Tuesday, December 18, 2012

10 Reptile That Make Great Pets for Kids

Hey fellow reptile lovers, I recently came across this article and thought I would share it. I found it to be very knowledgeable and informative. If you are a parent with younger children this would be great for you. I would definitely advise that you check it out!

10 Reptiles That Make Great Pets for Kids

Monday, November 5, 2012

Working Over Fears: Hopping Right Into the Tarantula Hobby

Snakes and spiders are animals that many people fear, some fear them because of common misconceptions, and others fear them because they were “raised to fear them”. I am fortunate enough to have a family that supports allowing me to experience a wide variety of pets. My earliest memory was having a Russian tortoise named Spot, besides the obligatory list of cats and dogs as well as rats and hamsters, we always had a nice long list of reptiles. We had a pair of Bearded Dragons, Iguanas, and finally a snake. There was only one threshold that was never crossed by my family; namely tolerating spiders of any shape or form. My mother refuses to go near spiders and my brother screams like a little girl when he sees a daddy long leg (P. Phalangioides), the wimpiest spider on the face of this gigantic planet. My father is the only person in my family who is even remotely tolerant of spiders; Mind you, that is only when we are talking about the non-dangerous species. Because of our lack of experience with spiders, my brother and I both developed a fear of them. In my case it had not developed into a phobia per se, but I do not always feel comfortable when spiders are near me. My brother might, in fact, have a mild phobia of spiders. As soon as he sees one he obsesses over it and will not let me (or my boyfriend) have any peace until we remove it from the immediate vicinity.

For a long time, I was just like this. I would not allow a spider to be around me, whether it was across the room or sitting right next to me. But after years of living like this I have considered that perhaps it is time for a change, I think that it is time for me to move beyond this mild dislike and just accept that spiders are always going to be around. I started working on being more tolerant. I have learned to deal with spiders, and to me that has been a big step. After learning to deal with the fact that there are always going to be spiders in my home, no matter what I do or how I fight it, I feel like I should go ahead and work towards being fully comfortable with being around arachnids.

Learning to tolerate arachnids is something that would be rather hard to do with your standard household spiders. They are small, nippy, and fast little buggers, something that would be hard to deal with under many circumstances. Above that fact there is always the consideration that you are not really sure what you are trying to handle, you could be holding a daddy long legs or for that matter it could be a brown recluse and you genuinely wouldn't know without there being some form of preexisting understanding and knowledge of spiders, something that many people do not possess. So how would one go about getting a handle on a fear of arachnids without knowing jack squat about spiders of any shape, fact, or form? You get something that is easy to handle, something that you know about already through research, you don’t leave anything up to chance. That is exactly the route I took.

I want all the spidery creepiness, without all the unknowns. So after some research I decided to look into getting a tarantula. Something large, interesting and slow moving, something that is not going to run and suddenly disappear and reappear on another part of my body causing me to scream and flail like a mad woman while the spider just sits there wondering, “what did I do?” So research was in order for me. Google became my best friend for two weeks as I thoroughly planned out what I wanted. My first grand idea was a Chilean Rose Hair (Grammostola Rosea). They are spectacular looking arachnids that reach about 5 inches across, a nice fair size and a mellow and slow moving spider of rather normal coloration. They were my initial choice at the recommendation of my friends who already have tarantulas. So my first intention was to go ahead and buy one for myself as a wee little spidery pet, but then everything changed around a little bit. I talked to another friend who owned a Chaco Golden Kneed tarantula (Grammostola Pulchripes) she described them as being relatively similar to the Chilean Rose Hair. They are calm, mellow, and slow moving but after that fact they are about 3 inches larger.

I researched a lot into what kind of tarantula would be worth trying to get to know and understand. I looked through tons of websites and saw a lot of contrasting information. When I started my research I was looking for the Chilean Rose Hair information. Some websites said that they burrowed, others said that they climbed, still more said that they would be fine out in the open. And so that is how I ended up talking on forums and asking people about what they thought and how they felt about different tarantulas. With that I got more information from people first hand who really knew what they were doing. So after a lot of consideration I decided to purchase a Chaco Golden Knee tarantula. I asked questions and I got great answers, along with lots of information and quite a bit of help from my peers.

The interest that I had in just looking into purchasing the tarantula was enough to make me less worried about it being an eight-legged little freak. As I continued my research I became more comfortable with the idea that I would be able to have my little tarantula. I even managed to get excited over something that, at an earlier time, would have made me cringe and back away, refusing to go near it. So I found a local pet store that carried Chaco “slings” (short form of the word “spiderlings”). They were so tiny and looked almost like any other spider that you could find anywhere at all excluding the fact that this little one already looked like it was going to turn into a little heavy bodied monster. I bought her on October 18, 2012, and she is very small. She is no larger than the head of a q-tip, which is really darn tiny! I bought her from the shop and took her home with me. She has already become a prime little member of my family. She has added herself to the rest of my little herpetological family. I even worked up the interest in her to name her Arachne after the woman who was turned into a spider by Athena when Arachne was too boastful of her weaving prowess. Now I can go ahead and cross my fingers and hope that this little one is in fact a “she”. In either case though I am very excited to have her, even though she is an arachnid I enjoy the idea of having a small spider in my little family.

With a little time I was able to work over my fears and go so far as to even feel excited about having my tarantula. I look forward to watching this little lady grow and be my little tarantula. My fears are completely gone over her being a spider rather now I am afraid that I will hurt her, kill her, or lose her, and it is just that feeling that I want to feel. I have succeeded in replacing my fears with a certain love for my little spider. And that is something that I can be proud of myself for, so why shouldn’t others start to try and get around their fears? I am sure it will be a challenge, but it is a challenge that is well worth going through. I look forward to continuing to write about my experiences with my new little (hopefully a) lady spider. And I am going to enjoy sharing it with everyone. I finish this story with a picture of my wee little sling next to the head of a q-tip.

By Lindsay Pineda

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joining a Reptile Community

Growing up, I never really had any friends that had the same passion for reptiles as I do. At best, they were moderately interested. The only other person I knew who was really interested in herps was my sister, but at the same time she didn't have that real passion for them. So for years I had no one to share my knowledge, excitement, and passion with. Eventually I joined a reptile-oriented forum for the purpose of getting opinions on which snake I should get out of a select few. But after that I realized it was a place where I could talk with other reptile enthusiasts, share pictures of my animals, and more. I am only really active on two forums, and have grown quite close to some of the other users and enjoy talking to them about more than just herps. But I must say, my experience went from good to awesome when someone on a forum recommended that I join a Facebook group for reptile keepers in my area. The group had just started out an was fairly small. At first it was kind of just like an ordinary forum, but it got pretty big and eventually we started planning get togethers so we could all meet each other. It's definitely been a great experience and it continues to go on. Sometimes we all plan to go to the local pet shop and hang out and talk(everyone is friends with the guys who work there). Some of the people from the Facebook group wound up putting on a local reptile expo and got a bunch of local vendors and it was a huge success. Everybody from the group went and they are planning on putting on some more shows in different areas of the state and surrounding states. I must say that I have made some great friends and really gotten to expand my passion for reptiles.

My point of all this...if you feel like you're the only one who has a passion and interest in reptiles, you're not. Start out simple, join a small forum. Maybe after that join a local herp society or Facebook group. Even just hanging out at a local pet shop(not a big chain store), you can meet and talk to people. Trust me, most reptile enthusiasts are glad to talk to a fellow reptile keeper every now an then. Some of you may not have a need to do any of this, maybe you already are involved in your reptile community, but this is for those who feel alone in the reptile world. So go search around for some forums that look like they suit you and sign up! If you don't like it, don't go on it, but you may wind up loving it, I sure do.

On a final note, I do not recommend giving out personal information on the internet to strangers, especially by children/teenagers. It can be dangerous and you never know who you are really talking to. Along with that, I do not recommend setting up meetings with people who you do not know, whom you have met over the internet. If you do, always bring at least one other person with you and try to do it in a public place that you are familiar with. These are serious issues which can be dangerous! So please be cautious and use common sense. If you are a child or teenager please consult with your parents/guardians before joining online forums/messageboards or going to any sort of meetings with people you do not know.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Attracting Reptiles

Yesterday I decided to take on the task of attracting more wildlife(specifically snakes)to my yard. There are already bushes and trees, along with several areas with stones, and two areas with layered bricks. I figured the stones and bricks would provide shelter if any snakes needed it, and there is already plenty of food for them. I see Anoles, Skinks, Geckos, Toads, Worms, and countless species of insects daily, so I figured that they would have a good food source. But something must be missing. Yesterday I went out and took a small plastic bin and filled it with water, and buried it so that the water was at ground level. I put a rock in there that juts out the water, a few branches with leaves, along with some minnows that I bought from the pet store. In doing this I was hoping to give any new visitors(particularly Garter and Ribbon Snakes) a water supply with some possible food. Well last night I walked outside to hear frogs singing in that area of the yard. I checked it out and a few frogs were hanging out around it. This got me excited because I had never seen these frogs in my yard in the 13 years I have lived here. So not only did it attract frogs to the yard, but they may wind up attracting snakes. I am going to add some plants back there and maybe some good rocks to hide under to provide more shelter. If all goes well I may take it upon myself to build an actual pond in that corner of the yard. Some friends of mine that live a few blocks away built a pond in there back yard a few years ago and immediately saw a difference in the visitors/residents they were having. They constantly had frogs and small snakes in the yard, and I am hoping to have the same results.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Field Herping

So like most other reptile enthusiasts, I try to get out and go field herping as much as I can. So far this season I have made it out twice, and they have been fairly successful. In Louisiana we have a large variety of snakes, lizards, and other reptiles and amphibians. My first trip was pretty boring for the first couple of hours. I saw lots of Green Anoles, Ground Skinks, and local turtles, which is nothing out of the ordinary. Then I came to a good spot, where we saw a Yellow Bellied Water Snake, a Cottonmouth, a couple of small alligators, and two Diamond-Backed Water Snakes. Our next trip was more successful. Right as we stepped out of the car we saw a fairly large Yellow Bellied Water Snake that had recently died, which let us know they were out there. We went on to see Water Snake after Water Snake, Anoles, Skinks, various types of frogs and turtles, and a small alligator. I would really like to see a Mud Snake, Eastern Hognose, Copperhead, and a Racer at some point this year. I plan on going out within the next couple of weeks to look again.

Anyway, here are some of the photos from the last two trips. Hope you enjoy! And feel free to share any herping experiences that you've had.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Feeding Reptiles Other Reptiles

An issue that came up today in my local reptile group's Facebook page was feeding your pet snake, lizard, etc. other reptiles. The specific argument was about someone who posted a picture of a snake(I'm not sure what kind because I didn't see the picture) eating a Ball Python. The person who mentioned it in the group was disgusted and couldn't believe that someone would do that, and whenever anyone tried to reason with her she would say we aren't true "animal lovers". Here was the general consensus, and I am 100% behind this argument: If something is wrong with a reptile(won't eat to the point of starvation, stillborn, etc), then there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving it to another reptile for food. I know plenty of breeders who do this. If they have babies that won't eat and clearly aren't going to make it, they give it to another one of their animals, usually a monitor or King Snake. I find this method much better than letting the animal go to waste. If it is going to die or is already dead, you may as well get some use out of it. I can understand not doing this if it is a pet that you are attached to. Believe me there are a few herps that I have/had that I would never do that to, simply because I had such an attachment to it. But if it is just a baby that you bred and is going to die, then there is no reason not to do it.

On another note, reptiles eat other reptiles in the wild, sometimes exclusively. If I owned a snake that refused to eat anything but snakes in captivity, you can bet that I'm going to be feeding it snakes. The individual who was arguing this said snakes should only be eating rats. I don't understand how someone can feel one animal has more of a right to live then another. Imagine how the people who keep mice and rats feel about us reptile keepers... they probably hate that we feed our pets rodents. It takes life to support life, and it always will, whether it's in the wild or in captivity.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The "Best" Beginner Snake

I am on quite a few reptile-related forums, and like on every forum you have your real experts, and you have those people who think they know everything because they have a Corn Snake and looked up a few care sheets. I'm not going to say that I'm an expert by any means, but I would consider myself somewhere in between the two extremes. I think one thing that sets me apart from those know-it-all noobs is that I'm willing to listen to the experts and what they have to say. One hot topic that comes to mind when talking about this is what snake is a good beginner snake. Now of course a few species come to mind: Corn Snakes, King Snakes, and Ball Pythons are good examples. I am not going to argue this. But I can't stand when people will argue that you should not have anything other than a Corn Snake for your first snake! I mean come on, this isn't school where you have to pass the 8th grade to move on to 9th. I had someone argue with me recently that a beginner snake keeper(who had kept several species of lizards successfully for years) was not ready for a King Snake, and needed to get a Corn Snake first. This of course is one of the more extreme cases where someone's ignorance is being pushed onto someone else. They then decided to "compromise" and say that the person may be ready to get a Ball Python. No doubt there are some snakes that should not be taken on as a first snake, but Kings are not one of them. I have been in touch with snake keepers/breeders that have been in the hobby for decades, and they will agree with me that there are plenty of good beginner snakes other than Corns. Here's my list of good beginner snakes(in no particular order): Corn Snakes, King Snakes, Milk Snakes, Western Hognoses, Ball Pythons, African House Snakes, Garter Snakes, and some Rat Snakes(Trans-Pecos comes to mind). This list is not exclusive, if you have any other suggestions, feel free to say them. The point is, these snakes are all pretty easy to care for, in fact anyone who is willing to put the time and effort into making the right enclosure and caring for them can keep them easily. So for those of you who are looking for a good beginner snake, please consider snakes other than Corns. And for those of you who believe that Corn Snakes are the only beginner snakes, go do some research and get some experience with other snakes before you try to convince others that Corns are the only way to go. So all in all, any snake can make a good first snake, it all depends on the individual. It depends on what you are looking for(display only, lots of handling, etc.), and how much research, time, and effort you are willing to put into your new pet. I know people who have started out with Burmese Pythons and Green Tree Pythons and they wound up successfully keeping them. It depends more on the person than on the species of snake.

And I just thought I would add this...I like Corn Snakes, I know it seemed as if I was against them but that was just for arguments sake. They are great snakes and make great pets, my point was just that there are other beginner snakes out there