Reptile Care

More about Amphibians & Reptiles:

Amphibians & Reptiles
A desert terrarium is just what it's name implies, an arid or semi-arid environment. This is because the raw maenad bonds not swell like kibble. The old skin breaks near the mouth and the snake wriggles out, aided by rubbing against rough surfaces. Heating pads can also be used for this purpose. God Bless you and yours. That's a calcium gold mine!

Reptile Classification

Bearded Dragon Food

In nature, herptiles don't get to eat constantly. They have to be much more active in collecting their food in the wild, than they do in captivity. Becoming obese can actually be a problem if they are fed daily. About Reptile Cages The cage or enclosure to house your pet will be determined by the size of the reptile and its environmental needs. Housing for large reptiles can be accomplished with various types of cages.

For smaller pets there are many different types of terrariums that can be set up. The shape of the cage too, must suit the needs of the pet that you will put in it. For example, a tall narrow cage with a climbing branch is needed for an arboreal or tree dwelling animal, such as a chameleon. Whereas a low, wide cage is needed for a roving terrestrial or ground dwelling animal, such as a tortoise.

Many commercially available reptile cages are pre-made glass terrariums or you can simply get an aquarium and a screen cover. Wooden cages with glass fronts are sometimes available as well, or they can be built. When the weather permits, some reptiles can simply be housed in a backyard enclosure or a pond area. Some people will even create elaborate indoor setups for their pet reptile, like an indoor atrium.

Types of Terrariums The types of reptile cages and habitats are limited only to your imagination and being suitable for the type of reptile you have. There are four basic habitats for herptiles, which include: Aquatic Terrarium Some animals that are suited to an aquatic terrarium are turtles, frogs, newts, rubber eels, water snakes, mudpuppies, waterdogs and salamanders. The aquatic terrarium is like an aquarium.

You need water, a submersible heater, usually gravel is spread on the bottom, and a filter is nice to make maintenance less work. It differs slightly from an aquarium by the decor you use, the lid or covering used on the top, and the amount of water needed generally 4 to 6 inches for the animal that will live there. First you will need a vented or wire screen top. This allows air to circulate through the terrarium as well as giving you a place set a basking lamp.

Next a basking area is usually needed. It can either be a floating type such as an artificial lily pad or a slab of bark, or it can be a built up area of rocks and moss. Then you will want a background.

This is important not only to provide a naturally looking setting, but to help your pet feel secure and comfortable. Semi-Aquatic Terrarium Some animals that are suited to the semi-aquatic terrarium are most of the various salamanders, frogs, and newts. Also crocodile lizards, caimans, basilisks, and several turtle types. A semi-aquatic terrarium is a combination of water and land. The land and water areas can be divided with a piece of glass attached and sealed with silicon, or a removable container can be used for the water area.

The water area can be set up like the aquatic terrarium with a heater, gravel and filter. The land area can be filled with substrates such as: A layer of charcoal covered with filter floss placed under the substrate helps keep it fresh. Decorate the terrarium with driftwood, moss, rocks and plants. Plants can be added to the land area by planting them directly into the substrate or by submersing pots into the substrate.

Pick plants whose size fits the animal and terrarium size; for example, ferns are great for tree frogs while pray plants are good for moderate sized lizards. Depending on the inhabitant you may need to provide a heat source that provides a basking area. Make sure there is a thermal gradient to the enclosure, with the basking source at one end while the other end is cooler.

Woodland Terrarium The woodland terrarium can house various frogs including red-eyed tree frogs, barking tree frogs, green tree frogs and true frogs; also various salamanders, day geckos, anoles, skinks, and snakes.

The woodland terrarium is set up just like the semi-aquatic terrarium only without the large water area. Simply provide a water bowl.

This terrarium is all substrate with plants, driftwood, moss and rocks. Depending on the type of animal you will house here, substrates can be: The pets you wish to keep in it will also determine if it should be planted, and how heavily it should be planted; whether you will have more branches for tree climbers or more rocks for ground dwellers. Plants such as philodendrons, syngoniums, fittonias, and other greenhouse varieties can work well in these terrariums. Various "air plants" such as tillandsia work great, too.

They are real low maintenance, they can be attached to driftwood and will do well just being misted a couple of times a week. You may need to provide a heat source, depending on the inhabitant, but make sure there is a thermal gradient to the enclosure, generally one end that is warmer while cooler on the other end.

This allows your reptile to thermoregulate as it needs to. Full-spectrum lighting is also important for some of the woodland types. Desert Terrarium Some pets that will do very well in the desert terrarium are: A desert terrarium is just what it's name implies, an arid or semi-arid environment. Good substrates for this terrarium includes reptile bark, terrarium carpet or sand.

Plants need be able to handle low humidity and be drought tolerant, such as cactus and succulents. You will need to provide a heat source but make sure there is a thermal gradient to the enclosure, generally one end that is warmer while cooler on the other end. Full-spectrum lighting is also important for most of the desert types. Terrarium Supplies The housing requirements for most cages and terrariums consist of four basic elements; heating, lighting, floor covering, decor and cleaning.

The reptile supplies for these elements sometimes overlap. An example is lighting, where a full-spectrum incandescent bulb will provide heat for all reptiles. It will also provide adequate lighting for some reptiles though not all.

It is not an adequate full-spectrum lighting for lizards such as the iguana or the sun lizard. Heating Heating your terrarium can be accomplished by using one or more methods or devices in order to provide the optimum environment for the herptile you are housing.

For many species it is often best to provide heating in a manner that offers a thermal gradient to the enclosure, that is to say, warmer on one end and cooler on the other. Heating can be provided in several ways: Heating devices kept outside the enclosure will prevent accidental burns. Hot rocks should be avoided or used very carefully and only as a secondary or supplementary heat source see more about them below Thermometer It is important to have a wide-range thermometer mounted on your terrarium so that you can monitor the temperature and make sure it is appropriate for the herps you will be housing.

Using two thermometers, one on each end, will give a better indication of the thermal gradient of the enclosure warm to cool. Basking lamps Basking lamps can be mounted at the top, usually outside the wire top of the cage. You don't want your pet to be able to touch the lamp as it can get burnt. The lamp provides a heat source through a full-spectrum bulb during the daytime and a red frosted bulb or a "blacklight" bulb for night.

The light in these nighttime bulbs cannot be seen by your pet though you can still see it , so they think it's dark out. Ceramic heating elements Ceramic heating elements do not provide light but produce a lot of heat.

They screw into a fixture just like a light bulb but due to the extreme heat must only be used in a fixture with a ceramic socket. This fixture can be mounted on top of terrarium in a manner similar to a basking lamp.

Under tank heaters Under tank heat sources such as heating pads or tapes are a good choice for supplementing heat provided by a basking light or to provide heat at night. Hot rocks Hot rocks should generally be avoided as they can get quite warm or even have hot spots. They don't help with heating the whole terrarium and can burn a reptile resting on one, causing injury and sometimes even death.

With newer technology today, there are hot rocks available that have been developed to prevent the problems of over-heating and hot spots. They have controlled heating elements for setting the desired temperature and thermal conductive resins that cover the stone for even heat distribution. However, these thermal controlled hot rocks still provide heat only on the rock, so they don't solve the problem of adequately heating the whole terrarium, and as such are not suitable for large lizards or snakes.

These specialty bulbs are available through pet stores that sell reptiles. Incandescent bulbs A full-spectrum incandescent bulb provides heat as well as light. These can be mounted as a basking lamp. They are fine for many lizards, but for lizards that require natural sunlight, it is not adequate.

These must have fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent bulbs A full-spectrum fluorescent bulb provides a sunlight replacement for those pets that need full-spectrum lighting. Not all require this, but those that do will be at risk if they don't get it. These include many diurnal, or day-time active lizards and tortoises.

Of course, natural sunlight is the best source of full-spectrum lighting. Flooring Covering There are a variety of floor coverings that can be used for your pet, but they all have their own considerations.

One of the primary considerations in choosing floor coverings is cleanliness. Be wary of harmful micro-organisms. Reptile cage carpets Reptile cage carpets are often an ideal floor covering. They are made for your pet, not for human floors, so they are not abrasive to your pets skin. They are also easy to remove and clean. During the process of photosynthesis , plants use light energy to synthesize organic materials from carbon dioxide and water.

Both compounds can be absorbed easily across the membranes of cells—in a typical land plant, carbon dioxide is absorbed from the air by leaf cells, and water is absorbed from the soil by root cells—and used directly in photosynthesis; i. The only other nutrients needed by most green plants are minerals such as nitrogen , phosphorus , and potassium , which also can be absorbed directly and require no digestion.

Heterotrophy characterizes all animals, most microorganisms, and plants and plantlike organisms e. These organisms must ingest organic nutrients—carbohydrates, proteins, and fats—and, by digestion, rearrange them into a form suitable for their own particular needs.

The main source of fatty acids in the diet is triglycerides, generically called fats. In humans, fat constitutes an important part of the diet, and in some countries it can contribute as much as 45 percent of energy intake.

As already explained, the nutrients obtained by most green plants are small inorganic molecules that can move with relative ease across cell membranes. Heterotrophic organisms such as bacteria and fungi , which require organic nutrients yet lack adaptations for ingesting bulk food, also rely on direct absorption of small nutrient molecules.

Molecules of carbohydrates , proteins , or lipids , however, are too large and complex to move easily across cell membranes. Bacteria and fungi circumvent this by secreting digestive enzymes onto the food material; these enzymes catalyze the splitting of the large molecules into smaller units that are then absorbed into the cells.

In other words, the bacteria and fungi perform extracellular digestion—digestion outside cells—before ingesting the food. This is often referred to as osmotrophic nutrition. Like bacteria, protozoans are unicellular organisms, but their method of feeding is quite different. They ingest relatively large particles of food and carry out intracellular digestion digestion inside cells through a method of feeding called phagotrophic nutrition.

Many protozoans also are osmotrophic to a lesser degree. Other protozoans, such as paramecia , pinch off food vacuoles from the end of a prominent oral groove into which food particles are drawn by the beating of numerous small hairlike projections called cilia.

In still other cases of phagotrophic nutrition, tiny particles of food adhere to the membranous surface of the cell, which then folds inward and is pinched off as a vacuole; this process is called pinocytosis. The food particles contained in vacuoles formed through phagocytosis or pinocytosis have not entered the cell in the fullest sense until they have been digested into molecules able to cross the membrane of the vacuole and become incorporated into the cellular substance.

This is accomplished by enzyme-containing organelles called lysosomes , which fuse with the vacuoles and convert food into simpler compounds see figure. Most multicellular animals possess some sort of digestive cavity—a chamber opening to the exterior via a mouth —in which digestion takes place.

The higher animals, including the vertebrates, have more elaborate digestive tracts, or alimentary canals , through which food passes. In all of these systems large particles of food are broken down to units of more manageable size within the cavity before being taken into cells and reassembled or assimilated as cellular substance.

The enzymatic splitting of large and complex molecules into smaller ones is effective only if the enzyme molecules come into direct contact with the molecules of the material they are to digest. In animals that ingest very large pieces of food, only the molecules at the surface are exposed to the digestive enzymes. Digestion can proceed more efficiently, therefore, if the bulk food is first mechanically broken down, exposing more molecules for digestion. Among the variety of devices that have evolved to perform such mechanical processing of food are the teeth of mammals and the muscular gizzards of birds.

Human digestion begins in the mouth. There food is chewed and mixed with saliva , which adds moisture and contains the enzyme amylase , which begins to break down starches. The tongue kneads food into a smooth ball bolus , which is then swallowed. The bolus passes through the pharynx and esophagus into the stomach , propelled by peristaltic muscular contractions. In the stomach the food is then mixed by peristaltic contractions about three per minute with highly acidic gastric juices secreted there.

The hormone gastrin stimulates the secretion of these juices, which contain water, inorganic salts, hydrochloric acid , mucin, and several enzymes. The food, now in a semiliquid state called chyme , passes from the stomach into the duodenum , the first section of the small intestine , where the greatest part of digestion takes place.

The chemical reactions involved in digestion can be clarified by an account of the digestion of maltose sugar. Maltose is, technically, a double sugar , since it is composed of two molecules of the simple sugar glucose bonded together. The digestive enzyme maltase catalyzes a reaction in which a molecule of water is inserted at the point at which the two glucose units are linked, thereby disconnecting them, as illustrated below.

In chemical terms, the maltose has been hydrolyzed. All digestive enzymes act in a similar way and thus are hydrolyzing enzymes. Many other nutrient molecules are much more complex, being polymers, or long chains of simple component units. Starch , for example, is a carbohydrate, like maltose, but its molecules are composed of thousands of glucose units bonded together. Even so, the digestion of starch is essentially the same as the digestion of maltose: Protein molecules also are polymers, but their constituent units are amino acids instead of simple sugars.

Because as many as 20 different kinds of amino acids may act as building blocks for proteins, the complete digestion of a protein into its amino acids requires the action of several different proteolytic enzymes, each capable of hydrolyzing the bonds between particular pairs of amino acids. Fat molecules too are composed of smaller building-block units the alcohol glycerol plus three fatty acid groups ; they are hydrolyzed by the enzyme lipase.

Various other classes of compounds are digested by hydrolytic enzymes specific for them. Not all of these enzymes occur in every organism; for example, few animals possess cellulase cellulose-digesting enzyme , despite the fact that cellulose constitutes much of the total bulk of the food ingested by plant-eating animals. Some nonetheless benefit from the cellulose in their diet because their digestive tracts contain microorganisms known as symbionts capable of digesting cellulose.

So far, emphasis has been placed on the role of digestion in converting large complex molecules into smaller simpler ones that can move across membranes, which thus permits absorption of food into cells. The same processes occur when substances must be moved from cell to cell within a multicellular organism. Thus, green plants, which do not have to digest incoming nutrients, digest stored material, such as starch, before it can be transported from storage organs tubers, bulbs, corms to points of utilization, such as growing buds.

Animals that ingest bulk food unavoidably take in some matter that they are incapable of using. In the case of unicellular organisms that form food vacuoles, the vacuoles eventually fuse with the cell membrane and then rupture, releasing indigestible wastes to the outside.

Substances that cannot be digested, such as cellulose, pass into the colon, or large intestine. There water and ions such as sodium and chloride are reabsorbed, and the remaining solid material is held until it is expelled through the anus. Fecal constituents in species with an alimentary canal also include cast-off effete damaged or worn-out cells from the living mucous membrane and, in higher animals, bacteria that exist in the intestine in a symbiotic relationship.

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