Reptile Questions And Answers


Ron Wulff, the Reptile Man, has worked for one of the big retail pet stores for 6 years as a reptile and aquatic specialist. He rescues reptiles and runs www.nopaws.com, dedicating his time to educate people on exotic pets. Direct your exotic pet questions to Reptile Man.

Dear Readers:

I get a lot of questions about multi-creature terrariums so I will share a little about one of my own this issue. I have two crested geckos and a red-eyed tree frog in an extra tall 20-gallon tank. There is a large potted plant in the middle of the tank that the frog and lizards pretty much live in. I have a water bowl that fits in the corner and a small fake tree stump on my soil and seed mix, and the grass grows pretty wild with nothing occupying the bottom of the tank to knock it over. I was considering my options of what would like it down there when fate stepped in and answered my question for me.

Someone called and asked if I could take two Hermit crabs. Even though some of the products they sell for these animals wouldn’t suggest it, hermit crabs are tropical animals that need a warm humid environment.

The crabs that the lady brought me had natural shells instead of the painted ones (not that there is anything wrong with them), so I decided to try them in my warm humid gecko and frog tank. Even though they are good climbers, so far the crabs have been spending most of the time at the bottom of the tank and in the pot of the main live plant. They like the hollow log so I put a soda cap of commercial hermit crab food on the far side. They have proved they can walk in shallow water without a sponge in it. It seems like they may also be cleaning up some of the grass that dies off. Most crabs are scavengers so there is a chance they will take advantage of other opportunity foods like dead crickets.

Most importantly they don’t seem to bother anything else in the tank. The frog and lizards spend most of the time not moving so they would be pretty easy to bother. It looks to me that for a tall tank with arboreal animals, hermit crabs can make a nice addition. I will keep you posted.

Ron


Reptile Man!

Ron Wulff, the Reptile Man, has worked for one of the big retail pet stores for 6 years as a reptile and aquatic specialist. He rescues reptiles and runs www.nopaws.com, dedicating his time to educate people on exotic pets. Direct your exotic pet questions to Reptile Man.

Q: Hey reptile man,

I saw a beautiful Albino Python in a pet store. It was yellow, orange and white. The guy said they can get over 6 feet long, but they are friendly. Are they hard to take care of?

Ryan

A: Hi Ryan,

If the snake costs less than $1000, it was probably an albino Burmese python. Ball Pythons (which don’t get as big) are pretty much the same color, but the price is still high for them.

The fellow that helped you was correct when he said that they get over 6 feet, though he should have mentioned that it would be within a year. Burmese pythons are one of the true giant snake species, right up there with anacondas. Albinos are no exception. The biggest one that I have personally dealt with was 15 feet long and weighed close to 200 pounds. It was only 6-years-old.

Keeping a cage big enough for these animals, the correct temperature and humidity can be expensive.

It is also true that they can be very docile animals, unless they think they are getting fed. A careless mistake with a snake that big can carry a big price. There are too many documented cases of people being accidentally killed by their pet python.

It happens as simple as this. I was feeding a Burmese that was a little over 12 feet and 120 pounds. It was an animal that I handled many times in live animal programs. He missed the dead rat and grabbed the edge of the cage. They don’t see well and can do things like that. I dropped the rat to grab its head in order to pull it off the cage, or it would have taken awhile for it to figure it out. I was kneeling at the time, and something told me to get on my feet, before I let go of its head. When I did let go, it came shooting out of the cage with its mouth open, looking for the rat he could still smell. I backed up and it followed me a good ten feet out of the cage with its head three feet off the ground. I had another dead rat thawed out and I was able to get the snake to grab that. The snake coiled up, thinking it killed the rat, making it easy to get it back in the cage while it was coiled up in a big ball. If I had not thought of standing up, and it had grabbed me while I was kneeling, I might not have been able to get it off of me.

Do yourself a favor and save up for an Albino Ball Python if you can’t live without a pretty yellow and white snake.

Ron

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