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CARE SHEET ARCHIVE:

NOTE:  If you are looking for care info on a species not alreayd ere please do not hesitate to contact me and ask.  I have more info that I have simply not had the time to get typed up and added here, but if I know osmoene wants it I will make it a priority to add.

SECTION # 1:  SNAKES:

 

BASIC CARE OF:

Ball Python

(Python regius)

     Ball Pythons, also called Royal Pythons, are native to Africa. They live along the edges of the Rain Forests there. In the part of the world where they live, it does not become cold like it does here, but instead they have a dry season where there is little rainfall. While this species can not hibernate to survive cold temperatures, it would in nature have a semi dormant period during the dry season, at which time it would become less active so that it used less moisture. This does NOT mean you should deprive your pet of available water!

HOUSING:  This animal normally grows to between 4-5 feet in length, and a single individual will require at least a 20 gallon long aquarium. If you will be getting them out and handling them regularly (at least once a week) then this size tank will work. If however you will not be handling them this often they will need more space to get more exercise in. You will have to have a secure screen top on the tank, one that clips or locks into place so they can not escape.

SUBSTRATE:  Substrate is the covering for the floor of the habitat. It is REQUIRED that something be there on the floor of the tank, otherwise when the animal urinates they will be laying in it and will develop skin problems which can be very expensive to correct, and if left untreated this can cause fungus to develop and the animal can die horribly. Substrate can be newspaper, which is inexpensive, absorbant and turns color when peed on, or Cyprus bark, in-door/out-door carpet, or felt pieces, which can be washed and reused. If you choose to use one of the last two options you should get enough to make two pieces so that cleaning the tank is quicker and easier. You can keep one clean and switch them out and then wash the other afterward.

While Cyprus is attractive and REAL Cyprus also holds humidity and does not mold, it is wood, and should you get a mite infestation going these parasites breed in the wood, and this will make it harder by far to get rid of the problem. Also many stores sell mulch which claims to be Cyprus, yet which is not real Cyprus and will mold causing health problems of all sorts. Be careful. Cyprus can be boiled to kill parasites and their eggs, and can be dried to re use. Please DO NOT dry your mulch in a gas oven, you could start a fire that way.

DECORATION:  A climbing branch or two, made of wood from fruit trees, or synthetic wood are a good idea. NEVER use any cedar or pine in any form with reptiles these woods contain resins which are toxic to reptiles. Also a hiding box, again of fruit wood or plastic, even a small plastic dish tub turned upside down with the ends cut out roundly and melted smooth so they do not harm the snake will work nicely. Plastics are also easier to clean and sanitize and will not harbor mites! :)

WATER:  All snakes need water dishes large enough for them to fit their entire bodies inside of so that they can comfortably soak, especially when it is time for them to shed their skins. Water bowls must be kept clean since the animal also drinks from this supply, and may sometimes defecate or urinate in the water as well.

LIGHTING:  These animals do not require special light, but they DO require a day and night cycle. What that means is that when it is day time they should have light and when it is night time they should have darkness. You can accomplish this with a separate light over their tank, even using timers for this or you can simply see to it that their tank receives enough light from the room fixtures and that they are on during the day and off at night. NEVER set the aquarium in a window sill the direct sunlight will over heat the tank and kill your snake in just a few minutes time. Never have uncovered light bulbs in the tank, the animals can not tell they are too hot and may get burned, they may also go through their water and get against the bulbs breaking them. All lights should be outside the tank mad make sure they are not against anything they could melt.

This species is primarily active at dusk and dawn, so it is best to do any handling of them during those times, and thus avoid stressing them out which can lead to severe health problems for them, and expensive veterinarian bills for you.

Like all other members of the boa family, which includes boas, pythons, and anacondas, ball pythons have anal spurs, which resemble little claws ro either side of their vent area. These are the remains of where they once had legs hundreds of years ago. These spurs are present in both male and female animals. LEAVE them alone.

FOOD & FEEDING:  Wild caught animals often will only eat gerbils, which are rather expensive. Captive bred animals should eat rats. It is neither necessary nor recommended to feed them live rats. In some cases very young hatchling snakes will only take live pinky or live fuzzy rats, but by the time they are ready to eat small rats they should be taking pre-killed ones. It is best to feed them pre-killed food, because not only does this prevent them from getting mites from the live animals, (mites being carried in the fur of most rodents naturally) but also prevents the food animals from doing serious and sometimes fatal damage to the snakes.

     It is best NOT to feed the snake in his habitat, this is because if you put his food in his house then later on another occasion when you reach in to get your snake out, he may think you are opening the house to put food in, and you may be bitten by mistake. A small plastic tub with a snap down lid is a good place to feed your snake, you can get his food (totally thawed out over night) into the tub, wash your hands so that no smell of the food remains on you to confuse the snake, place the snake in with the food, secure the lid, and while your snake has dinner, you can go over their house to make sure it is clean and the water fresh and clean. Check on the snake every 20 minutes or so to see if it has eaten, and after the food is gone carefully lift your snake, making certain NOT to touch in anyway the area where the food animal is located inside the snake (bulged out looking area) so that there will be no danger of you causing the snake internal injury there. After the snake has eaten, and been returned to their habitat, leave them alone for 4 days to a week so that they have time to digest their food well. Handling them during this time could cause the partially digesting bones of the food animal to puncture the snakes internal organs and they could bleed to death internally. It also can cause the snake to become nervous and more likely to bite...In the wild, after eating the snake crawls off to hide away from everything so it is safe, in captivity we must remember they have eaten and leave them alone.

     Allow new animals a week or so to adjust to a new home before offering food. Animals under 1' in length should be fed weekly, larger animals every other week. Adult animals, especially males will often go off their food during mating season, which is November-March, but not all do and they still need to have the food offered to them.

TEMPERATURE:  The main area of the tank should ALWAYS be kept between 80F and 85F during the day, and 73F to 75F during the night. Keeping this temperature range will prevent your snake from developing respiratory infection which can kill swiftly and painfully if not treated and which is expensive to treat.

     It is not necessary to spend tons of money on special reptile heating pads, in fact they often over heat and crack the glass. I recommend using an everyday human heating pad obtainable at Wal-mart, K-mart or Target...which cost much less. Place one underneath the water bowl so that the water is warmer and safer for the animal to soak in, and this will also help humidify the tank more. Pads under the water bowl should be set on medium or high depending on how heavy the dish is, and pads under other areas may be kept on low. It is critical that the heat be kept on ALL year round to insure that these temperatures are maintained, if your home is warmer you can check the tank and water with thermometers and may be able to lower the settings during Summer...

NEVER use heat rocks, they have been known many times to over heat and crack open, not only burning but often electrocuting the animals who may crawl over exposed wires after having been in their water bowls.

NOTE: If the heat is too low in the tank the snake will not be able to digest their food and they can die from this.

HANDLING:  It is a good idea to allow a new animal a few days to adjust to a new home before handling them much. After that, remember to let them have time to digest their food before handling them, and try to normally handle them once or twice a week for a little while at a time.

     When reaching into their habitat, remember that since they have no eye lids and can not close their eyes it is not always easy to tell if they are awake or asleep. Reach in slowly, and pet them a couple of times slowly before picking them up. This allows them time to realize that you are there, and avoids the chances of them biting you because you startle them. They are not dogs, and do NOT like to be petted on the head, so pet them lower down.

     Avoid grasping them near the head to pick them up. The only thing they have with which to defend themselves is their tiny and very unimpressive teeth. In general if you take away from them their ability to move their head, you cause them to feel as though they need to be able to bite you, and once they get the chance they probably will. So what you want to do is reach 4-6 inches back from the head, or on small animals mid body. This leaves them plenty or room to move their head around to check on things, and keeps them from feeling threatened so they do not feel like they need to bite you.

     While dogs love to have their heads petted, most snakes, and especially if they do not know you well, do not like it. Once they get to know you they will enjoy having under their chins rubbed, but it is best to leave the tops of their heads alone. Always remember to rub from the direction where their head is, toward the direction of their tail, and dont mess with their mouth or their tail and vent area. Just as no human wants kicked between the legs, no snake likes their vent area bothered.

HEALTH:  1) SHEDDING: If your Ball Python does not voluntarily soak in its water bowl, especially near shedding time, you may need to assist it. Take a small plastic tub with a snap down lid, fill the tub 1/3 to way with warm water (75-80F) place the snake in the tub, and put the lid on securely. Allow the snake to soak for 20-30 minutes. If you do this daily, it will help the snake shed more easily, and they will be less likely to retain eye caps.

2) RETAINED EYE-CAPS: This is a problem which any snake can suffer from, but which Ball Pythons in particular seem susceptible to. Soaking as above, and keeping a dish of water in their tank which they can soak in, as well as keeping it over heat to increase the humidity in the tank will help to prevent this. However there may be times when despite your best effort they may retain an eye cap anyway. My Veterinarian, has recommended that you examine the shed skin carefully to determine if the eye cap, or single clear scale over the eye has been shed. If it has not, then soak the animal as above daily, you may also VERY gently apply triple anti-biotic salve over the affected eye, fairly heavily. This will stay on, and help moisten the eye cap so that the snake can rub it off by themselves, which is far safer than us trying to force it off. Sometimes this also does not seem to quite do it, in these cases, keep trying, and watch for signs that the animal becomes ready to shed again, keep the affected eye extra moist with the ointment through the shedding process and this should clear it up.

3) WRINKLED SPECTACLES: This is a condition very commonly seen in Ball Pythons, and often mistaken for retained eye caps. If you are uncertain as to whether it is a retained eye cap or simply a wrinkled spectacle, you should have a qualified reptile veterinarian check it. There are a few things you can look for to help determine which condition your snakes eyes have. If the spectacle looks clear, except for wrinkling, it is most likely only wrinkled, and a natural effect and you need not worry. If the spectacle appears silvery, or if there appear to be edges of white or silvery skin around it sticking out, it is most likely a retained eye cap.

4) NOT EATING: It is very common for Ball Pythons, especially males to go off their food during mating season. It is also typical of them to periodically refuse food for two to three months at other times as well. If the snake does not appear to be losing body mass, it is nothing to worry about. Animals which have been fed live food, and which have either been bitten by it, or seen another snake attacked by their food, may refuse to eat also. It is better to feed them pre-killed prey, which can not hurt them if they do not eat it right away. Some animals which have been used to live prey, may at first have to be "tempted" into eating the dead food. This can be done by holding the food by the tail with a pair of tongs, and slowly gently brushing or bumping against the sides of the snakes nose. You can also take a freshly killed prey animal and place it in a bag or small box with the snake and leave them alone in the dark. Always remember that any frozen dead animal must be allowed to completely thaw out to room temperature before feeding it to the snake. Warming it in the microwave will kill many needed nutrients, I recommend thawing it over night in a warm location.

5) HEAD SHY: Animals which have been fed live prey are normally head shy, from being careful not to let their food bite them back. Snakes which have ever been bitten by rats or mice WILL be head shy. You can get them over this by feeding them only pre-killed food, and by patiently working with them over time. Most snakes, once they get to know you and become used to being handled by you, like to be rubbed under the chin. Avoiding blocking their vision with your hands also helps to make them feel more safe and secure with you. Moving slowly, especially until they get used to you is also important. Always stroke or pet from the head toward the tail, so that you go with the direction the scales lie in, rather than against it. This prevents roughing up the scales which irritates the snake, and can leave more openings for skin damage and problems to occur.

VETERINARIAN CARE:  Always make sure that you have on hand the name and phone number for the correct veterinarian. Most vets are not qualified to work with or on reptiles, make certain you have one who is.

NOTE:  If you have any questions or need advice please do not hesitate to e-mail or call me. I can not afford to return long distance calls, so if your area code is other than 303 or 720 and I miss your call I will need an email address to which to send any information you need.

No I do not have any funding for my in home shelter. Yes it is very expensive to care for all the animals that come in. No I do not have a large house, it is very small. Yes I would love to have a larger house but no one has offered to donate one. Yes I would be grateful for any financial donations no matter how small.

Barbara A Huggins

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BASIC CARE:

MEXICAN BLACK KING SNAKE

(Lampropeltis g. nigritis)

This species comes originally from the North West section of Mexico. They grow to be between 3-4' in length making them a small species of snake.

Their native habitat is semi desert scrub lands.

HABITAT: Adults can be kept in 20-30 gallon aquariums. For substrate, sand, potting soil without fertilizer, peat moss, leaves...are good. Small stable things that they can climb on are also good, and they do like to hide, so a small hide is also a good idea. A water dish large enough for them to fit inside of also.

NOTE: This species is nocturnal and will be more active at night, and that would be the best time to handle them as well so they are not stressed out from being handled when they should be resting.

LIGHTING: They need light in the day time and darkness at night.

HEATING: They should have one area of the tank where it is warmer, and one where it is cooler.

During the day the temperatures within the tank should range from 78 F in the cooler section to 90F in the warmer area. At night the cooler section should be around 70F and the warmer area around 75F. You can use a lamp over the tank during the day but will need a heating pad underneath the tank. I recommend using human heating pads for this they are easily adjustable and far less likely to over heat and break the glass than the "reptile" heating pads and mats which are frequently known for this.

FEEDING: This species will eat either adult mice or baby rats as adults. The very young specimens should be fed new born aka pinky mice. Slowly increase the size of prey as the animal gets bigger. Look at the snake, about mid body, if the foods hips are bigger than that your snake can injure or kill its self trying to eat it, so go with something the diameter of the animal or slightly smaller.

WARNING: This is a King snake and they prefer to eat other snakes, so do NOT try housing more than one in a tank, you will end up with one or none.

LIFE SPAN: This species commonly lives around 15 years in captivity. IF properly cared for.

Barbara Huggins

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SECTION # 2:  TURTLES:

 

BASIC CARE OF:

WESTERN or ORNATE and THREE TOED BOX TURTLES

(Terepene ornata)

     This is a species of terrestrial or land turtle. They can NOT swim. The DO need to be able to dig. They are native to the USA and Colorado, and are capable of hibernating or "bromating", IF circumstances are correct.

HOUSING:  One or two turtles can be kept in a habitat 4' long by 2' wide and 1 high. This habitat may be constructed of glass or plexi-glass, or even plastic. This size allows the animals enough room to exercise and be healthy, while preventing them from climbing out and becoming lost or falling on their backs and dying. These materials are also non absorbant and easy to clean and sanitize when the need arises. DO not build their habitat of wood, because it will hold too much moisture and grow bacteria which can kill them. Larger habitats are better, this is the minimum size. Ideally an outdoor habitat would be desirable, and would offer more space and a more natural setting, but that is not something everyone has to offer.

SUBSTRATE:  It is crucial to the health of these animals that they have a naturalistic substrate in which they can dig and exercise. This substrate should be made of a mixture of reptile safe bark, sand, potting soil (without fertilizer) and smooth gravel, and should be between 4-6" deep. Turtles do poop , and the best way to keep this set up in good shape it so put live worms and live plants safe or the turtles to eat inside the habitat before placing the animals in it. Dandelions and the morning glory type vining plant growing wild all over Colorado are both very good plants for the animals to eat.

     You will need to add more worms and plants most likely about once a month because the turtles will eat both the worms and the plants and this is necessary to their diet. Hamburger should not be given to these animals it is too high in fat, and too low in other nutrients. Turtles also like meal worms, which can be offered along with bits of vegetables and fruits on saucers once or twice a week. Various types of hay should be available continuously as well.

FEEDING:  In addition to the above mentioned food items, here are several other things good to cut into smaller pieces and offer to the turtles:

Collard greens, Mustard greens, Turnip greens, green beans, green peas, carrots, straw berries, apples, pears, squash, green onions, cilantro, red grapes, alfalfa (hay or sprouts), timothy hay, clover (fresh or hay). Any of the fresh items left at the end of the day should be thrown away.

DECORATION:  Although turtles have shells, which are part of their bodies, with their back bones being grown into them, they like places to hide as well, and in this case their shells do not count to them. You can use either wooden hiding set ups, or else plastic dish tubs with the ends cut out rounded and the cut edges melted smooth. Larger flat type rocks are also nice since the turtles like to climb on things. Bear in mind that turtles will climb on each other, rocks, hides...and so you will want to be sure that anything that might allow them to get high enough to reach the edges and escape their habitat are kept away from the sides of the habitat.

LIGHTING:  Turtles, as with all other animals need a day and night cycle on their lighting. This means that during the day time they should have their lights on and at night they should have darkness. Turtles REQUIRE UVB light in order to be able to get the nutrients they need out of their food and be healthy. UVB bulbs are available in a variety of styles and sizes. The main thing to remember is that after 3 months of use the UVB is not being produced by the bulb any longer even though the bulb still produces light, and so you will need to replace the bulb in 3 months. If you select a style of bulb and fixture which is compatible with other light fixtures in your home you will be able to use the bulb for light elsewhere even after having to change it for the turtles, and save money by not having to buy another as soon for the house. :) You can set the lights on a timer for the turtles if you like, or just do it the old fashioned way.

TEMPERATURE:  During the Summer the air temperature and the additional heat from their lights will probably be enough, but if you are not hibernating, (Bromating) the animals, which is not necessary, although it can be done with this species, then for cold months I recommend a water bed heating pad underneath the tank, water bed pads are easier to regulate to produce the right amount of heat under the tank and soil than other pads. With a habitat for one or two animals a pad for a twin bed works well, though you will have to let the place selling it to you think it is for a bed or they will not be allowed to sell it to you. A Note of care here, using a waterbed pad is safest with the plexi-glass tank, and not a plastic tub, which might melt. You will need to water plants in the habitat more often with the heat underneath on. The habitat is best kept between 80F-85F.

HIBERNATION:  IF you choose to hibernate your turtle, you will need to be careful and keep a close watch over it. A basement or garage work well for this. They will need to be kept in a location where the temperature can be kept at a constant 45F. Until the temperature is at this level you MUST NOT attempt to hibernate them. This may not happen until December so watch. Once this temperature has been achieved, you will need to do the following in preparation:

1) Stop feeding the turtles to be hibernated.

2) Reduce the temperature where the turtles are normally kept a little at a time.

3) Soak the turtles in shallow (2-3") of warm water every other day to encourage them to empty their digestive tracts.

4) Finally get a large plastic tub, fill it with leaves and other mulch (no cedar or pine they are toxic to reptiles), these should be slightly damp.

     Set the turtles on top, and they will burrow in. Finish filling the box 90% of the way with more mulch to retain humidity.

     Check on the turtles once a week, if any of them repeatedly come to the surface they may be ill and should be taken out and replaced into their normal habitat for the Winter so they will not die. A trip to the vet is also a good idea. PLEASE note that there are other species of turtles from other countries which CAN NOT hibernate and check before trying it with other species!

     Dig them out every 3 weeks and weight each of them and check for any signs or possible respiratory infection (bubbles or raspy breathing) if they show signs get them to the vet immediately or they will die horribly in pain. If they show a noticeable weight loss also contact the vet. Do this check as quickly and quietly as possible so they are not disturbed any more than avoidable, then as long as they are healthy replace them in the same location and position as you found them and recover them.

     Nine weeks is a sufficient hibernation period for these animals, and again it is not necessary to hibernate them unless you are planning on breeding them, in which case be prepared to incubate the eggs and keep any hatchlings for the first several years. It is ILLEGAL to sell or give away, or to own unless you are the breeder or a licensed rescue or shelter, any turtle less than 4" from the front to the back of the top shell.

     IF you do hibernate your turtle, you will need to be careful in bringing them out of hibernation too, warm them slowly, and after they are totally warmed up,( room temperature for hours or even a day) soak them in warm water for a while before offering them food.

OTHER:   You can take your turtle outside on the lawn, but never leave them unattended, this is how they get lost. They move much more quickly than most people think, and dig and burrow fast as well. Outside on warm days they can eat fresh lawn plants and even a few bugs if you make sure they are not getting lost or being attacked by dogs desiring to chew the bone of their shell. Always keep them in sight when outdoors!

     Always make sure that you have a qualified reptile veterinarian near by and the phone number handy. Most vets are not qualified to work on or with reptiles, so check ahead of time.

     If you have any questions or need any advice feel free to contact me by e-mail or phone. Can not afford to return long distance calls, so if your area code is other than 303 or 720 and you do not catch me by phone please try e-mail.

Barbara A Huggins

*******************************************************************

 

SECTION # 2:  TURTLES:

 

BASIC CARE OF:

WESTERN or ORNATE and THREE TOED BOX TURTLES

(Terepene ornata)

     This is a species of terrestrial or land turtle. They can NOT swim. The DO need to be able to dig. They are native to the USA and Colorado, and are capable of hibernating or "bromating", IF circumstances are correct.

HOUSING:  One or two turtles can be kept in a habitat 4' long by 2' wide and 1 high. This habitat may be constructed of glass or plexi-glass, or even plastic. This size allows the animals enough room to exercise and be healthy, while preventing them from climbing out and becoming lost or falling on their backs and dying. These materials are also non absorbant and easy to clean and sanitize when the need arises. DO not build their habitat of wood, because it will hold too much moisture and grow bacteria which can kill them. Larger habitats are better, this is the minimum size. Ideally an outdoor habitat would be desirable, and would offer more space and a more natural setting, but that is not something everyone has to offer.

SUBSTRATE:  It is crucial to the health of these animals that they have a naturalistic substrate in which they can dig and exercise. This substrate should be made of a mixture of reptile safe bark, sand, potting soil (without fertilizer) and smooth gravel, and should be between 4-6" deep. Turtles do poop , and the best way to keep this set up in good shape it so put live worms and live plants safe or the turtles to eat inside the habitat before placing the animals in it. Dandelions and the morning glory type vining plant growing wild all over Colorado are both very good plants for the animals to eat.

     You will need to add more worms and plants most likely about once a month because the turtles will eat both the worms and the plants and this is necessary to their diet. Hamburger should not be given to these animals it is too high in fat, and too low in other nutrients. Turtles also like meal worms, which can be offered along with bits of vegetables and fruits on saucers once or twice a week. Various types of hay should be available continuously as well.

FEEDING:  In addition to the above mentioned food items, here are several other things good to cut into smaller pieces and offer to the turtles:

Collard greens, Mustard greens, Turnip greens, green beans, green peas, carrots, straw berries, apples, pears, squash, green onions, cilantro, red grapes, alfalfa (hay or sprouts), timothy hay, clover (fresh or hay). Any of the fresh items left at the end of the day should be thrown away.

DECORATION:  Although turtles have shells, which are part of their bodies, with their back bones being grown into them, they like places to hide as well, and in this case their shells do not count to them. You can use either wooden hiding set ups, or else plastic dish tubs with the ends cut out rounded and the cut edges melted smooth. Larger flat type rocks are also nice since the turtles like to climb on things. Bear in mind that turtles will climb on each other, rocks, hides...and so you will want to be sure that anything that might allow them to get high enough to reach the edges and escape their habitat are kept away from the sides of the habitat.

LIGHTING:  Turtles, as with all other animals need a day and night cycle on their lighting. This means that during the day time they should have their lights on and at night they should have darkness. Turtles REQUIRE UVB light in order to be able to get the nutrients they need out of their food and be healthy. UVB bulbs are available in a variety of styles and sizes. The main thing to remember is that after 3 months of use the UVB is not being produced by the bulb any longer even though the bulb still produces light, and so you will need to replace the bulb in 3 months. If you select a style of bulb and fixture which is compatible with other light fixtures in your home you will be able to use the bulb for light elsewhere even after having to change it for the turtles, and save money by not having to buy another as soon for the house. :) You can set the lights on a timer for the turtles if you like, or just do it the old fashioned way.

TEMPERATURE:  During the Summer the air temperature and the additional heat from their lights will probably be enough, but if you are not hibernating, (Bromating) the animals, which is not necessary, although it can be done with this species, then for cold months I recommend a water bed heating pad underneath the tank, water bed pads are easier to regulate to produce the right amount of heat under the tank and soil than other pads. With a habitat for one or two animals a pad for a twin bed works well, though you will have to let the place selling it to you think it is for a bed or they will not be allowed to sell it to you. A Note of care here, using a waterbed pad is safest with the plexi-glass tank, and not a plastic tub, which might melt. You will need to water plants in the habitat more often with the heat underneath on. The habitat is best kept between 80F-85F.

HIBERNATION:  IF you choose to hibernate your turtle, you will need to be careful and keep a close watch over it. A basement or garage work well for this. They will need to be kept in a location where the temperature can be kept at a constant 45F. Until the temperature is at this level you MUST NOT attempt to hibernate them. This may not happen until December so watch. Once this temperature has been achieved, you will need to do the following in preparation:

1) Stop feeding the turtles to be hibernated.

2) Reduce the temperature where the turtles are normally kept a little at a time.

3) Soak the turtles in shallow (2-3") of warm water every other day to encourage them to empty their digestive tracts.

4) Finally get a large plastic tub, fill it with leaves and other mulch (no cedar or pine they are toxic to reptiles), these should be slightly damp.

     Set the turtles on top, and they will burrow in. Finish filling the box 90% of the way with more mulch to retain humidity.

     Check on the turtles once a week, if any of them repeatedly come to the surface they may be ill and should be taken out and replaced into their normal habitat for the Winter so they will not die. A trip to the vet is also a good idea. PLEASE note that there are other species of turtles from other countries which CAN NOT hibernate and check before trying it with other species!

     Dig them out every 3 weeks and weight each of them and check for any signs or possible respiratory infection (bubbles or raspy breathing) if they show signs get them to the vet immediately or they will die horribly in pain. If they show a noticeable weight loss also contact the vet. Do this check as quickly and quietly as possible so they are not disturbed any more than avoidable, then as long as they are healthy replace them in the same location and position as you found them and recover them.

     Nine weeks is a sufficient hibernation period for these animals, and again it is not necessary to hibernate them unless you are planning on breeding them, in which case be prepared to incubate the eggs and keep any hatchlings for the first several years. It is ILLEGAL to sell or give away, or to own unless you are the breeder or a licensed rescue or shelter, any turtle less than 4" from the front to the back of the top shell.

     IF you do hibernate your turtle, you will need to be careful in bringing them out of hibernation too, warm them slowly, and after they are totally warmed up,( room temperature for hours or even a day) soak them in warm water for a while before offering them food.

OTHER:   You can take your turtle outside on the lawn, but never leave them unattended, this is how they get lost. They move much more quickly than most people think, and dig and burrow fast as well. Outside on warm days they can eat fresh lawn plants and even a few bugs if you make sure they are not getting lost or being attacked by dogs desiring to chew the bone of their shell. Always keep them in sight when outdoors!

     Always make sure that you have a qualified reptile veterinarian near by and the phone number handy. Most vets are not qualified to work on or with reptiles, so check ahead of time.

     If you have any questions or need any advice feel free to contact me by e-mail or phone. Can not afford to return long distance calls, so if your area code is other than 303 or 720 and you do not catch me by phone please try e-mail.

Barbara A Huggins

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SECTION # 3:  AMPHIBIANS:

Basic care for:

Red Eyed Tree Frog

(Agalychnis callidryas)

     This species incredible coordination has earned it the nickname: Monkey Frog.

     The first thing you notice about these beautiful animals is their red eyes. They are nocturnal amphibians. When a red-eyed tree frog becomes bothered while it is sleeping, it opens its eyes and usually the red will scare off its predators. The body is usually green and is splashed with other colors like blues and yellows. The Red-eyed tree frog can change its color with its mood from a darker green to a reddish-brown. They have suction cup orange toes that help them to hang on to leaves. They are also dependant on water for most of their lives. They are from Costa Rica in Central America and in Southern Mexico. Males are usually smaller, about 2 inches in length, while a female may be 3 inches in length. They eat crickets, moths, flies, grass hoppers, and sometimes smaller frogs. The babies eat mostly fruit flies and pin head crickets.

     Reproduction of Red-eyed tree frogs takes place during the rainy season, between October and March. This usually happens near temporary or permanent ponds. Croaking or quivering usually initiates the courtship. Males attache themselves to the backs of females when the females eggs are mature. The female then goes to the underside of a leaf, which is over the water, and she holds on with her suction cup toes. The male fertilizes the eggs and will not leave until all are fertilized. There are normally between 30 and 50 of these small pale eggs. After each clutch of eggs emerges from the female, she must enter the water and fill her bladder with water or the next clutch of eggs will dry up and die. In 5 days the tadpoles wiggle their way down the leaf to the water below. It then takes the tadpoles 75-80 days to turn into frogs.

     Selecting a Red-eyed tree frog can actually be hard. You want to make sure that they are captive bred babies. Captive bred animals are always less stressed than wild caught ones. They don't usually have parasites and will adapt to captivity better. If all you can find are wild caught ones then look for a healthy one. Don't buy one that has any scratches or weird marks on it, or one that is awake in the daytime. These frogs are totally nocturnal, so if you find one awake during the daytime then there is a pretty good chance that there is something wrong with it.

     When you set up a habitat you should do it about two weeks before you get the frogs so that if you need to adjust the temperature or the substrate, you will be able to without harm to your frogs. For one or two frogs you only need a 10 gallon aquarium, but for a group of three or more animals you will need to use at least a 20 gallon extra high aquarium. Remember the higher the aquarium the better. Use a glass top on the aquarium to keep the humidity inside it for the rainy seasons, and a screened top for the dry seasons. Fill the bottom of the tank with 3-4 inches of fresh washed water gravel. Slope the gravel in one corner so that it now looks like a beach, then add de-chlorinated water to about 3 inches depth. Wash the plants of all potting soil if you are going to put them in the water. Philodendrons, and Pothos plants are the best ones for use in this animals habitat since they do well in a water environment. The broad leaves allow the animals places to climb about in a natural manner safely. On top of the higher gravel put down 2 inches of potting soil made specifically for use with African violets, peat moss, and live mosses. On top of that place sticks and branches all around. For lighting purposes you will need one full spectrum or UVB light, this light should be one every day in daytime and off every night for night time.

     Red-eyed tree frogs require 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The temperature in their habitat should be 76-85F during the day, and 66-77F at night. Humidity wise during the rainy season the tank should be at 80% humidity, and during the dry season the humidity in the tank should be between50-60%. The tank should be misted 3 times a week during the rainy season, and 1 time a week during the dry season with tap water which has been left sitting open over night to allow the chlorine...to evaporate out of it. Cleaning the tank is a must. You will need to clean it at least once a month, more often if you see any type of white residue on the glass. Remove the frogs to another safe container they can not escape from. Remove all the water, and rinse any of the loose gravel the best that you can with tap water that has set out over night. For the glass above the water line only, take 7 parts water to 1 part vinegar and scrub the glass trying not to get any below the water line, and dry it all off as well as possible. Then replace the loose gravel, and fill the tank back to the water line with tap water that has set out at least over night. Let the habitat sit for a couple of hours to finish air drying to get rid of any fumes from the vinegar, and you can then place your frogs back into their home.

     When feeding the frogs, it is best to start by putting in 3 crickets to each frog every 2-3 days. Be sure to check on them, if they are looking fat give them less food, and if they are looking skinny give them a couple more. You can also set a small dish such as a plastic jar lid inside the tank with meal worms in it.

Contribute by Tom Walsh

Tom is an experienced keeper of many different species of Reptiles and Amphibians

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SECTION # 4: LIZARDS:

Basic care for:

Green Anoles

(Anolis carolinensis)

The Green anole is the most popular and widely kept species of anole. It is the only anole native to the United States. Found throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and the keys of Florida. It is Diurnal, and arboreal, meaning that it is active during the day and likes high places in the trees. These are relatively small lizards, normally reaching from 5-8 inches in total length from nose to tail tip. Males are slightly larger than females. Both sexes may have dew laps, although the females do not always have them. The males dew laps are usually larger and more vividly colored, from bright white to hot pink in color. Some of these anoles have white zig zag stripes down their backs, this is usually found among the females, though sometimes males may have this marking. This species is also called North American Chameleons because they can change color, although not in the extreme sense that a true chameleon can. While true chameleons change color to blend with their surroundings and in reaction to threats from other animals, the anole changes color due to temperature and emotion only. An anole that is cold will be darker, as it warms up it will become lighter. Anoles that are excited or upset will also change color. In pet stores brown anoles are often mixed in with the green ones and all labeled as green anoles, brown ones can not change to a light green but darker and lighter browns. The care for both however is the same.

     Housing for these animals is relatively simple. A 10 gallon tank will work perfectly for even 10-15 of them. The tank must be clean with fresh water available at all times. Anoles can and will climb the glass, so a snug fitting top on the tank is an absolute necessity. They require a UVB or full spectrum light in order to properly digest the nutrition they need from their food, and this light should be on 12 hours a day during the daytime. Warmth is also required. The temperature inside the habitat during the day should be in the mid 80sF and at night in the upper 70sF. They are omnivorous eating both plant and meat.. Small to medium crickets or small meal worms are what you will need for the meat supply, and should be offered twice a week. Fruit flavored baby food on a shallow plastic jar lid offered once a week and removed when darkening will work well for the plant matter. As with the true chameleons they will not find stagnant or non moving water well, so the best thing is to use a drip system so that the water drips down onto leave whether silk or natural such as philodendrons. Place a drip system on the inside side of the tank, dripping onto leaves and have soft live moss underneath the leaves. You should also mist the tank once a day with tap water which has been left sitting open over night to allow chlorine... to evaporate out of it.

      The best substrate is reptile bark with sphagnum moss on top kept moist by the drip system and daily misting. During breeding season they will lay their eggs in the moss so it must be kept moist but not soaked.

      These are NOT lizards that can be handled well or easily. They are very fast, and very nervous. They can get away and lost very easily. When an anole gets away never grab it by its tail because they will break off, and do not grow back well, always try to grab the animal by its body. Also this is not a species with long lives, normally 1-5 years in captivity.

     Beginners can learn a lot about the necessary care of various other reptiles by keeping anoles successfully though because so many other reptiles come from rain forest type environments and have similar temperature and humidity requirements.

     On a side note: If the habitat is correct and there are both male and female animals in it then do not be surprised to find eggs in it during the breeding season. It is usually best to simply leave the eggs where they are. IF they hatch when you see baby lizards in the tank catch them and remove them to one of their own set up in the same way until they are of sufficient size that the adults will not be able to eat them. Baby anoles should be fed pin head crickets and fruit flies, along with fruit baby food.

Contributed to "Colored Lands News" by: Tom Walsh

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