commonly kept and bred geckos in the reptile hobby. The recommended diet for both these species is a commercially available prepared diet largely consisting of fruit of various kinds, but is this the best diet for these geckos?

What Gargoyle Geckos Eat In The Wild

Gargoyle Geckos are native to the island of New Caledonia which is a small group of islands consisting of forests. The climate is not very warm and New Caledonia is not considered to be a tropical island however there is an abundance of insects, fruit, flowers as well as vertebrae prey on the island. Gargoyle Geckos have been observed in the wild licking pollen and nectar from flowers. The study done on wild Gargoyle Geckos was done in New Caledonia by capturing wild Gargoyle Geckos and flushing their stomachs to see what is in their digestive tract

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Reasons To Join A Reptile Club Or A Herpetological Association.

Reasons to Join A Reptile Club or Herpetological Association

Expert Advice


Reptile Clubs and Herpetological Associations are run by experts in the field of reptile care and reptile biology. These reptile experts are very knowledgeable about the natural history of reptiles and their behavior in the wild and their care in captivity. These reptile experts have a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to share what they know to members of Reptile Clubs and Herpetological Associations. The reptile experts who run these clubs have decades of experience with some having over 20 years of experience in the field of reptiles and amphibians. Many of these reptile experts have kept and bred numerous reptile species,some of these individuals have kept and bred 15 to 20 different species of snakes and lizards. Joining a reptile club just to ask these reptile experts questions is worth any joining fees or subscription fees.

Interacting With Other Reptile Enthusiasts

Reptile Clubs and Herpetological Associations bring like minded individuals together and members get to interact and learn from other reptile enthusiasts. An online Reptile Club will have a forum for discussion between members for both serious topics and casual chats. Not only is it great to learn from other people’s experience but having a fun chat during a hard day at work, university, college or school can be a great distraction from the daily grind and lift your mood.

Advertising


Many social media platforms have banned the sale of reptiles on their sites and Apps. This takes away an advertising platform away from reptile breeders and people looking for a pet reptile. Classified ads on websites such as Gumtree or Craigslist can be dodgy and attract people who may not be as enthusiastic as you and are less likely to care for the reptiles they sell correctly then a dedicated reptile breeder. Classified adverts on a Reptile Club or Herpetological Association website are posted by breeders who are serious about what they do and buyers are that are interested in the reptiles being sold.

Having Fun


The most important thing in life is to have fun and enjoy what you do. Reptile Clubs or Herpetological Association often have fun activities and promotions which will make your day a much happier one. Having fun keeping reptiles is what the reptile hobby is all about and some fun activities allow this to happen.

Join a Reptile Club or Herpetological Association today you will not regret the decision.

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Blood Python Morph List

Normal Red Blood Python

Normal red Blood Pythons are red with yellow blotches and sometimes with a stripe running down the back. The best quality red Blood Pythons are stunning snakes which are bright blood red with clear crisp yellow markings. Many of the red Blood Pythons in South Africa are actually crosses between Red Blood Pythons and Borneo Short Tailed Pythons. This results in a snake which has dull reddish brown and tan yellow colouration and which looks much less appealing than a pure Red Blood Python. Blood Pythons start out as chocolate or rust brown with dull yellow markings and only get the full red colouration at 2 years of age. Blood Pythons are like a fine wine they just get better with age.

Matrix

Matrix Blood Pythons can be difficult to tell apart from normal Blood Pythons if you don’t know what to look for so it is best to purchase them from a reliable breeder. Matrix Blood Pythons have what can be described as a pixilated pattern with the markings looking block like. Matrix Blood Pythons also have a more tan coluration and speckled sides. Matrix Blood Pythons are a co dominant morph which means if you breed a Matrix Blood Python with a normal Blood Python half the babies will be Matrix and half the babies will be normal.

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Ivory

Ivory Blood Pythons look nothing like a normal Blood Python. An Ivory Blood Python is 90% white with a few dark speckles on the body. Ivory Blood Pythons are the super form of the Matrix Blood Python and are the result of breeding two Matrix Blood Pythons together. Breeding two Matrix Blood Pythons together will result in 25 % of the babies being Ivory Blood Pythons.

Albino

Albino blood python

Albino Blood Pythons are lacking the dark pigments and are orange, red and cream and have a caramel colour to them. Albinism is a recessive trait and to get an albino you can breed two albino Blood Pythons together to produce an entire clutch of albino Blood Pythons or breed an albino Blood Python to a normal Blood Python to produce hets and then breed the hets together

Axolotl Morphs

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There are several selectively bred colour and pattern variations that occur in captive Axolotls. These are called morphs in the pet trade. Some of these morphs are more common than the wild type or normal in captivity. Some morphs are easier to find in pet shops than a wild type. Below I will discuss some of these morphs.

Wild Type

This is the natural colouration that Axolotls display in the wild. A wild Axolotl has a brown background colouration with some dark green blotches. Their gills are purple.

Albino

Albinos are white with red eyes and bright red gills. This is the most common morph, easy to obtain and cheap. Most of the pictures of Axolotls on the internet and in books about this species are albinos. It is infact easier to find an albino Axolotl than a wild type one. When I began keeping Axolotls the only ones available in South Africa where I live were albinos. Zoos in South Africa often only have albinos on display.

Leucistic

This morph looks virtually the same as an albino. You can tell them apart by looking at their eyes. Leucistic specimens have black eyes as opposed to the albino morphs red eyes. Some individuals may develop dark speckling on their bodies, however this does not happen with all leucistic Axolotls. If you want a white Axolotl and can’t find an albino this is your next best option.

Golden

This morph displays a golden yellow body and vibration shiny patches. Clear eyes, with peachy coloured gills. This morph is a type of albinism which looks different to the white albino. Albinism in amphibians can be different from other animals as this trait can have a few different strains of albinos that look different from each other.

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Genetically Engineered Morphs

Scientists have used Axolotls as lab animals for decades if not longer. At least two types of gene alteration of Axolotls has been performed. The first is an Axolotl that was created using flourecent green proteins found in some species of jelly fish. These individuals glow green under UV light. Scientists did this to make cancer treatment and limb regeneration studies in this species easier to observe. This trait can be passed on to the next generation, making them available to keepers who want something really unusual. An Axolotl was produced by adding genes to embryos this results in an Axolotl with a normal colouration with a flourecent green tail. This was done to study what happens when two different embryos fuse to create a single individual. Only a dozen of these have been made and will not be made available in the pet trade. A natural occuring Axolotl morph called a Chimera is caused by the fusing of two embryos this morph takes on the visual characteristics of both of the embryos. For example if one of the embryos carries the albino gene and the other embryo carries the wild type brown colouration you would get an albino with a brown tail. This chances of this occuring from natural breeding is so rare that it hardly ever happens. This is why scientists had to create this phenomenon using artificial methods.

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Dwarf Boa Care and Breeding

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Introduction

Not all Common Boas ( Boa Imperator) grow to be nearly 3m long monster snakes weighing 20kg. There are some island Boas and certain mainland localities which remain much smaller.I was lucky enough to aquire two Dwarf Common Boa females and later a male. These Boas are from a line were the male was a true Dwarf Boa ( locality unknown) and the mother was a normal Common Boa. This article will cover my experience with keeping these smaller Boas and their differences from normal Common Boas.

Common Boa vs Red Tailed Boa

Now you may have noticed that I did not refer to my Boas as ” Red Tailed Boas” like most people do. The reason being is that the true Red Tailed Boas ( Boa Constrictor) which come from the Amazon Basin are a different species from the Common Boa, if you actually had a Red Tailed Boa it would cost you way more than the R350 you spent on your Boa at the expo, there are very few people who actually have true Red Tailed Boas in South Africa. Common Boas ( Boa Imperator) evolved east of the Andes Mountains in South America and range as far north as Mexico where you can find a locality of Dwarf Boas. Note that Common Boas have long been a subspecies of the Red Tailed Boa but have recently been given full species status.

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Dwarf Boa Natural Habitat

When most of us think of Boas natural habitat we think of sweltering hot jungles dripping with humidity. In actual fact Dwarf Boas can be found on various islands off the coast of South America and in certain main land localities. These Boas live mainly in tropical deciduous forests with a hot humid warm season and a colder much drier cold season. The Mexican form of Dwarf Boa can experience lows of 18 to 20 degrees in winter, although I would not recommend that you keep your Boas at these temperatures as they are on the extreme end of what most Boas can tolerant. The islands on which many Dwarf Boas can be found such as Hog Island, Crawly Cay and Corn Island also experience these seasonal changes and islands often have different climates to the main land often with less rain and battered by storms so Dwarf Boas have to be tough little guys, also there is less prey on islands than on the mainland and wild Dwarf Boas are often very skinny.

Dwarf Boa Captive Habitat

When housing Dwarf Boas you must remember that they grow extremely slowly, especially the males so you will not need a 1.5m long cage by the time they are two years old as you would if you had a normal sized Boa. My females spent the first year of their lives in 11L Addis tubs in a racking system with a hot spot of 26 to 28 degrees, they were then moved into tubs measuring 50cm x 40cm x 20cm in a custom made rack heated to the same temperature. At three years of age and only between 1.2m and 1.5m long the females were moved into a chipboard terrarium with a glass front measuring 1.2m x 45cm x 45cm, the chipboard was treated with several coats of boiled linseed oil to prevent moisture damage. I do not use melamine cages as they cannot take any excess humidity and quickly get water damaged. Another caging option is plastic Boa tubs which I will more than likely be housing my Boas in the very near future. I have developed a hatred for wooden cages because of their difficulty to clean and their lack of tolerance to moisture. Both females are housed together and I only separate for feeding and have encountered no problems with keeping them together. The male Dwarf Boa is housed separately, he spent the first two years of his life in an 11L Addis tub, he grew very slowly and at 3 years old is only around 70-80cm in length. I have moved him to a 26L tub in racking sytem, I am certain he will be able to stay in this size enclosure his entire life. Paper towel or newspaper is used as a substrate and a large water bowl and spraying of the enclosure before the snakes shed is used to maintain a moderate level of humidity. I have found that these Boas do not seem to require excessively high temperatures and humidity levels, however I would keep an eye on them in winter as they can get respiratory infections if kept too cold, this is a problem many inexperienced keepers face. It is my opinion that many of the reptiles we keep are overheated as many keepers do not understand how the temperatures can vary day to day and month to month and despite being tropical snakes the Dwarf Boas seem to be very temperature tolerant and tolerate a winter drop in temperature very well, I only drop the temperature lower than the normal 28 degree hotspot in order to cycle the Boas for breeding. Heating is provided by 20 to 30 watt heat cable controlled by a digital thermostat. In very hot summer temperatures I will turn heaters off completely.

Feeding

Dwarf Boas grow slowly even when fed an appropriately sized rodent on a weekly basis. Up until they reach sexual maturity I feed my Dwarf Boas weekly after that they get fed every two weeks. My adult females get fed frozen thawed medium rats and the adult male eats frozen thawed small rats. During breeding season they are fed smaller prey items less often. During the 1980s when Boas were being imported as wild caught adults the longest longevity records were reached by individuals that were fed very infrequently. In the wild on the islands where many Dwarf Boas come from food is scarce and often consists of less fatty prey such as lizards and birds. Calorie packed rodents like we feed them in captivity were introduced latter on in these boas evolutionary history by sailors which visited the islands. Never power feed Boas even if they look like they are growing too slow this is natural for Dwarf Boas.

How Do I Tell If My Boa is a Dwarf?

The best way to ensure that you get a Dwarf Boa and not a plain old normal Boa is to purchase one from a well known breeder who will know the genetics and lineages he or she is selling, so when you ask for a Dwarf Boa you actually will get one as the breeder knows what they are selling. Other markers for Dwarf Boas is colour many are lighter in colour than normal Boas and resemble a pastel Boa. I have also noticed that the Dwarfs have larger eyes as babies. Of course this only applies to babies as you will soon see that the Dwarf Boa you purchased will grow slowly and reach a smaller size, therefore you know you have a Dwarf Boa. An adult female Dwarf Boa will be about the same size as a yearling normal Boa, this is the case with my females. Males are even smaller and are very small as adults.Dwarf Boas can be more aggressive than normal Boas, however I have not found this to be the case with mine.
Dwarf Boa Morphs
There are T+ albinos of both Niguagran and Sonoran Dwarf Boas. Most Dwarf Boa morphs are locality based or line bred. Hog Island Boas are natural hypomelanistic which means they have less black pigment, these rare Boas have been mixed with normal Boas to get the bigger snakes to take on the hypo trait. My Dwarf Boas are line bred with the one female being a brown pastel/visual hypo and the other female looking anery with white calico markings on her sides. I do not yet know if the anery look in this female is genetic or not but some Dwarf Boa localities have natural occurring specimens that appear anery but do not prove to be a ressive genetic trait as in normal Common Boas. My male Dwarf Boa is light in colour with peach coloured sides. I am hoping to produce some very unique babies this season. Dwarf Boas can also lighten and darken with temperature changes and at night. Sometimes my Boas look so dark I think they are in shed and a few hours later they lighten up again.

Breeding

Dwarf Boa females reach sexual maturity at 3 years old but many will only start breeding successfully from 4 years of age. Males can breed from 18 months to 2 years of age. These Boas require a Cooling period in winter during which breeding will take place. Drop the hot spot to 25-27 degrees Celsius and keep the cold end at 20 degrees. Start cooling down your Boas as the temperatures begin to drop in April and introduce your male to your female in May. You can leave your male in with the female until you notice her swell up with babies. Female Boas will have a post ovulation shed and should give birth 100-105 days after this shed. Boas give birth to live babies and due to their smaller size Dwarf Boas will give birth to fewer babies than their larger counterparts.

Care of Neonates

After birth separate the newborn Boas individually into 5L tubs. Make sure to keep the tubs moist as this will assist in helping them shed properly, which they will do a week after birth. After the babies have completed their first shed you can start offering them food. I start out feeding baby Boas warm frozen/thawed rat fuzzies. offer food on feeding tongs this should allisit a strike, the babies will try and constrict the food after which they should eat it. After 3-5 meals your Boas will be ready for sale. Remember to keep one or two of your best looking babies should you wish to line breed some awesome Dwarf Boas.

Conclusion

Dwarf Boas offer the opportunity to keep a Boa for those with limited space. These Boas also offer breeders a different way of breeding morphs by keeping locality specific Boas or by line breeding. Dwarf Boas are not offered for sale very often so if you get the chance to work with smaller Boas take it you will not be disappointed.

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How to Force Feed a Snake

Introduction

Your snake hasn’t eaten in a while and it is loosing weight, you have tried everything to get the snake to eat. It is time to force feed the snake which can seem a difficult task below is the basics of force feeding.Get a reptile vet to assist you with force feeding if you are unsure of your snake handling ability

Force Feeding Using Solid Food

Cut the head off a pre-killed pinkie mouse

Grasp the pinkie mouse head in a pair of tweezers

Hold the snake gently but firmly just behind the head

Slowly and very gently push the pinkie head against the snakes lips until the snake should open its mouth and grasp the pinkie head

The snake may begin to swallow the pinkie head on its own

If the snake does not want to swallow the pinkie by itself use a thin steel or plastic rod to gently push the food down the snakes throat

Once you have pushed the pinkie past the snakes neck massage the pinkie towards the snakes stomach using your fingers

The snakes stomach is situated about a third of its length measured from the head .Once the pinkie head has been swallowed leave the snake alone in a warm cage dark cage to digest the food.It is easier to force feed solid food to smaller snakes.

Tube Feeding

You will need a plastic syringe with a 3ml to 5ml capacity.For the tube use a soft rubber or silicone tub. Aquarium tubing works we.

Attach the tub to the end of the syringe

Fill the syringe will liquidised cat food or beaten egg.If using beaten egg add calcium and vitamin powder.If the snake is an adult get a friend to hold the snakes body

Hold the snakes head and open its mouth by gently pressing on either side of its jaw

.Lubricate the tube with water.

Push the tube down the snakes throat just past the neck.

Slowly push the syringe and empty the contents into the snakes stomach.

Remove the syringe and keep the snakes mouth closed for a few seconds to prevent regurgitation.

Place the snake back in its cage and make sure it has adequate heat

Tube feeding is easier with larger snakes.

Be very gentle as snakes have extremely delicate skulls and skeletal structure.

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Types of Snake Venom and Their Effects on Humans

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Snake venom comes in different types. Different types of venom have different effects on humans. Cytotoxic Venom destroys tissue and causes pain, swelling and eats away at the flesh. Cytotoxic bites varyin potency according to the species of snake, size of the snake and the amount of venom injected. Snakes with cytotoxic venom include most of the Adders and Vipers, some Cobra species such as the Mozambique Spitting Cobra, Black Necked Spitting Cobra and Zebra Cobra. Species whose venom is cytotoxic and can cause death include Rattle Snakes, Puff Adders, Gaboon Vipers, Saw Scaled Vipers, Russell’s Viper, Bush Master, Lance Head Vipers and many other viper species as well as the Cobra species listed above. A bite from one of these snakes will cause severe swelling and often the entire limb will swell up. Tissue damage will occur and without anti venom death may follow. There are species of Viper whose venom does not cause such severe symptoms and anti venom is not usually needed and is often not produced as the symptoms of the bite are not severe enough to warrant the time and money it takes to produce anti venom. These species include Horned Adders, Copper Heads, Night Adders, White Lipped Tree Vipers and Common Adders. Neurotoxic Venom is very dangerous and bites will cause drowsiness, blurred vision, difficulty speaking and eventually paralysis which causes your lungs to stop working. Neurotoxic venom is very fast acting. If you get bitten anti venom will usually be needed, patients may also have to be put on life support if anti venom is not available or if they are not treated quick enough. Snakes which have neurotoxic venom include: Almost all of the Cobras, Mambas, Coral Snakes, Banded Kraits and Yellow Bellied Sea Snakes. Heamotoxic venom stops blood from clotting causing internal bleeding. The bite site will start bleeding and the person will start to bleed from small cuts and mucus membranes. The person will also have headaches, nausea and may start to vomit. Death may occur if anti venom is not administered. Snakes which have heamotoxic venom include: the Boomslang ( a back fanged snake from Africa) and the Vine Snake. Some snakes have a combination of different venom types for example the Berg Adder. I have not used the term victim in this article as snakes only bite people in self-defence. People are most likely to get bitten trying to pick up a snake or to kill a one.Learn Some Interesting Facts About Snake Venom

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