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Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
 Issue 10   
May, 2005
Snakes - Conditioning Your Snake, Part 2
In this Issue

I usually feed my snakes right in the same cage where they live because generally I keep only one snake per enclosure, and that makes it easy. If you house more than one snake in a single cage, however, you need to separate them before you offer either one of them food*.

One way to handle this is to have a separate feeding cage that is used only for that purpose. You can condition a snake to know that when it is put into a particular cage, food will be forthcoming. That is the only place it should be fed if you use this method. Additionally, the feeding cage should have a totally different look and feel to the snake than its regular cage does. It should be a different size and preferably made out of another kind of material, or at least have a different floor texture that the snake can sense. This will help form the correct association in the snake's mind, that the only time it should expect food is when it's put into that particular enclosure.

If disease-causing organisms are present in the snake collection, take care to ensure that a communal feeding cage doesn't become a source of transmission of those organisms to other, healthy snakes.

Remember to pay attention to what you're doing when moving snakes to feeding cages and back again. If the smell of their food animal is on you, they can get excited and strike out. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling food items and before you attempt to handle a snake.

Some nervous snakes may not feed after just being handled or while they are in an unfamiliar place that they may consider unsafe. A snake with this type of demeanor may require a cage of its own and may not be able to adapt to being regularly moved around at feeding time.

Extract from "Snake Keeping - Proven Techniques Everyone Can Use" by Barry Neilsen

*I would still reccomend feeding in a different cage. Barry used to keep a lot of snakes and many breeders simply do not have the time to take them all out and feed them separately.

Next Issue: Lost in the Snake Pit

The previous articles on can be found at:

ReptiTemp 500R

Bearded Dragons as Pets - Part 1

So you want to buy a bearded dragon?

Many people buy animals on impulse, without first fully considering all of the needs of the animal and their ability to care for it. This is especially true of the larger exotics such as Burmese Pythons and Iguanas. Inexperienced reptile owners would do well to steer clear of these herps until they have some experience and understanding of the needs of these animals and their capacity to care for them.

This has been a problem over the last few years with turtles of a variety of species, iguanas and larger snakes.

Parents who buy their children a pet turtle often hadn't considered the size it would get to (12-18" carapace length), or the amount of cleaning required, the size of the tank it will need and the lifespan, which can be many, many years. Our snake-necked tortoise is 8 years old and will reach 40 years plus with good care.

Turtles feed in the water and are mainly carnivorous. Any uneaten food soon turns the water bad and the cage soon needs to be cleaned out virtually daily (a good tip is to put small fish in the water that will eat any uneaten food – unfortunately they need to be continuously replenished as the turtle also eats them)

Some of the larger turtles can have a nasty bite, with a few species being able to take fingers right off if incorrectly handled.

The long and short of it is, then, have you fully considered what you need to do to care for a bearded dragon?

One of the good things about bearded dragons is that there are no nasty surprises. In fact, bearded dragons make great pets.

With the right care (which, incidentally, is easy to provide, and if you purchase the reptile cage plans, which ideal for a bearded dragon habitat, you also get a bearded dragon care sheet) bearded dragons make ideal pets, not least because they are generally very good natured and a fascinating looking animal. They are also very cute and have a curious nature and disposition.

Like many reptiles, including snakes, a properly cared for bearded dragon is very unlikely to ever bite once tame. You do however need to put in some time getting the animal familiar with being handled from a young age.

Next, are you prepared financially? Keeping reptiles of any form requires a real investment first of all to get set up - a bearded dragon cage set up could cost you several hundred dollars if you purchase an off the shelf reptile cage and all of the fittings and accessories, although you can save a lot of money by building your own bearded dragon cages and set it up for much less – “How to build reptile cages” will show you a lot of money saving ideas.

Next Issue: Bearded Dragons as Pets - Part 2

How to Make a Turtle Table - Part 3

David T. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D

Use a drill to drill holes through the plexiglass near the lower edge. The drill bit should be as thick as the shaft of the screws that you intend to use, but not as thick as the head of the screw. When you drill through the plexiglass, go slowly, and make sure that the bit is not heating up. If it gets too hot, it will begin to melt the plexiglass, and you will not be able to get a clean hole and you may mess up your bit. Next, take another bit that is as wide as the screw head and drill a little way into the plexiglass, but not all the way through. This countersinking allows the screw head to be flush with the plexiglass side when you install the sides. [See Figure #2] I recommend making the holes 1 inch to 1.5 inches up from the bottom of the side, with another hole 1.5 inches directly above the lower hole. Each set of holes can be spaced 1.5 feet to 2 feet apart. When the holes have been drilled, install the sides, and trim any excess at the corners with the plexiglass cutter/trimmer.

If you need or wish to reinforce the sides of the table, this can be done quite easily. Use longer wood screws and place a thin wood strip up the outside of the plexiglass. Anchor it with the two screws that normally anchor the plexiglass to the frame. The screws therefore run through the wooden strip, into the plexiglass, and imbed into the frame. Countersink the screws into the wooden strips rather than into the plexiglass. The addition of these strips on the outside of the siding will reinforce them against any especially pushy and aggressive turtle.

Finally, put a bead of ordinary aquarium cement/sealant up the inner edge of each corner, and along the inner seam of the plexiglass-to-plywood joint. Let the sealer cure overnight to allow toxic fumes to dissipate. The sealer finishes the waterproofing job and also is quite good in holding the plexiglass together at the corners. If you don't seal along the plywood-to-plexiglass joint, liquids can leak down between the plexiglass and the frame.

All that remains is to put the table onto its base. I use a set of low bookshelves that run around the table on three sides, with the fourth side against a wall. The bookshelves are 2 feet high, and this seems to be a good height, allowing me to reach over the top of the plexiglass without any trouble. Finally, insert the trays, fill up the water tray and put in your turtles!

Obviously, I have just given the basics in building the turtle table. There is enormous possibility for variation, depending on your needs and the needs of the turtles. Those needs include, but are not limited to: water, food, a proper temperature gradient, adequate light (a fluorescent full-spectrum light is an essential!), protection from drafts, and places to hide from other turtles and from intruding humans. However you may change the design of the turtle table to suit your needs, always remember that you are building a habitat for your turtles and try to place their needs first.

Next Issue:

This article copyright 1990 by David T. Kirkpatrick. Originally published in Reptile & Amphibian Magazine, July/August 1990, pages 16-19.

Reprinting of this article for non-profit purposes is permitted provided that it is unaltered and appropriate attribution, including copyright information, is included. Please notify the author of any reprinting.

IGUANA CAGE PLANS has launched

The feedback on these plans has been very positive. Made by a recognized iguana cage maker with many years experience and a wealth of knowledge about keeping Iguanas. These cages are fabulous and could be easily adapted to large snakes and large lizards or arboreal species.

When you purchase reptile cage plans you also get access to a copy of these plans as part of your purchase. They can be used for large lizards and large snakes quite easily, but you do need some room to put them in as they are quite large

They are easy to make and it does take a little time. But you get a great cage in return. You can alter the cage to suit your own personal style and there are hints and tips throughout the book.

If you have already purchased reptile cage plans you can collect you copy of this eBook for free. Simply email me and let me know you would like a copy and I will send you a username and password so you can download your own copy.

Otherwise, go and make a purchase now and get a copy of this fantastic resource as well as the original plans plus all of the great bonuses. You will not find a better deal anywhere.

Tell Us What You Think!!

We would love to hear what you think of this (or any other) issue of Keeping Reptiles.

And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you'd like to share with us, please send those, too!

These could include:

  • Great herp web-sites
  • Why you pet reptile is fantastic
  • Funny things that happened
  • Dumb**s things that happened (like the one I'll tell you about next issue)
  • Images you'd like to share.

Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

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