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  • The Importance of Minerals and Vitamins
    often allow an affected animal to make a full recovery Vitamin B deficiency can be a problem for some kinds of reptiles in particular especially chameleons and iguanas There is evidence to suggest that it can cause poor tongue co ordination in chameleons which is a serious problem seeing that these animals rely on their tongues to catch prey while some kinds of iguanas can develop problems with their connective tissue blood cells and nerve sheaths when they lack B12 Avoiding Problems The most obvious way to avoid problems with minerals and vitamins is to get your pet s diet right With the exception of a few specialist feeders such as Egg Eating Snakes Dasypeltis sp or the Thorny Devil Moloch horridus which eats almost nothing but ants most animals eat a remarkably varied range of foods in the wild This is of course the key to obtaining the balance of vitamins and minerals they need and something the exotic pet keeper needs to replicate in captivity Some foods are naturally low in particular minerals or vitamins for instance and as a result should only be used as part of the diet Mealworms for example are naturally low in calcium lettuce is mineral poor of little nutritional value and can prove addictive to some vegetarian pets On the other hand different types of food offer much better mineral content dandelion leaves have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 3 1 much nearer to the natural dietary requirements of tortoises in the wild Although some minerals and vitamins are required by all animals others are particularly important for some species while some animals can only use them in particular forms an important thing to know if you re buying supplements Reptiles for example require vitamin A vitamins B1 B2 B5 B6

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/importance-minerals-vitamins.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • Using Heaters & Thermometers
    a good idea to ask for a little advice to find out the best one for your needs For large tanks a combination of types can often work the best providing a good variety of background warmth with one or two hot spots and allowing the animals to behave in a more natural way This sort of arrangement can also help avoid some of the troubles that can arise if you only use one kind of heater Some tortoises for instance do not fare well with heat pad heaters alone as they can often become chilled by breathing in over cool air adding spot or ceramic heaters avoids the problem Make sure that you fit good covers to your heaters if you re keeping any kind of animal that is likely to be able to reach them Snakes and some types of lizards too are particularly good at getting right up against heaters given half a chance and can suffer some very nasty burns as a result so make sure there s no way they can It s also important to invest in the best possible thermostat and control units for your heaters they are the only thing making sure your pet doesn t get far too hot or much too cold Thermometers And Thermal Gradients The idea of a thermal gradient is a very simple one if you provide a range of temperatures within the tank cold blooded animals are free to move around to adjust their own body temperatures much as they do in nature Placing a heater towards one end of the tank to create a basking area will obviously generate a hot spot where the temperature will be very much higher than anywhere else The further your pet moves from the heat source the cooler its

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/using-heatersthermometers.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • Using Plants in Your Vivarium
    as well as avoiding any chance that roots will clog your under gravel filter Plants For The Terrarium A wide range of popular houseplants can make good subjects for a planted terrarium and for some species notably chameleons and tree frogs plants can perform a functional role as well as a purely decorative one providing living climbing frames The best way to incorporate them is once again to plant them in suitably sized pots and then bury them within the flooring material They ll obviously need to be watered appropriately as necessary and any dead material should to be pruned to prevent any possibility of fungus getting a foothold in the tank The so called air plants Tillandsia sp and the like are a useful alternative to traditional indoor plants for the terrarium The roots of these epiphytes are more concerned with holding on rather than getting water or nutrients most of them found clinging to tree branches in nature and absorbing moisture from the air through their leaves Unbelievably easy to grow they can be positioned at will in the tank and can even be glued into place if you wish Mist them twice a week and they will thrive within the confines of the terrarium Artificial Plants Although it s a bit of a cheat using artificial plants may be the only way you are going to get the look you re after in a vivarium containing some kinds of exotic pets Plastic plants are likely to be the only thing that will survive the attention of terrapins in an aquarium for example while fake plants are the best bet for any terrarium containing the likes of the Green Iguana Iguana iguana or some of its relatives Although using artificial plants may not be a truly natural way

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/using-plants-your-vivarium.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • Vivarium, Terrarium or Aquarium; What's the difference?
    With many an aquarium tank having been put into use to house non aquatic pets especially in the early days of reptile keeping where specialist equipment was not available there s an obvious source of confusion and the answer is of course when it s a terrarium Interestingly although today the word terrarium is widely understood to describe a home for terrestrial animals rather than plants this use is a fairly modern one The first terrarium was invented back in 1827 by Nathaniel Ward a London doctor and amateur botanist to house his fern collection safely away from the growing levels of pollution being generated by the local industries of the day His work led to the development of Wardian Cases which were used in large numbers by explorers to contain the exotic plants they had collected on the voyage back to Britain For pets such as land crabs many newts and various kinds of frogs which need access to areas of both land and water a hybrid form of tank exists the aqua terrarium The derivation of this composite word is blindingly obvious So What s a Vivarium Any container which makes a home for your pet is a vivarium from the Latin vivere to live which means that technically you could possibly even argue that a rabbit hutch qualifies though it s not something you re ever likely to hear being said From this it s pretty clear that every aquarium as well as every terrarium and aqua terrarium is a vivarium but not every vivarium is an aquarium The term can be particularly useful to draw a distinction between when you are speaking generally about all kinds of exotic animals as vivarium pets rather than making a more specific point about either aquatic or terrestrial ones Does It Matter Today there is such a wonderful array of tanks and vivaria or vivariums if you prefer gracing the average exotic pet shop that it s hard to imagine the time when the only choice you had was how big an aquarium to buy The days of carrying your tank home and then having to set about making your own escape proof lid are not so very long ago so it s pretty clear that for many kinds of animals it really doesn t matter if you use an aquarium without water to house them and least of all from their point of view However there are times when a specialist vivarium comes into its own and many of the high end units are remarkable pieces of furniture in their own right making them ideal not only as homes for your pets but also as display pieces and talking points in your living room Opting for one of these Rolls Royces of vivarium design buys you an impressive level of convenience and a quality of finish You can certainly house your animal perfectly adequately for considerably less cost but then buying one of these was always going to be

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/vivarium-terrarium-aquarium-whats-difference.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • Keeping Vinegarones (Whip-Scorpions)
    lighting so that the animals can experience a natural day night cycle If you want to be able to watch your pets going about their business at night you might like to try experimenting with black lights or even just red light bulbs which don t seem to bother them Add a good deep layer of flooring material the likes of sphagnum moss or shredded cork bark to allow them to burrow a few hiding places and a small shallow water bowl to complete the set up Food And Feeding Active hunters vinegarones will eat almost anything they can over power which can sometimes include their own kind so it s generally thought advisable to keep them separately In the wild prey animals include most small insects and other arthropods along with worms and the occasional slug so the standard fare of crickets and mealworms is a good standby in captivity though they ll benefit from a few wild caught offerings from your garden too Since unlike their relatives the spiders and scorpions vinegarones lack poison prey is ambushed grabbed in the animals impressive looking pedipalps pincer like mouth parts and then crushed Handling Vinegarones The general opinion on handling vinegarones seems to be that they are fairly docile but rather easily spooked so you should only handle them if you feel confident to do so If they do become distressed their first defence seems to be to try to flee and their second to use the vinegar spray that gives them their name If you do try to handle your whip scorpions be gentle not least because they can also use their pedipalps to deliver a sharp and painful pinch especially if the animal in question happens to be the five inch 12 5cm long Mastigoproctus giganteus Possibly one

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/keeping-vinegarones-whipscorpions.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • What You Might Not Know About Snakes
    snakes rather short sighted on the whole though how well they see does vary a lot between species and although they have colour vision few if any kinds can detect the range of colours that humans do However as every snake keeper knows they re pretty good at spotting movement Anatomical Oddity It s not just their eyes that single snakes out almost all of their anatomy has its own surprises Their hearts can move aside within their bodies to allow large items of prey to slide along their guts without damage the usual paired organs kidneys ovaries or testes are typically located one behind the other and in most species only one lung is actually functional Perhaps their most amazing anatomical adaptation however is their jaw Although it is often said that a snake dislocates its jaws to feed this isn t strictly true the reality being far more complex The lower jaw is extremely supple the two halves are only held together by a flexible ligament which allows the bottom of a snake s mouth to stretch considerably to right and left Add to this a series of joints in the skull itself and the animal is perfectly capable of engulfing prey whole even when it is something that is considerably larger than the snake s own girth An Uncertain Past Their long and fairly fragile skeletons containing 200 400 individual vertebrae or more means that complete and undamaged snake fossils are hard to come by although there are some recognisable specimens dating back to around 150 million years ago This makes it difficult to be entirely sure exactly how they evolved but there are two ideas which have put forward that might explain their origins According to one theory snakes came from lizard like ancestors that adopted

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/what-you-might-not-know-about-snakes.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • What You Might Not Know About Tortoises
    but 112 years of healthy active retirement can t be bad Killer Tortoise Although Timmy herself never did any actual fighting during her days in the navy there is at least one recorded incident of a tortoise causing someone s death although admittedly it was the weapon rather than the killer The story involves a bald headed Greek philosopher named Aeschylus and as you ll see his lack of hair is a relevant detail a Lammergeyer vulture Gypaetus barbatus and a tortoise of unrecorded species An expert scavenger the Lammergeyer has a neat trick for opening old bones to get at the marrow inside carrying them high into the air and then dropping them onto a rock to break them open Some clever ones also worked out that they could do the same with tortoises with the added bonus that you don t have to wait for something to die before you get a feed The scene is now set and you don t have to be a big fan of CSI to see where this is going Vulture picks up tortoise mistakes glistening bald pate of passing Greek thinker for rock drops tortoise skull not shell cracks and the unfortunate philosopher falls down stone dead Whether the Lammergeyer then proceeded to try to eat the freshly deceased corpse of Aeschylus is not recorded which is probably just as well Don t let it put you off your Mediterranean holiday though Lammergeyers are nowhere near so common these days nor sadly are tortoises and it was the only case in over 2000 years Very Very Old Not only can individual tortoises as in the case of Timmy live a very long time but their whole group is an extremely ancient one dating back to the Mesozoic Era and the Great Age of Reptiles making them contemporaries of the dinosaurs The first proto turtles appeared in the Triassic about 220 million years ago and their basic form has changed very little in all the intervening time It is only the fact that they have proved so successful and there are so many different species still with us today that stops them being labelled living fossils Tortoises Do Maths And finally have you ever heard of a gomboc If you haven t you re not exactly alone apart from mathematicians with an abiding interest in 3 dimensional geometry very few of us have but for some kinds of tortoise that kind of clever maths lies behind one of their cleverest survival mechanisms Getting overturned and stranded on its back is bad news for any tortoise but the Indian Star Tortoise Geochelone elegans has evolved with a particularly well designed shell to deal with just this problem and yes you guessed it it s a gomboc Officially described as a convex 3 D shape which when resting on a flat surface has one stable and one unstable balancing point in tortoise terms that translates into a highly domed carapace that allows the animal

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/what-you-might-not-know-about-tortoises.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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  • Hellbenders, Sirens and Mudpuppies
    and totally aquatic with only two tiny front limbs in an otherwise essentially eel shaped body The link to the mythical songstresses may not be quite so far fetched as it might at first seem When caught all of the siren species often make what are described as yelping sounds the Lesser Siren Siren intermedia in particular being unusually vocal for a tailed amphibian Most of these animals naturally live in warmer weedy ponds and ditches making their habitat much easier to reproduce in the aquarium than the Hellbender s and although the Greater Siren is a true giant smaller species such as the dwarf Siren Pseudobranchus striatus at an average length of 8 inches 20cm is much easier to accommodate Mudpuppies There are five species of Mudpuppies or Water dogs to be found in America the Alabama Waterdog Necturus alabamensis Gulf Coast Waterdog N beyer Neuse River Waterdog N lewisi Dwarf Waterdog N punctatus and the Common Mudpuppy N maculosus Outside of America their closest living relative is the Olm Proteus anguinus a rare blind cave salamander from Northern Italy and Slovenia Mudpuppies are very similar to the Axolotl being another kind of entirely aquatic salamander which retains most of its larval characteristics into adulthood and make equally good aquarium pets Most of the Water dogs only grow to around 8 or 10 inches 20 25cm and even the Mudpuppy itself is scarcely huge growing to little more than 14 or 16 inches 35 40cm in length which makes finding a tank to suit a fairly easy task They seem to be remarkably adaptable animals naturally found in varied habitats ranging from clear fast flowing shallow streams to weed choked ponds deep lakes and muddy rivers Particularly secretive and nocturnal amphibians mudpuppies appear to take well to captivity many

    Original URL path: http://www.keepingexoticpets.co.uk/hellbenders-sirens--mudpuppies.html#Newcomment (2016-02-16)
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