Reptiles and Amphibians
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What are reptiles and amphibians collectively known as?
Reptiles and amphibians are endotherms/ecotherms?
Describe the differences in how nocturnal vs diurnal ectotherm species get their heat sources?
Nocturnal species rely on sources such as warm stones, soil and any heat source from below. Whereas diurnal species can bask in the sun and prefer heat sources from above.
What is the preferred optimal temperature zone?
This is the correct temperature for a reptile/amphibian to function properly
What type of light should a reptile/amphibian enclosure be provided with?
Both white light and UV light
Why is UVB light very important?
UVB light is needed in order to produce vitamin D3 which is needed to absorb calcium from the diet.
Why should the UV light source be within the enclosure?
As UVB radiation diminishes with the distance from the source. (Also remember UV light is filtered by glass, plastic and small mesh netting)
Why should the UV light source be placed near a heating source?
As warm skin activates the entire process of vitamin D3 production
What are the four orders of reptiles?
What are some common pet species of Chelonians?
- Hermann's tortoise
- Spur-thighed tortoise
- Horsefield's tortoise
- African spurred tortoise
- Red eared terrapin
How can you tell the difference between a male and female tortoise?
Males have a longer tail and the cloaca is positioned distally near the tip of the tail. There is also a plastron concavity in males that is absent in females. Males have a penis situated in the ventral midline of the cloaca (but note females can have a cloacal organ too).
When do tortoises become sexually mature?
~3 years old
Describe housing for tortoises
- An open top enclosure provides better ventilation
- Newspaper, astroturf and soil for digging are all suitable substrates (sand is abrasive and causes GI necrosis)
- Provide a hiding place
- The average temperature should be 28°C
- Heat source should come from above
- Water should be provided in a large shallow dish for both drinking and bathing
Describe a healthy tortoise diet
Tortoises are herbivores. Their diet should include grasses, hay, a variety of weeds and fresh greens. Food should be chopped up and well mixed to avoid selective feeding.
What type of fresh green should not be fed to tortoises and why?
Iceberg lettuce as it has an inverse Ca:P ratio
Describe a healthy terrapin diet
Terrapins are omnivores - they tend to be carnivores when they are juveniles and then become herbivores as they age
What should tortoises be supplemented with?
How long do tortoises hibernate for?
2-3 months a year in winter (2-3 weeks in their first year)
What should the temperature be during hibernation?
How do you prepare and manage a tortoise during hibernation?
Gradually over 2-3 weeks you must first reduce the temperature in the pen and also reduce the amount of food. They should be well hydrated. To wake them gradually increase the temperature and then offer first water then food.
What are some common pet snake species?
- Boa constrictor
- Royal python
- Corn snake
How can you tell the difference between male and female snakes?
Male snakes have a longer and wider tail than females. Snakes can be sexed by probing: during probing we assess the length of the hemipenis. If it is short it is a female or if it is long it is a male.
What is the general rule when handling snakes?
1 person per 1 m of snake
Describe housing for snakes
Snakes can be housed in a glass/wooden tank or vivarium. It should be at least the length of the snake. Newspaper can be used as bedding. Hiding boxes are important as snakes are nocturnal and need to hide during the day. Branches provide environmental enrichment. UV light is not necessary but should still be provided. Water should be provided. The average temperature should be 28°C. Snakes should be housed individually.
Describe a healthy snake diet
Snakes are carnivores. Most captive snakes are fed thawed rodents e.g. mice and rats. The frequency of feeding depends on age: when snakes are young they will feed every other day but as they age this gap should be increased to between 2-4 weeks.
How big should the size of a snake's prey be?
No bigger than 1.5x the size of the snakes head
True or false: in the UK you can feed animals live vertebrae prey?
What is the term for shedding of the skin?
What do snakes need to shed their skin?
An abrasive surface
What gland controls ecdysis?
The thyroid gland
What happens two weeks prior to a snake shedding its skin?
A lymph-like fluid is produced between the new and old skin
What are some common pet species of lizard?
- Bearded dragon
- Veiled chameleon
- Leopard gecko
- Green Iguana
How can you tell the difference between male and female lizards?
Male lizards have more prominent femoral pores and two hemipeni situated in the tail base. Whereas females have less prominent femoral pores and less bright colours.
Describe how to safely handle lizards
Place one hand around the pectoral girdle and the other around the pelvic girdle. Ensure that the tail is controlled in iguanas. Lizards can be wrapped in towels and have their head covered during handling.
Describe housing for lizards
The average temperature should be 28°C. Temperature in lizards is controlled using a heat pad, basking light and UV light. Water bowls are needed for drinking, bathing and maintaining humidity in the tank.
What must geckos be provided with in their enclosure?
A humidity chamber
Why will chameleons not use a water bowl?
They do not recognise standing water as a drinking source and so will not use a water bowl. They can only drink from moving or dripping water.
What is the diet of a) bearded dragon b) iguana c) gecko and chameleon?
- a) insects and vegetables
- b) strictly herbivorous
- c) insects
What type of supplementation should be added to lizard food?
Calcium and vitamin D3
How are snakes best transported?
In a pillow case
What disease is commonly associated with lack of calcium supplementation or UV light?
Metabolic bone disease
Why can dysecdysis occur?
- Poor husbandry and diet
- Poor humidity
- No abrasive surface
What class are amphibians from?
What are the three suborders of amphibia?
- Anura - frogs and toads
- Caudata - salamanders, newts and sirens
- Gymnophiona - caecilians
Give examples of some common Anura species
- Pacman frog
- Fire-bellied toad
- Leopard frog
- Poison dart frog
- African clawed frog
Give examples of some common Caudata species
- Tiger salamander
- Eastern newt
- Fire bellied newt
Describe the housing for a) semi-aquatic b) aquatic c) terrestrial amphibians
- a) Glass or plastic vivarium, coconut fibres/orchid bark/smooth stones/leaves for substrate, area with water, hiding places and plants
- b) Glass or plastic tank, layer of stones, different levels of water, plants, good water quality
- c) Plastic/glass vivarium with good ventilation, substrate for burrowing e.g. peat/moss/bark chips, hiding places, plants, shallow dish of water
Describe an adult anura diet
- Crickets, earthworms, small fish
- Gut loaded or dusted
- Mineral and vitamin supplementation
- Fed daily depending on size
Describe a caudata diet
- Earthworms, small fish, crickets
- Move prey using forceps
- Dusted and gut loaded
- Calcium and vitamin supplementation
Describe how to safely handle amphibians
Amphibians are easily stressed and care should be taken not to damage their skin. They should be cupped in the hands with two fingers behind the haw whilst the rest of the body is supported by the cupped hand. Be sure to grasp them around the hind limbs. Always use gloves as our hands are covered in oils that irritate an amphibian's skin and some produce toxins which at best can be irritants to us.
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