All the information listed here is based on my own experience, please carry out your own research before attempting to replicate anything on this site.
This week I've been taking a good look at old advice, and figured out a new concept for part of the website.
Today, after a long time searching, I recieved a copy of "Your First Terrapin", by David Green. It's not that this book is rare, or expensive, just that I've lost my original copy, and had to order another! This book is where my escapade into exotic pet care began, nearly 14 years ago, and it is thanks to it that I still have my first terrapin, in apparently good health, after all this time!
A slightly soppy introduction perhaps, but the point is that I put my faith in a book, and it paid off. Flicking through it now, most of its information is still fantastic, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a guide today which summarises how to care for these fantastic creatures, in such a small book, or for such a cheap price.
The problem with books is that they don't expire. Care information in them can be wrong, or disproved, but they stay on the shelf at the pet store, or online, until they are sold to someone who doesn't know any better. Not only can this be dangerous to the animals, but also dangerous to the keepers - I recently bought a guide still available at my local pet shop, which suggested submerging a household bulb in an aquarium, as a viable means to heating the water!
My idea is to create a new section of the website to independently review reptile-related books and guides, dispell any outdated information, and help explain how reptile keeping has progressed. Obviously this will be a mammoth task, but I'll begin where it started, with "Your First Terrapin", hopefully in the next few days.
Everything is well in the reptile room. The Chinese Firebelly Newts (Cynops orientalis) and Paddletail Newt (Pachytriton labiatus) are still kept in here for now, but are doing well on a diet of small earthworms and water woodlice. The smaller of the two Cynops has become more confident in the water now, which is great to see.
I'd really like to thank everyone who's been trying the turtle enclosure suitability calculator so far. It was a lot of work to produce, but after its initial trial-by-fire, there has been lots of positive feedback about it.
If you would like further information on this update, or anything else on the site, pop me an email,
A few new projects in progress this week, from new animals and livefoods, to enclosure designs and diets.
For starters, I thought I'd show the current design of my Bullsnake (Pituophis catenifer sayi) and explain some of the plans I have for it. It's functional, with a flowerpot hide, driftwood to help slough off old skin, several inches of aspen to burrow in, and a ceramic water bowl which is too heavy to topple over. However, in terms of replicating a Bullsnake's natural habitat, it's a little sub-par. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will be contructing something more natural for this snake, based on their native habitat of the North American prairies, including a loose, sandy-soil substrate, dried grasses and leaf litter, and a PVC "burrow", similar to the gopher holes that this species commonly resides in.
After my last update, I'm happy to report that both my Colombian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus) and adult female Common Musk turtles (Sternotherus odoratus) are doing well in their slightly re-designed habitats. The boa is feeding normally, and seems to feel more secure and comfortable in her enclosure, although I haven't attempted to handle her yet, and the Common Musks seem to be happy enough in the enclosure, rather than exploring the rest of the house!
This week also so the start of a project I've been anxiously waiting for! I finally began to culture the Thai Fairy Shrimp (Branchinella thailandensis), after importing eggs from Thailand. These are essentially a fully freshwater alternative to Brine Shrimp (Artemia sp.) commonly hatched for fish food. Although the long-term plan is to establish these shrimp so that I can use them to supplement the diets of my fish, amphibians and turtles, they've been fascinating to work with so far, and I will be documenting my culture method on the site shortly.
The reptile room also became a temporary home for a trio of amphibians; a pair of Chinese Firebelly Newts (Cynops orientalis) and a Paddletail Newt (Pachytriton labiatus). I will probably be putting more photos up in the near future, but I thought I'd feature the Paddletail, as despite its small size, it is very predatory in behaviour, and seems to have a huge appetite!
I've also been experimenting with "turtle pudding", where you take many of the smaller components of a turtle's diet (like bloodworm, mussels, prawns, and veg), and blend them together in a food processor to produce a paste. In theory, this is then combined with gelatine, to make handy jelly cubes, however I've yet to successfully produce one which stays together in the water! I have invested in a blender purposefully for this, and plenty of gelatine granules, so I'll just have to keep trying until I can get it right.
Lastly, if you happen to be interested in Buffalo Worms (Alphitobius diaperinus) or White Worms (Enchytraeus buchholzi) as livefood for anything, I'm happy to send starter colonies from my own collection for the cost of postage, so get in touch!
If you would like further information on this update, or anything else on the site, email me: