Bearded dragon care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – 1.5 to 2 feet.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your beardie can live up to 10 years, although some owners report as low as 6 and others insist they can survive for much longer.
  • Personality – bearded dragons seem to come pre-tamed. In fact, they have such a docile nature that many residents of Australia are able to pick up wild ones and handle them with no problems. Now, that’s not to say there can’t be exceptions. Generally, beardies make very good pets for a variety of people and even young children.
  • Cage size – a 40 gallon breeder aquarium is the acceptable standard, although, as always, bigger is definitely better.

Diet:

Beardies are omnivorous, meaning they eat both vegetables and meat. “Meat” in this case, however, means insects. Crickets, dubia roaches, and superworms or mealworms are perfect for a happy beardy. As with all other reptiles who eat insects, remember to dust your feeders with powdered calcium to ensure that they get enough to meet their needs! To dust, you can separate the feeders you’ll be offering that day into a separate container (a baggie or tupperware works fine) and sprinkle some calcium powder over the insects. You can then shake the container gently to help coat the bugs with the powder. They’ll come out looking white and this is when you can offer them.

Young beardies need more protein (AKA insects) than adult beardies. You should offer as many appropriately sized crickets or dubias as they can eat in a 5-10 minute time frame. To ensure the proper size, take note of the length between the eye “bumps.” Your feeder items should not be any longer than this or it may cause impaction problems for your dragon. Vegetables should also be provided. Great staples for a young beardy diet include (make sure these are chopped to an appropriate size): mustard, turnip, collard, or dandelion greens; endive; watercress; escarole; acorn, butternut, or yellow squash; green beans; parsnips; zucchini; and peas. Protein and vegetables should be offered daily to a growing beardy.

For an adult dragon, this differs slightly. They should only be offered about 50 insects per week. Providing more may lead to obesity problems and, subsequently, other health issues. Try to keep the ratio of bugs to veggies at approximately 30% insects and 70% vegetables. If you’re lucky, you might be able to convince your beardy to eat the pellets that petstores sell but these brands differ wildly and, honestly, I’m not convinced that the dragon gets everything he needs from these. If you wanted to try pellets as a way to supplement his diet while still offering insects and vegetables then more power to you! Great staples for a adult beardies include the same as for younglings (again, make sure these are chopped to an appropriate size): mustard, turnip, collard, or dandelion greens; endive; watercress; escarole; acorn, butternut, or yellow squash; green beans; parsnips; zucchini; and peas. You can add some variety by introducing fruits in moderation. Mango and papaya are perfect. Peeled apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and bananas are great for the occasional treats.

A more detailed list of proper food items can be found here.

Temperature/cage:

Dragons need a basking spot on one end of their enclosure in the high 90’s to about 110, depending on age. For babies, 105° to 110°. I like to keep my adults at exactly 100°. UVA/UVB light must also be provided. Like most lizards, dragons are susceptible to metabolic bone disease (MBD) if they are not exposed to proper lighting.

A cool side of 80° must be provided for your dragon. If you’re using at least a 40 gallon breeder (like you should be!), this is easily achieved as it provides enough space for the heat from your lamp to disperse.

You’ll find a common item in petstores that advertises itself as calcium sand, or some such variation. Do not  use this. This sand is very fine and has a tendency to clump together when wet. It can cause severe impaction problems in your dragon. If you want to use sand, buy a big bag of play sand from Home Depot or another hardware store. This sand is infinitely better because it does not clump. Newspaper, paper towel, or other absorbent medium is the best, but understandably does not look the greatest.

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Bunny rabbit care sheet

Diet:

If Bugs Bunny taught us anything, it’s that rabbits eat carrots. Right? I’m sure you might have guessed that the answer is a bit more complicated. Naturally, rabbits don’t eat roots (carrots are considered a root, for those that don’t know). They can have them in moderation, but carrots are full of sugar and the RSPCA has, interestingly, discovered that “eleven percent of pet rabbits suffer from tooth decay and 11 percent have digestive problems” due to vegetables like carrots being offered a few times too many.

Instead, you should be providing your bunny friend with an adequate amount of hay. There are two primary types that you can find in petstores: timothy and alfalfa. If you’re like me, then the word “alfalfa” makes you laugh and you’ll want to buy it just for the giggles. Timothy hay, however, is much better for your bunny. The higher amounts of calcium contained in alfalfa can cause urinary stones to form – which is not a good thing. So make sure little Judy Hopps has unlimited access to a good, dry source of timothy hay.

In addition to the hay, which should make up a large percentage of your rabbit’s diet, you should offer a good pellet for supplemented nutrition. I like the Oxbow brand, personally. If you can’t find a store that sells this, look for a brand that provides the highest amount of fiber. This should preferably be 20% or more. Protein comes next at about 10% minimum.

Lastly: the vegetables. I like to go to the salad section of Wal-Mart and grab a bag of the “Spring Mix.” If you’d prefer to chop the veggies yourself, just make sure you grab lots of leafy greens. The darker the color green, the more nutrients it has! Avoid things like iceberg lettuce because it lacks most essential nutrients and is more akin to solidified water (that’s why it’s so light in coloration). It’s good to feed approximately 1 cup of raw veggies to your bunny per day.

Cage:

Oh petstores. What will we ever do with you? Those cages that they sell? Terrible for bunnies. Especially for anything larger than a baby rabbit. They simply don’t offer enough space to bounce around and exercise. The best thing I have seen available for rabbits are these DIY storage cubes. You can customize your rabbit cage to be the size that you like. You can build it taller or longer. You can even give your bunny the luxury of his own sectional rooms if you so choose!

I really like this tutorial on how to build your own rabbit cage. Just be sure to include lots of things to chew on, provide a litter box, and stay away from wire mesh floors. Hopping around on wire all day long is a good way for your rabbit to be injured. It can lead to serious issues like bumblefoot or, if your rabbit gets caught, a broken bone.

Socialization:

I had never thought of rabbits as social animals, but they very much are! If you can’t provide a little friend for your bunny, you need to fill that space yourself. Your bunny will need lots of social interaction and stimulation. In the wild, rabbits form groups called a warren. The father is actually very involved in the raising of the babies and he is very gentle with his babies, too. He also becomes very bonded to his mate. Being such a family-centric species, you can see why it’s important to make sure you let them out for playtime as often as possible.

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Uromastyx care sheet

Quick facts:

  • There are approximately 18 different species of uromastyx.
  • Size – 10 to 15 inches in length (Egyptians, however, are the largest at 30 inches).
  • Lifespan – with good care, your uro can live for 20+ years.
  • Personality – as with many reptiles, the more that you handle your uro, the more tame he will become. Some can even reach a point of “puppy dog” comfort with their owner. Generally, I find that they are calm once they’ve been picked up and not very likely to bite (why would they need to when they have that tail?).
  • Cage size – this depends on the type of uro that you have adopted. For hatchlings, a 20 gallon tank would be sufficient. Remember that with reptile babies, large spaces can stress them out. For a juvenile or small uro, a 40 gallon breeder tank may work well. For anything exceeding 10 inches, you really should invest in a 75 gallon tank at the bare minimum.

Diet:

Your uromastyx is going to thrive on a basic vegetarium diet with only the occasional insect as a treat. I’ve heard of many problems associated with an high-insect diet so I would really recommend saving the insects for treats or using them when attempting to tame your uro. Also, I’d really stress the importance of using dubia roaches. The lack of chitin will cause fewer problems for your pet and they have the added benefit of being very nutritious. Again, however, the insect should be used sparingly.

The vegetable portion of your uro’s feeding habits will be the most important. I like to buy a variety of leafy greens, chop them up, add some other veggies, and mix with a good calcium powder. Great suggestions for staple food items include: endive, bok choy, dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress, escarole, peas, carrots, corn, cut green beans. You’ll want to keep things like kale, broccoli, and spinach to a minimum because of the high oxalate values (these oxalates will prevent your uro from getting all of it’s needed calcium which can later lead to metabolic bone disease).

Lastly, you’ll want to include a good portion of seeds with your provided veggies. I, personally, like to throw in some bird seed and lentils for my uro. If you’d rather not deal with the seeds, you could substitute Mazuri tortoise pellets instead.

Temperature/humidity:

Like most reptiles, a uromastyx is susceptible to metabolic bone disease if proper lighting isn’t provided. For this reason, you absolutely must allow access to both UVA and UVB light.

Basking temperatures should be allowed to get to 110° to 120° for optimal health while an 80° cool side is permissible. Remember, these are largely desert-dwelling little guys. They like it hot. And dry.

A nighttime drop in temperature to the high 60’s is okay.

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Lorikeet care sheet

Diet:
Lorikeets and lories, unlike most parrots, have developed a special type of tongue that is ideal for harvesting nectar and pollen (click here for good look at that crazy tongue!). Because of this tongue and their specialized digestive systems, they do not do well on a pellet diet.

One of the most economical and nutritional diets that you can order is easily found on Amazon. I would encourage you to always have an emergency portion since it’s not sold in many pet stores. To feed, you would mix the powder with some water and let the lory or lorikeet lap it up.

Because of the added water, lorikeet nectar is quick to grow mold! For this reason, if the mixture hasn’t been eaten within three hours of setting it out, I would throw it away and thoroughly clean the bowl. Lorikeets can be rather fragile compared to other parrots and it’s very easy for them to be missing certain vitamins. Offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to go with their nectar as a way of supplementing any potential nutrient absence.

Cage:
The general rule is that you should buy the biggest cage that you can afford. Parrots are active birds and need plenty of room to stretch out and play. They’re very much like children in their antics and, like children, need space to move around. I would recommend a minimum cage size of 30″ wide x 20″ long x 30″ high. These cages by Prevue Hendryx on Amazon have served me well and they offer lots of room.

Socialization:
This is where many people fall down in the overall care for their birds. Life happens. I know. Sometimes you’d rather go watch that newly released movie with your friends than hang out with your bird. You get to see him everyday, right? He’s not going anywhere. One day won’t hurt. Except when it does. Sometimes, one day is all it takes. Birds become sooo dependent on us for interaction and love. Especially if you only have one. They bond with us. They love us. They need us. I heard it once described like this: you have the entire world outside your front door. Your bird only has you. If you get a bird, you need to make sure that you have at least 1 or 2 hours to spend with him. If not, at least get him a friend. Remember, you chose him. He didn’t get a choice at all.

Lack of socialization leads to bad behavior. Some birds will start plucking. Some birds start screaming. Some will become aggressive. Some may stop liking you and prefer another person in your household instead. Think about it like this: if you were ignored by the one you love, would you like it? Of course not. For your sanity and especially for your bird, please make sure you have enough time to spend with him.

Additional notes:
Because of their liquid diet, lorikeet and lory waste is nasty business. Pardon the imagery, but it shoots out like a rocket missile! It would be best to have these birds outdoors or on an easy-to-clean surface. I had mine on carpet and that was a huuuuuge mistake!

Crested gecko care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – males and females reach a length of approximately 4 to 5 inches, from snout to vent. Including the tail, they can range between 8 to 9 inches.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your crestie may live for 20 years, give or take.
  • Personality – crested geckos are generally calm in demeanor. They can be a bit flighty when they’re young, but with proper handling an adult can become a very docile pet.
  • Cage size – as usual, bigger is better. The minimum enclosure size for a full-grown crested gecko should be a twenty gallon tall tank. Three adults can be comfortably housed in 30 gallon tank, but you want to ensure that they are all female (males can be extremely aggressive toward each other, especially when there are females nearby).

Diet:
Cresties are very easy to feed and can lively largely on commercial crested gecko diets. Repashy is a great brand to choose and can be found easily on Amazon. Pangea is another great brand, but I’ve had some trouble getting mine to adjust to certain flavors offered by the company. You might end up having to buy multiple flavors to satisfy the preferences of your gecko.

To ensure that your crestie is getting all of the nutrients it needs for growth and health, you may choose to offer snacks consisting of insects multiple times per week. For example, I offer mine crickets and dubia roaches twice a week. As a rarer treat, you may choose to offer waxworms or mealworms but you should be careful with these insects as they can cause impaction problems.

In a pinch, you can give them fruit baby food but I would generally advise against this as a frequent diet because of the guesswork involved in adding proper amounts of vitamins and calcium.

Be sure to provide a bowl of standing water for your gecko just in case he/she takes to it. It is very important to mist the enclosure daily, however, as geckos will usually recognize the water droplets as a source of hydration before the water bowl.

Temperature/humidity:
Being nocturnal by nature, there is no need for a UVB light.

Heating should be between a moderate 75° and 85°. A temperature drop during the night into the low 60’s is permissible but you’ll need to provide an alternate source of heat during winter freezes.

Humidity is important for these geckos as they come from tropical areas. An ideal humidity would be about 60-70%. In drier climates, multiple mistings per day may be required.

Additional notes:
It is quite normal for a crested gecko to lose it’s tail, but unfortunately, the tail will not grow back. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid touching or pulling on the tail. If an accident occurs and your crestie loses his tail, however, do not panic as this is perfectly natural.

B&W tegu care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – 4 to 5 feet.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your tegu can live for 20+ years.
  • Personality – the Argentine black and white tegu can become remarkably docile, almost dog-like by the time it reaches full maturity. Argentines are not to be confused with the Columbian species, though. Columbians can become quite tame but are certainly not known for it like their Argentine cousins.
  • Cage size – there are no commercially available cages. You’ll have to build your own. A minimum 6′ length x 3′ depth x 2′ height is recommended, although, like always, bigger is definitely better.

Diet:

Tegus are primarily meat-eaters but it’s good to include some fruits and veggies for them as well. When your tegu is small, you’ll want to introduce crickets, mealworms, cooked eggs (raw eggs provide unnecessary exposure to bacteria that may make your tegu sick), and raw turkey. Berries of any variety are good for them and can help get them used to non-meat entres.

As adults, you’ll want to start introducing a little more fruit and some fish. Melons, berries, bananas and oranges (in moderation). Fish should be given raw. Salmon is the best, but I’ve given mine fresh tilapia as well. Ground turkey should be mixed with vitamins and calcium powder. I like to chop up my veggies and mix it into some scrambled eggs for mine to eat. Remember to feed him those shells, too! They’re a great source of calcium.

Hatchlings and small tegus should be fed daily or every other day while adults can bed fed every other day.

Temperature/humidity:

Tegus need a basking spot on one end of their enclosure in the high 90’s to about 110. I like to keep mine at exactly 100°. UVA/UVB light must also be provided. Like most lizards, tegus are suceptible to metabolic bone disease (MBD) if they are not exposed to proper lighting.

The humidity needs to be high for proper shedding and overall health. Eighty to 90% is perfect for them and can be achieved through daily misting or the addition of a humid-hide box. You’ll also want to make sure that your tegu has a water bowl big enough for soaking as they are quite fond of submersion.

Additional notes:

Tegus are quite terrestrial and like to burrow. Make sure you provide a massive amount of dirt for them to play in. A good recipe for your tegu’s substrate consists of playground sand with some organic topsoil. You want it to be able to hold a burrow if the tegu so desires.

Your tegu may also be given the chance to brumate. They’ll typically sleep for 6 months out of the year during this period. It’s usually done to ensure breeding but some people also believe it contributes to the overall health of their animal. I do not allow mine to brumate and I have not noticed any ill-consequences as a result.

To brumate your tegu, you’ll want to take him off feed approximately two weeks prior to brumation. This will ensure that his belly is empty and food does not rot in his stomach. Next, you’ll provide a place for your tegu to bury himself. Be sure to keep this area continuously misted. That moisture is important! And then you’ll gradually lower the temps over a period of days until you’ve arrived at approximately 55°. It is difficult to ensure that that temperature remains the same, but it must be relatively consistent. If it dips below 50°, your tegu could get sick. If it goes above, he will come out of hibernation.

Veiled chameleon care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – males can grow to about 2 feet in length while females may only attain about 18 inches.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your male chameleon may average 6 to 8 years of life. Females will have a shorter lifespan due to egg-laying and may only live for 4 to 6 years.
  • Personality – veiled chameleons are not know for being easily tamed or friendly. They are a pet best suited for display only.
  • Cage size – as with most reptiles, a large enclosure for a hatchling may stress him or her unnecessarily. Provide lots of hiding spaces or else settle for a small enclosure until they grow a bit. As they approach adulthood, a vertical enclosure of 12″ wide by 12″ deep by 36″tall will suffice. As always, larger is always better. Screened enclosures provide more airflow, which is a good thing for the chameleon. But glass retains humidity better. By far, the best solution is a combination of screen and glass for your chameleon to live a long and happy life.

Diet:
Your chameleon will thrive on a diet of gut-loaded or calcium-dusted crickets, roaches, or (in moderation) meal worms. I definitely recommend starting your own dubia colony of roaches if you can handle it. They’re cleaner, fresher, and more quiet than crickets.

When I was first starting out with only one chameleon, I was overwhelmed by the noise a single petstore box of crickets can make if my chameleon didn’t eat them all. Whatever your choice and however you choose to get them (by breeding your own or buying them from the store), please be sure to feed them a food that is nutritious for your chameleon before serving up your veiled his dinner. This process works by serving the crickets a good gut-loading meal (easily available on Amazon) so that they will then infuse your chameleon with those nutrients once the chameleon eats the cricket.

Alternatively, you can buy a calcium dust, throw the crickets into a baggie with a little dust, and shake the baggie until the crickets are coated with a decent amount of calcium. Again, this allows your chameleon to get the nutrients it needs without there being any extra fuss.

Personally, I prefer the dubia roaches as they provide more nutrition for the chameleon by themselves and I can then control their diet better for the duration of their lives before feeding them to my chameleons. But this is a personal preference. Obviously, having a bin full of roaches isn’t everyone’s cup of tea! 😛 And, truthfully, waiting for your first colony to grow enough to harvest requires a lot of patience.

Temperature/Humidity:
It is essential for the health of the veiled that they have a source of heat that comes from above as well as a source for UVA/UVB light. Chameleons in the wild will draw heat from the sun. Their sensors are on their back, not their belly. As such, heat rocks and heating pads are no use to chameleons. You need a heat lamp for an acceptable basking spot. Use any heat lamp that will allow you to achieve a temperature of 90° to 95°.

In addition to the heat, there is also the matter of UVB light. Unlike snakes, chameleons (as well as most lizards) need a source of UVB light. This provides the reptile with Vitamin D and thus aids in the processing of calcium. UVB is easily filtered by glass, so setting your chameleon next to a window will not work. Additionally, it is good for you to know that UVB bulbs will stop producing UVB wavelengths long before the light goes out. For this reason, I recommend replacing the light every six months. Failure to provide UVB can result in metabolic bone disease for your chameleon. MBD has been know to cause paralysis and even death.

For the sake of simplicity, I resort to a combination bulb. It’s also called a mercury-vapor bulb and you can find it in most petstores as well as, you guessed it, Amazon. This bulb provides an ambient heat as well as the necessary UVB. They can be a little fritzy, though. It’s really a hit or miss product. I also like the ReptiSun products, which work well in any Home Depot light strip holster. I would avoid the spiral-bulb designs, however. I haven’t experienced any problems but I have heard in the reptile trade that these bulbs may cause blindness in your reptiles. I don’t think they’re worth your chameleon’s health.

Taming:
Once again, chameleons are one of those pets that make a better display animal than a cuddly little buddy. They will never be as tame as a puppy and you should definitely drop any Pascal dreams right now. If you feel like you can handle a few bites and have the patience to work for many months on befriending your little guy, then maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be able to handle him occasionally.

Keep in mind that chameleons do not change color based on their environment. They change according to mood and temperature. A healthy, happy chameleon will always be lighter in coloration. An unhappy, stressed chameleon will be dark – almost black. Do not make it a habit to stress out your chameleon because this may reduce his lifespan. Just be patient and practice according to his comfort.

To begin, open his cage door and place your hand inside or nearby. That’s all. That’s it. Read a book now. Watch some Netflix. Your chameleon needs to have time to adjust to you. Leave that hand there, though. He needs to think you’re part of the scenery. Wait about 15 minutes or stop if he starts darkening. Close his cage. Try the same procedure tomorrow.

Do this for a week or more. Do this until he doesn’t turn dark at all. Then proceed with step 2: move your hand closer to him. You may get lucky. Maybe he’ll let you get really close. Maybe you’ll even be able to touch. That’s not very likely, though. Just move your hand close enough to him for him to start changing color or start to move away and then stop. Hold your hand there. If he moves, he moves. Oh well.

Do this for another week or until he doesn’t turn dark at all. If you like, you can try introducing treats to him. I prefer mealworms for this. They’re different from his regular cuisine and I’m not afraid to let them crawl on me. Just get one in your hand and hold it near your chameleon. He should take it eventually. Get another one. I wouldn’t exceed two mealworms for a small veiled and definitely no more than five for an adult. Mealworms can cause impaction problems.

Step 3, hold your finger or your hand in front of him. Do this for as long as it takes him to explore you. If he turns dark, retreat a little. Patience is good during this process. You do not want him to fear you. Take things according to his pace and he’ll eventually realize that you’re a pretty cool tree to climb over.

When he does, finally, decide to explore you, don’t keep him out for very long. You want the experience to end on a positive note. Don’t move too fast and don’t walk. Remember, you’re a giant to his eyes. Giants eat guys like him for lunch! Just be slow and when you think he’s ready, get him a mealworm as a reward and let him crawl back into his cage. Don’t rush him. Don’t prod him. Definitely don’t just dump him.

And that’s that! If at any time he starts turning dark, just go back to the previous step. Practice this taming exercise daily, though or else he might forget. Like all reptiles, any progress you make will quickly be forgotten if it isn’t reinforced.

A final note: be mindful of your chameleon’s colors! Dark is bad. Do not stress him out or he may bite or lose total trust in you.


Darker coloration, bloated midsection, and puffy throat indicate fear. This little guy isn’t happy about something!

Corn snake care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – typically grow about 4 to 5 feet in length.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your corn can live for 15 or 20+ years.
  • Personality – hatchlings can be fearful and may try to strike, but as they grow corns will usually mellow out quite a bit. This isn’t a snake that needs to be handled daily although daily handlings will certainly allow your corn to get used to you and he or she may be less “squirmy” for it.
  • Cage size – a 20 gallon long aquarium will suffice for smaller snakes but larger ones will really need a 40 gallon breeder at a minimum.

Diet:
As with all snakes, a diet of mice or rats is acceptable. Young rats provide more nutrition for corn snakes and are the better alternative but mice will suffice. You should choose a mouse that is at least as big or one and a half times the thickest part of your snake. Frozen/thawed mice or rats are the better option because these rodents have been pre-killed and do not pose a danger to your snake. Their frozen state kills off unwanted bacteria, also. Frozen/thawed rodents are readily purchased at almost any petstore or can be ordered (in bulk) from online shops like RodentPro, PerfectPrey, or LayneLabs.

Do NOT try to thaw out your mouse or rat in the microwave! Place the rodent in a baggie and let it thaw slowly in a bowl of hot water. Or, better yet, do what I do and set the rat or mouse in the refrigerator the night before. This will ensure that it is properly thawed. You can then place it in some warm water to get the body temp up and make it more “lifelike” for your corn snake. Cold food is NOT good for snakes. Make sure that it is warm!

Temperatures/Humidity:
Corn snakes, like all snakes, need a temperature gradient to help them regulate their own body temperatures. They are cold blooded, so they need an external heat source. I find that under tank heaters are terrific and easy to use. Heating lamps can work well but there needs to be an object below the lamp to help absorb the heat (like a rock or a piece of tile). Corn snakes absorb heat through their bellies. You’ll find them basking on rocks in the wild to soak up the heat from below rather than waiting for the sun to warm them.

Do NOT use heating rocks! These are wicked products and can result in severe burns to the snake. A mild malfunction in the devices can burn the skin right off of your snake. I would show you pictures but they’re very hard to look at.

To get your tank set up properly, you’ll want to maintain a “cool” end temperature of about 70° to 75°. You should not let the tank drop below that 60°. On the other side of the tank, you’ll want to place your heating device and maintain a temp of approximately 85°. You can allow a small decrease in temp during the night, but the day needs to maintain this gradient constantly. To monitor these temps, please make it easy on yourself and purchase a temp gun. They sell little thermometers at pets stores but those can be horribly inaccurate. The temp gun is much more reliable and easier to use. Just shine the light at whatever space your snake can rest on and, if it checks out, call it a day.

In addition to the temperature, you’ll want to maintain a humidity of about 60%-70%. In some areas, you may not need to worry about this (some places in the south are more humid than others). But for those who need to take this into consideration, misting the cage can help you raise the humidity. Placing the water bowl over the heating pad or under the heating lamp can help. Even draping moist towels over the top of the cage can provide a little extra moisture. If all else fails, get yourself a tupperware container and cut a hole into it big enough for your snake to access. Fill it with damp sphagnum moss and let your snake regulate his own humidity. You’ll need to make sure you moisten the moss daily, however.

Eclectus parrot care sheet

Diet:
The eclectus parrot, unlike many other parrot species, has a longer digestive tract. Because of this, eclectus parrots do not do well on an all-pellet diet and especially not a seed diet (no parrot does well on an exclusively seed diet). Ekkies need a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, grains, and sprouted or germinated seeds. Some great selections are: peas, green beans, dandelion/mustard/collard greens, carrots, broccoli, eggplant, corn, sweet potato, green peppers, lettuce, sorrel, spinach, squash, and zucchini. Fruits include: apples, melons, bananas, pears, berries, and most other fruits (be sure not to give the bird any pits!).

Ekkies also need more vitamin A in their diet than regular parrots. Try to include orange veggies as often as you can (sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, etc). Sunflower seeds and walnuts make excellent treats for rewarding and topping off their vitamins. For those that would like to germinate or sprout seeds for their precious pets, this is an excellent guide for getting started.

It is not usually advised to give your ekkie any extra vitamins; however, you may choose to offer some pellets to help the bird stay fuller longer and also to make sure they’re getting enough nutrients. I would give no more than 20% of the ekkie diet as pellets. Most of the diet should be fresh fruits and veggies.

Cage:
The general rule is that you should buy the biggest cage that you can afford. Parrots are active birds and need plenty of room to stretch out and play. They’re very much like children in their antics and, like children, need space to move around. I recommend a cage no less than 2′ by 3′ of floor space with a height of 4′. The only exception to this rule is if you have your bird out for long periods of time. The longer they’re out, the more time they have to play and get that excess energy out of their system. It also for you and your bird to bond better! And speaking of bonding…

Socialization:
This is where many people fall down in the overall care for their birds. Life happens. I know. Sometimes you’d rather go watch that newly released movie with your friends than hang out with your bird. You get to see him everyday, right? He’s not going anywhere. One day won’t hurt. Except when it does. Sometimes, one day is all it takes. Birds become sooo dependent on us for interaction and love. Especially if you only have one. They bond with us. They love us. They need us. I heard it once described like this: you have the entire world outside your front door. Your bird only has you. If you get a bird, you need to make sure that you have at least 1 or 2 hours to spend with him. If not, at least get him a friend. Remember, you chose him. He didn’t get a choice at all.

Lack of socialization leads to bad behavior. Some birds will start plucking. Some birds start screaming. Some will become aggressive. Some may stop liking you and prefer another person in your household instead. Think about it like this: if you were ignored by the one you love, would you like it? Of course not. For your sanity and especially for your bird, please make sure you have enough time to spend with him.

Ball python care sheet

Quick facts:

  • Size – females can grow 3 to 5 feet while males grow 2 to 3.
  • Lifespan – with good care, your python can live for 30 to 40+ years.
  • Personality – considered the “Labradors of the snake world.” They rarely strike. Very docile tendencies. When they feel threatened, they will curl into a tight ball and only come out when they feel safe again.
  • Cage size – a 20 gallon long aquarium will suffice for smaller snakes but larger ones will really need a 40 gallon breeder at a minimum.

Diet:
As with all snakes, a diet of mice or rats is acceptable. Rats provide more nutrition for ball pythons and are the better alternative but mice will suffice. You should choose a mouse that is at least as big or one and a half times the thickest part of your snake. Frozen/thawed mice or rats are the better option because these rodents have been pre-killed and do not pose a danger to your snake. Their frozen state kills off unwanted bacteria, also. Frozen/thawed rodents are readily purchased at almost any petstore or can be ordered (in bulk) from online shops like RodentPro, PerfectPrey, or LayneLabs.

Do NOT try to thaw out your mouse or rat in the microwave! Place the rodent in a baggie and let it thaw slowly in a bowl of hot water. Or, better yet, do what I do and set the rat or mouse in the refrigerator the night before. This will ensure that it is properly thawed. You can then place it in some warm water to get the body temp up and make it more “lifelike” for your ball python. Cold food is NOT good for snakes. Make sure that it is warm!

*Note: Not all ball pythons will accept frozen/thawed. They can be picky eaters.

Temperatures/Humidity:
Ball pythons, like all snakes, need a temperature gradient to help them regulate their own body temperatures. They are cold blooded, so they need an external heat source. I find that under tank heaters are terrific and easy to use. Heating lamps can work well but there needs an object below the lamp to help absorb the heat (like a rock or a piece of tile). Ball pythons absorb heat through their bellies. You’ll find them basking on rocks in the wild to soak up the heat from below rather than waiting for the sun to warm them.

Do NOT use heating rocks! These are wicked products and can result in severe burns to the snake. A mild malfunction in the devices can burn the skin right off of your snake. I would show you pictures but they’re very hard to look at.

To get your tank set up properly, you’ll want to maintain a “cool” end temperature of about 75° to 80°. You should not let the tank drop below that 75°. On the other side of the tank, you’ll want to place your heating device and maintain a temp of approximately 90°. You can allow a small decrease in temp during the night, but the day needs to maintain this gradient constantly. To monitor these temps, please make it easy on yourself and purchase a temp gun. They sell little thermometers at pets stores but those can be horribly inaccurate. The temp gun is much more reliable and easier to use. Just shine the light at whatever space your snake can rest on and, if it checks out, call it a day.

In addition to the temperature, you’ll want to maintain a humidity of about 60%-70%. In some areas, you may not need to worry about this (some places in the south are more humid than others). But for those who need to take this into consideration, misting the cage can help you raise the humidity. Placing the water bowl over the heating pad or under the heating lamp can help. Even draping moist towels over the top of the cage can provide a little extra moisture. If all else fails, get yourself a tupperware container and cut a hole into it big enough for your snake to access. Fill it with damp sphagnum moss and let your snake regulate his own humidity. You’ll need to make sure you moisten the moss daily, however.