ValueAquatics The world’s rarest snake back from the brink of extinction

Fifteen years ago, the future looked bleak for the Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae), the world’s rarest snake. In 1995 just 50 of the creatures survived on the isolated 8.4-hectare Great Bird Island off of Antigua in the Caribbean. Introduced mongooses had wiped out the species on Antigua itself; invasive rats almost did the same trick on Great Bird.

Black rats came to the Caribbean on ships. Plantation owners released the mongooses in the 1890s to kill snakes in their fields.

But today there is good news. Six conservation groups teamed up to boost the population of the Antiguan racer, and now the snake’s population has grown 10-fold to 500 individuals. Its habitat, meanwhile, has expanded to other islands and a total of 63 hectares.

Achieving this required efforts on multiple fronts: The snakes required a captive-breeding program as well as another program to reintroduce them into new habitats. Locals had to be convinced not to fear and kill the harmless snakes. Most of all, conservation groups needed to rid the island of the invasive black rats, a feat they accomplished not just on Great Bird Island but 11 other offshore islands.

“Many people have contributed over the years, but special credit must go to the local volunteers” who monitor the snakes and help keep the islands rat free, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) senior conservation biologist Jenny Daltry said in a prepared statement. “This success is a testament to their dedication.”

Almost all of the racers in the wild are implanted with microchips to help monitor their health.

Removing the rats has done more than help the Antiguan racer—it has also benefited Great Bird Island’s other wildlife. According to FFI, which founded the Antiguan Racer Conservation Project, the number of birds on the island has increased more than 500 percent, sea turtle and lizard populations are on the rise, and even plant species have recovered.

The Antiguan racer isn’t out of the woods yet. They are still severely inbred, making them prone to infection, and conservationists need to keep circulating the snakes among their population groups to help expand their genetic diversity. Meanwhile, Great Bird Island, like many of the racers’ new habitats, is just a tiny cay—a sandy island on the surface ofcoral reefs, which could disappear if global sea levels rise. But for now, at least, this is a rare case of an endangered species that has a chance at survival, thanks to the efforts of the people determined to save it.

Lygodactylus Williamsi (Williams´ Dwarf Gecko)

ValueAquatics care SHEET           Lygodactylus Williamsi (Williams´ Dwarf Gecko)  
 

Equipment for keeping      Williams´ Dwarf Gecko

Terrarium: A trio 1 male two females PT2602 Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 30x30x45cm

Lighting for the PT-2602: Compact Terrarium Canopy PT2225+ Bulb PT-2186 Repto Glo 5.0 Compact NEW 13W   Heating:  The bulbs when on should give enough heat. A heat mat a Royce 7×12” with a Habistat Mat Stat  

Substrate: Orchid Bark  

Décor: Vines, Plants PT-3040 – 3052. Branches well secured, Pool Bark Effect small

Vitamins: Exo Terra Ca+D3 and Exo Terra multi vitamin powder

Lygodactylus Williamsi (Williams´ Dwarf Gecko)
Common name: Williams´ Dwarf Gecko, Electric Blue Gecko
Size: 6- 10cm (2.5-4”)Description: Males are bright blue with heavy black throat stripes, and visible preanal pores and hemipenal bulges. The females range from brown or bronze to bright green, and have little to no black on their throat. Females can easily be confused with juvenile or socially suppressed males that are also green, sometimes with a bluish cast. The underside of both sexes is orange. Colours of individuals vary according to mood and temperature—males may range from black or grey to brilliant electric blue. Females may range from dark brown to brilliant green with turquoise. Like all Lygodactylus and Phelsuma genus geckos, this species is diurnal. L. williamsi are bold, active, social, and males are territorial. Social gestures include lateral flattening, puffing out of the throat patch, head shaking and head bobbing, and tail-wagging.   In Captivity: These tiny lizards are generally housed in planted tropical vivariums/terrariums. Provided with UVB light, daytime temperatures of 85°F(29.4°C) with a 90°F(32.2°C) basking spot, and night-time lows of 70°F(21.1°C) to 75°F(23.9°C), they have proven to be fairly hardy. Humidity should range from 50% to 70%. Misting twice a day provides water for drinking, but these geckos have also been seen frequently drinking from small cups or from bromeliad bases. They will eat a wide variety of insects including fruit flies, mini-mealworms, phoenix worms, small silkworms, roach nymphs, and crickets up to 1/4″ in size. Calcium supplementation of insects is vital. Supplemented fruit puree or a commercial MRP (meal replacement powder, which is prepared with water) made for crested geckos or day geckos are readily accepted. Food offerings must be limited to avoid obesity, and feeding 3 times per week is sufficient when using MRPs. Only one male should be housed per group, to avoid dangerous aggression. Multiple feeding stations will help to avoid excessive aggression between females. These geckos breed readily in captivity, These small geckos are remarkable for their virtually fearless nature, and quickly tame. Handling is not recommended for such small animals, but they can be lured onto their keeper´s hands with insect treats, and will remain active and behave naturally while being observed, once they are acclimated to captivity (often as quickly as one month after introduction to their vivarium).   Feeding: fruit flies, small crickets (calcium & D3 dusted), phelsuma fruit & honey mixture (mixed fruit, fruit baby food, honey, vitamins)Environment: Found in the Kimboza Forest in eastern Tanzania. This tropical forest habitat is rapidly shrinking due to deforestation. A tall tropical terrarium with lots of branches and plants.Temperature & humidity: 25-29°C/78-85°F and a dry, sunny place for basking. 50–80% RHV (misting provides drinking water)
UV lighting should be providedBreeding: Males court females with lateral flattening, puffing out of the throat pouch, and head bobbing. Two to three weeks after copulation, the female lays a clutch of 2 pea-sized white, hard-shelled eggs which are glued to a surface in a secure, hidden location. The eggs are incubated between 78°F (25.6°C) and 86°F (30.0°C), at 60% humidity. No moisture should come in direct contact with eggs. The eggs hatch in 60 to 90 days. No need for incubation, I have found it best to leave the eggs in the terrarium.
The parents are often not so protective of their young and eggs so cover them with deli cup or something similar. Remove the young when hatched to another enclosure or they will become a snack for the parents.Young animals need a lot of calcium and UV so provide them powdered fruit flies & pinhead crickets.
They reach sexual maturity at 7 months

Sexing: dominant males have a beautiful blue green colour (azure); females are green and look almost gold dusted.
Young males or suppressed males will also be greenish like the females so the best way to sex them is to check for hemipenes bulges and femoral pores.
Males often will have a darker beard as well.

Males are territorial, so keep them separated or keep them in a large enclosure with lots of hiding places to minimize encounters.

It´s important to check for mites with these species, so put them in quarantine for a while and threat them for mites if necessary before introducing them to their enclosure.

Valueaquatics Preparing your pond for hibernation

If the fish hibernate in the pond, you can prevent complete freeze-over by leaving pond filters running or fountain and filter pumps, respectively, this will help keep part of the surface free from ice. Do not break the ice under any circumstances!
Water movement keeps part of the pond ice-free. Only turn off filters and water falls/fountains if the weather turns exceptionally cold.

It has been shown that ponds where the surface freezes over come to no harm and can be beneficial. The fish will be hibernating in the bottom of the pond and less active.

Feeding your fish should be stopped by now as the temperatures are dipping.

Even if they come to the surface on fine sunny days refrain from feeding as the fish will be using there fat reserves and will be unable to digest any food that they will eat. This then rots in their stomachs, the gases build up and the fish looks very fat and round, this will kill the fish.

John

Valueaquatics.co.uk

Ladybird spider back from brink

Ladybirdspider [pic: Natural England]

The ladybird spider spends most of its life underground

A rare spider has crawled its way back from the brink of extinction in the UK through a captive breeding programme.

Numbers of the ladybird spider, named because of bright red and black markings on the male during mating season, dipped to 56 at a Dorset site.

But since that count in 1994, a fresh web count showed numbers have risen to about 1,000 at the same site.

Conservation efforts, such as heathland management and scrub clearance, have been credited for the revival.

Conservation has focused on captive breeding and relocation of small numbers of ladybird spiders to suitable heathland in Dorset.

Natural England carried out conservation efforts with the Ministry of Defence, Herpetological Conservation Trust, the Forestry Commission, Dudley Zoo and members from the British Arachnological Society.

Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: “Heathland habitats have become increasingly fragmented and degraded in recent decades, placing the fate of many of our species in the balance.

“There is nothing inevitable about this and no reason why we should simply accept biodiversity loss as an unfortunate price of 21st Century life.

“The success of the ladybird spider recovery programme shows what can be done and we are delighted at the very hopeful signs that England’s most elusive spider is on the road to recovery.”

The small spider spends most of its life underground, living a solitary existence in a silk-lined burrow.

They eat a range of large beetles, bees and wasps.

The unmanaged fragmentation of heathland during the past 100 years had been blamed for the spider’s decline in numbers.

Story from the BBC News Monday, 16 February 2009

help the Wild birds- fat balls and seeds will help greatly

 The birds are now starting to find food scarce at this time of year so why not offer them some wild bird food to help them through the winter. White bread can do more harm than good to them at this time of year.

Putting out food for the birds brings a wide variety of birds into your garden and hours of pleasure and fun watching them. Just follow a few simple rules.

Place bird feeders away from bushes and a reasonable height to deter cats from ambushing them.

For fat or suet balls take them out of the plastic netting and either string them or use feeders as small birds can get their feet caught up in the netting.

Bird tables out in the open away from bushes to aid against cat attacks.

Place water close by for them in severe weather a night candle under a plant pot with a ceramic water bowl on top will stop the water from freezing.

Clean up around feeding stations to deter unwanted guests and to stop any unwanted germinating.

Disinfect water bowls and feeding tables every month or so.

ValueAquatics offer fat balls in a variety of sizes and quantities to suit all gardens.

ValueAquatics also offers a wide variety of Wild bird seeds and mixes and nuts to suit all tastes. These will attract a wide variety of birds into your garden.

Instant Ocean® Marine salt mix

The most important thing in keeping Marine life is the water or more importantly the salt you use to make up your marine water. There are many mixes out there and new ones coming on the market all the time making all sorts of claims.

Instant Ocean is one of the oldest and the market leader if sales are anything to go by.

Instant Ocean salt has been around for decades and is a tried and tested artificial marine salt mix.

In 1964 William Kelley formulated an artificial marine salt replicated as closely as possible to natural seawater. Using a formula based on the one used at Frankfurt Zoo he managed to reach his goal, and created a synthetic sea salt that would maintain invertebrates indefinitely. He called it Instant Ocean®.

During the late 1960s and early ’70s they continued to tweak the formula making it the market leader that bit is today.

Now we can all regardless of where we live can make up with confidence a marine solution that will support a healthy and vibrant marine system.

Instant Ocean® remains the standard for scientific research in marine environments.  It has been used by NASA and, with proven results, in numerous public aquariums and parks, including SeaWorld, Orlando; Shedd Aquarium, Chicago; Wonders of Wildlife Museum, Springfield, Ill.; Columbus (Ohio) Zoo & Aquarium; the (Atlanta) Georgia Aquarium; The Dallas World Aquarium; Underwater Adventure in the Mall of America, Minnesota; Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas; the Denver Zoo; and many others.

 At ValueAquatics we offer Instant Ocean® in four handy easy to use sizes.

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 60ltr – 2kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 120ltr – 4kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 240ltr – 8kg

Instant Ocean Sea Salt 750ltr – 25kg bucket

John

valueaquatics.co.uk

ValueAquatics Care Sheet: Tokay Gecko

 ValueAquatics Care Sheet                  Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Terrarium: PT-2614 Exo-Terra Glass terrarium

or Vivarium AX36

Lighting:  For the PT2614 Terrarium: PT-2228 Compact Fluorescent Terrarium Canopy.

2 x PT-2122 Night Glo Moonlight Lamp T10/25W and 2 x PT-2102 Sun Glo Neodymium Daylight Lamp T10/25W.

For the Ax36 vivarium: ACR30 Arcadia IP64 Dry Vivarium Controller 25/30W. PT-2152 Exo Terra Repti Glo 2.0 (30″)25 Watt

Heating:  For the PT2614 Terrarium: PT-2045 Ceramic Heat Emitter Heat Wave Lamp 60W.

PT-2054 Glow Light 21cm/8.5″ Dome Reflector.

Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat

 For the Ax36 vivarium: PT-2045 Ceramic Heat Emitter Heat Wave Lamp 60W.

Komodo Ceramic Lamp Fixture.

Ceramic Lamp Safety Guard

Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat

 Substrate: Orchid Bark. Highland Moss

 Décor: Plenty of  Plants PT-3040 – 3052.

Branches well secured,

Pool Bark Effect small

Thermometer

Hygrometer (Humidity meter)

Hides/Caves

CARE

Scientific name:  Gekko gecko

Sub Species: Two subspecies are currently recognized 

G. g. gecko : tropical Asia from northeastern India to eastern Indonesia.

G. g. azhari (Mertens 1955): found in Bangladesh

Locality: From northeast India and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea.

Habitat: Native habitat is rainforest trees and cliffs, and it also frequently adapts to rural human habitations, roaming walls and ceilings at night in search of insect prey. 

General information: They will routinely bite at anything in close proximity. This is one of those lizards that people keep just because they are interesting to observe. You can handle them, but I don’t recommend it without a glove!

These lizards, originate from the forested regions of South East Asia. They can reach upwards of 12 inches in length, and live on average for 10 years when properly cared for.

Many Tokay lizards are wild caught and have the potential to be loaded with parasites and must be wormed and treated for other parasites.

I have seen tame Tokays that were handle able though these were generally brought up from hatchlings and used to people.

Housing: This species does not have to housed individually, but special care should be taken to ensure that males are not kept in the same enclosure. They will more than likely fight and injure one another. I recommend a tall arboreal vivarium or one of the Exo-Terra Glass terrariums (PT-2614) for up to two Tokay Geckos.

Hides or caves should be placed on both sides (hot & cool end) of the Vivarium/Terrarium. This is to reduce stress and ensure that your gecko will feel comfortable moving all around his new home and not feel vulnerable and exposed.

The vivarium should be stripped down a cleaned out totally every two months the substrate should be spot cleaned daily or if newspaper or kitchen paper is used changed every week.

Wash down the vivarium with a reptile cleaner like Cascade Reptile Habitat Disinfectant or similar.

The substrate can be Newspaper which is easy to clean simply roll up throw out and add fresh. The only down side is it does not look very nice, I prefer to use Forest bark and some moss which is kept damp at one end this helps to keep the humidity up.

Lighting: Tokay geckos are primarily nocturnal, mostly active at night. They will not require special lighting of any kind such as full spectrum UVA probably wouldn’t hurt to have it during the daytime, but there is little evidence suggesting it would help.

Use a UVA/B 2.0 fluorescent tube or the day and an Exo-Terra Night Glo blue light for watching them during the night. Give them 10-12 hours daylight. / UVB lights. It

Heating: The ceramic Heater or Infra red bulb should be placed at one end of the vivarium, so that there is a temperature gradient of hot to cool. Always use a thermostat wit the heater, For the Ceramic use a Pulse proportional thermostat and a dimmer thermostat with the IR Bulb.

Always use a safety guard on the heat source to stop the gecko coming into contact with it and getting badly burnt.

The temperature should range from around 75-87° Fahrenheit during the day, dropping to approximately 70-75° Fahrenheit at night.

Humidity: Try to keep the humidity at around 80% keeping some damp moss in the vivarium and spraying morning and evening should be enough to maintain this. Keep one hide with damp moss in especially when your Gecko is about to shed as this will help it to have a healthy shed.

Feeding: Tokays are carnivorous and require a diet of insects and when older pinkie mice. Always give them a mixed diet. Feed Wax worms, meal worms, Morio worms (giant meal worms), Crickets brown and black, Locusts. Pinkie mice (for adults).

Dust their food with Calcium +D3 powder three or four times a week and twice a week with added vitamins.

The best way to dust the food is to put a small amount of the Calcium or vitamins into a plastic bag add the crickets etc shake, then shake the excess powder into one corner pinch it between you finger and thumb without squashing any bugs then simply tip into the vivarium holding back the excess powder which can be used next time.

Or you can use the Exo Terra Termite Hill Reptile Cricket Feeder and put the Ca or vitamin powder in that with the feeder crickets.

Wax worms are very fatty and can become addictive so only feed as a treat or if you’re Gecko has been ill and needs a boost.

As a rule of thumb the best way to judge what size food to give your Tokay is to offer prey items that are no bigger than the width of the Geckos head.

Feed the insects for two days prior to feeding crickets apple, biscuit, cereal, greens with vitamins and calcium sprinkled on them.

Locust’s greens or grass with added Ca and vitamins.

You can buy bug grub to feed the insects if you prefer.

Hatchlings will require feeding 1-2 times a day, Juveniles once a day and try to keep to a regular feeding time. Adults should be fed about 5 days a week. I feed my adult Tokays a pinkie mouse once a month as a treat and the females after egg laying, this helps them re gain any lost weight quicker.

Remove any crickets that have not been eaten after 20 minutes. Any crickets left in especially at night can bite your gecko if it is not hungry. Crickets can also make short work of any eggs that might be in the vivarium.

Sexing: Adult Tokay Geckos are easy to sex. Males look for the prominent V-shaped row of pre-anal pores just above the cloacae.  There is also a bulge called the Hemipenal bulge just above the cloacae.

Females also have the V-shaped pre-anal pores, but they are much less defined, smaller. No bulge above the cloacae.

 John

www.valueaquatics.co.uk

ValueAquatics Care sheet: Fire Skink (Riopa fernandi)

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR A Fire Skink (Riopa fernandi)

Vivarium Viv-Exotic 36inch VX36. Available in Beech, Oak, Walnut.

Lighting: PT-2132 Sun Glo Neodymium Daylight Basking Spot Lamp R20/75W. Arcadia ADCH Reptile Ceramic lamp Holder and Bracket.

For the UVA/UVB PT-2162  Exo Terra Repti Glo 5.0 (30″)25 Watt. ACR30 Arcadia IP64 Dry Vivarium Controller 25/30W.

Heating:(1)  Komodo Ceramic Lamp Fixture. PT-2144 Heat Glo Infra Red Lamp R20/100W. Ceramic Lamp Safety Guard – Medium. Habistat Dimming Thermostat.

(2) Komodo Ceramic Lamp Fixture. PT-2045 Ceramic Heat Emitter Heat Wave Lamp 60W. Ceramic Lamp Safety Guard – Medium. Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat.

Substrate: Highland Coco Fibre Bedding – Compressed Brick (10 Litre) or Orchid Bark 2-3kg for 3’ vivarium.

Décor: PT-2802 Exo Terra Water Dish Medium (many more to chose from on our site). PT-2821 Feeding Rock Reptile Cricket Feeder(optional). PT-2852 Reptile Hide Out Cave – Medium(many more to chose from on our site). Tree Stump Moss Box. Branches, Rocks and artificial plants.

Calcium and vitamins: Exo-Terra Calcium. Exo-Terra Multi Vitamin Powder.

 Care

Distribution: Fire skinks can be found in Guinea, East of Zaire, Angola and Uganda.

Size: Adult fire skinks will reach approximately 10-14 inches in length, with males being slightly larger.

Description: These Skinks are extremely colourful. They have a golden back with a bright black, red and white pattern on the flanks. Fire Skinks have a black and white throat; they have a black tail speckled in white. The scales are very smooth and glossy.

Heavy bodied with short legs.

Diet: They require as varied a diet as you can manage to include. Morio worms, Meal worms, roaches, locusts, brown and black crickets, Silk worms. Offer some fruits and chopped hard boiled egg as well.

Dust food with a calcium supplement two or three times a week and added vitamins once or twice a week. Make sure the Calcium and vitamins are low in phosphorus. Calcium with D3 is recommended.

Water: A shallow water dish is suggested for drinking, bathing, it also helps keep the humidity up.

Housing: These skinks should be housed in a 24” vivarium minimum though a 36” vivarium would be best for one or two skinks. Give plenty of hiding places made of pieces of wood/branches, cork bark, stones/rocks and artificial plants. This will offer the skink hiding places and security.

Substrate: Use coir (coconut fibre) or forest bark and keep it slightly damp not wet. Never allow it to dry out. Spray the substrate daily and maintain a humidity of 70-80% humidity.

Temperature: Fire Skinks require a day temperature of 80-85°F with a basking spot of 90-95°F.

Allow the night time temperature to drop to 75°F.

Heating: Heating can be by either ceramic heaters or Infra red bulbs. I prefer ceramic heaters, both need to be used with the appropriate thermostat and safety guard.

A digital thermometer with an external probe should be used to monitor the temperatures.
A digital hydrometer should be used to keep a check on the humidity levels.

Temperament: Males should not be housed together as fighting will break out though you can keep females together. Only keep a male and females together during the breeding season.

Life Span: 10-20 years

Behaviour:
Fire Skinks like to burrow searching for insects and for security. They can be handled and soon become tame with handling. The bite can be painful like a clamp so initially be careful and wear a glove until they become accustomed to you.

They are diurnal, active during the day.

Lighting: The use of a spot bulb as a basking light is required and should be on for 10-12 hours to give them a photo period.
They also require UVA and UVB this helps them to synthesis the vitamin D3, it also stimulates appetite, sex drive colouration and general health.

Sexing: Males are generally brighter coloured; larger and broader headed then females.

Breeding: The Fire Skinks need to be well fed and in tip top condition for successful breeding. Moss boxes should be used and checked daily for eggs also check the rest of the vivarium for eggs that may have been laid elsewhere. The females can lay 5-9 eggs.

The eggs take 40-50 days to hatch in damp vermiculite or moss at 82-85°F.

Eggs may be laid between March and October if the Skinks are in good condition.

A well-fed Fire Skink will be necessary for a successful breeding and healthy babies.

Calcium and vitamins: Add Calcium +D3 three times a week and added vitamins about twice a week.

 John

www.valueaquatics.co.uk

Plated Lizard (Gerrhosaurus)

 ValueAquatics Care Sheet:                   A Plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus)

 Vivarium Viv-Exotic 48inch VX48. Available in Beech, Oak, Walnut.

 Lighting:  UVA/UVB PT-2154 Exo Terra Repti Glo 2.0 (42\”)40 Watt. ACR38 Arcadia IP64 Dry Vivarium Controller 36/38W.

 Heating: Komodo Ceramic Lamp Fixture. PT-2045 Ceramic Heat Emitter Heat Wave Lamp 60W. Ceramic Lamp Safety Guard – Medium. Habistat Pulse Proportional Thermostat.

 Substrate: Highland Coco Fibre Bedding – Compressed Brick (10 Litre) or Orchid Bark 3-4kg for 4’ vivarium.

 Décor: PT-2802 Exo Terra Water Dish Medium (many more to chose from on our site). PT-2821 Feeding Rock Reptile Cricket Feeder(optional). PT-2852 Reptile Hide Out Cave – Large-ex.large (many more to chose from on our site). Branches, Rocks and artificial plants.

 Calcium and vitamins: Exo-Terra Calcium +D3. Exo-Terra Multi Vitamin Powder.

Common Name: Plated Lizards

Scientific name: Gerrhosaurus
Species:
Gerrhosaurus flavigularis – Yellow-throated plated lizard.
Gerrhosaurus major – Tawny ( sudan ) plated lizard.
Gerrhosaurus validus – Giant plated lizard.

Life expectancy: They can live up to 10 years in captivity.

Size: 16 to 28 inches dependant on sub species.

Sexing: Males have obvious femoral pores as adults on their hind legs you will notice a “comb” like texture. As hatchlings they can be difficult to sex.

Activity Cycle: These lizards are diurnal active during the day, but like to hide from the sun, so provide burrows and dark areas for them in the vivarium.
Plated lizards are diggers, but also like to bask.

Humidity: They require a dry environment, but must have access to a reasonable water bowl.

Temperatures and Heating: Use overhead heating, such as a ceramic heating element or Infra Red bulb on a suitable thermostat to provide a basking temperature of 105F, an ambient daytime temperature of 85-88F and night time temperatures of about 75F.

Lighting: UVB full spectrum lighting is required and should be on for 12 – 14 hrs in summer and 10 hours in winter.

Housing: Minimum of a 4x2x2 vivarium.

Substrate:
You should provide a mixture of coir, sand and bark for them to dig in.

Décor: Rocks to bask on, branches and twigs and hides. Another good idea is to provide underground burrows using drain pipe, but this can make them a little difficult to find. They love cork bark caves!

Diet: They are omnivores and eat a variety worms, crickets, pinkie mice, chopped chicken, and a variety of fruit and vegetables. Some people also feed low fat dog or cat food only use this sparingly as it can make their stools very watery and lose.

Water: A large sturdy water bowl (such as a cat litter tray) should be provided at all times. This should be changed daily or when fouled,  as these lizards will drink, bathe and defecate in it.

Care: Because of their slow and docile nature, once the correct husbandry requirements have been established, they make relatively easy pets to look after. They are an ideal fist lizard.

Plated lizards are native to southern and eastern Africa and inhabit rocky semi-open dry areas. They are relatively slow moving docile lizards.

Calcium and vitamins: Add Calcium +D3 three times a week and added vitamins about twice a week.

Pacue saved from an early death

A one metre long Pacu, (Colossoma macropomum) has been saved from an early death thanks to the intervention of Bristol’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

‘Percy’ the Pacu, a similar fish to the one pictured above, has spent the last 23 years at The Palms Tropical Oasis at Stapeley Water Gardens near Nantwich, Cheshire. As part of the now closed attraction’s ‘Big Fish Campaign’, he was used to help educate visitors to the potential pitfalls of ‘tankbuster’ species sold in the hobby which can soon outgrow most domestic aquaria.

With closure imminent and seemingly no one prepared to take on the 30kg fish, it seemed a bath of MS-222, (a fish anaesthetic and sedative) would be his final destination, but a last ditch Europe-wide plea from the curator of the collection came to the attention of Blue Reef.

Percy has now taken his place in their Amazon themed display where he is housed with another smaller specimen of a Pacu along with other South American species.

The Pacu, also known as ‘Tambaqui’ by Brazilian Indians is a characin, related to tetras and fish such as the piranha – with which it is sometimes confused, especially by UK newspapers! But is much larger and predominantly vegetarian, eating mainly fallen fruit and nuts which it crushes with its large, distinctive horse-like teeth. It is a prized food species within its native range where it is also farmed.