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Ball Python (Python regius)
The ball python is quite simply the most popular pet python in the world. Ball pythons are generally a bit shy, but they make for ideal captives, because they are of a small size, are generally friendly, are manageable to care for, and come in a remarkable array of colors and patterns.
Ball pythons are native to central and western Africa and thrive in these warm, tropical areas. They are known as the royal python in many parts of the world and are revered in some areas of Africa.
Ball pythons make for a quality pet for the first-time keeper and experienced herpetoculturists alike. Each year, breeders create incredible, innovative, never-before-seen pattern and color variations that continually generate new fans of the ball python. With reptile health and wellness in mind, this species thrives in captivity. Ball Python Availability Ball pythons are quite easy to acquire. They are commonly available from pet stores, reptile breeders, reptile expos, and through online reptile shops and breeders. The best choice will always be captive born and bred snakes because they are usually parasite free and most likely the healthiest. Any ball python should be well-started and eating prior to purchase.
Ball Python Size
Ball python hatchlings are approximately 10 inches in length. Adult female ball pythons average 3 to 5 feet long, and adult male ball pythons average 2 to 3 feet in size. This is a species in which mature females are typically much larger than the males. A 5-foot ball python is considered big, although lengths of 6 feet or more have been reported.
Ball Python Life Span
With proper care, ball pythons can live 30 years or more. The record age for a ball python is more than 40 years – so plan on a long life for your new pet snake.
Ball Python Caging
Ball python enclosures can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to care for when it comes to snake habitat products. Remember that the more you put in the cage, the more you have to clean and disinfect on a regular basis. That said, there are different enclosures that work well for ball pythons, including, but not limited to, plastic sweaterboxes (i.e. Rubbermaid), melamine racks and any of the commercially available, plastic-type reptile cages. Glass reptile terrariums and tanks are adequate for ball pythons, but the screen tops on such enclosures can make it very difficult to maintain proper humidity levels.
Juvenile ball pythons seem to do well in small enclosures that make them feel secure. A small snake in a big cage can become overwhelmed and stressed. Adult ball pythons do not require exceptionally large or elaborate enclosures either. A 36-inch by 18-inch by 12-inch enclosure will more than comfortably house an adult ball python.
Spot-clean your ball python's enclosure as necessary. Remove feces and urates as soon as possible. You can use a specialized cleaner to be extra safe, such as the Flukers Eco Clean Waste Remover. Do a complete tear-down every 30 days by removing all substrate and reptile accessories and completely disinfecting with a 5 percent bleach solution. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly with water, and allow it to dry completely before replacing cage accessories and your snake.
The one cage accessory that is required for a happy ball python is a good hide box. . . maybe even a couple of them (such as the Zilla Habba Hut). Ball pythons are secretive snakes that appreciate and utilize hide spots. Provide one on each end of your python's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature and security. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpot trays and commercially available hide boxes all work well.
Reptile Heating & Lighting
Remember that enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the ball python can utilize, with a hotspot on one end of the enclosure and a cool spot on the other. Provide your ball python with a basking spot temperature of 88 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit and an ambient temperature of 78 to 80 degrees. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 degrees. It is vitally important to know the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake(s). Do not guess! A great way to monitor temperatures is to use a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe, such as the Zoo Med Digital Thermometer. Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once.
There are several types of snake heat lamps that help heat a ball python enclosure. Undercage heating pads and tapes like the Zilla heat pad, ceramic heat emitters (Flukers), basking bulbs (both regular daytime and red night bulbs) are just a few. With heat emitters and basking bulbs, it is crucial to keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Use thermostats, rheostats (Flukers Thermo-hygrometer) and/or reptile timers to control your heat source. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they can heat unevenly over too small of a surface area and can cause serious burns.
Supplemental lighting is not necessary for ball pythons, but if used should run on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially a nocturnal species such as the ball python. Ball pythons seem to prefer humidity levels of 50 to 60 percent. Maintaining proper humidity will allow your ball python to shed properly.
Newspapers and paper towels are the cheapest and easiest substrates for ball pythons with regards to cleaning and disinfecting – out with the old, in with the new. Cypress mulch and orchid bark are great substrates for controlling humidity, but remember that too much humidity can be as detrimental (if not more) as too little. Never use any substrate containing cedar, as it contains oils that can be deadly to reptiles! Avoid sand, shavings and peat bedding.
What Food to Feed a Ball Python Feed your ball python an appropriately sized rodent weekly. "Appropriately sized" means prey items that are no bigger in circumference than the ball python at its largest circumference. Ball pythons can eat rats from the time they are young – starting off with rat pups or "crawlers" at first and moving up in size as they grow. Do not handle your ball python for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation. Ball pythons can be fed frozen/thawed or pre-killed rodents. Never leave a live rodent unattended with any snake, as they can injure the snake.
Ball pythons are well-known for not eating at certain times throughout the year, particularly in the winter months. Be prepared for the possibility of your ball python going off feed, and keep an observant eye on the snake's overall condition and body weight. This is typically nothing to worry about with healthy, well-established pythons, although it can be extremely frustrating to the snakekeeper. If your ball python is healthy, continue your husbandry routine as usual, but keep the amount of handling to a minimum. Offer your ball python food every 10 to 14 days until it is interested in eating again, as the snake will eventually resume feeding normally.
Feed adult ball pythons every 1 to 2 weeks and younger ball pythons weekly as they need this energy to grow. Do not be alarmed if a well-started ball python goes off feed during the cooler, drier times of the year, as this is common in captivity. Snakes generally do not eat while they are in the shed cycle.
Ball Python Water
Always have fresh, clean water available for your ball python. Check the water daily. The size of the water dish is up to you. If it is large enough for the ball python to crawl in to and soak, sooner or later your snake will make the most of the opportunity – ball pythons seem to enjoy a nice soak from time to time. Ensure that the water bowl is not too deep for juvenile animals – 1 inch or so will suffice. Snakes of many species will defecate in their water bowls from time to time, so be prepared to clean and disinfect the water bowl. The water bowl should be cleaned and disinfected on a weekly basis. Having a spare water bowl for such occasions can be handy, so that one may be used while the other is being cleaned.
Ball Python Handling and Temperament
Ball pythons are generally shy and will spend much of their time hiding. Your ball python may initially see you as a threat and it must learn who you are. The goal is to establish trust between you and your snake.
Always support your ball python’s body and avoid fast movements. Once a ball python realizes that you will not hurt it they often seem to enjoy being handled. Some ball pythons may try to hide when handled and occasionally there are ones that may even bite due to excessive fear. These ball pythons may require a bit more time to settle in and establish trust. A ball python’s bite is a superficial wound. If a snake looks like it is going to strike, it is best to not handle it. Relax when holding your animal – sit down and give the animal a chance to settle.
Some snakes may not eat for several hours or longer after being handled, so avoid handling if you plan to feed. After a snake has eaten it may be a good idea to limit the handling because it may be uncomfortable for the animal. Avoid putting your snake’s cage in a heavy traffic area, excessive movement, and other pets should be avoided.
Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
The inland bearded dragon is generally considered one of the all-time best lizard pets. It is known for being alert, hardy and tame, and bearded dragon owners love watching their lizards, whether during a feeding frenzy while chasing crickets or simply interacting with each other. Bearded dragons exhibit interesting behaviors, too, such as “arm waving,” in which a female (and occasionally males) may lift a front leg in the air and “wave” it as a submissive gesture. The spiny “beard” from which the lizard gets its common name may also be extended, though it’s uncommon for tame captives to do so; dragons typically do this when alarmed.
Inland Bearded Dragon Availability
Bearded dragons are commonly available at stores, reptile expos and breeders’ websites. Captive-bred specimens are highly recommended because they are usually healthier and more acclimated to captivity than wild-caught animals. Various color morphs are available, too (though they’re more costly than “normal-colored” animals).
Inland Bearded Dragon Size
Hatchlings measure about 4 inches; large adults can be nearly 2 feet in length.
Bearded Dragon Lifespan
Average captive lifespan is between six and 10 years, though there are reports of specimens living twice that long.
Inland Bearded Dragon Caging Tips
While a hatchling dragon could live in a 20-gallon aquarium for a short time, it will quickly need a larger enclosure. A 75-gallon aquarium or equal-sized enclosure is OK for an adult dragon. Screening should be used for proper ventilation, whether as a top on an aquarium enclosure or in the construction of a custom enclosure. During warm weather bearded dragons can be kept in outdoor cages. Be sure the outdoor enclosure provides both sunny basking areas and shady retreats, as well as shelter from rain. Having access to the sun outdoors provides healthy UV. Bearded dragons like to climb, so some sturdy branches are welcome in their enclosures.
Inland Bearded Dragon Lighting and Temperature
Bearded dragons like it hot. A basking site of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit works well for them. The basking site can be provided by a spotlight positioned over a rock, branch, etc. at one end of the enclosure. Keeping the spotlight at one end of the cage will allow your dragon to thermoregulate (move between a cooler end of the enclosure and the hotter end with the basking area). The cooler end of the enclosure can be kept at about 80 degrees.
In addition to the basking spotlight, provide full-spectrum UVB (ultraviolet) lighting over the rest of the enclosure. This lighting is critically important for dragons that are kept indoors, as it assists them in synthesizing vitamin D3, which aids in calcium absorption. There are many types of lights available; consult with store employees and read the packaging to determine the best for your setup.
Heat can also be provided using heat tape, heat emitters and other devices available in pet stores. Keep a thermometer in the enclosure to track the cage temperature. At night, it can go down to about 65 degrees.
Inland Bearded Dragon Substrate
Sand is commonly used with bearded dragons, though there is concern, especially when keeping young lizards, that intestinal impaction could result if they accidentally eat some. It is not recommended that you keep young bearded dragons on sand, or any kind of loose substrate. Newspaper, paper toweling or reptile carpet (though watch for loose threads or areas that can snag dragon toenails) would be better choices.
Adult bearded dragons can be kept on these same substrates. If you must use sand, playground sand (available at hardware and do-it-yourself stores) is a decent choice due to the fact that it's not as dusty as other types of sand. You can also purchase digestible “reptile sand” at reptile and pet stores, though opinions on the safety of these are varied. If you try some, be sure to follow manufacturer directions. Sand mixed with clean soil that has not been treated with any fertilizers, pesticides, etc., can also be used with adult bearded dragons.
If you keep your bearded dragons on sand, reduce the risk of impaction by offering food on a shallow dish rather than placing it directly on the substrate.
Inland Bearded Dragon Food
Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they eat both animal and plant matter. They are not usually picky and eat with gusto. Insects, such as crickets and mealworms, should be dusted with a vitamin/mineral supplement and calcium. Dusting can be achieved by placing the insects in a plastic bag with some of the powder, and shaking the bag to lightly coat the insects prior to offering them to your lizards.
Also offer bearded dragons finely chopped veggies (such as romaine lettuce, zucchini, carrots, etc.), greens (collard, mustard, dandelion, etc.) and fruit (kiwi, banana, mango, etc.). Use healthy, vitamin-rich items; sprinkle the appropriate amount of powdered supplements on these foods, too. Avoid iceberg lettuce because it is not nutritious.
Bearded dragons will also eat pinky mice, and a wide variety of nutritionally balanced manufactured diets are available at pet stores, too. Again, if you keep your dragons on sand, offer food on a shallow dish rather than placing it directly on the substrate.
Water For Your Inland Bearded Dragon
Mist bearded dragons using a water spray bottle; they’ll lick water droplets off cage walls, rocks, etc., as well as themselves. Don’t overdo it; you don’t want their enclosure to get too wet and become humid. Offer water in a dish that is large enough for them to soak. Be sure to keep this dish and the water in it clean.
Inland Bearded Dragon Handling and Temperament
Bearded dragons are generally quite docile and will tolerate handling better than other lizard species. This is especially true of adults that have spent their entire lives in captivity (of course, there may be exceptions). It’s not unusual to visit a reptile expo and see fat and happy bearded dragons lounging amid merchandise at vendor tables, or perched on their owners’ shoulders.
This care sheet applies specifically to the Colombian boa constrictor, but can be applied to all localities and subspecies of Boa constrictor. Please conduct further research if keeping other subspecies.
Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator)
The Colombian boa constrictor is the most widely kept boa constrictor in the pet industry (there are nine accepted subspecies of Boa constrictor, and many localities of some subspecies). Other common names include the common boa and red-tailed boa, although the true red-tailed boa is Boa constrictor constrictor, which is larger and found in countries including Suriname, Guyana, Peru and Brazil. There may be B. c. constrictor in southeastern Colombia, but these are rarely seen in the reptile world. Colombian boas have become popular due to being docile and having more “personality,” in that they seem to be more curious about their surroundings than some other snakes. Colombian boa constrictors make great pets, and they are available in a vast array of appealing color and pattern morphs. Proper care can be provided even by beginner hobbyists, but due to their potentially large size and lengthy life span, boas are best suited for moderate- and advanced-level keepers. With reptile health and wellness prioritized, this care sheet should help ensure quality keeping of the Colombian Boa Constrictor.
Boa Constrictor Availability
Boa constrictors are readily available in the pet industry, and many breeders specialize in Colombian boa morphs. They have been bred in captivity for decades, and litters are born nearly all year. The majority of boa litters occur from May through August, so late summer and fall see the highest availability of babies. Sometimes they can be found in exotic shops or reptile shops online.
Prices vary greatly, depending on the type of boa constrictor you want, and where you purchase it. Wild-phase or normal-colored boas can sometimes be purchased for $60 to $75 at reptile shows, or $150 to $200 in retail stores. Low-color hypomelanistic (reduced black pigment) boas may be as low as $75 at reptile shows, but new and “designer” morphs can cost in excess of $5,000.
Be sure to purchase your boa from a reputable source. Look for active snakes lacking any retained shed skin, possible respiratory infection (auditory breathing can be a sign of this) or spinal kinks or deformities. Check for snake mites, which are small, black, parasites that resemble ticks.
Boa Constrictor Size
Female Colombian boa constrictors may reach 10 feet in length, though this is rare for B. c. imperator, and the average adult size for females is usually 6 to 8 feet. Males are smaller, usually 5 to 7 feet in length. Some Central American boa constrictors remain much smaller—if you would like a smaller boa constrictor, look into Central American locality types, such as those from Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Smaller subspecies include Boa c. longicauda and B. c. sabogae, though keep in mind that these localities and subspecies have not been bred in captivity as long as the Colombian boa, so they may not be as docile and could require extra attention to calm them down.
Boa Constrictor Life Span
Boas are very long-lived reptiles. There are documented cases of captive boas living longer than 40 years; however, the average captive life span is 20 to 30 years. Please consider this carefully before bringing a boa home.
Boa Constrictor Housing
Many caging options are available for boa constrictors. Reptile terrariums can be used, but reptile-specific plastic enclosures made from high-quality plastics that maintain proper humidity are much more suitable for boas than anything else. A rack system is something to consider should you advance into breeding boas, or if you plan to have many boas living with you. Custom enclosures are another option.
Young boa constrictors have simple needs; a large, beautifully decorated cage is not the best choice for them. While a new boa is acclimating, simple housing is preferred, and the enclosure should be prepared prior to your new boa’s arrival home. An appropriate first cage for a baby boa would be no larger than 30 inches long by 12 inches wide, in which it will feel very secure.
Naturally, as the young boa grows, a larger cage will be required. Boa constrictors are terrestrial and floor space is more important than height. Young boas may climb, but do so much less as they grow. Typical full-grown adult boas should be housed in cages no smaller than 4 feet long by 2 feet wide (with larger-than-average snakes in larger enclosures).
A hide box/shelter should be provided, which will allow the boa to feel safe and secure. There are many commercially manufactured types available for snake habitat products. The Zilla Habba Hut is one good option for reptile hides. Offer two hides, one on the warm side of the enclosure and one on the cool side. A stressed baby boa may stay on one side of the cage if only one hide is provided, which may discourage the snake from thermoregulating properly.
You may also provide rocks, sticks or other structures, but be sure they are positioned securely and free of parasites. A variety of reptile habitat accessories are available at stores or online.
Boa Constrictor Snake Lighting and Temperature
Boas control their body temperature through thermoregulation, and the cage should have a warm side and a cool side. This is very important! Do not place the heat source in the center of the cage, place it at one end. Then if the boa gets too warm, it will move toward the cooler side, and if it is too cool, it will move to the warmer side. That’s thermoregulation!
The temperatures in the cool end your boa cage should not drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The warm side should be 85 degrees, with a hot spot of 90 degrees provided by an under-cage heating device that will provide “belly heat.” Boa constrictors greatly prefer this, so they can coil over the rising heat.
Belly heat can be provided using various devices. Under-tank heaters are the most readily available, such as a Zilla heat pad. Heat cable and heat tape are other possibilities. Any heating device should be controlled with a proportional thermostat or rheostat, such as the Zilla heat and temperature controller. Some heat sources, especially heat tape, can get too hot for some enclosures, and they must be regulated not just for the boa’s safety, but yours, too. If using these devices, especially if you’re using a glass enclosure such as an aquarium, be sure some ventilation is provided around the heat source. If heat builds up, it can crack the bottom of a glass tank, or cause other caging materials to melt or overheat.
Overhead lighting is not usually needed. If an overhead bulb is used, it should be placed directly over the source of the belly heat. Be sure to check the temperature of your hot spot while the bulb is on. If the belly heat being provided from the under-enclosure device is not warm enough, overhead lighting will assist in maintaining a proper hot spot, but overhead lighting or an overhead heating device alone is not recommended for boas.
A low-wattage fluorescent bulb, such as the Exo Terra natural daylight reptile lamp, can be used to provide a photoperiod (day/night cycle) and to better observe your boa. Full-spectrum bulbs with UVB like the Solar Glo all in one reptile lamp, may provide physical and physiological benefits to boas, but this has not been proven. UVB lighting is not needed for the proper care of boas, and the vast majority of boa keepers do not use it. Still, it won’t harm your boa, so feel free to provide it just in case there is some benefit.
Boa Constrictor Snake Substrate
Boas can be kept on several types of substrate. Newspaper, aspen, white or brown butcher/wrapping paper, and cage carpet are the most often used substrates. Fir and cypress barks are also acceptable but not often used by breeders. If using cypress bark or mulch, be sure it does not become too damp as it holds humidity very well. When using aspen bedding or carpet, the cage can be spot cleaned often, with a full change occurring as needed. If using paper, the entire substrate should be changed each time cage cleaning occurs.
Boa Constrictor Food
It is very important to allow your new boa to acclimate to its new surroundings before feeding. Never attempt to feed a new boa for at least five days after you bring it home. I assure you your new boa will be fine without food during this time. If you feed it too soon, while it may still be stressed from the move to your home, the snake may regurgitate. If this occurs, be sure your temperatures are correct, and do not attempt to feed the boa again for two weeks. The most common causes of regurgitation are improper temperature and stress from being handled, so be sure you provide proper cage temperatures and do not excessively handle boas after meals.
Never feed a new boa constrictor a meal that is larger than the snake’s mid-body girth. It should never exhibit a bulge after eating. Especially in young boas, a meal that is too large may lead to regurgitation. An established boa will handle a meal resulting in a small bulge just fine.
Pet boa constrictors should be fed only quality mice or rats. They need no additional food or supplementation. Be sure you buy your rodents from a good source to prevent disease and mites. Boas 2 years old and younger should be fed one appropriately sized rodent every seven to 10 days. Excessive feeding may lead to regurgitation, improper growth, and even premature death. Once boas near adulthood, they will thrive while being fed every 10 to 14 days. It is okay to feed your boa more or less often, but be sure to monitor weight so the boa does not become obese or underweight.
Most boa constrictors available as pets will be eating frozen/thawed prey. If you purchase one that is eating live rodents, it will often take frozen/thawed prey that is presented from a pair of tongs. Pre-killed rodents are always best, whether they are frozen/thawed or freshly killed, because live rodents may harm your boa. If your snake does not kill its prey (boas will not eat if they are not hungry or are kept under improper conditions), the rodent may bite or even kill your boa. Even if the boa does constrict its prey, the rodent may bite before it is killed. Never leave your boa unattended with live rodents.
Boa Constrictor Water and Humidity
A water bowl is a necessity. This allows your boa a place to drink and helps provide the proper humidity for your boa. The humidity in the cage should be 60 to 70 percent; use a hygrometer (humidity gauge) to track the percentage.
Water must always be clean and should be changed as needed and the bowl cleaned. Some boa constrictors will defecate or urinate in the water, which must be cleaned immediately if this occurs. Be sure to scrub and rinse the bowl, using an antibacterial dish soap and hot water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, and run the water bowl through your dishwasher monthly if possible. Disposable forms of water bowls, such as deli cups, are another option.
Young boas will often soak before or during a shed cycle. This aids in shedding their skin, but usually occurs only when proper cage humidity is not being met. A boa that is constantly in the water bowl usually indicates the humidity is too low, the temperature is too high, or the boa has mites.
After a shed, be sure to check the tip of your boa’s tail. Young boas will sometimes retain a small piece of shed skin there. If caught soon after the shed, this old skin is usually easy to remove by gently pulling the skin off. Always be careful when attempting this. If it’s sticking, usually a dip in warm water will make removal easy. This skin retention does not necessarily mean you have husbandry issues. Sometimes the skin simply tears before the shed is removed completely. If you notice retained skin on other areas of your boa’s body, you may need to adjust the humidity levels.
Shedding issues are usually a result of insufficient humidity. A soak or two during the shed cycle will greatly help if you are experiencing low-humidity issues. Place a quarter-inch of warm water in an appropriately sized plastic container, and place your boa inside with a secure lid in place. Then place the container in your boa’s cage, positioned so the inside of the container has a warm side and cool side. This will keep the water warm and the humidity high. Do not place it directly over the belly heat or under a basking bulb. A few holes in the lid or sides of the container will provide ventilation. Soak your boa in the container for up to an hour (two hours if you’re combating a particularly tough shed) and repeat as necessary. Be sure to check on your boa regularly, as they will often defecate while soaking. Change the water and clean the container if this occurs. At end of the shed cycle, remove the water and place a small towel in the container so your boa can rub on it to help shed its old skin.
Boa Constrictor Handling and Temperament
Boa constrictors are usually very docile and tolerate handling very well. They often seem to enjoy being held and will seek out an area on your arm or shoulders and enjoy your body warmth. They may crawl around for a few minutes before hunkering down to grab some heat.
If your boa seems to have a bad attitude, check its enclosure temperatures, humidity levels and overall husbandry. Most boas calm quickly after repeated sessions of being handled. The boa constrictor makes a great pet for reptile hobbyists of all levels, and it remains a cornerstone in the reptile community. Personally, I believe boa constrictors are as good as it gets in the snake world.
The vibrant and unusual-looking tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is a well-known, but poorly understood, species. Heavy-bodied and nocturnal, these tropical animals have a reputation for being aggressive, hard to handle and apt to bite. However, they can be the ideal captive for a patient geckokeeper. They are fascinating to observe, and with a little invested time, they can be tamed into tractable little beasts.
Tokay Gecko Enclosure
Inhabiting much of Southeast Asia, including areas populated by people, tokay geckos can grow up to 15 inches long. They are estimated to live about 10 years in captivity. They do best in enclosures mimicking their natural environment, and providing them with adequate space and hiding spots. Tokays can be kept in planted vivaria, but they may unleash their destructive fury in smaller-sized enclosures with delicate decorations. A simple setup works well. Tokays are arboreal and appreciate space. A 10-gallon aquarium is sufficient for a single animal, and a 20-gallon long tank or larger is OK for a pair. But the optimal enclosure size for a pair measures 21⁄2 feet long, 1 foot wide and 2 to 21⁄2 feet tall. Newspaper is effective as a substrate. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it’s easy to maintain. Cypress mulch or orchid bark may be used to help maintain humidity. Coco peat and sphagnum moss also work, but they may stick to the animal in damp conditions. A protective layer of long-fiber sphagnum moss over such bedding prevents things from becoming too messy. A 3- to 4-inch layer of substrate that can be misted to increase ambient humidity makes for effective bedding. Tokays love a cluttered cage. They appreciate live and artificial plants, sticks, driftwood, caves, and pretty much anything they can climb on or hide in. Safe hiding places are essential for tokay geckos. They need a secure area where they can sleep during the day and not feel threatened. Fake caves, hide boxes, tunnels, logs, and PVC or bamboo tubes make good hides. I like to provide several within the enclosure to give the animals a chance to choose according to temperature and security. At least provide one near the heat source and another away from the hotspot. Tokays generally seem to like tightfitting hides, so an adult is more likely to appreciate a piece of PVC 11⁄2 to 2 inches in diameter than one 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Baby geckos seem to enjoy hiding in small cracks. Once a gecko gets in its hide area, it may be difficult to get it out. Provide a water dish in a cage corner. Prevent feeder insects from drowning by placing a small object, such as a sponge or stone, in it that allows them to climb out of the water. Tokay geckos may ignore the bowl, so additional water spraying is essential.
Tokay Gecko Humidity Requirements
Tokays require high humidity and good ventilation. They will not survive in a constantly wet or damp environment. High humidity with inadequate ventilation can cause fungal or bacterial issues. They must be able to dry out, but if kept too dry, they suffer from stuck sheds, which can be difficult to remove, especially around the toe pads. Keep humidity between 60 and 80 percent, and use a screen cover that allows the cage to breathe. Spraying the cage just before the lights go off raises cage humidity by imitating a short rainstorm. It also is a good way to ensure that your lizard gets enough water. Droplets collect on fixtures and give the gecko an opportunity to drink. Many of my tokays do not like to be sprayed directly and protest if they get wet. Some seem less offended by a fine water spray and may even enjoy it. The trick is to spray down the enclosure enough so water droplets remain for a few hours, yet the enclosure dries out overnight. If it is too wet and the animals remain damp or cold, they will not thrive. If there is not enough water spray, then they may fail to drink and become dehydrated in low humidity situations. Utilizing a dripper system is another way to provide water. These systems work well with many lizard species. Optimal ambient air temperatures for tokays are between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but the geckos tolerate nighttime drops down into the mid-70s. A basking spot of 90 to 105 degrees is ideal. Monitor it with a thermometer. Red light bulbs or ceramic heat emitters create effective basking spots for this nocturnal species. Do not use spotlights that focus UVA heat; they may burn the lizard. Tokay geckos spend much of their time hiding or sleeping during daylight hours. Once the lights go out and the animal is comfortable, it investigates its environment. My tokays become active a few minutes after the lights go out. Keepers who visit their tokays at night may notice that they can be heard rushing back to their retreat until the “danger” passes. Generally, 12 to 14 hours of daylight and a subsequent night cycle is effective for this species. A UVB-emitting fluorescent can provide this daylight, but don’t leave bulbs on continuously. This may stress lizards and disturb their secretive nature. I have found that my tokays like to bask near UVB coil bulbs. In the wild I assume this species exposes parts of its body to natural sunlight to help regulate vitamin D3, which is essential for many lizard species’ well-being and health.
Tokay Gecko Food
Opportunistic feeders, tokay geckos consume just about anything they can overpower. In the wild much of their diet consists of insects and other lizards. In captivity they do well on a mix of crickets, mealworms, roaches, waxworms, hornworms, silkworms and small mice. Some captives can be trained to eat defrosted fuzzies from tongs. This is a great way to bulk up your pet. Gut load all feeder insects to ensure the most complete nutrition because the gecko benefits from the insect’s last meal. Use a mix of leafy greens, vegetables, fruit and commercial gut-loading products for your feeder insects. Dust feeders at least once a week with powdered calcium to ensure a calcium and mineral source for tokays. If your geckos are not exposed to UVB lighting, use calcium with vitamin D3, which is commonly used for nocturnal lizard species. This ensures proper bone growth and a healthy nervous system for the lizard. Placing a shallow dish filled with a supplement in a corner of the cage is a good idea. Many lizards will visit the dish and take what they need. I prefer ultrafine calcium powder that is nearly tasteless and sticks well to crickets.
Honor Social Codes
Immature captive-bred males generally tolerate each other but not when they get older. As they mature, the strongest male chases away all rivals in his territory. The subordinate male often becomes injured or suddenly fails to thrive. Don’t house mature adult males together because injury or death is often the result. Note that established adult females that have laid eggs in a cage often attack, injure or kill new females added later, too. The classic tokay vocalization is a male announcing his presence to rival males and calling to lure females. In fact, the sound mimics their name when they call out “toke-kay. If you are setting up animals, a male and female pair displaying the least amount of aggression toward each other is best. Some animals just do not like each other. It is important to recognize conflict among cagemates and to remove incompatible animals when necessary. Trios of one male and two females can work, too, but set up new trios at the same time. I have made the mistake of adding an additional female to an established male-female pair. By the next morning the new female was nearly dead from her injuries as the pair tried to drive her out of their territory. In the wild male tokays are very territorial, but they allow females into their territory to mate, lay a clutch of eggs, leave, and return to mate and lay more eggs. Males generally guard the eggs in this situation. In captivity both males and females typically guard the eggs. I believe that pairs often bond, and this is a great sign that the pair is compatible. In these cases, do not add more animals to the cage.
Can You Tame A Tokay Gecko?
Tokays can be difficult to handle without one freaking out, escaping, running up the wall or biting the handler. They are amazingly powerful and fast, and their sophisticated toe pads allow them to adhere to almost anything. Your objective is to have short, positive sessions with the lizard where it sits on your hand without you restraining or hurting it.The golden rule of tokay handling is to build trust with the lizard. If you are trying to tame this beast, you cannot grab it behind the head and manhandle it. I generally try to coax the animal out of its hide and onto my hand. Always keep your hand flat, and keep it under the lizard so you don’t get bitten. Generally tokays explode from their hides and run in all directions. At this point the trick is to get the lizard back onto your hand and hold it over your head. Your eyes are intimidating, and if you put the lizard above you, it may decide that your hand is a good place to collect its thoughts. Once your gecko is sitting on your hand, lightly stroke the underside of its tail with your other hand. Do this for a few minutes, and then calmly put the lizard back into its cage. However, be aware it may freak out and bolt, launching into the air and landing on the floor. Position yourself somewhere it won’t get hurt. It also helps to handle your gecko in an area where it cannot escape or hide behind something. At first, returning tokays to their enclosures without incident may seem impossible, but it takes patience and nerves to gain the trust of this species. As you do, the lizard starts to realize that you are not hurting it.
As the gecko calms, you can eventually bring it down to body level while still stroking the underside of its tail and very gently coax it to walk from the back of one hand to the other. A walking gecko is a very good sign that the animal is calming down and thinking. Once you can get your tokay to walk on your hands or arm, observe whether it licks as it walks, tasting its environment. If you see this, you are very close to having a friendly tokay. Tokay geckos are terrified and mistrusting, but with good cause. This species is collected from the wild in great numbers tosatisfy some cultures’ medicinal beliefs. They are mounted on sticks, dried and sold as a cure-all. The entire process is extremely cruel without a lick of science to validate the gecko’s medicinal values. Some animals are also collected for the pet trade and undergo a terrifying process before they ever end up in a vivarium. In my opinion tokays are intelligent, reactive and inquisitive. To tame one, you have to convince the lizard that you mean it no harm. Otherwise it will try to defend itself or flee from you.Once tame, this species is reluctant to bite, and it can be handled much like a leopard gecko. A friendly captive tokay gecko is both an accomplishment and proof of your geckokeeping skills.
Tokay geckos are not the easiest lizards to sex. They should have adequate conditioning first. The lizards tend to writhe and wiggle when restrained, so accurate sexing is difficult if one is unfamiliar with the process.Sex mature animals by looking for the presence of femoral pores. Turn the animal over while carefully securing the lizard behind its head. Observing tokays kept in glass-walled cages can give a keeper a good look at the ventral surface of the lizard while leaving the animal undisturbed. Although identifying a male’s enlarged pores is the most definitive sexing method, males also tend to grow larger, and they have proportionately wider heads than females. In addition to femoral pore sexing, check the pair of anal pores beneath the lizard’s vent. Males have larger pores, but a female’s are smaller and less obvious.
Admire Their Qualities
Tokay geckos are not the simple lizards some herpkeepers may think they are. Seemingly aware of their surroundings and circumstances, they have proven to be high-strung due to above-average intelligence. To me, tokay geckos are similar to reticulated pythons: Known to be aggressive, they are alert, high-strung and challenging to keep.
Tokay geckos are infamous for biting. Generally there are two types of bites. One is a warning bite where the lizard stands its ground while your hand invades its territory, the enclosure. Although generally ferocious in appearance, this bite causes only superficial damage. Little or no bleeding is the result. Remember, the gecko is trying to scare you away and does so by showing you it means business. The behavior seems more common with males than females. The second type of bite is the defensive bite, which generally occurs when you grab the gecko with your hands. At this point you have “attacked” the lizard, and it will bite to defend itself. It may clamp down on anything it can grab — and not let go. This bite is often both painful and long-lived. Tokays have incredibly strong jaws and sharp little teeth. The best course of action with such a bite is to release your grasp on the animal, and place it on a surface where it feels it has a chance to dash away. Hold still and wait; once it feels it can get away, it is more likely to let go. Tokays may be a much greater challenge than leopard or crested geckos, but these colorful gems are worth the effort. These days they come in a variety of morphs.
California Kingsnake - Lampropeltis getula californiae
California kingsnakes are one of the most commonly kept pet snakes, and for good reason. Meeting kingsnake captive requirements is easy when you prioritize reptile health and wellness, quality husbandry, and proper snake supplies. The California kingsnake is one of many subspecies of the common kingsnake. Kingsnakes range from coast to coast and north to south in all 48 contiguous United States. When a snake has this broad of a distribution, and lives in so many habitats and conditions, it is a good indicator that it will adapt easily to a life in captivity.
The California kingsnake occurs in California and touches the neighboring states of Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Baja California. It is one of the first snakes to be bred regularly in captivity and many patterns and morphs have been developed.
California Kingsnake Availability
California kingsnakes are still common in the wild (check for state laws regulating collecting from the wild) in many areas. However, it is advantageous to get a captive-bred, parasite-free, established (feeding on rodents) kingsnake with lineage and genetic traits records. Captive-bred California kingsnakes can be purchased at pet shops, reptile shows, from breeders, and sometimes at online reptile shops.California Kingsnake Size California kingsnakes hatch from their eggs at 8 to 12 inches. Maximum adult size for California kingsnakes is more than 6 feet in length, although average size is 3 to 4 feet. California kingsnakes are not a bulky or heavy snake, so they seem smaller than they actually are.
California Kingsnake Life Span
California kingsnakes often live for more than 20 years. Females California kingsnakes often produce fertile eggs into their low teens.
California Kingsnake Caging
A general rule is that if the snake crawls around the perimeter of the cage and doesn't cover more than 2/3 of the distance, the cage is large enough – but bigger is better. A baby California kingsnake can live in a shoebox-sized cage for several months until it outgrows it. An adult California kingsnake requires a 20-gallon reptile terrarium or larger enclosure. Be sure it has a secure, escape-proof opening. If there is a weakness, the kingsnake will find it and escape!California kingsnakes will eat other snakes and should be kept alone or in breeding groups of no more than one male and several adult females. Warning: Do not raise juvenile California kingsnakes together, they could eat each other. Wait until adult size, more than 2 feet, to introduce and watch them to be sure of nonaggression. Separate to feed and keep separate for a few hours.
California Kingsnake Lighting and Temperature
California kingsnakes require no special lighting if the cage is in a room with natural light. Be sure not to place the cage in or near a window where the sun will shine on the cage, or it can become too hot and fatal for your kingsnake.
California kingsnakes thermoregulate in the wild. They move about to find and maintain (when they can) a preferred temperature. Being "cold blooded" they become the temperature of their surroundings. In captivity, choices are limited to what you provide so you should have a warm end and a cool end of your cage.
There are many heaters, pads, cables and tape available from dealers to accomplish this. Some people use lights for heat, but this is not an efficient use of energy and has disadvantages. For instance, you could warm the air with the light, but the floor could still be too cool for the snake. Try to achieve 85 degrees Fahrenheit at one end and in the 70s at the cool end. Do not use "hot rocks," the heat is too centralized and can cause burns. If you are looking for a heat pad to use, the Zilla Heat Mats Reptile Terrarium Heater with a Zilla Terrarium Heat and Habitat Controller. California Kingsnake Substrate Many commercial substrates and beddings for reptiles are available. Avoid cat litter and any chemically treated substrates and oily woods. General rule, if it looks good and doesn't give off a smell, it is OK. Feed your California kingsnake in a separate container if the substrate could be ingested while feeding. Newspaper, paper towels and indoor carpet are fine, but if the snake can't partially burrow in your substrate, you might consider a hide (Zoo Med Habba Hut) or two in the cage for security. I have personally used washed Calci-Sand for adults and kiln-dried pine shavings for juveniles for many years and have never had any problem.
California Kingsnake Food
In the wild, California kingsnakes will eat just about any animal or bird small enough to be overpowered and swallowed whole, including rattlesnakes. In captivity they should be fed rodents, usually mice, which are readily available. You can offer live reptile food or well-thawed frozen mice. Live adult mice can inflict wounds to your kingsnake. Fresh killed is a safer choice.
The mouse should leave a lump in the kingsnake a little larger than the snake’s normal diameter mid body. Until the snake is established with you, do not handle it until the lump has digested down to normal diameter of the snake. Feeding once a week will maintain your California kingsnake, but the snake will grow faster if you feed it twice a week or more, if it will take it. Once the kingsnake reaches adult size, avoid obesity. Reduce feeding if necessary.
California Kingsnake Water
Provide a fresh water bowl that is deep enough that when the bowl is half filled and the snake goes in to soak, the water will not overflow into the cage. You want a dry cage. If the humidity increases in the cage to where it looks or feels moist, remove the water and only offer it a couple days a week. Clean the water bowl as needed.
California Kingsnake Handling and Temperament
Even though California kingsnakes have been captive bred for generations, your snake is still wild by nature. Your new kingsnake might take a defensive stance and shake its tail and strike at you. It may defecate or urinate on you when you pick it up. This potential behavior is a natural, wild response to discourage you (a potential predator) from eating it. It is afraid!
With regular, gentle handling, your California kingsnake should settle in and make a great pet. Hand over hand, staying away from its face, with gentle friction to slow forward progress, is the preferred method for beginning handling.
Don't handle your snake when it is about to shed. The way to detect this is that their eyes will look "milky" or bluish. After a few days they will clear and a few days after that the snake should crawl out of its entire skin (shed, slough). This care sheet is a very brief overview of a subject that would require an entire book to fully cover. Be sure to consult experts if you have further questions or have any problems. Enjoy your California kingsnake!
Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
Tokyo is the capital of Japan.
House geckos, also known as Mediterranean geckos, are great reptiles for beginners as well as experienced reptile owners as they are cheap to buy and easy to care for. These hardy little lizards are named after their propensity to hide and live indoors, making them ideal pets for an enclosure in your home. House geckos live an average of five to ten years, but you can take steps to care for your gecko properly and ensure she has a long life.
Housing Your Gecko
Provide a 5–10 gallon (18.9–37.9 L) tank for your gecko. One single house gecko does not need much space to be happy and healthy. A deeper tank, with high walls, is ideal for a gecko. Use a glass tank with a screen lid so the gecko gets enough ventilation in his tank.
If you decide to keep more than one gecko at a time, you should add five gallons to the space per gecko. So, for two geckos you will need a 10 gallon (37.9 L) tank, for three geckos you will need a 15 gallon (56.8 L) tank, for four geckos you will need a 20 gallon (75.7 L) tank, and so on.
Never house more than one male in the same tank as they may fight. As well, if you decide to keep female and male geckos together, be prepared for them to breed and produce baby geckos. You may need to move your expanding population of geckos to a larger tank to make sure there is enough room for the adult and baby geckos.
Make sure the tank has a heat gradient. Heat is a very important part in a reptile’s life; if a reptile does not have enough heat they may become inactive and could fall ill. If a reptile has too much heat they may overheat and become sick or die. Your house gecko’s tank should have a heat gradient, with a heat lamp at one end of the tank. This will allow your gecko to get heat during the day and less heat at night, when you shut off the heat lamp.
The tank’s overall temperature should be around 85ºF-90ºF (29ºC–32ºC) at the warm end and about 78ºF-80ºF(25ºC–27ºC) at the cool end. Night temperatures should stay around 78ºF-80ºF(25ºC–27ºC). Make sure you provide a cool and a warm end in their enclosure to assist with thermal regulation.
Appropriate temperatures can be achieved by using a small low wattage heat lamp on one end of the of the tank. You may also use a side or under tank heater for your tank. Keep the heat lamp on for 12 hours a day and then turn it off at night. You can also use a blue heat lamp may to control nighttime temperatures.
Do not use a heat rock as they are outdated and can cause severe burns and even death. You do not need to use UV lighting for house geckos as they are nocturnal.
Put substrate at the bottom of the tank. Substrate at the bottom of the tank will help to keep the environment humid and hot, just how your gecko likes it. You can use a simple and low maintenance option for substrate, such as paper towels or newspaper. You can also splurge for a more natural looking option, such as organic potting soil, cypress mulch, bark, or leaf litter.
The substrate should be at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep as geckos typically create a small divot or burrow for their eggs.
Do not use sand or pebbles as substrate for the tank, as you gecko can end up trying to eat it and become sick.
Change the paper substrate two to three times a week. If you are using particulate substrate, like mulch or bark, spot clean them once a day and replace all the substrate once a month.
Add in plants and hiding spots. Live plants and artificial plants provide lots of climbing spots for your gecko. Live plants also help to increase the humidity of the tank, an ideal environment for your gecko to thrive in.
Because house geckos are nocturnal, they will need a place to sleep and hide at night. You can buy hiding structures, often made of cork, from your local pet store. Buy two hiding structures and place one on the cool side of the tank and one on the warm side. This will give your gecko the option of cooling down or warming up. Try to have at least two hides per gecko.
Mist the tank once a day to keep the humidity up. House geckos are tropical species and they respond well to a humid environment, about 70% - 90% humidity. You can ensure the tank stays humid by misting the tank with water once to twice a day. Use a clean misting bottle and fresh chlorine free water. Aim the bottle at the sides of the tank to ensure it is moistened.
You can also set up an automatic mister in your tank that releases a spray of water on a daily basis. Look for automatic misters at your local pet store.
Feeding Your Gecko
Give your gecko fresh water every day. Provide a small, shallow water bowl for your gecko and fill it with fresh, chlorine free water once a day. The water dish should go on the cool side of the tank. Your gecko may drink from it and/or use it as a spot to bath. Most geckos will drink water droplets from daily misting, rather than from their water bowl.
Always give your gecko de-chlorinated water, as distilled water can cause medical issues for your gecko due to its lack of nutrients and minerals. Avoid giving your gecko untreated tap water, as it can be unhealthy for your gecko.
Feed your gecko protein rich meals. A baby gecko, or young gecko, will need to be fed five to six times a week. Your gecko should have a diet that is high in protein, consisting of crickets, mealworms, waxworms, silkworms, and roaches. The insects should be no longer than the width of your gecko’s head to ensure he can stomach them. If any uneaten insects survive, somehow, and are roaming around in the tank, remove them, as they can end up chewing on your gecko’s skin and eyes.
You should gut load the insects, feeding them a nutritious diet about 24 hours before offering them to your gecko. Then, give the gut loaded insects to your gecko. Do not give your gecko wild caught insects, as they can carry diseases.
Add supplements to your gecko’s food. You should dust your gecko’s food with a calcium supplement before giving it to him. A growing gecko should be dusted more often than an adult gecko. You can ask your veterinarian for exact instructions on how much supplement you should dust on your gecko’s food to avoid over-supplementing the food.
Opt for a calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D3 and dust it on two to three time a week. Do not use a calcium supplement with added phosphorous, unless specified by your vet.