Fire Skinks – Lepidothyris fernandi

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
A very impressive lizard species, bright and colourful, the Fire skink inhabits tropical forests in Western Africa. Total length is around 40cm, snout to vet around 20-23cm - but it is their colouration that impresses the most. This species was brought in to the UK hobby originally as wild caught adults. They have not proven to be an easy species to breed, however they are quite an easy species to track down as CB as more breeders produce them. WC are still brought in, but in dramatically reduced numbers, this could cause future issues with inbreeding - WC stock is still important. They are a relatively easy species to care for, and they tame down from their naturally fast and skittish nature in very little time at all. They come…
Read More

Ridleys Beauty snake – Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
A fantastically impressive snake species, best suited to those that are more experienced at snake keeping due to their irritable nature. They originate from Thailand and the Malaysian Peninsula and grow to around six feet long. Some writers report that wild individuals tend to be quite calm - not my own findings. They are often cave dwellers, only active during the day in the caves. Outside of caves they are purely nocturnal, but often take up residence in disused buildings and then revert back to daytime activity in the darkness of the building. They are well documented catching bats in mid-flight and whilst roosting during the day. Birds are also caught on the wing, this ability to catch flying creatures probably accounts for the lightening strikes and their well known…
Read More

Vinegaroons

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
Vinegaroons are an arachnid occurring throughout the world (except Europe and Australia), in sub-tropical and tropical regions. The are a burrowing species often found in burrows under rotting logs and the like. They are named Vinegaroons due to them releasing acetic acid as a defence, which gives them a vinegary aroma. Another common name is Whip Scorpion. They do not use the full eight legs for walking, the front two are used as antennae-like sensory organs. All species also have very large scorpion-like pincers – each pincer has an additional large spine. They have a pair of eyes at the front, three on the side of the head. These are very easy to keep. Maintain a temperature of around 25-28C, a deep layer of damp substrate such as coir, leaf…
Read More

Northern Pine snakes (Pitouphis melanoleucus)

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
There are five sub-species of Pine snakes, all occurring in North America, the Northern Pine snake is the nominate form. It occurs throughout New Jersey, the western Appalachian mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, southern Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Alabama, Northern Georgia, the piedmont area of southern North Carolina and nearly all of South Carolina. Often found in upland, sandy, dry coniferous woodland, mainly pine, and usually in forest openings. It has a large developed rostral plate on the tip of its nose that allows the snake to burrow in the sandy conditions – mainly to escape the hot summer temperatures. It is one of the largest North American snakes at around 2m in length. Often has an irritable nature, huffing and puffing, mouth agape in a typical (for the species) “s”…
Read More

Elegant gecko (Stenodactylus sthenodactylus)

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
Elegant geckos (sometimes known as Short-fingered gecko) are a small species of nocturnal geckos found in Norther Africa up into the Middle East – most found in captivity are originally from stock sourced in Egypt. They are a terrestrial species growing to around 6-8cm long. An interesting fact is within the taxonomy, the scientific name given is Stenodactylus sthenodactylus – the “h” shouldn’t be there, typos even existed when the species was originally described in 1823!   Being from a desert region, they need an arid set up to thrive in captivity – much like a Leopard gecko in many ways, just in miniature. A small vivarium suffices, make sure there are no small gaps between the glass or elsewhere. Floor covering needs to be sand (don’t worry too much…
Read More

Keeping Dice snakes (Natrix tessellata)

Care Sheets, Information Guides, Latest Posts, Uncategorized
Dice snakes (Natrix tessellata) are a harmless European water snake widely distributed throughout Europe, North African and the Middle East. As it is a water snake, its primary habitat is around ponds, slow moving streams and lakes – but also found around human habitation such as irrigation channels and tanks. Although classified as harmless it’s reported to have a well developed gland in its mouth that produces a mild neurotoxin and produces a potent antihemorrhagin in its serum. However this is highly unlikely to effect humans. They also void the contents of their vent, which is a smelly defence. This species when I was a child, was a common pet snake – along with the related Grass and Viperine snakes. I remember visiting pet shops where a tank would be…
Read More

Keeping a very unusual salamander species – the Siren

Care Sheets, Information Guides, Latest Posts
Sirens are a fascinating fully aquatic salamander species that resembles an eel. They all have a distribution of the Southern United States into Northern Mexico.   As a captive they present few problems to maintain successfully – they are one of natures survivors and for this reason thrive in captivity. They are an evolutionary throw back, and seem to have an answer to every scenario – for example the adults have small lungs and gills too.  This means they have a survival mechanism to survive drought, they can seal themselves in the mud of their pond should it dry up, to venture back out once the rain fills it back up. The long thin body is ideal for aquatic life, but with serpentine action, and small front limbs they can…
Read More

Speke’s Hingeback tortoises (Kinixys spekii)

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
This species of tortoise is a highly evolved species with excellent protection from predators by means of a fully closable shell design. Once closed the rear legs are not available to be bitten. They have also evolved to live in a very specific habitat – hot and dry most of the year, with a specific wet season. They are quite a flat species, ideal for living in rocky terrain. For this reason they have some very different requirements to more commonly kept tortoise species. They occur in savannah dry bush areas in East Africa. This effects their heat, light and diet requirements – not to mention the challenge of replicating their natural terrain. Speke’s Hingebacks are not a large species rarely growing more than around 20cm. For this reason a…
Read More

Emerald Swifts (Sceloporus malachitus)

Care Sheets, Information Guides, Latest Posts
When I was a child, over forty years ago I kept wild caught Sceloporus lizard species. They were commonly offered for sale, and were more often than not the spiny desert species originating from the USA. They were often sold as Fence lizards, and almost always kept as a desert species, no matter what their requirements consisted of. I cannot remember if this central American species was available, I don’t think it was, but certainly it’s reputation of being a difficult captive will likely originate from keeping them too dry and hot. Emerald swifts (Sceloporus malachitus) come from Mexico and further into Central America. Their habitat is quite specific, they occur in high elevation cloud forest – it’s quite cool and humid. Keeping them hot, as for example a Bearded…
Read More

Taiwan beauty snakes – Orthriophis taeniura friesei

Care Sheets, Latest Posts
Taiwan beauty snakes - Orthriophis taeniura friesei   A large colourful Colubrid snake species that occurs  almost completely in Taiwan . A sub-species, other similar looking sub-species and the nominate occur throughout a wide range of South Eastern Asia. This sub-species can be a large snake, but slender, at a maximum of nearly 3 metres long – most grow to around 2 metres in captivity. When I first bred this species, from wild caught stock, in the 90’s large specimens were quite common, but most seem to be smaller nowadays. Their natural habitat varies, unlike several of the sub-species who mainly occur in caves – this sub-species can be found in wooded, agricultural, human residential and other areas. Often found climbing in trees, under debris and generally active (in the hot…
Read More