How to Set Up a Bearded Dragon Vivarium

During a visit to a pet shop recently I was disturbed to see a sign on the front of a vivarium containing young beardies which read ‘ideal for beginners’. I think this gives the very wrong impression of this reptile. Whilst they are not difficult to look after, their needs and requirements have to be properly understood in order for them to have a happy, healthy life.

Reptiles are similar to fish in that they need to live in the correct environment for them. You wouldn’t put a marine fish in a tropical aquarium, for example, and expect it to live, and even different tropical fish like different types of water – acid, alkaline or brackish for example. Most pet shops are fairly clued up on fish keeping. But many shops selling bearded dragons have only a basic knowledge about their requirements, and are all too often guilty of letting a new owner buy equipment which is totally inappropriate. Or more worryingly, even encourage them to buy it. Worst of all are ‘bearded dragon complete set ups’ – most of which contain vivariums that are too small with heatmats and substrate which are actually harmful to beardies.

As with aquariums, you need to understand the natural habitat of a bearded dragon before setting up what will be its home for life in your house.

Bearded dragons come from the hot, dry deserts of Australia. The earth is baked dry so they are used to a hard surface to walk on. They are semi arboreal, and are known to climb fenceposts and tree stumps to bask. The hot sun bakes down on them from above. They spend most of their time basking and sleeping and sleeping in full sunlight, and when they are too hot, they move to a cooler place in the shade as, like many cold blooded animals, they thermoregulate. That is, they control their body temperature by moving from a hot place to a cooler one.

In the desert they very rarely, if ever, come across standing water. They have evolved to extract the moisture they need from the food they eat, and therefore it is not unusual never to see a bearded dragon drink. Their lungs can only cope with low humidity levels.

So what does this tell us? Firstly, that they need a good sized vivarium where a wide temperature range is possible. Secondly, they need something to climb on. They need to get their heat from above – not underneath them, and water features in a vivarium will harm their health. They also need exposure to UVB rays that they otherwise would get from the sun. That does not seem to stop shops selling too small vivariums, heatmats (which can actually burn the bearded dragon’s stomach as they cannot feel heat through their bellies), waterfalls, loose substrate that can be swallowed and impact in the gut, and sometimes they even neglect to tell the purchaser that they need a UVB tube. So be warned.

So, now we know what we don’t need, how should the bearded dragon’s vivarium be set up to ensure it lives a long and healthy life?

First of all, an adult bearded dragon will need a vivarium that’s 4ft x 2ft x 2ft (120cm x 60cm x 60cm). When you consider an adult beardie will be close to 2 ft (60 cm) in length you can see how anything less wide will be uncomfortable for it. Baby beardies are quite happy being put straight into a full size vivarium – in the desert no one partitions off a part for them to use! For babies the decoration should be kept simple so that they can catch their food easily. As juveniles grow so fast it is false economy to start off with a smaller sized vivarium.

There should be a heat source at one end of the vivarium – a 60 or 100 watt spotlight is ideal. You can buy these from supermarkets or DIY stores if you don’t want to buy the ones made specifically for reptiles.

It is important to control the temperature at the cool end of the vivarium – your bearded dragon will not survive if it cannot heat up and cool down when it needs to. In order to control the temperature you will need a thermostat. Many people assume this is to ensure the basking temperature is kept high – the opposite is the truth. The thermostat should be kept to make sure the cool end of the vivarium does not go higher than 85f (30c). Once this is right it should be easy to manage the temperature at the basking spot which should be 105f (41c) – the important word being ‘spot’. This does not mean the whole of the hot end of the vivarium should be at this temperature, just the spot where the beardie will bask. The ‘spot’ can be a log, branch or rock on which the beardie can bask to expose himself to the maximum heat. Raising or lowering the basking spot will alter the temperature until it gets to the right level.

It takes a little time to get the probe of the thermostat in the right place to maintain the temperatures accurately – you should start by placing it at the cool end, and then moving it up the vivarium if the temperatures are too low. A good digital thermometer with dual inputs and dual readouts will let you see the temperatures at both ends of the vivarium at once. As it’s a bit tricky for beginners to get it all right, it’s recommended to set up the vivarium and have it running for a week before introducing the bearded dragon.

Depending on your location and your house you may not need any night time heating at all – they need a good temperature drop at night in order to be able to get to sleep. The temperature can go down to 60f (16c) for adults, 65f (18c) for juveniles. If your house gets very hot during summer you may find you need a reptile fan to cool it down.

The other vital piece of equipment is the UVB tube. This should be the strongest that you can buy – currently tubes are selling at 12% UVB which are the best. 10% should be the minimum you choose. The output fades after six months, so tubes should be replaced on a regular basis. The tube should run the whole length of the vivarium, so for a 4ft vivarium you should select a 42″ tube. This will mean the bearded dragon is exposed to UVB for all the time the light is on. 12 hours under a UVB tube is only equilvalent to about 20 mins in the full heat of the sun in the desert, so do not use any hides or caves as your beardie need the most exposure to UVB as he can get.

The heat and light should be on for at least 12 hours a day – in summer you might want to raise this to 14 hours to mimic a change in season.

The final necessity is substrate. When young, bearded dragons are inaccurate feeders, and if they are on sand can take mouthfuls of this as they try to catch their food. Their smaller stomachs are also less able to cope with grains they might swallow, and loose substrate in their gut can lead to impaction which is generally fatal. Wood chippings or pellets should be avoided at any age. Another dangerous substrate is Calci Sand, which can be marketed especially for bearded dragons – this clumps together when wet and so is far worse than normal sand.

Until the age of six months plain kitchen towel is the safest substrate and carries no risk to their health. When they are six months old they can go on children’s play sand which is clean and very fine. Pets shops don’t usually give this advice as they don’t sell either product! The best substrate for an older beardie is a mixture of broken sandstone paving slabs with some playsand between the cracks. The hard surface is more natural for their feet, and helps keep their nails down. This substrate looks good too.

They do like to climb, so branches and rocks are welcomed. You can get these from the wild as long as they are sterilised before putting in the vivariums.

Other accessories are backgrounds – beardies do like climbing on the polyrock walls often sold in pet shops, but really the background is a matter of choice. As are any other decorations such as fake plants. Real plants cannot cope with the dry conditions, and are likely to be thrashed in any event. Food bowls and perhaps a shallow water bowl will complete your set up, and the result should be a happy healthy bearded dragon who will give you pleasure for many years to come.

Interesting Facts About Reptiles You Need to Know

What makes it a reptile?
There are countless species and varieties of reptiles around the world. Even though there are many differences, reptiles do share a few common traits.

For starters, they use lungs to breathe. Lizards might breathe using the same muscles they use to run and crocodiles have a more flexible diaphragm, but overall, reptiles have lungs that are more advanced than amphibians, but not as refined as mammals. Reptiles also have scales made of keratin protein. Scales provide protection from predators, help retain water, and can play a role in courtship and territorial clashes. Reptiles are not the only animals to have scales, but it is a common characteristic among all reptiles.

Another characteristic is that they’re all four-legged vertebrates (or descended from four-limbed animals, like snakes). This is another shared trait with other types of animals, which indicates that reptiles are an evolutionary middle ground of sorts between amphibians and mammals. For the most part, female reptiles lay eggs but it’s not exclusive to all reptiles. There are some species that develop their young inside their bodies and give birth to live young, like the Viviparous Lizard and the Adder.

Reptiles are known for their cold-blooded metabolisms. If you’ve ever seen a reptile in an enclosure, you might have noticed lamps and other forms of heat. That’s because basking in heat increases their internal body temperature to give them the energy they need for daily activity.

What are the different types of reptiles?
Reptiles can be classified into four major groups:

Crocodilia
Which has 23 different species of Alligators, Caimans, Gharials, and Crocodiles.

As you may know, the Crocodilia are large, semiaquatic and predatory animals. They’re commonly found in the lowlands of the tropics and usually have long, flattened snouts and canonical, peg-like teeth. Certain species of crocodilian are traded as exotic pets when they’re young but are often abandoned as they grow larger and more dangerous.

Squamata
Which are lizards and snakes, and have almost 8,000 species.

These reptiles vary in size (from a dwarf gecko that’s less than an inch long to an anaconda which can reach over 17 feet). Their ability to move their quadrate bones is what helps them open their mouths wide enough to consume larger prey. If you’re thinking of getting reptiles for sale of this classification, be sure to research the specific type you want to get to make sure you have the necessary equipment to keep them healthy and happy.

Testudines
Which is made up of turtles and tortoises and have around 300 species.

These are considered primitive since they’re some of the most ancient reptiles among us. Their shells make them easily distinguishable from other reptiles and they’re also a popular choice as reptile pets.

Sphenodontia
Which is known as the sister group of the Squamata and has only 2 species of tuataras from New Zealand.

It’s also known as a Rhynchocephalia, which means beak head. They have a unique set of teeth which is presented as two rows in the upper jaw and a single row on the lower jaw. The single species of tuatara is the only living member of an order that flourished about 200 million years ago.

Which reptiles for sale are best as pets?
If you’re just starting out with a pet reptile, you can find some great reptiles for sale. Geckos can be a great pet for beginners because they don’t require much handling. Too much stress on the gecko can cause its tail to fall off though. A Bearded Dragon can also make for a great pet as they’re extremely easy-going reptiles with personality. They require a hot habitat and are fairly easy to maintain.

What Is The Best Food For Tortoise Health?

Good nutrition for your tortoise is essential to maintain optimum health. Understanding what food for tortoise health is best requires some understanding of what specific needs your particular kind of tortoise requires.

Most tortoises are of course herbivores but this does not mean you can just get away with feeding him a few limp lettuce leaves and the occasional tomato. There are 8 elements to good nutritional health and it is up to you to provide these. They include, water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. All work together to prevent illness and promote growth.

Many manufacturers who produce food for tortoises will claim they supplement their feed with essential vitamins and minerals but you should also provide fresh vegetation and occasional fruit whenever possible. Not only will this broad diet be more healthy it will be more interesting for your pet.

A few fresh vegetable you could choose

  • broccoli
  • kale
  • spinach

Also some fruits

  • Apple
  • Peeled banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries.

Tortoises are herbivores and if you do some research into where in the natural world your kind of tortoise would normally live this will give you an idea of what sort of foods to provide. Be careful not to feed your tortoise too many plants from the cabbage family as they can interfere with the thyroid function and calcium absorption. They are an excellent source of nutrition but just give them in small amounts every couple of weeks or so.

If you have a Hermann’s tortoise which naturally lives in arid grass lands they will enjoy grazing on grasses, weeds, and succulent plants. If you have a Russian or Horsfield tortoise these like to eat fleshy vegetables such as squashes and aubergine or zucchini, they also enjoy fruit and some flowers. A sulcata tortoise enjoys hay and cactus as well as some succulents fruit and grated vegetables.

It is not difficult to provide a nutritious and interesting diet for your tortoise it just takes a little thought and planning. If you have an outside enclosure you could grow some fresh vegetables and plants for your tortoise to munch on. They will enjoy foraging as if in their wild natural environment and this will help them to keep mentally healthy and physically well.

Specially manufactured food which you can buy from pet shops will be quite adequate as it does usually have vitamins and minerals added but the best food for tortoise health and well being is a mixture of this plus natural and fresh vegetables and fruit.

4 Of the Most Interesting Snakes of Australia

Australia is a great place for reptile lovers. It has a high population of snakes, and though many are not deadly to humans, a good number are. Oddly enough, though, very few snake related deaths are reported each year there. If you go hiking, you might see some of these interesting snakes. Just remember to look and not touch.

Because it is so venomous, the most infamous Australian snake is the Taipan. It can grow to nearly 10 feet long. One of them, the Coastal Taipan, is indigenous to the northeastern coast near Queensland. It is considered the third deadliest snake in the world, and if bitten by one, death can occur within 30 minutes. Fortunately, scientists have developed anti-venom to prevent that if administered soon enough. If this snake bites you, you had better hope that you have the anti-venom with you, or that you are less than a half-hour away from medical help.

The continent is home to several sea snakes, too. One genus of this dangerous reptile is the Olive Sea Snake, which is venomous. This snake can grow to over 6 feet long, and it has a strong, brownish colored body with shades of lilac. It prefers the coral reefs, lagoons and rocky shores in Australia’s northern region. It is uncommon for it to attack, but it will if it feels threatened.

In Western Australia, you might encounter the potentially lethal Dugite. Unlike many of the other snakes found in remote areas, this one frequents areas inhabited by humans, even backyards. This is unfortunate because they are so dangerous. Females have no issues with eating the males, so they certainly would not hesitate to bite a human – especially an unsuspecting child.

Northern Australia has a snake that grows to be 10 feet long and gets as thick as the fat end of a baseball bat. It is the King Brown Snake, and it is very venomous and dangerous; so much so, that humans cannot get close enough to it to kill it with a gardening tool: They have to stone it or shoot it.

This list of interesting snakes of Australia is a good start for you should you decide to go on a scavenger hunt for them. These are by no means all of the snakes from that region, and certainly not all of those that are venomous. Considering that there are more venomous species there than non-venomous, you would do well to wear tall, thick boots on your excursion.

How To Find Quality Breeders Offering Baby Turtles for Sale

When looking for a source for baby turtles for sale, it is always important to pay attention to the quality of the breeder as well as the health and condition of the baby turtle. The quality of care that a breeder offers to their turtles is usually a good indicator of how seriously they take breeding and whether these turtles are likely to thrive later in life. Recognizing the key aspects of caring for a turtle successfully will make it easier to look out for these signs in a turtle breeder, eventually making it possible to choose a breeder who will also be a great source of information and help.

The first consideration is the facilities in which the breeder keeps their turtles and breeding stock. All habitats, including breeding areas and exercise enclosures, should be well cared for and kept clean at all times. Additionally, the areas should be appropriate in size for the age and species of the turtle. Large species should have enclosures that give the turtle enough time to move around, and newly hatched turtles should have space to move but not so much space that they get tired or lost trying to navigate their home. Breeders who fail to offer enough space to their turtles are often careless in other areas of their turtles’ care.

Specialization may also be a factor, since some breeders tend to focus on one species while other breeders offer baby turtles for sale in many different types. Whether the breeder specializes or not, it is important that they provide specialized care for every one of the species represented in their facility. This is especially true across types of turtles that vary significantly, such as terrestrial species and aquatic species. All terrestrial turtles require large enclosures with plenty of space to reflect the adult size of the turtle, while aquatic turtles need deep aquariums with clean water and heavy filtration. This is especially important to consider for hatchlings, since turtles that live in clean areas at the start of their lives are more likely to thrive as adults later, especially if the standard of care continues.

Lastly, an ideal breeder will be a willing source of information and continue to stay in contact with their acquaintances long after a sale. Ideally, a new owner should be able to call up their breeder if a question arises regarding their turtle, whether it is a question about family history, medical history or simply a general question about caring for the species. Breeders who are happy to help new turtle owners adjust to keeping a turtle also offer healthy, thriving baby turtles for sale that are more likely to continue to thrive well into adulthood.

Basics About Bearded Dragon Facts

Bearded dragons make very interesting pets. There is a lot to learn about bearded dragon facts and how to care for them. Pogona is the actual real scientific name for them. The lizards usually live in arid warm deserts with little moisture in regions of Australia. They can usually be found in the wild spending quite a bit of their time playing on branches and in the sun in the early morning and late afternoon. They are also good little climbers and enjoy basking on rocks in the heat.

The genus originates from the sub family Agaminae and is from the family called Agamidae. They are naturally cold blooded being reptiles. They posses spiny scales all around their bodies. Whenever they may feel they are being threatened they are able to expand out their spiny scales around the throat to show their aggression. The also can move around their head in an up and down motion to show dominance amongst males.

There are many color combinations. A lot of times they are dark golden brown and also can come in tan and brown. Occasionally they also have black markings. They have the ability to change their color on their scales during a rivalry or when the temperatures rise or drop. Fully grown they are around thirteen to twenty-four inches long on average.

People usually keep them as pets. One of the most common varieties is the Pogona viticeps or more commonly known as the Central Inland Bearded Dragons. Pogona is also a term that can cover other species too. They are quite popular pets because of how easy it is to maintain and care for them as well as their calm nature. They are probably one of the most popular lizards kept among reptile pets. They can be quite interesting. They are happy when they have a properly maintained enclosure to live and play in and make wonderful pets.

They are naturally omnivorous and they consume both plants and animals. When in the wild they eat a large variety of foods. Ones kept as pets most of the time eat green leafy vegetables as well as insects coated with a powder supplement. Crickets are a very common and popular choice for them. They can also consume flies, butter worms, silk worms and one their favorites super worms.

Some popular choices in green leafy vegetables include collard greens, parsley, carrot tops, and turnips. Some orange colored vegetables can also be eaten including squash, carrots, pumpkins, and beets. Other favorites include celery, rosemary, basil, hibiscus, rose petals and oregano. They need a bit of variety in their diets but they are very easy to keep healthy and happy.

Fruits including apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, melons, mangoes and papayas are good too. Owners are discouraged from feeding wild insects because it exposes them to viruses and parasites among other dangers. Some bugs including fire flies contain a fatal ingredient known as bioluminescent chemicals which can kill lizards when consumed. Depending on their environment and health level they easily can live about five to ten years on average inside captivity.

For additional information about bearded dragon facts you can quickly find out more online. Also pet stores have great information on the topic you may want to check out. There are so many different sources you can find on this topic. They usually make great pets and do not grow very big. They usually are friendly and easy to handle even for children since they are tame.

4 Common Health Issues of Tokay Geckos and How to Deal With Them

As the pet owner, you need to make sure that your gecko is healthy all the time. It’s not enough that you give them food and keep their tanks well. There are many other factors that affect the physical condition of geckos. The good thing about them though is that they don’t require too much attention like most domesticated animals. You can leave them for a day all alone without having to worry about their welfare. But then again, you need to make sure that all their needs are met in order to keep your geckos healthy and happy.

If you’re new to raising geckos, particularly Tokay geckos, below are some of the most common health issues they may encounter. Let’s discuss each one of them thoroughly so you will know what to do when confronted with such issues.

1.Parasitism
Geckos can tolerate a few internal parasites just like humans do. But if they’re injured, stressed, or ill, these parasites can easily propagate until such time that they are already absorbing all the nutrients that the gecko needs to survive. Parasites can also live on the external body of the gecko. If you notice some crust-like areas on the skin of your pet, it’s an indication of parasitism. Treatment of this condition includes administering anti-parasite medications and keeping their environment clean and well-sanitized to avoid re-infection.

2.Stress
This condition is usually a result of moving to another environment. During the first days of your gecko in its new tank, expect that the gecko will experience some sort of stress. Don’t take this issue lightly because stress often leads to a lot more health problems such as poor shedding, malnourishment, and more. Giving your gecko some time to adjust in its new environment is essential. Don’t hold it too much especially if it’s not used to it. Handling geckos need time and patience. You should not hold it anytime you want to. Proper timing is very much important.

3.Wounds
Normally, geckos that are living together in the same tank would fight and bite each other. This can lead to wounds. Even those that are living alone can injure themselves from scratching their bodies to rigid surfaces and pointed objects. Wounds can get infected which can lead to more serious health problems on your Tokay. So be careful.

4.Metabolic Bone Disease
All geckos are prone to this health problem. To prevent the onset of metabolic bone disease, they should be given with calcium and vitamin D3. These vitamins come in supplement forms which you can mix with their food. Geckos that do not receive sufficient amount of calcium may experience in a loss of bone density. This condition can result to crippling deformities.

Keeping your gecko healthy can be fun and at the same time challenging. There are a few things that you also need to consider. These include the food, shelter, and vitamins. Your gecko must be well-fed and given attention to so it grows healthy, alert, and beautiful.

5 Things to Expect From Your First Tokay Gecko

Tokay geckos are such amazing creatures. Their natural appeal and charisma is the reason why more and more people are becoming interested in making this particular type of reptile as pet. They may not have colors that are as glowing and beautiful as leopard geckos but there’s something about them that really make them extremely special.

However, Tokays have characteristics and personalities that you may not like. And if you don’t handle it right, you can get disappointed in your pet. So if this is your first time to own this kind of pet, there are some things you should be ready for.

1. Tokays can be very aggressive.
Many people end up selling their Tokays or passing them over to friends and relatives because they found out that this reptile is not sweet and can even hurt them. Unlike leopard geckos, Tokays are more of a fighter. They don’t want to be touched or held often especially if they’re new to the environment. So during your first encounter with your Tokay, don’t forget to put in your gloves. And also, don’t hold it without asking an expert to teach you how. When it bites, it bites hard! So be very careful.

2. Male Tokays are better off alone.
The last thing you want to do is to put multiple male Tokay geckos in a single tank. These creatures are very territorial. Unless it’s a female, they would never want to share their territory with any other geckos.

3. Geckos love crickets.
Don’t make a pet out of Tokay gecko if you’re afraid of crickets! Geckos are not geckos when they don’t eat crickets. Anyway, this type of insect can be purchased from local pet stores. It’s important to feed your pet with live and full crickets so it gets the nutrition it needs.

4. They want warm places.
Tokays are mostly found in the tropical rainforests of Asia. To make your pet feel more comfortable in its new home, you want to make it feel as if it’s in the same place where they used to be. Keeping the humidity inside the tank or terrarium is a must. Ideally, the level of humidity should be between 40 and 80 percent. This can be easily achieved by placing moist (not wet) substrate inside the tank and proper misting. Failure to sustain such level of humidity can lead to various health problems.

5. Tokays want it clean.
Sanitation and maintenance are essential to keeping your pet healthy. In order to maintain a beautiful, hygienic, and attractive environment for your Tokay, make it a daily habit to clean its terrarium. Remove the feces from the walls or substrate, clean and refill the water dish, replace the substrate at least every three months, and take away any other clutter like dried plants, dead insects, etc.

When you know what to expect from your Tokay, you can become the best pet owner. Tokays are not really hard to deal with. You just have to know a little bit more about them so you can understand what they feel and provide what they need.