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This week I've been challenged by water plants, water waste and water-proofing, and everything never goes to plan.
I've been on the lookout for some aquatic/bog plants native to China, to grow in my Chinese Softshell (Pelodiscus sinensis) setup for the past year, and this week managed to get my hands on 3 different species; Houttuynia cordata, Marsilea quadrifolia and Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides. Plants and turtles rarely mix, so for this little experiment, I planted them in a small potting-tray suspended in the back corner of the setup using a bamboo cane and a hot-glue-gun (above the waterline). This should allow the roots of the plants to sit in the water, without being nibbled on. The turtle could still climb up the attached basking area and rip them to shreds, but hopefully they'll have a chance to become established before then!
I also attempted to make a trickle/basket filter for my Honduran Wood Turtle water area, however due to the shear volume of plant matter and soil that is dragged in when they go for a swim, the impeller of the pump quickly became tangled up and stopped working. The odd looking contraption in the middle photo shows my attempt at protecting the filter pump, and straining out any debris literally using a stainless steel sieve. This, ultimately, was a complete failure. Not only did fibres still manage to get through the sieve, but the turtles also wouldn't leave the sieve alone, and ended up getting their claws stuck in the metal mesh. The sieve has been quickly removed whilst I go back to the drawing board, but I do have another idea in the pipeline!
Lastly, I got two of my "micro-enclosures" along the front of my Honduran Wood Turtle enclosure nearing completion. I completely scrapped the pondliner and fablon waterproofing idea as it was too bulky, and I was concerned that it could peel away over time. Instead, I have opted to paint each of the recesses with several coats of black matt paint (designed for outdoor wooden beams), and then 3 layers of polyurethane varnish (a.k.a yacht varnish - waterproof and commonly used for reptile enclosures). The first coat of varnish is now done, and I have wired up two of the LED lighting strips for effect. I have also sourced a few inhabitants for these enclosures, but I'm saving that news for a little later!
I'm also hoping to pick up a few new additions next week, so check back soon! If you have any questions in the mean time, feel free to contact me using the address below.
It's with a heavy heart that I write this update.
Unfortunately, my female Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) passed away this week. This was her fifth year in my care, after purchasing her as a fully grown adult. Her behaviour had changed slightly towards the end, and I had noticed her climbing-abilities declining. She spent her last few days continually basking near the top of the enclosure.
I am genuinely gutted; she was quite the character, remarkably bold and fierce, often rushing to the front of her vivarium when I opened the doors to see if I had any bugs in-hand. She behaved as a wild gecko throughout her time with me - I had no interest in trying to tame her, as I was fascinated by her instinctive nature and saw no reason to change it.
Struggling to find a name for her, I did originally refer to her as "Stumpy", due to her regenerated tail, however my girlfriend, not impressed by my wit, offered the suggestion 'Echo', which I quickly adopted.
'Echo' might simply have rhymed with 'gecko' at the time, but I don't think anyone could have picked a better name for her; she motivated many of my animal projects, she taught me a heck of a lot in the last five years about reptile husbandry, captive breeding and vivarium design, and to this day, she is echoed in most of the things I do.
She may have been an immensely pretty face, but that's not the only reason she sits on the right hand side of the website. Thankyou, Echo, you will be sorely missed.