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
Hygrometer (Humidity meter)
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.
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR A Fire Skink (Riopa fernandi)
Vivarium: Viv-Exotic 36inch VX36. Available in Beech, Oak, Walnut.
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.
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.
ValueAquatics Care Sheet: A Plated lizard (Gerrhosaurus)
Vivarium: Viv-Exotic 48inch VX48. Available in Beech, Oak, Walnut.
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
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.
These domes are designed to give optimum reflection of the light or infra red.
Any light source, UV light source, infra red or ceramic heat source can be used with an Edison screw fitting.
They come complete with a wire clamp, Hanging wire and an on/off switch.
Can be safely used 24/7
Reflects a powerful beam of light
Rated for lamps and heaters up to 150watts
Equipment required for a Burmese Python
Housing Modex36 for a baby and extend as required. Modex 36 main body + two extension modules for an adult is minimum size for a Burmese up to 10-12foot though bigger is always better.
Lighting Lighting is not essential as long as the room where it is kept has a window but not in the direct sunlight.
If lighting is required then a suitable fluorescent light fitting and tube are best.
See ValueAquatics options on our reptile lighting section.
Heating Ceramic heaters are the best way to go. Use a ceramic for the size of vivarium see our Reptile heating page for options. Always use a ceramic heater safety cage with ceramic heaters. Use with a Pulse Proportional Thermostat like the Habistat.
Another option is the Microclimate AHS heating system the AHS500 this will do you right up to the 7 foot vivarium where it might need the addition of a ceramic heater on a thermostat as above.
Décor Water bowl big enough for the snake to get into completely as they like to bathe especially when in shed. When young large ceramic dog water bowls are excellent up to washing up bowls upwards. Just make sure they are secure and cannot be easily tipped over.
Hides give youngsters three or four dotted around the vivarium again easy options when young, when larger to adult plastic dog beds turned upside down are excellent.
Substrate Newspaper is best used for youngsters at last until they are big enough that ingestion of the odd bit of substrate is not a problem (the 3-4’ snake) Then Aspen is ideal and use it deep enough that the snake can burrow through it.
Beech chippings is also a good choice.
If you are set on getting one of these big snakes make sure you know what you are letting yourself into Read everything you can and get plenty of information. These snakes have the potential to kill an adult human.
Name: Burmese Python Python molurus bivittatus
Size: Burmese Python males are generally smaller than the females around 10 to 12ft. Females growing to from 15 to 18ft.
Life Span: Burmese can live for 20+ years
Origin: Native throughout Southeast Asia including Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, southern China, Indonesia and are now to be found in Florida USA through escapes and people releasing them as they get too big to look after.
Temperament: Burmese python babies are generally very nippy, Though with regular handling the tame down extremely well, Though they should never be fully trusted, they are a very large and very powerful snake that does have the ability to kill a human. They usually have an extremely strong feeding response and can stay in feeding mode for hours after being fed and they should be treated with a great deal of respect and caution when 9foot+, and only handled when there are at least two people present. Remember the old adage my dog doesn’t bite.
Housing: A 9’ long x 3’ deep x 3’ high wooden vivarium is a good Vivarium for all but the largest Burmese. For the big snakes the bigger the housing the better. Baby Burmese can be kept in smaller really useful boxes, or other similar Plastic Storage box, as these are more secure which will reduce the risk of the baby snake escaping and will make the snake feel safer in a smaller space. These can be heated with a heat mat and thermostat. Do not use heat mats with the larger heavy bodied snakes as thermal burning can occur due to the size of their bodies absorbing all the heat from a mat, this goes for Royal Pythons as well. Okay when youngsters.
Substrate: There are many substrates that can be used for Burmese Pythons, It really depends on you.
- Is a widely available reptile shops and outlets
- It looks natural
- Easy to spot clean
- Absorbs unpleasant odours
- Allows the snake to burrow
Beech Wood chips
- Widely available
- Looks natural
- Easy to spot clean
- Allow the snake to burrow.
- Easy to replace
- Easy for cleaning roll up throw away.
- Safer to feed on especially for youngsters
Hides: Burmese Pythons as babies should be provided with several hides, one on the warm side of the viv, and another on the cool side and one in the middle so that the snake can thermo regulate and still feel safe under a hide. Natural hides can be bought from your local reptile shop, bits of bark etc that would fit in nicely in a naturalistic set up or hides could be simpler anything from cardboard toilet roll holders for babies to cereal boxes or any cardboard box of a suitable size. There are not that many hides available that will fit an adult Burmese but plastic dog beds/baskets turned upside down work very well. Being plastic they are easy to clean and can also be used as a humid hide when the Burmese is going into shed. For smaller Burmese plastic boxes with a whole cut in can be used as a moss box.
Water: A large water bowl should be provided, bowls can be bought from reptile shops or dog or cat ceramic water bowls can also be used. The water should be changed daily or every other day. It should be changed immediately if the snake defecates in it. Some people also choose to bath their Burmese, to aid in shedding and allow them to exercise.
Heating: Burmese Pythons like all reptiles are cold blooded and it’s up to the owner of the snake to provide the correct heating gradient that it needs. The temperature in the vivarium should be about 75°F at the cool end and about 90°F at the hot end. This can be achieved by using a Ceramic heater or heaters. These need to be used with a pulse Proportional Thermostat and the ceramic will need to be guarded with a bulb guard to stop the snake from being able to come into direct contact with the hot bulb. Also make sure a ceramic light fitting is used.
A lot of people are now using the Microclimate AHS500 heating system these have the advantage of heating thermostatically all in one unit. The down side is once the vivarium is over 7’ you will probably have to supplement the heating with some secondary heating like a ceramic bulb and thermostat etc. The AHS still requires a guard the case can get quite hot.
Feeding: Hatchling Burmese Pythons should be fed on rat pups every 7-5 days and gradually increase the size of the prey item. Then move to 14 day feeding on larger food when adult, or monthly feeding if on bigger prey items like rabbits etc. Burmese should be fed on frozen thawed rodents, that can be purchased online or from local reptile shops. These should be thawed out to room temperature and offered to your snake; Most Burmese will actively strike and constrict the food item, where some prefer to eat the item if it’s left in with them. Adults will take anything from adult rabbits to piglets. Refrain from feeding chickens as there is an enzyme in the feathers that may be linked to aggression. Okay as a treat just not too often.
Shedding: Snakes shed (Ecdysis) their skin as they grow, the first signs of this process include a duller overall appearance and the snakes eyes turn to a milky blue colouration. The snake will usually shed its skin within seven to ten days after showing these first signs. A day or two before shedding the snake will appear normal, and look as if it has shed, however this is normal and the snake will shed a few days after appearing normal.
When a snake is in shed it is not uncommon for them stop feeding, this is nothing to worry about, and the snake will normally resume feeding once it has shed.
Sexing: There are two reliable ways to sex your snake, however both of these should not be done by anyone that does not have experience in sexing snakes, as if done incorrectly can be very dangerous. These two methods are called probing for adult snakes, and popping for hatchlings. It is worth noting that both methods can be inaccurate, male snakes can clench up during probing and probe as females, however both these methods are recognised as the most accurate way to determine your snakes’ sex.
ValueAquatics Care Sheet Caring for a young snake.
As most people buy snakes as hatchlings this care sheet is to give some general advice on keeping baby snakes.
Always read up and get as much information and advice as you can on your animal before buying it. Make sure you have the vivarium etc., set up and running for 24 hours before you get your snake.
Whether you get you snake from a shop or a breeder make sure you see it feeding even if it means going back on feeding day and make an appointment. If you are fobbed of for any reason be wary and go else ware.
A young snake should look in good condition the skin and eyes bright unless it is due a shed and the eyes will be opaque or milky. Look for mites on the snake around the eyes or vent. Mites are very small reddish brown the size of small pinhead and can be very difficult to eradicate. Mites should not be confused with other insects that can come in on some substrate materials which are harmless. When you start using substrates like Aspen or Beech chips it is a good idea to it in the freezer overnight to kill anything off. Or you can just bag the amount that you are going to use and freeze this for a couple of hours.
Vivariums: As the snake is a hatchling it will not require a large vivarium and they will do extremely well in one of the plastic tanks sold for hamsters, mice and other small animals look at our plastic tank range I would recommend the Fer-Plast or the Exo Terra Faunariums.
Young snakes being at the bottom of the food chain are quite nervous and think everything is going to eat them so are very secretive when you first get them and may hide away for a week or two. Though they soon learn that you are not a threat with careful and regular handling and soon settle down.
After the first year or eighteen months they will be getting too large for the plastic tank and you should be thinking of a proper vivarium. I would recommend getting the full size vivarium that your snake is going to need. This means less expense and I feel better for the snake as they now live in this for the rest of their lives which can be up to 25 years + In some species. They learn the smells and layout of their home and become very settled and less stressful.
Décor: This is important as it will give your snake something to explore and move around in rather than a bare tank. A water bowl is a must always pick one that is stable and does not tip over easily. Even a small snake can get under a bowl and tip it over. I prefer the solid resin types that are flat bottomed and very stable, the Exo Terra and Royce water bowls that we have are all ideal. The choice is yours rock or bark finish etc. Choose one that is not too small as most snakes love to bathe especially as the come into shed.
The water dish should be checked at least daily and changed daily as some snakes will use it as a toilet.
A hide or cave is a good idea as it gives the snake a feeling of security and doubles up as a moss box when they are due to shed. When the snake is due to shed about every 4 weeks roughly in hatchlings place some damp moss or sponge into the hide or cave this gives them a damp area making it easier for them to shed the old skin.
The Exo terra range of caves and hides is excellent from the plain cave to the Snake cave and the Rock outcrops the Royce range is also excellent looking like bark. Chose one that is not too big as they like to be able to feel the sides around them for security. Always give them a choice of two hides one at the warm end and one at the cooler end.
Plastic plants are really up to you and will set your vivarium up and look more natural. Vines and branches can be used as most small snakes like to climb amongst the branches and it gives them something to rub against when shedding.
Substrate: We recommend that you use kitchen paper or newspaper for the first year or 18 months this makes it easier to clean and also stops them from ingesting bits of substrate like wood chips, sand or aspen which can cause impaction of the gut in small snakes. When they are bigger they can generally pass any through their systems.
Heating: Use a heat mat that covers about half the vivarium floor. If you are using a plastic tank then the tank stands on the heat mat. If the vivarium is a wood one the heat mat should be taped down onto the floor only use the paper decorating tape as other tapes are dangerous if the animal accidentally gets wrapped up in it. A better method is to place a flat slate roofing tile or tiles on top of it. This is to stop the snake from getting under the heat mat.
Always use a thermostat with any heating system this will stop the heat mat from overheating as the new heat mats can get quite hot especially the higher wattage ones. It is also peace of mind; there have been accidents and even fires when mats have been used without a thermostat.
Lighting: Lighting is for viewing but I like to give my snakes some light with 2% UV they look better and the skin colours are brighter. There are a couple of choices Fluorescent tubes, you will need a starter and a tube this depends on the size of the vivarium and there is a large choice to choose from on the valueaquatics pages. Or if you are using a plastic tank then a simple desk lamp over the top will suffice or an exo terra reflector clamp lamp and a uv2.0 bulb type fluorescent. I prefer these to incandescent bulbs as they do not get too hot.
Feeding: All snakes are cannibalistic so they have t be fed as such. As this is only intended as a beginners guide I will not mention the specialised feeders but talk generally. So the food will mostly be fed are defrosted frozen rodents, these you can buy frozen from your pet shop or reptile shop. What you feed depends on the size of your snake a good general rule of thumb is to feed a defrosted rodent that is no fatter then twice the girth of your snake. A hatchling should take a pinkie mouse every 5-7 days. Due to their feeding response they will look hungry and be searching more food do not be fooled into over feeding one rodent per week of the correct size is sufficient. After two – three months try a fuzzy mouse if it takes it all the better and you can start feeding these once a week. At a year old they should be on small mice and at two on extra large mice or small rats. Snakes are like people and grow at different rates it all depends on food, feeding and species.
Get your snake used to being fed outside its home I feed all mine in one of the RUB (Really useful Box) these have lockable lids and come in many different sizes from Staples etc. Put he defrosted rodent in the box then the snake and lock the lid down and allow the snake to eat in its own time. With most of this type of box there is a light gap around the inside and the lid so I have glued down some foam strips around the inside top edge as small snakes can squeeze through. Semi adults and up are too big to get out.
You can now enjoy your snake and hopefully have years of enjoyment from keeping such an interesting animal.
ValueAquatics Care Sheet Bull Snake (Pituophis catenifer sayi)
Equipment for a Bull Snake
Vivarium: EX48 will generally be good but as your Bull snake reaches the 8’ mark I would start thinking something bigger
Or the MODX 24 would be a good choice and extend it as the snake grows
Heating: Microclimate AHS 350
Décor: Stout branches well secured. Extra large water bowl, Hide or cave of appropriate size for the snake
Substrate: Kitchen paper or newspaper for a young snake up to 1 year old then Aspen or Beech Chips
Bull snakes (Pituophis catenifer sayi) make an excellent snake for most people. Though I would not recommend one as a snake for a beginner. The reason for this is that Bull snakes can be a bit hyper as babies and juveniles. Often they are a very vocal snake and makes quite a defence display this can be unnerving to a first-time snake keeper. With that being said, I think just about anybody could handle the care requirements for a Bull snake or its closely related cousins, the Pine and Gopher snakes.
One of the great things about the Bull snake is that it doesn’t require very specialized conditions, with regard to temperature and humidity. In fact, a Bull snake will do well in a cage that ranges from room temperature (low to mid 70s Fahrenheit) to about 10° above room temperature. They are a very hardy snake.
Description and Appearance
Bull snakes can also be quite large and impressive when they reach adult size up to 10’ though generally 6-7’ is about their size. As far as appearance goes, these snakes generally have a yellow or cream-coloured base with brown or reddish-brown blotches down their backs.
People often mistake Bull snakes for Rattlesnakes in the wild, because they exist in the same range and bear similar colours. On top of that, a Bull snake in the wild will often rattle its tail when it feels threatened. Obviously, a Bull snake does not have a rattle at the end of its tail, but many snakes use the tale-rattling technique to warn predators. When they do this over dry leaves or a similar ground covering, it produces a sound similar to a Rattlesnake
Care Requirements for Bull Snakes
Housing: As I mentioned earlier, the Bull snake can be quite large when it reaches adult size. Specimens reaching 7′ are not uncommon. So you need an appropriate-sized cage to house your snake. A baby or juvenile can be kept in a smaller vivarium. An adult Bull snake should be kept in a cage that is 4′ x 2′ in size, or larger. Clean the cage thoroughly at least once a month, and spot-clean as needed to remove faeces, shed skin, etc.
Heating: Like all reptiles, Bull snakes are cold blooded. They rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Provide a temperature range or “gradient” so your snake has options. I would recommend a range of about 75 to 87° Fahrenheit. You allow the temperature to drop by 5 degrees at night, as it does in the wild.
Heating: You can heat your Bull snake’s cage in a number of ways of ways. You can use heat mats that go on the floor of the vivarium, which is known as “belly heat.” Or you can use heating bulbs or ceramic heaters to project the heat down from above, like the sun or the new ADHS heating system by Microclimate on plug heating system with a built in thermostat I personally prefer these.
If you choose the heat mat route it with an appropriate thermostat again if you use he bulb route use a dimmer thermostat and a pulse proportional thermostat for a ceramic heater. Always use a guard on bulbs and ceramic heaters.
Lighting: I recommend using a fluorescent light on a timer to provide a natural cycle of daylight. Bull snakes have a natural light cycle in the wild, so they should have the same in captivity. I find they are more active and show a better colour if they are given some UV light so I would recommend something with 2.0% UV output. Put the light on a timer for eight hours a day.
Feeding: In captivity, Bull snakes generally have a strong appetite. So getting the snake eating should be pretty straightforward. I recommend offering frozen / thawed rodents, as opposed to live rodents, because it’s safer for the snake and easier for you. Babies and juveniles can be fed every 5 – 7 days on pinkie mice. Adults can be fed an appropriate-sized meal every 10 – 14 days. To judge the size of the food mice or rats simply offer them food that is not more than 1½ times the widest girth of your snake. An adult Bull snake of 7’ plus will take a medium rabbit.
Water: Your snake should have clean drinking water available at all times. I recommend cleaning the water bowl a couple of times a week. Scrub the bowl well with antibacterial soap. If you clean it often, you won’t need to use bleach. If the snake poops in the bowl, remove and clean the bowl immediately. It happens!
Hides: In the wild, snakes spend most of their time hiding (except when they are hunting or basking in the sun). They hide under rocks, logs, anything that protects them from predators. Your Bull snake will feel more secure if you give it a couple of places to hide. I recommend placing a hide on both ends of the cage.
ValueAquatics Care Sheet Equipment for Somali Painted Agama
Vivarium: VX36 min for two adults
Decore: Caves, Hides, Rocks, Bog wood, Mopani wood. Medium Water dish.
Substrate: Play pen sand
Somali Painted or bush Agama (Agama persimils)
Location: Somalia, Ethiopia, E/NE Kenya
Sexing: Sexing males and females is easy with this species; the males have a dark vertical line on the underside from the neck to vent. The females do not.
Temperature: Basking temperature of 35-36°C and a cooler end to 25°C. A night time drop to 23-25°C.
Lighting: I used to use the Fluorescent UV tubes but found that the lizards were not very active except at feeding time so I changed over to the Mercury vapour lamp and what a difference it made. They became much more active and started courtship displays of head bobbing and leg waving and in general a lot more active. Their colours were also greatly improved and much brighter.
Agamas are active during the day and are often found scampering around to snatch up their favourite foods. They can tolerate greater temperatures (35-40°C) than most reptiles, but in the afternoon when temperatures reach around 38°C (100°F) they will settle into the shade and wait for it to cool down. Frequent fighting breaks out between males; such fighting involves a lot of bobbing and weaving in an attempt to scare the opponent. If it comes to blows, they lash out with their tails and threaten each other with open jaws. Many older males have broken tails as a result of such fights. Females may sometimes chase and fight one another, while hatchlings mimic the adults in preparation for adulthood. It is best to keep trios of one male and two females.
Agamas are mainly insectivores so feed them on Locusts, Cockroaches, Crickets as a treat Morio worms and Wax worms. Their incisor-like front teeth are designed for quick cutting and chewing of their prey. I offer them greens and chopped fruits should be offered once a week also.
Add Dust the insects in Calcium powder five times a week and vitamins twice a week. Tip the insects into a plastic bag and add a small amount of the calcium or vitamin powder and shake the bag gently this will coat the insects. Then slowly tip the insects into the vivarium leaving the excess powder in the bag which can be re used.
Most agamas are polygamous. Males may have a harem of six or more females in their territory for breeding. During courtship, the male bobs his head to impress the female. Occasionally, females initiate courtship by offering their hindquarters to the male and then running until he is able to catch up. The breeding season is typically March-May with eggs being laid in June-September during the season after the rains. Eggs are laid in clutches of up to twelve.
ValueAquatics Care Sheet Equipment for a Berber Skink (Eumeces schneideri)
Vivarium VX36 (will do 1- 3 adults)
Substrate: Calci or Desert Sand, Coir Orchid Bark, Aspen or Beech Chips to about 1-2” depth
Forked Cave, Bark Cave Medium, Water Bowl PT-2802.
Common Name: Berber Skink, Berber Skink, Dotted Skink
Latin name: Eumeces schneideri
Native to: Northwest Africa and Western Asia
Size: 16 inches
Life span: Up to 20 years
General appearance: The Berber skink is a long tubular skink with sandy coloration. Orange and yellow blotches and a solid yellow stripe running along the lizard are also present. The underbelly is a lighter sand colour. The legs are short with clawed fingers adapted for digging and moving in sand.
Berber Skinks are very active and amusing lizards and are Generally very friendly and tame down well. Though I have had one or two that would not tame down.
Enclosure: A 20-gallon Vivarium is the minimum size recommended for Berber skinks, though larger is recommended. There should be a suitable hiding area to make the lizards feel secure.
Temperature: Daytime temperatures should be maintained between 85° – 90° F with a basking spot of 95° – 105° F. The night time temperatures can drop down to 63° – 68° F.
Heat/Light: The use of an UVB bulb is necessary. A timer will assist you of an accurate light cycle of 12 – 14 hours. A basking light or ceramic emitter can be used to achieve a basking spot. At night, if heat is needed, a ceramic emitter or infrared night-light can be used on a thermostat.
Substrate: Tropical play sand is the most popular for the Berber skink. It is important to make sure that the substrate is at least three inches so the lizard can bury itself.
Environment: In the wild, Berber skinks are found in dry, brushy areas as well as rocky steppes. There should be a cool spot, for thermoregulation, that is slightly dampened.
Diet: Berber skinks are considered omnivores, eating both plant and animal matter. They should be offered a variety of items including crickets, mealworms, earthworms, Morio worms, wax worms, and pinkie mice can be offered. Canned Monitor/Tegu food, and high quality LOW FAT dog or cat food can be offered sparingly. Also plant matter should be offered two or three times a week. Items that are suitable include kale, legumes, carrots, squash, mashed fruits can be offered. Fresh water in a shallow dish should be offered daily.
Maintenance: The enclosure should be spot cleaned daily. A thorough cleaning should be performed on a regular basis. A 5% bleach solution is an excellent disinfectant. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the enclosure before replacing the substrate and placing the lizard back in the enclosure. Hand washing after handling the lizard or any cage furnishings is essential.