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For many people, tarantulas are some of the scariest animals on the planet. As a tarantula keeper with over two decades of experience probably the most common questions I get are about being bitten. With that in mind, in this article I’ll try to answer the question “are tarantulas aggressive to humans?” In general the ... Read moreAre Tarantulas Aggressive to Humans? The post Are Tarantulas Aggressive to Humans? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
For many people, tarantulas are some of the scariest animals on the planet.
As a tarantula keeper with over two decades of experience probably the most common questions I get are about being bitten. With that in mind, in this article I’ll try to answer the question “are tarantulas aggressive to humans?”
In general the answer is “no” tarantulas are not aggressive to humans.
That said, this really only skims the surface of this fascinating subject. So let’s dig a little more into the answer for a more informed conclusion…
It’s important that we discuss the differences between aggressive and defensive behaviour in tarantulas.
“Aggression” has been defined as “the action of attacking without provocation”. If that is true then tarantulas most certainly aren’t aggressive. While they may try to bite, they typically only do so in response to some kind of action that you’ve taken.
Perhaps you disturbed them.
Maybe you scared them out of their burrow, or grabbed at them.
The tarantula, feeling threatened, may be act defensively.
In this case, the spider is only trying to protect itself from what it deems as a danger.
So I think the first crucial point is that while tarantulas can and do bite, this should be considered a defensive action rather than one of aggression.
Tarantulas don’t go around looking for people to bite, and the best way to avoid a bite is simply to leave tarantulas well alone to get on with their life.
There are hundreds of species of tarantula available to exotic pet keepers, and even more in the wild. It is interesting to note that each species can vary in the level of aggression shown.
Some are very docile and can be held with little risk of getting bitten. Others, in contrast, can be far more highly-strung and are more likely to bite in defence.
As a result, if you are looking to buy a pet tarantula but you’re concerned about aggression then it makes sense to choose one of the more chilled-out species.
Some examples of docile tarantulas that can be kept as pets include:
These are, however, a drop in the ocean and there are many more species that suit this description.
At the other end of the scale are those tarantulas that are considered more aggressive, and therefore are far less suitable tarantulas for beginners. Some popular examples include:
These are really only suitable for more experienced keepers, who are used to dealing with fast-moving spiders with a penchant for aggression.
Tarantulas bite for two reasons.
The first of these is hunger, where they simply pounce unannounced on an unsuspecting prey item.
The second of these, however, is a defensive bite.
The interesting thing is that many tarantulas give a warning before a defensive bite: they adopt a threat posture.
The threat posture is hard to ignore. The tarantula will rear up on its two hind pairs of legs, raising the front two high into the air. This reveals the fangs. The hair around the mouth is often another color too so this adds to the effect.
Some species of tarantula – like the Indian Ornamental (Poecilotheria regalis) – have a different color under the legs too. A posturing Indian Ornamental will suddenly reveal a bright lemon-yellow underside to its front legs.
Lastly, some tarantulas can “stridulate” – a process that involves rubbing together specialised hairs that then creates a “hissing” noise.
A tarantula displaying like this is telling you to back off. The next step is likely to be a bite.
So – consider these threat postures a fair warning of what is to come. When you see one you should step away and let things calm down.
I’ve been keeping tarantulas for over 20 years and so far I’ve avoided a bite all that time. This, in itself, should suggest that if you treat your spiders with respect then you’re unlikely to get “tagged”.
This aside, what happens if you are unlucky enough to get bitten?
Firstly, remember that a tarantula bite is a defensive behaviour, not one of aggression. Your tarantula just wants you to stop bothering you. The spider will likely therefore dash off in search of cover, leaving you to nurse your ego.
Make sure the cage is closed properly so you’re sure the spider is safe.
Then go and sterilize your wound.
In general a tarantula bite is said to be no worse than a bee sting. There’s a little local swelling and soreness but this soon goes away.
In some Asian spiders the effect can be a little more serious and can last longer. This may involve swelling to the affected limb, joint pain and a burning sensation. Again, this generally seems to subside within a couple of days.
Unless you’re unlucky enough to suffer an anaphylactic shock then you should be right as rain soon enough.
I would suggest that if any more serious symptoms arise that you seek rapid medical assistance just to put your mind at rest.
Broadly speaking, however, tarantulas aren’t harmful to humans and you’ll soon be laughing off the bite before being more careful next time!
Praying mantis for famous for getting eaten while reproducing – but why do mantis eat their mates? The Surprising Benefits of Getting Eaten When viewed through the lense of humans, getting eaten by your mate seems like a pretty barbaric practise. I mean, imagine how you’d feel if your mom ate your dad! For insects, ... Read moreWhy Do Mantis Eat Their Mates? The post Why Do Mantis Eat Their Mates? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
Praying mantis for famous for getting eaten while reproducing – but why do mantis eat their mates?
When viewed through the lense of humans, getting eaten by your mate seems like a pretty barbaric practise. I mean, imagine how you’d feel if your mom ate your dad!
For insects, however, the rules of the game can be very different. What we think of as odd is perfectly natural – and eating your mate may actually make a lot of sense.
Praying mantis tend to have very short lifespans, with many hatching in the spring, before laying eggs and dying just a few months later.
This means they need to eat as much as possible so they can grow rapidly and complete their lifecycle in time.
However the food supply doesn’t just affect how quickly they grow: it can also impact how many eggs the females lay.
A female mantis that eats her mate may therefore be bulking up on calories so she can lay as many eggs as possible. This can also benefit the male as he ensures that he ends up with as many young as possible, passing his genes on to the next generation.
I have observed the “sexual cannibalism” of praying mantis numerous times both in the wild and in pet mantids. Generally the mantis will keep on mating even while the male is being devoured.
It seems that the head of the male mantis is most appealing to the female. The remainder of the male’s body can remain in situ for the full mating ritual – which can take some hours.
Once the mating is finished the female may then finish off the rest of the male, or more likely his long-dead body will simply drop to the ground to decompose.
If you listen to the urban legends then could be mistaken for thinking that male praying mantis always get eaten when mating. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Some studies in the European mantis suggest that the male survives in roughly three quarters of cases.
While these figures have not been calculated in other mantis species to my knowledge, we can say conclusively that at least some males survive mating.
Praying mantis are carnivores that will eat anything small enough for them to catch. This means that, at least in theory, a praying will indeed eat their babies given the option.
That said, many mantis egg cases (also known as oothecae) hatch some months after being laid, by which time their parents have long since died of old age.
As this generational crossover is unlikely in many species, praying mantis often don’t get to eat their babies, even if they wanted to.
If you want to breed praying mantis at home then a major concern is keeping your male alive. This is especially important if you only have a single male, but multiple females you want to put him with.
While there is no guaranteed method of keeping a male praying mantis alive during mating there are three tips that I have found to be quite effective over the years…
The first tip is to feed your female praying mantis as much food as she can possibly eat in the weeks leading up to mating. You want her feeling so stuffed that just the idea of eating your poor male is enough to make her feel ill
Once the female has been fattened up it’s time for the introduction. I’ve had some success here giving the female a final juicy insect to eat, waiting until she’s actually started eating, and then introducing the male. She’s often so busy eating that she doesn’t notice the male approaching so he gets off lightly.
Lastly, praying mantis can take a surprisingly long time to mate. They may well be going for hours on end. You might be waiting a full day till everything is finished. It’s therefore unreasonable to sit there all that time waiting to rescue the male.
Instead I like to ensure there’s plenty of space in the cage, so the male can quickly escape at the end, and avoid the female until I remove him.
I then keep an occasional eye on the cage, and as soon as I notice that they have separated the male is carefully removed.
Spider ball pythons are stunning snakes. As well as being attractive in their own rights they’re also the basis for a whole load of rarer and more complex morphs seen in the hobby. At the same time, however, the “spider” ball python morph is one of the most contentious subjects in the snake-keeping hobby right ... Read moreSpider Ball Pythons: An Introduction and Care Guide The post Spider Ball Pythons: An Introduction and Care Guide appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
Spider ball pythons are stunning snakes. As well as being attractive in their own rights they’re also the basis for a whole load of rarer and more complex morphs seen in the hobby.
At the same time, however, the “spider” ball python morph is one of the most contentious subjects in the snake-keeping hobby right now.
This is because spider balls are known to suffer from some serious health problems. Here in the UK this has lead the International Herpetological Society to ban them from sale at their reptile expos.
Before you go out and buy your first spider ball python here’s what you need to know…
Spider ball pythons are usually yellow with black lines that run horizontally. The markings often resemble a spider’s web, hence the name of the snake.
As with all ball pythons the females are bigger than the males at adulthood. Male spider ball pythons grow to 3 – 4 feet in length (90 – 120 cm) and the females can get as long as 4 and a half feet (137 cm). Hatchlings are around 10 inches in length when they are born and super cute!
In the wild ball pythons will live to be approximately 10 years. However, in captivity they are not subject to freak weather conditions or being hunted as prey so they can live as long as 50 years, although it is more common for them to live between 20 and 30 years. If you’re thinking of getting one, be prepared to look after it for a long time. It is a big commitment.
The main issue surrounding spider ball pythons (and morphs derived from the spider line) is that some specimens can suffer from a “head wobble”.
As the name suggests, affected snakes seem to wobble their heads, or appear almost “drunk” as their head hangs to one side.
This is a genetic condition and cannot be “cured”. As a result, there is some debate about whether we should be keeping and breeding snakes with such obvious problems.
I will say that the severity of these symptoms can vary massively between specimens.
I have a single spider ball python in my own collection (“Matilda”) that I bought years ago before I heard about these issues. The head wobble in my specimen is barely noticeable. She eats well and the condition really doesn’t seem to have had any negative impact on her.
With things as they are, however, I don’t plan to breed her.
I would suggest you think seriously about whether or not a spider ball python is right for you. Perhaps you would do well to select an alternative morph (or even the good old “wild” form) to prevent more of these genetically-disadvantaged snakes being bred.
While I love my Matilda, and have had her for many years, I would probably recommend against buying a spider ball these days.
As with other exotic pets, it’s crucial to get your spider ball python’s housing right. Your ball python cage needs to prevent your snake from escaping while providing the optimal environmental conditions.
Fortunately as ball pythons have slowly grown to become one of the most popular pet snakes in the world so breeders and keepers have experimented with a range of housing options. Here are some of the more popular options…
Many serious breeders keep spider ball pythons in rack systems. Here each snake is kept separately in a small plastic container. These fit like shelves into racking so they can slide in and out for feeding and maintenance.
On a simpler level some pet owners with a single spider ball python opt to use large plastic storage boxes like Really Useful Boxes (RUBs).
Exo Terras are really only suitable for baby spider ball pythons, as they’re likely to outgrow all but the largest in time. That said, they’re fantastic-looking cages and one of my favorite options when trying to create a naturalistic-style setup.
Experts are divided over the use of glass fish tanks for ball pythons. Some claim that they can provide too much ventilation, with others stating that spider ball pythons can feel exposed in an all-glass tank. As a result be sure to provide plenty of hides for your spider ball python if you go down this road.
Note that just like other snakes, spider ball pythons are born escape artists, so you’ll need to consider how to secure the top of the aquarium. You can either make your own lid if it is tight-fitting, or possibly more easily consider investing in a suitably-sized mesh vivarium cover.
While they seem more popular in Europe than in the USA, I’m a big fan of wooden vivariums for spider ball pythons.
Typically made from melamine/contiboard they’re able to withstand some moisture if your python spills their water. I like to add aquarium silicone to all the joins to further protect the wood from warping in response to humidity.
Your spider ball python cage will need some kind of substrate at the bottom. Here there are many options with every keeper having their own preference.
The cheapest option, used by many professional breeders, is newspaper.
However there are a number of downsides to using newspaper.
Firstly, and most obviously, it looks horrible, which kind of defeats the object if you’re buying a beautiful spider ball python.
Secondly, it tends not to be very absorbent so needs to be constantly replaced. It’s not just faeces that you need to worry about; ball pythons will sometimes spill water from their bowl either by soaking themselves in it or by moving the bowl during normal everyday activities.
Adult females also have an odd habit of wrapping themselves around their bowls in the breeding season, which can result in more spillage.
Thirdly and perhaps most important of all is that newspaper doesn’t facilitate natural behaviour. For example, your snake can’t burrow around in the substrate, and there are fewer abrasive surfaces when it is time to moult.
Fortunately there are plenty of other options, which may prove to be more practical.
Having tested a huge number of substrates over my 15 years keeping and breeding ball pythons my personal preference right now is for a substrate known as Lignocel. It is made from fine wood chippings. It looks quite attractive, is very absorbent, and if supplied to a generous depth can encourage more natural burrowing behaviour.
Other popular options include orchid bark, coconut fibre (coir) and cypress mulch.
Whatever the case add a decent depth for your snake – at least an inch for hatchlings spiders and perhaps even more for adults. In an ideal world your snake should be able to entirely conceal itself below the surface so aim for a substrate depth of at least the fattest part of your snake’s body.
Also, be prepared to spot clean the substrate on a regular basis, removing any areas that have become soiled and topping up as necessary.
In the wild ball pythons will spend much of their lives hiding out of sight in a burrow. Somewhere to hide away will therefore help your snake to feel comfortable in their cage.
A spider ball python that has nowhere to hide may become stressed, which can result in them refusing food or snapping at your fingers. It is therefore crucial that your snake is provided with at least one hide.
Here, again, there are many different options. Simple, cheap and easily sourced, some keepers opt to use a cardboard box, replacing it as necessary. As with newspaper, however, this hardly looks very visually appealing and will require constant replacement.
It is possible now to buy plastic hides – essentially a black plastic box with a hole for your snake to enter it. These might not be the most attractive of solutions but they are very practical indeed. They come in a huge range of sizes – suitable even for the biggest spider ball python.
Being made of plastic they last and last and are easy to scrub down during routine tank maintenance. The small hole also ensures total privacy for your snake within. I now use these with roughly half my snakes.
Taking things up another notch, one can find a variety of wooden hides like curves of bark. These are the most attractive of all in my opinion, and are perfect for a more naturalistic cage set-up. The downside, besides their weight, is that they can require extra effort to clean.
The key things when choosing a hide is that your spider ball python should be able to fully conceal itself inside. Sizing is therefore crucial. If in doubt, visit an exotic pet store to visually check any hide you have in mind will be suitable for your pet.
Experts still disagree on the optimal humidity level for spider ball pythons. On the one hand, ball pythons seem to thrive in conditions of slightly higher humidity than some other pet snake species.
An atmosphere that is too dry can lead to problems with sloughing.
On the other hand, a vivarium that is too damp can lead to health conditions such as scale rot or respiratory conditions.
So what’s the solution? Living in the UK, the humidity in my animal room remains around 60-70% through most of the year. My ball python cages are kept dry, though all snakes have access to a water bowl at all times. This “natural” humidity level seems to work fine, with no major issues with sloughing.
In cases where a snake has difficulties has moults you can provide a “moss boss” by placing damp moss into a hide. This isolates the moisture, but ensures your spider ball python can access higher humidity areas if required.
Ventilation is important to prevent stagnant, stale conditions in your spider ball python cage, so whatever cage you choose ensure it allows for air movement.
Spider ball pythons may not be the biggest snakes, but they are very muscular. This means that water bowls should be suitably heavy to prevent them tipping over. I use ceramic bowls designed for cats or dogs for my specimens and these seem to work well.
Bigger specimens are of course given bigger bowls.
The water is changed daily to keep it fresh, while the bowls are scrubbed out with reptile-safe detergent, allowed to dry and then replaced each weekend.
Hailing from Africa it should come as no surprise that your ball python is likely to appreciate some supplemental warmth.
In the wild snakes regulate their own temperature by moving between warmer and cooler areas. They may bask in warmer places before moving off to hunt.
This same concept – a “thermal gradient” – can be created in captivity too.
Here we ensure one end of your spider ball python’s cage is hotter than the other.
Each specimen is different in terms of their preferences, but as a general guide the hot end should be roughly 88 – 96 degrees F (31 – 35.5 C) and the cool area should be 78 – 80 degrees F (25.5 – 26.6 C).
Please note that these are general guidelines.
Not only are all snakes unique, with some preferring warmer or cooler temperatures than others, but the “optimal” temperature for your spider ball python can also vary by season. Therefore it is a good idea to monitor your snake’s behaviour and adjust temperatures in response.
If your snake is always squished up in the hottest area of the cage then consider increasing the temperature. The opposite applies if they’re also obviously skulking around the coldest part.
Over time you’ll figure out the perfect conditions for your snake.
There are a range of reptile heaters and it isn’t always easy for beginners to choose the right option.
The best heater will depend not just on your snake, but also on their cage and your home general.
For example if you’re using a cage that has plenty of ventilation – like an Exo Terra or a fish tank with a mesh lid – then you may need a more powerful heater.
On the other hand, if you opt to use a wooden vivarium, and your home stays nice and toasty all year round, a less powerful heater may be more than capable.
Here are some of the top options:
Ceramic heaters get very hot, so can be a good option for colder areas/homes or for snakes in mesh cages.
Heat mats, also known as heat pads, produce a far gentler heat. This can be ideal to give your snake cage a subtle boost, but means they may not be suitable for cooler homes or better-ventilated cages.
Heating cables are really only suitable for keepers looking to heat a number of cages while only using one plug socket. If you decide to purchase several baby spider ball pythons together then these can be handy for heating all your vivariums at once.
No matter which heater you opt for it is crucial to appropriately monitor and control the temperature your snake is exposed to. Overheating is a very real risk which, in extreme cases, can lead to fatalities.
I advise using at least one thermometer – and ideally two – in your ball python cage. Keep a close eye on the hot and cool end as the seasons change, ensuring they’re always appropriate. If your heater is struggling there are plenty of ways to warm up vivariums in winter.
Additionally, while I’ve already mentioned it several times I want to be clear that all reptile heaters require a thermostat to prevent them getting too hot.
If you’d like to learn more about heating your spider ball python I recommend you read this article from the blog.
Feeding spider ball pythons doesn’t need to be difficult.
They fare well on a diet of appropriately-sized rodents.
Generally ball pythons will eat a rat or mouse equivalent to the fattest part of their body. This means that hatchling will likely start off on mice, while adults will inevitably move on to rats with time.
I advise against feeding live rodents. They can bite your snake, defecate in the cage, and it may even be illegal where you live.
Instead try to familiarise your ball python with eating dead rodents. Before buying a spider ball python it is worth checking with the breeder or pet store what they’re eating and how often.
Hatchling snakes need to be fed every week as they are growing and need the energy. Adult snakes can be fed every 10 – 14 days.
Ball pythons have heat sensitive pits in their lips (those tiny holes you can see just above the mouth). This means that warm prey can be more appealing for ball pythons than feeding cold rodents.
If you’re buying frozen rodents and then defrosting them at home then consider warming them up to body temperature before feeding.
I do this by placing the food into a plastic bag and suspending it in hot water. Check the temperature before feeding to ensure your snake won’t burn it’s mouth – we want pleasantly warm not steaming hot.
Ball pythons can be fussy eaters on occasion. Larger specimens in particular may refuse food for long periods of time, which can be a real source of stress for many new keepers. So long as your snake appears healthy and isn’t losing condition then this generally isn’t something you should worry about.
Eventually your spider ball python will rediscover it’s appetite and start feeding again. I’ve had some specimens refuse food for months on end and eventually they start feeding again. So just be patient.
That said, before you accept defeat and wait it out, there are a few elements should confirm.
Firstly, I have found that my ball pythons prefer to eat in peace and quiet. If I sit in front of their cages watching them they’re far less likely to eat. While most hungry ball pythons will eat at any time of day, I have found that my fussier specimens seem more likely to eat in the evening rather than during the day.
My own feeding regime is therefore to ensure low light intensity in the room. I defrost and warm up the rodent in the early evening, place it gently into the cage using long tongs, shut the door and leave them to it while keeping any noise to a minimum.
The tongs are handy as ball pythons can vary by their feeding responses. Monty, an old male in my collection, is a very gentle eater. One of my females, however, is crazy and will lunge forward at the first sign of food. The tongs help to keep my fingers out of harm’s way!
Assuming you have the conditions right if your spider ball python isn’t eating then another consideration is whether they are coming up to a moult.
Snakes may go off their food for some weeks before a slough.
Roughly a week before the moult takes place you’ll notice that their color appears “washed out” and their eyes have gone cloudy like they have cataracts. If this is the case then just hold tight.
Let them moult, give them a week or two to recover, and then try feeding them again.
One of the reasons why ball pythons have become such popular pet snakes is that they are generally very docile and slow moving, so are perfect for anyone who wants to handle their pet.
All the same, all snakes are individuals, and the more your snake is used to handling the easier you’ll find it.
If you specifically want a spider ball python you can handle then it’s worth asking to hold any snake before you make a purchase to ensure it is calm.
Assuming your ball python is fine with handling then the process is pretty simple.
Firstly, you want to ensure that your snake doesn’t accidentally mistake you for food. I don’t like to combine handling and feeding; you don’t want to smell like a rodent. Snakes also shouldn’t be held for a few days after feeding, so they can properly digest their meal.
While most ball pythons are quite friendly, we all have bad moods on occasion. For example, I find that my spider ball python can be cranky when she is coming up to a moult. A week or two before her eyes go cloudy her personality changes and she’s best left alone.
Rather than just picking your snake straight up it can be wise to gently stroke them with a pen, a pair of tweezers or suchlike. Ensure there’s no negative response such as a strike before you gently life your snake out of their cage.
The goal when handling your spider ball python is to support as much of their body as possible, using both hands.
Stay calm and move slowly and gently; some ball pythons may feel threatened by loud noises or sudden noises and could strike as a result.
Hold them over a soft surface, so that if you slip your snake won’t be harmed.
Don’t overdo the handling or some pythons can get stressed and may start to refuse food.
The post Spider Ball Pythons: An Introduction and Care Guide appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.
Axolotls come in a wide variety of colors which makes them very attractive. The color type or morph as it is called, is decided by a combination of 4 or 5 different genes. If there is a dominant gene it will show itself in the color of the axolotl, but if there is a recessive ... Read moreAxolotl Colors: What Axolotl Morphs Exist? The post Axolotl Colors: What Axolotl Morphs Exist? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
Axolotls come in a wide variety of colors which makes them very attractive.
The color type or morph as it is called, is decided by a combination of 4 or 5 different genes. If there is a dominant gene it will show itself in the color of the axolotl, but if there is a recessive gene it will only appear if there isn’t a dominant gene.
Let’s take a look at the axolotl morphs that are out there.
This axolotl is the natural color that you will find out in the wild.
It is a combination of black, green and brown and has speckles of shiny gold iridophore pigments. This means that they absorb or reflect any colors of the spectrum.
Wild types are not all exactly the same color; some can be lighter or darker than others.
They have very interesting eyes which are dark with a gold ring around the pupil.
The gills are a purple and gray color.
Leucistic axolotls are a pink and white color and sometimes have black markings on their backs.
Their eyes are navy or black and their gills, red.
Many leucistics will develop freckles.
Some have a shiny ring around the pupil of the eye and shiny skin patches.
Speckled leucistic axolotls are very similar to ordinary leucistics, but they have a lot more black freckling on their face and upper body.
The amount of freckling ranges from light to heavy and can increase or decrease as the axolotl grows.
Surprisingly, if your axolotl is kept in a tank with a dark substrate, it will become darker, while if the substrate is light-colored, the black color will become less pronounced and may even completely disappear.
As would be expected of an albino the body is usually white, although it can be a delicate shade of pink.
The eyes are either clear or red and the gills are red.
Because it is an albino it won’t develop any other coloration except that the fingers become dark as the axolotl reaches sexual maturity.
The melanoid axolotl is very similar to the wild type in that it is dark.
However, because it has a large amount of dark pigment it is not shiny at all nor does it have a shiny ring around the eyes.
The belly however is lighter-colored.
Melanoids never have any shiny patches.
Juvenile black melanoids are affected by the color of the substrate in their tank. If the substrate is black they will become black. If it’s light-colored they will change to a light gray color. It can take just an hour for them to change color.
As they grow to maturity they turn black and don’t change color again.
The golden albino is, as the name suggests, yellow.
When they are first hatched they are white and you would think that they were white albinos.
However, as they grow up the yellow color takes over.
Their eyes are pink or red and they have a shiny ring around the pupil of their eyes.
In addition they have shiny patches all over their bodies.
The melanoid golden albino is not quite as yellow as the golden albino, but is not white like a white albino.
Its color could be described as light cream and sometimes they do have yellow patches. Because they are melanoid they don’t have any shiny patches.
Copper axolotls are actually a type of albino.
They come in a range of different shades of copper from light to dark.
Their eyes are reddish and they lay white eggs.
Sometimes they have darker spots on their backs.
The initials GFP mean green fluorescent protein which is a morph that was first introduced in a lab setting.
The purpose of this was for cancer and regeneration research.
However, the gene is now passed down from GFP parents to their offspring although not all of them will inherit the gene.
If you put a backlight on these axolotls they will glow a bright green. However, backlight stresses them out so don’t leave it on for more than a few seconds.
Occasionally they will have a greenish tint under normal lighting.
If you have non-albino GFPs you will find that their eyes glow green.
The piebald axolotl is very rare.
They are heavily spotted with the marks going all the way down the body and sides.
They are often mistaken for leucistics. However, a piebald is a lot darker than a leucistic and has more black spots.
It is genetically inheritable unlike chimeras and mosaics which are formed through a genetic accident. These axolotls are quite common in New Zealand, but are rare elsewhere.
A chimera is another rare axolotl and is produced in a very strange way. Two eggs fuse together and each side grows like the egg it came from.
You will have a very unusual pet as the two sides will look completely different. You could have an axolotl that was half wild and half leucistic and what an appearance that would be!
Chimeras can’t be produced by breeding. They are caused by accident so you cannot predict that you will get one.
The mosaic is similar to a chimera in that it is the result of two eggs forming together, but in this case the colors aren’t split down the middle. They are mixed over the whole axolotl.
Mosaics, like chimeras can’t be reproduced through breeding. Many of these axolotls are infertile anyway.
The firefly axolotl was produced by Lloyd Strohl from Indiana in 2016. They have been produced by embryonic graphing and are not genetically modified.
The darker axolotls have a lighter tail, while the lighter axolotls have a darker tale.
As can be seen, there is a great variety in colors in axolotls so you will have a big decision to make as to which you get.
At 18 – 24 months axolotls are mature and they can be any length from 6 – 18 inches (15 – 45 cm). The most common length is 9 inches (23 cm). They have external gills and a caudal fin which is another word for tail fin.
Axolotls have wide heads and lidless eyes. Their limbs aren’t properly developed and they have long and thin digits. You will find that females are wider because of their capacity to carry eggs.
The axolotl is a very popular pet and there are probably more of them in captivity than in the wild. They need to live in a tank with the temperature set between 61 – 64 degrees F (16 – 18 C).
Generally this is room temperature so heating won’t be necessary. Both lower and higher temperatures can result in your axolotl dying.
Chlorine in the water is bad for axolotls so you will have to dechlorinate the water with an agent which you can buy in any pet store.
You can put an adult axolotl in a 10 gallon tank, but they do produce a lot of waste so you might be better considering a 20 gallon tank.
The tank should have a secure lid as axolotls have been known to jump out of their tanks. As they need to be in water all the time, this could be fatal.
They don’t need any special lighting. Remember that lights can produce extra heat which isn’t good for your axolotls. It is a good idea if you can add something to the tank which allows them to get away from daylight if they want; perhaps a flower pot laid on its side.
You will need to put gravel on the bottom of the tank but make sure that it is coarse otherwise they could ingest it while feeding.
Some people don’t put anything on the bottom of the tank, but this could stress the axolotl as it would be difficult for it to get a grip on the bottom of the tank.
Axolotls eat a variety of foods in captivity including trout and salmon pellets and frozen wax worms, earthworms and bloodworms.
You can give them live worms if you wish. However, avoid giving them live fish because of the risk of parasite infection.
With a properly balanced diet they won’t need vitamin and mineral supplements.
They are hardy creatures and are relatively tame. However, you can’t interact with them as they have to be in water all the time so you can just watch them as you would fish.
They are basically just display pets. They should not be handled unless it is absolutely necessary. They are not social so it is better to just have one per tank. They can have cannibalistic tendencies so could try to eat each other.
Axolotls live for about 10 years in captivity although there are records of some living to 20 years. Whatever, they are a commitment so you need to be sure that you can look after them for so long.
A corn snake’s lifespan can depend on a variety of factors. In the wild, of course, they are in danger of predation or of being run over when crossing a road. As a result, the lifespan of a wild corn snake is likely to be around 6-8 years in total. Pet corn snakes can be ... Read moreCorn Snake Lifespan: How Long do Corn Snakes Live in Captivity? The post Corn Snake Lifespan: How Long do Corn Snakes Live in Captivity? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
A corn snake’s lifespan can depend on a variety of factors. In the wild, of course, they are in danger of predation or of being run over when crossing a road. As a result, the lifespan of a wild corn snake is likely to be around 6-8 years in total.
Pet corn snakes can be surprisingly long-lived when provided with the right conditions.
It is not unusual for corn snakes to reach 15-20 years of age in captivity, and sometimes even longer.
Buying a pet corn snake can therefore be a long-term responsibility. It is wise to consider whether you’re really going to be happy caring for your snake for several decades to come. Only when you’re certain should you consider bringing one home.
Of course, there are even factors in captivity that can affect how long a corn snake lives for. The better the level of care, the greater the lifespan of your corn snake is likely to be.
So what factors should we consider to ensure a long and healthy life for your pet…?
The first key to a long-lived snake is providing the right housing. This allows you to create a “micro-habitat” perfectly suited to the needs of your corn snake.
While there may be snow on the ground outside, your pet may be totally unaware, happily basking in their warm, spacious tank. Here are some important things to consider…
Your corn snake should be given enough space to move around regularly. A corn snake kept in a cage that is too small may put on weight, which can shorten their lifespan.
As a good rule of thumb, aim for a cage where the length added to the width is at least as great as your snake is long.
So a single corn snake that is 150cm (5 feet) long would ideally have a vivarium that is at least 90cm long and 60cm deep (90cm+60cm=150cm).
Of course, if you can afford a larger cage then all the better.
Like other reptiles, corn snakes require specific environmental conditions if they are to thrive. Some cages tend to make it easier to provide these requirements. Besides the size of the cage, some of the most important considerations are:
Corn snakes don’t do well in damp, stale conditions. These can lead to health conditions like respiratory conditions or scale rot.
A cage with plenty of mesh or ventilation holes is therefore preferable over a more enclosed container.
Corn snakes are crepuscular. That means they’re most active around dawn and dusk, though they may come out at any time of the day or night.
Outside of these times they often like to hide away from view, and this desire is important if your snake is to remain happy and healthy.
It is possible (and indeed I would argue essential) for every snake in captivity to be provided with a hide or two irrespective of their cage. However this is especially important in glass tanks where your snake is at risk of being disturbed from any side.
If you opt for a glass cage, therefore, aim to place it up against a wall and even consider masking off one or both ends with plants or pieces of cork bark. This creates dark, secret little corners that your snake can feel comfortable in.
It goes without saying that you want to avoid your corn snake getting out, especially if you’re not home at the time. A time-fitting lid or door is therefore essential.
If you select a cage with sliding doors I always recommend you add a cage lock. These are cheap and easy to source. They also prevent your corn snake from accidentally sliding open the door to their cage during everyday activity.
It’s easy to think that how well you can see your corn snake is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. However, I believe that the simple art of sitting and watching your snake can help you to identify potential issues.
You might notice a cut or graze.
You might see changes in behavior.
All of these things can help to identify potential health or husbandry issues that need to be resolved.
Most pet corn snakes will require some form of supplemental heating, especially in the colder months of the year.
Without the right temperature corn snakes may start suffering from health conditions or may refuse food. Food that is already in the gut can start to rot, and generally your snake will slow down.
Kept cold enough for long enough a corn snake will die.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to provide the right heat.
Try to provide a basking spot that is deliberately kept warmer than the rest of the cage. Depending on your setup a heat mat or ceramic bulb are both good options.
Aim for a hotspot of around 80-85’F (26-29’C) and adjust these temperatures in response to your snakes behavior.
A corn snake that can behave naturally is likely to live a lot longer than one kept in a more sterile or artificial environment.
It encourages them to move around, which is good, and can also make them more interesting for you to watch. Here are some things to consider:
While substrates like newspaper or paper towel are still popular among corn snake owners, I’m a big fan of trying to keep things a little more natural.
Particulate substrates allow burrowing, and their mildly abrasive texture can also be handy when your snake sloughs it’s skin.
Corn snakes live primarily in the eastern part of the USA where there is a lot of bush, wood, clay and dry soil. This will give you an idea of the sort of substrate you should put in your snake’s enclosure.
Good choices include aspen, cypress and coconut fiber.
Pine and cedar should be avoided as they release phenols which can cause respiratory problems. This doesn’t help them to have a long life.
Try to provide enough substrate so that your snake can bury itself entirely if it so desires. A depth twice that of your snake is a good starting point.
From branches to pieces of bark, from leaves to plants, feel free to add interest to your corn snake tank. This can encourage a broader range of natural behaviors, and also makes their cage look far more interesting for you!
Just be sure that any tank decor you add is reptile-safe. If in doubt, buy only from your local exotic pet store or from specialists online. Adding decor you’ve picked up in the countryside could introduce parasites or chemicals that harm your snake.
Take care that no tank decor can pose a health risk to your snake. For example, consider gluing any heavy pieces of wood in place using aquarium silicone (not the bathroom alternative). This will prevent it crushing your snake if they burrow beneath.
Lastly all corn snakes should have at least one hide under which they can conceal themselves.
While it’s not strictly necessary, some keepers opt to add artificial lighting to their corn snake cage. Some keepers claim that the provision of UV light – as we do for lizards like my day geckos – can encourage increased activity and health.
Just as importantly, however, any lights should be turned off at night to permit a natural day/night cycle.
As a rule, snakes don’t like people.
They don’t like noise or commotion.
They’ll normally do everything they can to avoid it.
Yet here we are putting them into our often-busy homes.
No doubt, this can lead to stress, and potentially shorten the lifespan of a corn snake.
An important consideration is therefore where you’ll place your corn snake cage. A nice quiet spare bedroom can work well, where your snake will receive only minimal disturbance.
Less suitable places might include in your kitchen (due to cooking fumes), near the TV (due to noise) or near a door or window (due to temperature changes).
Just like us, if a corn snake is to live a long life then they need the right nutrition. This means being given the right items in the correct volumes.
Most corn snakes eat mice in captivity.
The way to decide what size of mouse to give it is to measure both the girth of the mouse and the girth of your snake. They should be about the same.
A baby corn snake will probably be alright with pinkies, while a grown-up snake will need adult or jumbo mice.
A feeding schedule of around once-per-week tends to work well for most corn snakes. Some keepers weigh their snake regularly, keeping a record, so they can adjust feeding in response.
It goes without saying that a bowl of fresh drinking water should be available at all times.
Actually getting your corn snake out of its cage and having a good look at it can help you spot potential health problems.
Start at the front of the snake and slowly work your way down the tail checking every detail as you go.
Carefully consider each element.
Are the eyes bright?
Is there any discharge from the mouth?
Are the scales glossy and flat?
Are there any cuts, scratches or grazes?
If you find anything you’re unsure of then consult a reptile veterinarian at the earliest opportunity.
You might want to consider reptile pet insurance to help cover any potential costs. It’s quite a specialist thing, but there are a handful of providers out there.
Lastly, of course, you need to protect your corn snake from common forms of danger that might shorten its life. Some things to consider:
Some children have no understanding of animals and may accidentally put them in danger. If you have young children then consider keeping them out of your snake room, teaching them they aren’t allowed to open the cage in your absence, or fitting a secure cage lock.
Other household pets can pose a risk to pet snakes. Cats can be a particular risk as they may not only want to attack your snake, but they may try to sit on the warm lid of the cage.
Ensure your corn snake cage is secure, with no gaps through which they can escape, and that all doors/lids are securely fastened at all times. Personally I like to do a quick check every evening before bed and every morning before work.
Reptile heaters can get very hot indeed. I have heard stories of people losing their pet reptile by literally cooking it to death. I’ve also seen blackened and melted reptile tanks. Don’t use a reptile heater without a thermostat to be certain.
Also, be aware that direct sunlight can cook your corn snake if it falls in their cage. In sunny weather keep the blinds closed, or position the tank where sunlight can’t hit it.
Lastly, take care when handling your corn snake. Be gentle, slow and deliberate. It can be a good idea to hold them low, such as by sitting on the floor or a bed, so if you accidentally drop them they won’t come to any harm.
The post Corn Snake Lifespan: How Long do Corn Snakes Live in Captivity? appeared first on Keeping Exotic Pets.
I’ve been keeping pet tarantulas for roughly 25 years so I obviously think they’re pretty neat. That said, still to this day I have people asking me whether tarantulas are really a good pet. The answer, of course, is that it depends. In this article I’m going to break to the good and the bad ... Read moreIs a Tarantula a Good Pet? The post Is a Tarantula a Good Pet? appeared first on Keeping Exotic...
I’ve been keeping pet tarantulas for roughly 25 years so I obviously think they’re pretty neat. That said, still to this day I have people asking me whether tarantulas are really a good pet.
The answer, of course, is that it depends.
In this article I’m going to break to the good and the bad and once and for all answer the question: “is a tarantula a good pet?”
Let’s start with the good stuff. The reasons why I think you should definitely go ahead and get your first pet tarantula.
Just appreciate there’s negative stuff further down the page – so be sure to read the whole thing to get a balanced view.
Owning a tarantula is like having your own private zoo.
You get to watch and enjoy a live and exotic animal going about its daily life.
You watch it catch food, you observe it moulting and growing.
You can set up a naturalistic vivarium with bark, moss and more that becomes a real focal point in your point.
This can make owning a tarantula a fascinating hobby.
Tarantulas don’t need big cages. A 30cm x 30cm tank will be large enough for many popular mid-sized tarantula species. In this way, even people living in a tiny apartment can accommodate one or two tarantulas.
Once your tarantula is all set up in its home, there’s very little required in terms of ongoing maintenance. Spiders don’t need to be walked or groomed. They just get on fine with an occasional feed and water change.
The females of some species can live for several decades, so this isn’t a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” invertebrate pet.
While getting your first tarantula can be rather intimidating initially, many common species are quite easy to look after. This is particularly so when compared to other exotic pets like bearded dragons that have far more specialist feeding and lighting needs.
Get a tarantula and you’ll never run out of things to say again. You’ll be amazed at what a conversation starter it can be when people find out you own a giant hairy spider!
The tarantula community is a strong and passionate one. And while there will always be a few bad eggs, in general it’s a great community to be part of.
So far, so good. Tarantulas sound like the perfect pet. But hold on there for a moment, because there are a few home truths you need to understand before taking the plunge…
Unlike a cat or dog, which is pleased to see you when you get home, tarantulas couldn’t care less. For some people, this lack of a “relationship” with their pet seems odd.
Tarantulas might be beautiful and fascinating, but the truth is they don’t really “do” much.
Hobbyists talk about “pet rocks” – tarantulas that just sit there motionless for hours or days at a time.
They also have “pet holes” which, as the name suggests, applies to burrowing tarantulas that only rarely come out.
For some people, this is a disappointment, and may make tarantulas “boring” for them.
Tarantulas can vary massively in price, but be aware that some of the more beautiful species can come with a hefty price-tag.
Your tarantula needs live feeder insects to eat. Roaches, crickets, locusts and the like. They can be expensive, and many people don’t like handling these live insects either.
Be confident that you’re happy to do this before you buy a pet tarantula.
I don’t know whether this a good thing or a bad thing if I’m honest. The truth is that once you get into tarantulas, one is rarely enough. If you’re not careful within weeks you start to accumulate a “hitlist” of species you want, as your collection starts to grow at a worrying pace.
Once maturing, male tarantulas don’t live long. Their lifespan can be even shorter if they get munched by a female. For some people it can be a bit depressing to spend a few years lovingly rearing up a tarantula, only to find it’s a male.
As someone who rented properties for years, rest assured that landlords don’t take kindly to tarantulas. Your choice will be taking a chance by not telling the landlord, or taking a chance by telling them and hoping they’re OK with it. Either way it’s a risk.
Unless you live on your own, you’ll also need to consider the opinions of your partner or family. If they’re dead-set against you getting a tarantula then your plan may be derailed before you even start.
Lastly, consider what you’ll do when it’s vacation time. Most boarding kennels won’t accept a tarantula no matter how well-trained he or she is!
So – are tarantulas good pets? Personally, I think they make great pets. They’re silent, reasonably priced, easy to care for and make a fascinating hobby.
On the flipside, however, you need to be aware of the negatives when you decide if a giant spider is really the most suitable pet for your circumstances.
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