Brrr! Winter and the challenges of livefood!

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During the winter months it can be difficult for the keeper of lizards, frogs, spiders and other livefood eaters. Just keeping the locusts, crickest, waxworms, mealworms etc alive and nutritional can be quite a challenge. It has to be said the cold weather isn’t livefood friendly. The best option is to collect your livefood from your local store. You can inspect it before purchase to ensure the livefood is good quality – but that’s not the main reason. Ultimately at this time of the year a period of a couple of days in the postal service will not be very helpful at all in keeping your livefood in good condition – or even alive. Most mail order livefood suppliers, like ourselves, will pack with extra layers to insulate the insects…
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Probably the least comprehensive guide to supplements ever.

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If you are reading this expecting an in-depth review of all the supplements that are on the market nowadays aimed at reptile nutrition – you are in for a shock! No, this will give you some home truths about the basics. Armed with this basic knowledge you can then decide for yourself which you feel best suits your reptiles needs. Not that long ago there were no supplements that were balanced for reptiles. Commercially we had SA-37 and Vionate for the general pet market. From there we had keepers experimenting with human supplements for their reptiles – Vitamin D and calcium (ground) tablets were popular, along with liquid additives such as Abidec (for human babies). It really was not acceptable at all, and we all sighed a huge sigh of…
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MistKing systems

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I've used MistKing systems for several years now, long before they had a UK importer and distributor. As a fan of eco-natural planted terraria and frog keeping I first started with the more "off the shelf" beginner misting systems provided by the more "mainstream manufacturers". However I was quick to realise that these were not up to my needs, and really only suitable for home use with a low use environment. I noticed the various misting systems that plant nurseries were using over in Holland, and then saw similar systems for sale at European shows such as at Houten and Hamm.  I took the plunge and never looked back. I have also installed systems in colleges and elsewhere that have very heavy use - they are still working well and…
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Exo Terra Incubator Pro

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For several years Exo Terra, and other manufacturers, have provided the more typical reptile egg incubator - the one that looks like a mini fridge. These aren't bad at all as an incubator, they have shelves inside and a front door to gain access. They seem to maintain a reasonably accurate temperature control too - certainly the fluctuations never seem to be too great to cause egg development problems. However Exo Terra have now introduced a different incubator, for those that need to incubate more eggs  with greater control over temperature and humidity. The incubator itself comes with a dimming / pulse proportional thermostat that seems to provide an even greater temperature control than their other incubator. It is reasonably large with internal dimensions of 40.5cm x 40.5cm x 16cm…
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Keeping mantids as pets

Keeping mantids as pets

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Mantid keeping is a fascinating hobby, these are truly unique critters that behave and look like nothing else on earth. There is a huge mind-blowing choice of species too, all with varying requirements and needs – and many with various unique characteristics within mantids too. They are relatively easy to keep and provide some of the most bizarre and fascinating behaviour – including their (possibly gruesome?) hunting and feeding habits. It’s easy to see why keeping mantids can become an obsession – they are up their with spiders as the most compulsive animals to keep. Many keepers start with one only to find they have several dozen shortly afterwards! We would advise that a beginner starts with one that is a little older and past their delicate stages. But for…
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Rankins Dragon (Pagona henrylawsoni)

Rankins Dragon (Pagona henrylawsoni)

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Rankins Dragons are very similar to Bearded Dragons, only smaller – a maximum total size would be around 30cm. For this reason they are a popular lizard to keep as pets – but much less common to see for sale in pet stores. The expected life span is around 6-10 years, as long as they have their needs met correctly. They naturally occur in the Queensland area of Australia in dry arid areas. Like Bearded Dragons, this species is relatively easy to maintain successfully – as long as some simple conditions and procedures are catered for. As they are smaller than Bearded Dragons they will require a smaller vivarium – an absolute bare minimum for one adult is a 3 feet long vivarium, with a four feet long one being…
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Ways to avoid the queue during lockdown

Ways to avoid the queue during lockdown

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We are allowed to be open during lockdown, we an essential business due to animal welfare issues. However we do have stringent measures in place to keep everybody safe, many of which will unfortunately cause queues. Here are some tips to avoid queues; • Use our home delivery services further details can be found here; Home Delivery During Lockdown • Phone ahead and pay for your items on the phone using your debit or credit card. Call us on arrival outside the store, we will bring your purchases to you. Be aware there may still be a slight wait depending on how busy the store is and how many staff we currently have furloughed or not. Only use this service for run of the mill purchases such as livefood and…
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Delivery services during lockdown

Delivery services during lockdown

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We are happy to provide home delivery during the November lockdown for those that cannot get to the store, or it's more convenient. However we are still open throughout as an essential business. We can do our home van delivery service. It is for customers within a 15 mile radius of Darlington - this includes much of Teesside, County Durham and Teesdale. Delivery day is Thursday of each week, in the afternoon / early evening - we will contact you with an hour slot for your delivery. We can carry small or larger orders, up to a four feet long flatpack vivarium. We can deliver everything that is available in store, including animals. Delivery cost is £3.50 within five miles, £5 after five miles, no matter how many items (as…
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Spotted Salamanders – Ambystoma maculatum

Spotted Salamanders – Ambystoma maculatum

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Spotted Salamanders are one in a group referred to as Mole salamanders occurring in Eastern USA and Canada. They tend to occur in deciduous forests and wetlands, living in leaf litter, hiding in burrows or under fallen logs. Their breeding is very interesting, they return to water once a year, but only to temporary pools created by heavy rainfall. They only stay there for a few days to spawn, and do not swim strongly. These pools are perfect for salamander spawn and tadpoles to survive as temporary pools tend not to have fish that would eat them. However there are downsides to temporary pools, sometimes they dry up before metamorphosis is complete. It is now known that a symbiotic relationship occurs between a photosynthetic algae and the spawn / embryos…
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Jacksons Chameleons

Jacksons Chameleons

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A very desirable Chameleon species, a male Jacksons Chameleon is instantly recognisable with their three long horns. There are other species with three horns, but Jacksons are the one that are the species most people think of. They naturally occur in various regions throughout East Africa, but have been accidentally (or otherwise) introduced in at least three US States. There are three sub-species Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus, Trioceros jacksonii jacksonii and Trioceros jacksonii merumontanus. The larger xantholophus (Yellow Crest) is the sub-species most likely encountered for sale. They are live bearers.   A full account of captive care is far beyond a brief introduction such as this, however a quick run down of their basic needs and husbandry is in order – please research thoroughly before committing to this species. There…
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