Fire Skinks – Lepidothyris fernandi

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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…
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Ridleys Beauty snake – Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi

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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…
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Wild Caught Animals

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When I first started to keep reptiles and amphibians wild caught was the norm. Very, very few instances of breeding these animals in captivity meant that the pet trade relied on collections of snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs and other exotic species from the wild. No doubt there were several animal welfare issues, and certainly there were cases of over collecting - but how relevant is this in todays industry? Very few animals in the UK trade, probably as little as a third of all exotic animals are now sourced from the wild - the colour morph side of the hobby now dictates massive amounts of Bearded Dragons, Royal pythons, Corn snakes and Leopard geckos are now more commonly kept. The amount of keepers wanting the more unusual species has become…
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Vinegaroons

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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…
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Northern Pine snakes (Pitouphis melanoleucus)

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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”…
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Elegant gecko (Stenodactylus sthenodactylus)

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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…
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Leipzig Zoo

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Leipzig Zoo is a zoo full of history, first opening in 1878. It has been owned by the city since 1920, and has seen many changes as the Second World War broke out and the subsequent forming / passing of Eastern Germany. It has a fantastic mix of old and new and is similar in that respect to London Zoo.   The older parts include the aquarium and reptile house (pre-themed areas were all taxa are displayed). On this visit the aquarium was closed for renovation – but the reptile house was open and is still a charming place to see reptiles. I have visited Leipzig Zoo previously, and the aquarium was open, it’s a similarly charming old version of displaying animals – but my favourite part was the old…
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Photography at Coast to Coast Exotics

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There has always been a traditional interest and link with photography at Coast to Coast Exotics - the marriage of all our animals and a camera is inevitable. We have had several photographers spending time at Coast to Coast Exotics over the years, including myself, producing some very nice images. Recently we opened our doors to camera clubs, for an evening of animals and photography. Some of the photographers have had their images reproduced onto unique greetings cards, now available from our store in Darlington. The current ones are from Mike Atkinson, not only a well known photographer, but for those that have been around Coast to Coast Exotics a long time, father to Lianne Atkinson who worked at  the store for several years. Lianne is now a veterinary nurse :-)…
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Top Tips – June 2019

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Top tips; Cage locks - As we continue into the snake breeding season, its worth combating the wanderlust of horny male snakes. All too often we hear of reptiles escaping from their vivarium by sliding open their glass doors – especially with male snakes on walk about looking for a female. We always advocate the use of a vivarium lock anyway, but critical at this time of the year. They are easy to fit, the bar slides in between the two pieces of glass so the hood of the bar catches one piece of glass. The finger nut needs to be tightened and then the lock is slid onto the bar. Some locks need to have the key to lock, others lock as its slid onto the bar. It’s that…
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Keeping Dice snakes (Natrix tessellata)

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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…
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