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Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
 Issue 11   
June, 2005
Lost in the Snake Pit
In this Issue

I’m not sure if any of you remember the film ‘Money Pit’ with Michael Keaton and Shelley Long. They played a couple that bought a renovators dream that gradually got bigger and bigger and then fell apart. Well, I’ve been renovating my house, so I know how they feel. Hopefully mine will not fall apart.

As part of the renovations, the builders were also renovating my office, where my snakes live. Consequently most of my house, including my office, consisted of open frames, gaping holes in walls, torn up flooring, pile of boxes and clothing and a general mess. The builders referred to my office as ‘the snake pit’.

Amongst all of this the routine of life must continue. As such, when feeding my snakes the other day, I took them out of their cages as per usual and put them in separate containers to feed them. Unfortunately I forgot to secure the lid on one of the containers. When I came back to put them back, one had escaped.

Normally this would not be much of an issue as there is nowhere to go in the office and hiding is difficult, but with holes in the walls and the whole house being open, this snake could be anywhere. Inside a wall, in one of the new rooms, under the multitude of boxes containing all of our belongings that had been shifted from cupboards, in the roof, outside (doors were open) – it could be anywhere. We were not just doing a simple renovation; this was almost a complete rebuild of one half of the house so we had emptied every cupboard, book shelf, and the two children’s bedrooms. Our lounge is stacked with boxes, cupboards, chests of drawers, chairs, clothing, and everything we own. It is a disaster area.

I was left thinking this snake is possibly gone for good, with winter approaching. This was not good.

My wife, who does not love the snakes as I do, went ballistic. I didn’t even want to tell her – I avoided it for quite some time before I leapt in with the tale. I searched everywhere I could, but of course I couldn’t check under every box and behind everything in the house. This was devastating.

I knew that the snake would probably be close by, but where was a total mystery.
The next day I told the builders and plasterers that I had a missing snake in the house – just in case they met it and decided that it was a danger to them and wanted to take a shovel or any such handy tool to the deadly beastie. I had to assure them it was not venomous.

I trotted off to work as per normal the next day, worried about the lost snake very annoyed at myself and my stupidity. My daughter was even more annoyed as she liked this particular snake and to handled it a lot. I wasn’t backing too many winners in the popularity stakes by this stage.

About half way through the day, Mitch, the snake, presented himself to Surfer Joe, the plasterer. He had been living on the top of our dressing table. Mitch is a curious snake and he was poking his head out to see what all of the commotion was.

Luckily Surfer Joe was an animal lover who also enjoyed snakes and lizards – he had just returned from holiday in Thailand on and had been known to go looking for the local wildlife occasionally.

It was also lucky that my daughter was home that day and she was able to collect Mitch up and put him back in his cage. Whilst Surfer Joe liked looking, he wasn’t sure about touching.
Snakes are territorial animals and generally when they escape in a home they will find a place to hide and often turn up weeks later. One of my friends had his lost snake turn up in a sock drawer 6 months later.

It was foolish of me to let my pet escape but I was lucky enough to get it back.
This reminds me of another friend of mine who was happily working at home when his partner said to him, “I think there’s a snake behind your computer.” At first he thought she was joking. He promptly leapt up when he realised she wasn’t.

Three hours later the LA animal marshal turned up to collect the snake. I guess I was lucky to get mine back. Whoever lost that one wasn’t.

PS You can see photos of the one that did get away and hid behind my firends computer on my web site at this address:
I was lucky. Let me know if any of you have a similar tale or send me a photo of your pet for inclusion!

Next Issue: Why build your own reptile cage

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Bearded Dragons as Pets - Part 2

Continual costs are likely to be much lower, though you may elect to start off with a small bearded dragon cage at first, and then move your beardie into a larger one as he grows.

Other than that, you'll have the odd bit of equipment to change such as the lighting tubes which should be changed every 6 months even if they haven't stopped working, because the amount of UV light they give out tends to drop after this time, even though you can't see it. Bearded dragons, like most lizards, require UV light to remain healthy.

Lastly, of course there are the ongoing costs for heating and lighting the bearded dragon cage, though these will not amount to much. You will also have to pay for food for feeding and maybe a visit to the vets from time to time if necessary.

Are you willing to buy and feed live food to your bearded dragon? Can you see yourself catching, handling and feeding live crickets, locusts and mealworms to your pet? (The way they eat is really rather cute)

Whilst bearded dragon lizards themselves rarely put people off, seeing one munching on a live locust upsets some people, so be aware!

Do you have the time and inclination to clean out your bearded dragon cage when it is necessary - generally a partial clean-out once a week, and a proper cleaning out once a month, including disinfecting the cage and the water bowls etc?

A proper clean out means removing all the substrate and cage fittings, spraying it with a reptile-safe disinfectant spray to sterilize it, waiting for it to dry and then putting new substrate in and replacing all the cage fittings. This will take an hour or more to do so make sure you're willing to do this as it is necessary to the health of your pet.

To keep your beardie tame it will also be necessary to spend time with him daily, hand feeding him and so on, plus of course food and water should be checked and replenished kept at least once a day.

Lastly, bearded dragons have a reasonable life span - are you willing to do all this, providing the very best care available, for his whole life?

The pet world is over-run with pet reptiles like iguanas and bearded dragons which are no longer wanted because their owner hadn't thought about them properly.

Please don't add another one to the list.

Now, if you're really sure you want a bearded dragon, the first thing you should do is build or purchase a cage suitable for your pet so when you bring it home it has somewhere to go.

If you purchase a beardie, treat it well and you will have many hours of enjoyment from your pet. Personally, I reckon my bearded dragon is one of the best reptiles I keep. I think you will too.

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Feedback and Updating

A minor review of the "How to build reptile enclosures" book was completed recently and the new book is uploaded.

Those of you who have purchased the book can download this newer version and any further updates as they occur free of charge and they will open automatically. If you have lost the download details, just email me and I will send them out to you.

I have added:

- How to make sliding doors
- Better waterproofing your cage
- Making artificial trees (also added to the site at

A number of minor amendments and additions

I would appreciate any feedback, good and bad about making your own reptile cages. I am looking for information, constructive criticism and ideas. These could include things like:

- What sort of additions would you like to see made eg making vivariums, wooden cages for Iguanas, making a cage stand etc ?
- How could the reptile cages be improved further?
- What are you particularly proud of?
- What worked well for you?
- What did not work well?
- What was difficult and how you got around it
- Requests and ideas for future reptile cage plans eg "How to make a reptile cage stand"

In particular I will soon be documenting the arboreal cage building process but I do intend to review as much as possible, hopefully based on user feedback as much as anything else.

I would also appreciate any pictures you have of your cages - using my plans or otherwise (we're all in this for fun and enjoyment so share away), so we can start to build a gallery of snake, iguana and other reptile cages of different varieties. This would be particularly useful as while many people like to show their pets in photos, not many pictures show the enclosures and I know that many people are interested in seeing how others have set up their reptile cages in order to get ideas.

I believe the collective pool of knowledge and skills we have can allow these plans to improve on a continuous basis.

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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.

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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 in this 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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