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  • Caring for Tortoises & Terrapins
    at all they can grow to a foot 30cm or more so you ll need to be prepared to get a big tank for these guys too Heating And Lighting Heating the air in both tortoise and terrapin enclosures is best achieved with a purpose designed heater or a well protected heat lamp Although many reptile tanks use hot rocks or heat pads for tortoises this can often lead to the animals having nice warm bodies but breathing relatively cold air which can lead to health problems Terrapins additionally need to have their water heated an aquarium heater thermostat unit is ideal but particularly if the tank s occupants are large or active it s a good idea to provide a cover to stop the reptiles coming into direct contact with it Both tortoises and terrapins will benefit greatly from the chance to bask in some ultra violet light so add a purpose made UV tube alongside the spot lamp that way when the animals bask in the warmth they also pick up a dose of artificial sunlight in a very natural way Food And Feeding The traditional pet tortoise was a vegetarian but many of the species seen today enjoy a more omnivorous diet augmenting fruits and green stuff with insects and other suitably sized animal prey at least some of the time Terrapins are more carnivorous in their tastes eating insects worms and even small fish although they too enjoy the occasional munch on leaves or piece of fruit Getting your pet s diet right is another area where there is no substitute for good research whatever your chosen species likes to eat dusting the food with a good mineral vitamin supplement is always a good idea and don t forget to provide access to clean drinking water Handling Both tortoises and terrapins can be handled with some degree of success and some even seem to enjoy the experience However remember that both groups can bite they may have no teeth but their horny lips can really nip Also don t forget that they can carry certain diseases that can affect humans so it s always important to wash your hands after you have been handling or tending to your pets and particularly make sure any children who come into contact with them do too it s better to be safe than sorry In many respects tortoises were the original exotic pets However the wholesale abduction of vast numbers of Spur thighed and Hermann s Tortoises Testudo graeca and T Hermanni respectively and their subsequent transportation to the UK in appalling conditions was one of the darkest episodes in pet keeping Frequently sold on market stalls for half a crown 25p those animals which survived the overcrowded shipping crates often led sad travesties of their natural lives under Mediterranean skies The trade in wild caught European tortoises is now a thing of the past but enough of them did survive to leave us all with an enduring love

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/caring-for-tortoisesterrapins.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Caring for Triops & Sea Monkeys
    container the kits usually contain small plastic tanks but especially for Triops and particularly if you re very lucky with your hatching they can get a little small once the animals start to grow An adult Triops needs around 2 litres of water to be able to get enough oxygen and since they naturally enjoy exploring the base of their pools the floor area is more important than the depth One of the best and cheapest choices is the sort of plastic container regularly sold in supermarkets for keeping food in Hatching Hatching instructions come with the kits and they are very easy to follow For Triops you ll need to fill your tank with spring or bottled water not chlorinated tap water and then add the eggs which normally come with some food in the same sachet to see the hatchlings over their first few days Small Triops should appear in about 24 hours Sea Monkeys live in salt water so the first part of preparing for them involves adding the kit s salt package to the water A day later you add the eggs and in five days your small new pets should be putting in an appearance Feeding Once Triops get a bit bigger it s important not to over feed them as the mucky water and bacterial growth this causes can kill them off surprisingly quickly The kit will usually contain food but any fish food will do just a few crumbs per animal to start with and then adjust as you see how much is left uneaten Sea Monkeys are just as easily killed with kindness so feed them sparingly too as for the type of food although they seem to happily munch algae most people feed them a specially prepared Sea Monkey diet in line with the recommendation found in most of the kits Who s Who Both animals are crustaceans relatives of crabs lobsters and woodlice sometimes called tadpole or shield shrimps Triops belong to an ancient group of crustaceans known as the notostracans Although there are different species found across the world the most common kind offered for sale is the American Triops longicaudatus which grows to around two and a half inches 6cm Sea Monkeys are a kind of brine shrimp Artemia salina which have been specially bred to improve their lifespan and make them grow a little larger than the wild form The Sea Monkey name was invented for marketing purposes and is said to refer to their playful behaviour and not their looks despite some of the illustrations on the packaging A different kind of Australian brine shrimp is sometimes offered for sale under the name Itsy Bitsy Sea Dragons which is equally fanciful but perhaps just a little more accurate Neither of these animals have changed their appearance or way of life since the Triassic so despite the pictures of T Rex drawn on many of the kit packages these chaps are way way older In fact the

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/caring-for-triopssea-monkeys.html (2016-02-16)
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  • How to Keep Snakes
    the way For most species housing usually involves a tank or terrarium how big depending on the size of the snake and how tall on its natural liking for climbing While snakes don t need to be able to stretch out the whole of their body length along one side of the tank they shouldn t be condemned to being permanently cramped either The flooring material obviously depends on the nature of the animal and where it comes from a generous layer of compost or sand for burrowing species and for other snakes bark chippings reptile safe varieties can be bought from pet shops or newspaper Although the idea of keeping your snake on yesterday s headlines may sound a little unattractive it certainly helps with hygiene and cleanliness is essential to avoid ill health Hiding places are important one or two largish stones will help at skin shedding time and tree dwellers will appreciate some well positioned and well anchored branches to practice on Whatever furnishings you do add to the tank either buy items sold for the purpose from your pet shop or if not make sure you clean them thoroughly to avoid giving bacteria and potential parasites somewhere to live Heaters And Heating Most of the snakes commonly sold will need some form of supplementary heating and in some cases quite high temperatures your supplier should be able to advise you on the right size and type of heating for your tank and type of snake The essential features are Establish a Good Thermal Gradient Place the heater towards one end of the tank so that the temperature varies in different parts of the snake s home This will allow your pet to regulate its own body heat by moving around to let itself warm up or cool down as necessary Separate Heat and Light Sources A separate heater lets you maintain the right temperature when the lights are off which means your pet gets a more natural cycle of day and night snakes have no eyelids Use a Guard A cool snake will often try to get far closer to the heat source than is good for it and many snakes suffer serious burns as a result A well fitting guard should avoid injuries Buy a Good Quality Thermostat The thermostat is the only thing stopping your pet s quarters becoming far too hot or cooling down too much get the best and most reliable kind you can find Food And Feeding Most of the snakes sold as exotic pets are used to eating small dead baby mice pinkies which are readily available for the purpose Larger species such as pythons and boas will need proportionally larger meals dead rats and day old chickens being the usual fare Like any exotic pets you can never find out too much about the particular kinds of snakes that you keep and it s obviously important to do a fair bit of research before a purchase to make sure

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/snakes.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Aeration & Filtration
    cool water holds more than warm which means in practical terms that you ll have to work harder to get the same level of oxygen in a tropical marine aquarium than in a cold freshwater one It s something to bear in mind when you re planning the aeration in your tank but don t get too hung up on it your dealer ought to be able to give you all the advice you need and help you find the right pump for the job Under Gravel Filter Some form of combined mechanical biological approach is the most commonly used for filtering exotic pet tanks the under gravel system being one of the most popular The main part of this kind of filter is a perforated plastic plate which sits over the whole of the base of the tank with a tube sticking up towards the top of the tank down which you put an air line and an aeration stone As the name suggests gravel is then layered on top of the plastic plate In use the air moving from the bottom of the tube to the top sets up a flow within the aquarium that draws water down through the gravel under the plate along the channels beneath it and then up again through the tube along with the air Of course this moving current of water also pulls any waste material or other particles along with it which become trapped in the gravel In addition to this mechanical sieving action colonies of beneficial bacteria build up on the gravel which do the biological part of the filtration process by helping to break down the trapped material Over time the plastic filter plate will tend to get clogged and the gravel will become discoloured so it will be necessary to clean both from time to time Other Options There are various kinds of separate box units available which some people prefer for exotic pets because they are easier to clean than under gravel filters and involve less handling of the animals themselves They work on the same basic principle drawing water through them to be filtered and cleaned but instead of gravel they use some type of artificial filter material which can be quickly removed for cleaning or to be replaced Some types of these units are designed to sit inside the tank while other ones are to be positioned outside Although many of them use aeration pumps to drive the whole process for some of the messier aquatic pets particularly the likes of terrapins a power filter can often be a better bet An electric pump sits inside the filter box which attaches vertically to the inside of the tank usually by strong suckers and this pulls water in at the bottom of the unit forces it through the filter medium inside and then back out at the top The actual filter part itself is often contained in a removable cartridge which again makes cleaning and replacement

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/aerationfiltration.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Choosing and Using Thermostats
    which have been designed for use with specific types of heaters the most commonly seen being thermostats made to control heat mats or heating strips and those intended for ceramic heater units Clearly if there is an appropriate thermostat specially made for the sort of heating you have it makes sense to use it Environmental Control The major thermostat manufacturers have a comprehensive range to suit any kind of animal all sorts of tank and every variety of heater offering varying degrees of environmental control which is really what these devices are all about The least complicated versions simple on off thermostats for example just switch the power off to heaters when the temperature reaches a pre set value and then turn it back on when the tank has cooled by two or three degrees More sophisticated dimmer stats gradually reduce the electricity supply once the right level of warmth has been achieved This is particularly useful when coupled with heat lamps as it avoids the light on light off effect that traditional thermostats have which some types of animals seem to find stressful and because it s gentler on the element it also helps to make the bulb last longer too Some of the latest forms of thermostats even offer the opportunity to have different temperatures for day and night automatically maintained providing as near a natural environment for your pets as it s probably possible to create in captivity Although we automatically tend to think of thermostats as part of a heating system it s also important to remember a final group of these devices which are designed to work not with heaters but with fans or chillers to cool things down For anyone wanting to keep some of the newts and salamanders of northern Europe for example

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/choosing-using-thermostats.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Choosing Tanks & Containers
    is how easily tanks allow you to add any necessary additional equipment your pet may require Many tanks come with openings in their lids which are purpose made to take various items such as heaters light fittings thermostats and filters If your chosen pet doesn t need anything more than a tank and a warm room you might want to opt for something which doesn t particularly if you think escape might be a problem Glass or Plastic Both glass and plastic tanks have their fans and in many respects it s a matter of personal choice although there are one or two considerations which can influence the decision Large all glass aquarium tanks for example become phenomenally heavy once filled up with water while plastic ones are more difficult to clean without scratching If you re thinking of using heating pads under your tank then heat transfer can also be an issue while if your tank s internal environment is much warmer than the temperature of the surrounding air large expanses of single glazed glass will lose heat fairly quickly Tanks on a Budget Elaborate and often rather expensive purpose built tanks are not always necessary or appropriate for many animals much more humble surroundings can be as good if not better places to live A range of plastic containers large glass jars and the like can often be very successfully used to house your pets at a fraction of the cost of tanks bought from the pet shop However if you do opt for this approach it s even more important to make sure you choose wisely It s as well to avoid any second hand plastic containers however tempting or apparently perfect unless you are sure you know their history Anything which may have held chemicals soap cleaning products or similar substances are likely to be a problem no matter how well you clean them the plastic itself can often hold traces of its old contents and your pets may suffer as a result Old glass jars are a safer bet since they can usually be very successfully cleaned large catering size jars are particularly useful for a range of small climbing pets though they are not always easy to come by unless you know someone in the business The clear plastic lunch box in its many sizes and shapes is probably the most versatile and useful of all budget pet containers Sold in a huge number of outlets including supermarkets normally for just a few pounds they are ideal tanks for a wide range of small exotic pets particularly many of the invertebrate species The only essential modification is to drill a series of holes in the lid for ventilation and if you re planning to use yours without its lid as a small aquarium for little creatures such as Triops even this modest amount of DIY becomes unnecessary When picking your plastic box check to see that its really meant for food storage anything that

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/choosing-tankscontainers.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Choosing Vivarium Floor Materials
    water cloudy in no time and in the terrarium sand often sticks to food and can sometimes cause problems as a result If you do want to use sand in a Triops tank go for coral sand which is available from good aquarist stores it will let them dig but it doesn t cause the same cloudiness that normal sand does Terrarium Flooring For the terrestrial vivarium gravel can again often be a good choice but a lot depends on the type of animal you are wanting to keep For particularly messy beasts such as tortoises and many of the snakes it may be more sensible to opt for newspaper or kitchen towelling or one of the proprietary brands of granulated paper While admittedly it doesn t look particularly natural or appealing it certainly makes regular cleaning out a good deal easier For other kinds of vivarium dwellers peat bark compost or sphagnum moss may be more appropriate Sphagnum is ideal for many kinds of amphibians for instance because it helps maintain the levels of moisture needed though compost can do this almost as well However since a humid vivarium is as good an environment for fungus as it is for frogs it s important to keep a careful watch on a compost or peat floor and replace it at the first sign of mildew or beginnings of a sour smell if you want your pets to stay healthy Shredded bark or bark chippings have become increasingly popular as a vivarium flooring material over recent years Although bark products are available in bulk from many garden centres principally intended for use as a mulch it s probably worth paying the extra to get the specialist material sold for exotic pets Choosing the right material for your tank s floor needn

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/choosing-vivarium-floor-materials.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Common Problems With Aquarium Pets
    by one of two reasons Under Washed Gravel If the tank is really new only set up for a day or two muck from the gravel is the most usual cause You can avoid these problems by making sure that newly bought gravels are washed thoroughly even if they are supposed to be pre washed The good news is if this is the cause the cloudiness should disappear within a couple of days as the particles are filtered out or naturally settle Bacterial Bloom Aerate water and your pets are not the only things which will benefit Naturally present bacteria can grow explosively when they are given nutrients and abundant oxygen and make the water look slightly foggy and grey Once again it tends to be one of the problems seen in new tanks and generally sorts itself out as conditions within the aquarium mature Some pet keepers recommend partial water changes to deal with bacterial blooms replacing no more than a fifth of the volume at any one time while making sure you don t leave uneaten food in the tank can also help clear things up quicker Fungal Problems Fungal infections can be a particular problem for aquarium pets the appearance of white cotton wool like growths on their bodies being sadly an all too common sight Fungus spores are commonplace within the aquarium environment but tend only to cause problems when an animal s skin has been damaged in some way Unfortunately once a fungus infection has taken hold it is difficult for the creature itself to fight it off so it will need treatment and putting into quarantine if it normally lives in a community tank to avoid the possibility of it infecting its fellows There are a number of proprietary treatments available but it is

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/common-problems-with-aquarium-pets.html (2016-02-16)
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