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Keeping Reptiles

Timmy the Greyhound

I have kept, cats, dogs, birds, fish, hamsters and snakes.

Currently we have a Ted the Greyhound, two birds, and two snakes; Oz the Corn snake and Bertie the baby boa.

Of all of these reptiles are both the easiest and the hardest. The advantage of the types of reptiles I keep is that they do not need to feed, often for weeks at a time, a big bowl of water can last several days.

Some reptiles are more difficult than others, please do you research, some of my vivariums are over two hundred cm by ninety cm. Not everyone can afford the space for these sizes of vivarium, and if your keeping lizards or some large pythons you will need to dedicate a large room.

The key to keeping them is to do your research. You need to give them the room they need. You need to know the temperature they need to be kept at and whether you need to change that temperature during the day and night and by season.

Often you need to provide a high ambient temperature, a hot spot and a cold area.

Next humidity. This can be a challenge, pick your vivarium carefully, glass, plastic and wood are your options. You also need to consider your substrate. Does it need to increase humidity or decrease it. Will it cause issue with feeding, does your reptile like to borrow?

Lighting, some want heat but not light, others need a UVB source, but also want to be able to hide from the light sometimes.

Bertie the Boa, less then one year old

Lastly making the reptile feel safe; hides in the cold area and hot area is a minimum. Too much glass can make your pet feel exposed, does it need a dark area to hide in.

As I said, research is key. Choose the right pet and know your subject to give them a good life, and you can give each other years of pleasure.

Sherwood Pines – Walkies

With lock down easing, we got an email from a friend asking us if we wanted to go on a pack walk in the woods near Sherwood Forest. So with water bottles and collapsable dog water bowl packed off we went.

Having pets: loosing pets

I suppose we are quite unusual, but as we live in the country we keep chickens to provide us with eggs, have hounds, snakes etc, not the usual selection of pets. All our animals are pets even the chickens which have their own unique characters.

This Friday we lost one of our girls, its always sad; we try to give are pets the best life they can and they give us far more.

Fitting new Heaters and Thermostats to Bertie the Boa’s Vivarium

Bertie the Boa, less then one year old

Bertie has quite a vivarium, one that I thought had enough redundancy to protect him. The substrate is a base of coarse and fine coco substrate and orchid bark giving a mix of textures and the ability to hold moisture and release it slowly without feeling wet.

On the power side, there are two independent power sockets each feeding a six way with surge protection.

There are three lighting systems, a high intensity UV that I run from midday to four in the afternoon, a daylight LED system on a timer giving eight hours in the winter and up to fourteen hours in high summer. There is also a coloured light for dusk. All these are on separate digital timers.

The vivarium has two 150 watt heaters, one in the middle on its own controller giving a background day temperature and a different background night temperature, plus one at the far end giving the hotspot.

The brown out earlier in the week had blown both controllers (I now know just the fuses), and one of the ceramic heaters. Despite my precautions of separate power and surge protection we had lost all the heating.

As a temporary measure I hooked up a 50 watt infra bulb and a spare controller and thermostat and set the room radiator to be permanently on instead of it timing mode. I ordered two new controllers and new heaters, and a set of fuses.

Replacing the controllers and thermostat probes was the easy part. The old controllers together with the extra heaters will act as spares.

The heating units were more of a challenge, I replaced both the ceramic holders and the ceramic heaters.

While all this was going on we removed the glass front to the vivarium so had the room radiators on high and we had the fire on. This made the room hot for us so we were working in tee shirts but Bertie was comfortable.

Temperature Data

Wild boas have been recorded active at temperatures as low as 62°F (17°C) and up to 104°F (40°C) between the hours of 7am and 7pm, although most of the data is clustered between 90°F (32°C) and 66°F (19°C). This temperature range contradicts what most keepers assert as “the best,” but proves that with correct husbandry, these animals are hardier than previously thought. Do you think that nature always stays at the perfect temperature? Of course not, and these animals are adapted to deal with the fluctuations of their region without getting sick. The key is to create a full temperature gradient so your snake can warm up and cool down as desired. The hottest areas will be closest to the heat source, and the coolest areas will be farthest from the heat source.

  • Chiaraviglio, Margarita, et al. “Intrapopulation variation in life history traits of Boa constrictor occidentalis in Argentina.” Amphibia-Reptilia 24.1 (2003): 65-74.
  • Waller, Tomas, et al. “Ecological correlates and patterns in the distribution of Neotropical boines (Serpentes: Boidae): a preliminary assessment.” Herpetological Natural History 3 (1995): 1.
  • McGinnis, Samuel M., and Robert G. Moore. “Thermoregulation in the boa constrictor Boa constrictor.” Herpetologica 25.1 (1969): 38-45.

Thanks to the ReptiFiles

Home Update – Gardens and Chickens

Garden Chickens Project-2We have now lived in the new house for a year and a lot of work has been done.  The dream we had was a new bungalow in the country, with cosy real fire, a dedicated formal dinning room, plus kitchen diner.  There was also our hobbies, Caroline wanted her own craft room and I wanted an office to use as my digital darkroom, plus we wanted a room to use as a studio, music room and library.

Garden Chickens Project-3

Around the house we have replaced all the doors and windows, had the chimney reworked so we can have a real fire and replaced all the major lights with low energy 1 to 1.5 watt LED lights.  Caroline’s craft room and my digital darkroom are complete so the house is well underway, with only what we are calling the sun room still to start.  This room will be a second living room used for music, a library and my studio.

Garden Chickens Project-4

The garden has been a major focus for us this last year, and just this month we finally completed the raised beds.  They have been successful and we have now had our major harvest of butternut squash, courgette, beans and peas, plus lettuce, cauliflower, beetroot, leeks and carrots.  We learnt a lot, things we raised in the cold frames then transplanted to the garden worked well, things we direct sowed into the raised beds got attacked by birds.  Everything worked except the cauliflower, we had netted them off to protect them from the birds, but all that did was protect the caterpillars, which enabled them to decimate them.

Garden Chickens Project-5

One the garden front as well as the vegetable plot we also wanted to keep bees and raise chickens.  We bought two flat packed hives, but apart from the stands and the brood box we did not find the time to finish them so thats on hold for now.

Garden Chickens Project-7At the bottom of the garden behind the garage we built a large compost bin, beside that was a rather nice looking but very rickety garden shed.  The plan was to tear this down and in its place build a chicken coop.

The old shed took a lot of getting down, it seems that ivy is the perfect way to hold up a building.

Garden Chickens Project-8

Once down we dug over the area and laid a rectangle of paving slabs.  These would help discourage the foxes from digging under to get at the chickens.  The bed of the coup run was made up of soil, gravel, sand and topped with bark.

Garden Chickens Project-10

If your on a budget then you can find plans on the internet for building your own coops and runs.

Garden Chickens Project-11

We took the easy root and purchased a coop with integrated run; it came in prefab’ed sections that just needed putting together.

Garden Chickens Project-13

It went together easily and then it was ordering the feeders, waterers, and other accessories.

Garden Chickens Project-15

It was not long before we were ready to get the girls.  We purchased four Copper Black’s a modern hybrid cross based on the Maran.

Garden Chickens Project-14

With the girls moved in, we let them have lots of peace and quiet, but did hand feed them a treat just before they put themselves to bed.

By the next day we were surprised to find an egg, so its safe to say the girls are settling in.