Scales & Tails
If you've clicked onto this page then I assume you've at least looked herpetology up in the dictionary & discovered its got nothing to do with unmentionable sexual diseases but is in fact all to do with the study, keeping &/or breeding of our reptilian cousins.
What follows isn't profound, its simply a few bits & bobs about the reptiles & their like that are slowly taking over my bastion at the top of the house following a rekindled interest in all things scaly.
When I was a kid of six or so I can remember my big brother having a glass tank in the shed. I was occasionally allowed to peep into its depths whereupon I, & my friends, would squeal in delight at the sight of a wall lizard or a slow worm. I was never allowed, much to my chagrin, to hold any of these mysterious creatures by my brother as I was "just a little kid" so it was with some degree of satisfaction that I returned home from school one day to see my brother berating an empty tank on the bench containing one very sleepy, but fat & happy, green snake.
Whilst this marked the end of my brothers brief encounter with natural history it struck a chord with me that never really went away, over the following years there were various encounters with critters of all shapes & sizes, warm & cold blooded alike, tropical fish dominated the scene for a good few years in the eighties however as the naughties dawned lizards returned to dominate & I aquired my first female Australian Blue Tongue Skink, the rest is history.
I must at this point offer a big, an I do mean big apology to my better half, I'm sorry about the (more than) occasional escapee, & particularly the crickets under the bed, on the stairs, in the toilet, etc., etc., etc. I don't let them out on purpose, honest injun', their just cunning little blighters with no sense of humour.
Firstly there's Skunky, a slightly stupid Blue Tongue Skink - Tiliqua scincoides - Skunky really hates it if you talk to the others first or don't pay her enough attention, she/he (see below) soon lets you know when its her turn by headbutting the glass, favourite saying "Look at me, look at me"
Skunky was sharing her tank, 6' x 2' x 2', with a close relative, a slightly haughty second female Blue Tongue - Tiliqua gigas - Atila, as she's come to be called, is about six months younger than Skunky & about two thirds the size, however it has to be said that, how shall we put it, Skunky's apparent lack of anything resembling a brain cell, meant that they were getting along quite comfortably together eating anything you threw at them, snails, worms, crickets, mice, dog food, mealworm, waxworm, etc. & occasionally my sons nose. Anyway, to cut a long storey short it turned out that Miss Skunky was actually Mr Skunky & he proceeded to "get it on" with Atila, having done his business they cooled to each other & Atila was moved to the top of the waiting list & subsequently rehoused awaiting the big day.
Gravid as she was all was going well, good appetite putting on plenty of weight etc for the expectant mother until, well things took a decided turn for the worse, despite best efforts she was unable to birth successfully & two perfectly formed but dead baby blue tongues resulted, I'd like to say better look next time Atila but I can't, things didn't get any better when a few days later she herself expired, perhaps it was the effort, I'm not to sure, still trying to find out what went wrong.
Nearly forgot, I've also got a small group of Oscillated skinks, Chalchides ocellatus ocellatus, one of the more common african barrel skinks, these are fascinating creatures, are breeding profusely & buggers to keep behind bars.July 06 - Well Skunky seemes to have got used to being on his own & continues to have a veracious appetite, I'm keeping an eye out for a new mate for him so if you've got an unwanted girlie then Skunky would like to hear from her, fnarr, fnarr.
Next door is a 4' x4' tank housing one male & three female Cuban or Knight Anolis - Anolis equestris - until recently I only had one Cuban, a male called Diago, who shared this tank with Larry, Mo & Curly, see below, there was a second male & two more females however they've moved on to pastures new.
Their taking a mix of mealworms, crickets & pinkies with mashed fruit for dessert, supposedly they are particularly partial to fresh figs, I know I am, come to think of it I love fig biscuits as well, anyway, I keep trying them on figs but they don't seem particularly bothered EDIT - still don't seem bothered about figs, think I'll eat the figs in future & let the Cuban's keep the pinkies)
best efforts the eggs produced by this trio of ladies are few & far between,
when they do produce regretably they just don't cut the mustard, me thinks
Diago might just be firing blanks.
Just along from the Anolis viv live Larry, Mo & Curly, the three Tokay Gecko's, - Gecko gecko -, referred to above, one male, two females. Their cohabitation with Diago wasn't as strange as you think, Larry, Mo & Curley slept most of the day whilst Diago topped up his suntan & at night Diago disappeared into the bushes & the three amigo's kept everybody awake barking until dawn, everybody's a winner. Well not quite true, the first time they had a sing song I was woken by Kate who thought we'd got burglars. In all seriousness they got along just fine & dandy but with the arrival of Diago's harem they had to be evicted & rehoused.
on I've put together a small colony of Leopard Gecko's - Eublepharis macularius
- the males a very pretty high yellow whilst the females, five of them, are
a mix of chocalate albino's & high yellow's, they're incredibly cute &
inquisitive, probably to inquisitive for their own good sometimes. These fella's
are definitely my daughter's & quite possibly my, favourite. Given that
these are nocturnal chap's & their tank, as well as those of all the others,
are dressed to be interesting to their residents, its not always easy to see
them, however throw in a few waxworms & crickets & its a regular blood
Well, we got there in the end ,after several false starts July saw thefirst hatching of half a dozen or so Leopard Gecko eggs, by the end of July, Indie, so named because he was born on American Indepenance Day, was joined by two more siblings, see below. All three have done pretty well, have good appetites & are pretty damm fiesty. Well as the month end approached the three have been sold on to "The Jungle" our new/local retail outlet for all things creepy crawley - see below, & a new female chocolate albino has joined the party.
2004 saw the hatching of another leopard gecko, colouration pretty similar to the one on the right, fiesty as the last trio & eating well from day 1, in a month or so it'll get sold on & the shekels raised, mmm, let me think, thats it another Leopard Gecko.
the coming of the Eyed Lizards, see below, I decided that it was time for
the Bibron Gecko's,-Pachydactylus bibroninow, now numbering four, to
have a shiny new place of thier own, so they're now well settled in a arborial/high
humidity residence far better suited to thier requirements, hopefully one
more suited to breeding - July 06 no babys as yet but all looking exceedingly
healthy & contented, maybe to contented, mmmm, things might have to change.
Oriental Fire Bellied Toads - Bombina orientalis - are now swimming
around seemingly pretty happily, they love to watch the world go by, have
voracious appetites & are producing tadpoles like its gone out of fashion.
During May/June 06 we had at least five clutches with no sign of any lapse
in thier nocturnal activities. The tadpoles are thriving on a mixture of Cabomba
caroliniana, tropical fish food & live blood worm.I've now seperated off
the first metamorhasised taddy's & I'm giving them a mixture of hatchling
crickets & fruit flies, I've now split off the first batch of baby firebellies
who seem to be doing well, the fruit flies, suposedly flightless, by the way
are courtesy of a culture from Livefoods UK, not sure about the flightless
but they seem pretty good, anyway toadies are doing well & hopefully babies
will soon fund another male Leopard Gecko.
In April 2006 we aquired a pair of Eyed Lizards - Lacerta lepida - from "Viper & Vines" in Prestwich, Manchester, with the assurance that they were a proven pair that had been aquired from a breeder in York. At first they were very nervous & hid immediately you opened the door to the room, over the last couple of months however they've noticably settled down, whilst reluctant to be handled, something I'm trying to avoid anyway, they do at least sit reasonably peacefully whilst you move about the room & will happily snatch pinkies & large locust from out stretched tweezers. They certainly enjoy basking & their colouration is fantastic under the UV light, almost iridescent. Disappointingly, July 06, the "proven" pairing hasn't turned into anything more than potential so far & with spring well & truely gone it looks like thats it for this year. The intention is to hopefully pick up a second or maybe even a third female before spring 2007 & hope the competition spurs some things along, but in the meantime they're looking fit & healthy if not very maternal.
Following a visit to the IHS breeders meeting, Doncaster June 06, I have aquired half shares in a pair of Gold Tree frogs (or Asian Tree Frog, Yellow Tree Frog, White-bearded Flying Frog, Golden Flying Frog, Asian Flying Frog, and the Golden Foam-nest Frog etc, etc)- Polypedates leucomystax. I say half shares as Blythe is desperate for a snake but is finding it hard to convince Kate that it won't end up under the floor boards & I think the half shares is to show how responsible she can be (don't build your hopes up Blythe) Anyway they are now ensconced amongst plenty of greenery including some live & chunky bamboo from the local greenery shop to help keep the humidity up, fingers crossed they watch the fire belly toads making hay & decide it looks like fun.
Over the last year or so various other residents have moved in & then moved on including several Three Lined Salamanders - Eurycea guttolineat, Chinese Fire Belly Newts - Cynops orientalis, Indianstick insects - Carausius morosus & Thai stick insects - Baculum thaii as well as a pair of Agama agama,a half dozen Chalcides ocellatus & three Great Plains Toads - Bufo cognatus, & who knows who knows who'll come to tea next.
Well isn't it interesting how things change, for my sins I'm starting a new job next week, hurray, but, & there's a big but, I'm going to be a away from home for a bit, actually quite along bit, six months or so, in Antarctica, yep thats right, the big cold bit at the bottom, obviously theres a bit of a down side to this, yeap you guessed it, herpetological interests are a bit difficult to deal with when your 10,000 miles from home. With that in mind I'm, very regretably taking most of the above to the IHS breeders meeting in October -Bugger. The off spring of my loins will keep a few things ticking over, but alas most will have to go & I'll reassess things when I get back in March.
Well, its the day after D Day (Doncaster IHS) all the Cuban Anolis, the Blue tongue, my frogs & toads, Tokay's & one of Bibron Gecko's have gone, bit sad really but life's a bitch. On the upside the Leopard colony, Eyed lizards & the Bibron trio are staying put & I've got a pocket full of crinkly notes to restock post Antarctica, until then this page will probably be pretty quiet but if anything does occur whilst I'm away I'll let you know.
Well, I'm back from Antarctica, May 2007, its been, lets just say an experience, one which is likely to be repeated for the next several years at least, but you can go read about that elsewhere on the site. Since getting back I've been pondering the return of the top floor menagerie however with a Antarctic return a definite & a house move pending I finally had to admit that it wouldn't be very sensible to restock.
So, with heavy heart, the viv's & all the other paraphanalia are being distributed, stored or sold off - BOOHOO
Time passes, fourteen months, July 2008 & it looks like if I am away this season it'll only be for five weeks or so, mmmm, if I'm not away . . . . . . .
When I cleared everything out last year before heading South I passed various of the reptiles on to others without taking payment, anyway as a result I've just become the recipient of a reportedly breeding pair of Oscillated, Jeweled or Eurpean Eyed Lizards, dependent upon what you want to call them, they've both got excellent markings & the males head is almost as broad as his shoulders, with the potential still to spend some time overseas I don't want to start repopulating the reptile room just yet, well actually I do, but having moved house it looks like I'll be building a shed specifically for reptiles so the pair of Eyed Lizards will just have to do for now.
Time flies like buggery as you get older doesn't it, feeling pretty old as I'm 45 next Saturday, November 2008, but hey ho, there's plenty of time left yet, hopefully, before they put the last nail in the coffin lid. Anyway's nothing particularly new on the herpetology front as yet, the Eyed Lizards have settled in pretty well & whilst seeming to turn their noses up to most things, I've never seen them east anything yet, they're looking remarkably iridescent & are a healthy weight.
If you've read all of this page you'll have seen mention of my good friend & herpetologist, Dr W, well his lordship has been busy over the last few months what with building new & replacement vivarium as well as running a growing ecology & environmental consultancy, Peak Ecology, in the last couple of weeks he's also taken delivery of twenty plus CITES registered & captive bred turtles from the US, jealous, me, bloody right I am.
May 2009, as you'll have gathered, or least you would if you've been here before, its been a tad quiet herpatogically of late however in the words of Mr Dylan 'times they are a changing' Simply put I've just stud walled, wired & insulated the rear half of the garage, the plan, on paper at least, is to fit fifteen or so four foot tanks or the equivalent in there, this weekend I'll make a start on building the first six viv's, two towers of three.
Goth the younger (Blythe) & I popped over the Sheffield this weekend to have a shufty at Sheffield Exotica, Sheffield Snakes & the relocated Snakes'N'Adders, mainly with the intention of browsing this years corn snake hatchlings, Pantherophis guttatus as its now known rather than Elaphe guttata guttata, still a bit early maybe but there were several of interest, well the upshot was that we didn't come away with a hatchling but a lovely male 2007 CB Caramel, Blythe was absolutely over the moon & I was more than just a little pleased myself.
With the IHS breeders meeting at The Dome, Doncaster on the horizon, Sunday 28th June, we'll possibly see the new herpatorium with a few new inhabitants. I'm still considering just what I want to put in there at the moment but as soon as I know be sure I'll tell you all about it.
one week later & I'm well on with the build, by tomorrow, the carcasses
of the first six viv's should be complete, might even get a start on the nest
six. This last week I finally signed up to the RFUK website, all ways been
a bit reticent of chat room type things, upshot, should have done it ages
ago, courtesy of its classifieds I picked up a two year old male Amelantistic
Corn this morning, duly named Satsuma, hopefully collecting a female Blue
Tongue up next weekend, bloody fantastic.
Early June 2009 & things are progressing, as I mentioned above I did indeed collect a magnificent CB07 Tiliqua gigas , he's an absolute beauty & he, Skunky Too, as he's been named, has settled in to his shiny new viv & is eating well, pictures no doubt will follow, anyway whilst making this collection I'd also arranged to have a look with a view to buying a male CB ? 08 Desert Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula splendida, well, Blythe& I took one look &, well, needless to say its joined the menagerie, in fairness its previous carer had reported that it was a bit viv defensive however I have to say, to date, its been an absolute kitten too handle, again photo's to follow.
The month didn't end there either, oops, I popped out one lunch hour from work to pick up some frozen mice however I was greeted by several tanks of Plated Lizards, now I've had a wanting for a couple of these for some considerable time. After a chat to lads in the shop & a good once over I left minus the lizards but with a promise to think it over & give them a call over the following days. I did quite well actually , I managed to get half way down the stairs before returning having "thought about it" & departed with a trio, two female, one male, they were a bit scatty in the shop viv & not a little overcrowded however they're calming down considerably & will sit patiently on your lap whilst you tidy up their home, unfortunately they're wild farmed & not captive bred & from their size are likely 2007 born, fingers crossed we'll see eggs in 2010, it was only after having a better look over the next week or so & spoken with a friend that we both came to the conclusion that what they were selling was not Gerrhosaurus nigrolineatus, Black Lined Plated lizard, but were in fact Gerrhosaurus Major, the Great Plated Lizard, & having poked through several books agreed they were Major major, the Eastern variant.
It should have ended there, should have but . . . . .didn't, about a week later I spoke with Diane at the Reptile Rescue Den in Bolton, long storey shortways, she had two CB08 Royal or Ball Pythons, Python regius, available that had come in as not eating but eaten well under her care, well I nipped over on the Thursday night & having had a look came away with the smaller of the two, Diane reported him as being CB hatched in 2008 & putting weight on nicely, now I've offered him a nice fat juicy mouse once & after a bit of investigation he ignored. From reading the various postings on RFUK & the like I'm well aware of the reported difficulties that Royals give in respect of feeding so we'll see how things go over the next couple of weeks or so, maybe buy him a gerbil or two as they're supposed to be irresistible to Royals, oh well, we'll watch & wait.
I nearly forgot, how remiss of me, I've also aquired a young wood turtle,Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima, care of Dr Webb, they're something that Mark seems to be able to breed with his eyes closed, saying that in the last week or so he's had a beautiful handful of young Blue tongues as well as a batch of Cunningham's, with a second gravid female there's a high likelyhood a couple might just find their way round to my place.
Bloody, bloody hell, I thought I'd bought a CB07 Crimson female corn, turns out she's CB08, my own fault really, obviously I read the advert incorrectly & a chap at work collected her for me from Liverpool so I didn't realise my error until I collected her the next day at work, bugger, notwithstanding she's a pretty one & will probably make a fine mother in a year or so. So far she's not yet been named & she very nearly wasn't having "disappeared" for a couple of days, fortunately she fell for my home made snake trap & is again safely curled up in her rub.
It's nearly the end of the month which means its only 3 days until Doncaster, I don't know if or what I'll be coming back with , well, not strictly true, I've arranged to collect a couple of female corn hatchlings from a lass from the North, so I won't be totally empty handed, lastly before I forget the Royal has now decided that eating isn't such a bad idea afterall.
OK, Sunday 28/06/09 came around & clutching a fist full of cash & accompanied by Dr Webb & respective daughters we headed off to sunny Doncaster, the last IHS show I attended here was nearly three years ago & I guess it had only half the breeders that were selling at this one & only a fraction of the punters that visited this one, partly I suppose as they are now admitting non IHS members, in short the place was absolutely heaving & just a tad on the warm side. Anyways once in side we did a quick circuit as Mark had arranged to meet a exhibitor/breeder who had agreed to sell us a clutch of CB Pink Tongued Skinks, the short of it was that he hadn't shown, bugger, not an auspicious start to the day.
Several circuits & a couple of hours later I, well, to be honest was a bit disappointed, if you discount the endless Leo's & Beardies then apart from a fist full of Crested Gecko's there wasn't much left with legs to drool over, sure there was plenty of Corn Snakes & Royal's & a smattering of other ectothermic amniote vertebrates, sorry, snakes, as well as few amphibia & Insecta.
As arranged I collected two hatchling female Corn Snake's, Anery Het Amel's as well as picking up a female CB08 Royal that in time will hopefully get it on with the my male, Blythe also had me purchase a couple of Common African clawed frog's, Xenopus laevis, & a pair of Giant prickly Stick Insects, Extatosoma tiaratum, but with definitely no Pink Tongues in sight we made a sharp exit although that wasn't quite the end of the day, on route home we'd arranged to call at Sheffield as Mark was selling various of his recent hatchlings on to John, the chap who owns Sheffield Snake's, now I called in there when passing a couple of days earlier & had managed to avoid buying a gorgeous but feisty male Mexican Black King Snake, doh, twice in one week was a bad idea so an hour later Lampropeltis getula nagrita was on his way home with me, as I said, doh.
Bugger, the chap with the Pink Tongues has been in contact, apologies for missunderstandings all round, unfortunate uoshot however is he'd only got three left & as they'd been promised to Mark I lost out, as I said, bugger.
With Doncaster out of the way & the reptile room pretty much fitted out both myself & Dr Webb got itchy feet & so without further ado tickets & ferry have been booked for the Hamm Reptile fair in September, hurrah.
I've also had a unexpected surprise this week, my female Eyed Lizard produced a clutch of six little eggs, one was definitely DOA, however the remaining five are now cooking happily, she did produce again a day or so later, however I think it was a tad to enthusiastic for first time around & I'm afraid they were shot from the onset, still she's feeding like a trooper again, so hopefully we'll see things at a more orderly pace next year.
On the down side one of the hatchling corns I collected at Doncaster isn't feeding at all, she's very lively & looks healthy but just doesn't seem fussed with food, I'm currently going through the various options available, braining, leaving overnight, quiet little drives in the country & Lindy, from whom they were purchased, has suggested dipping them in the water from a tuna can, try anything once rather than using a syringe, in fairness Lindy has even offered to exchange her for another which I think is being a jolly good sport however I'll persevere for the moment, watch this space.
Funny how things pan out, having lost out on the Pink Tongues in June I was perusing the RFUK classifieds & happened to spot an advert for a couple of female Pink Tongues reported as being six or seven years of age, several phone calls later I collected said ladies & settled them in to their "forest floor" home, now, & no critiscim intended, have been kept in a environment not best suited to their needs & have only ever been fed on cat food, they've now discovered the delights of burrowing through the leaf litter which doesn't make them to visible to the watcher but they should feel decidedly more at home, diet wise I'm trying to wean them away from their total reliance on catfood to a more balanced & varied diet, so far raw beef, earthworms, snail & strawberry have gone down well however they definitely turn respective noses up at meal & wax worms.
Regarding sex, whilst they've been sold as two females neither old Doc Webb or I are 100% convinced they are, Pink Tongues are relatively new to both of us however Mark has a wealth of experience with Blue tongues in general, if body shape, broadness of head & tail base width for the hemipenes can in anyway be relied upon then it's a male & female, this can't be guaranteed as Blue & Pink Tongues are notoriously difficult to sex so we'll just have to see what happens, I know you might say well why haven't they bred in the last six years or so however I think given the environment that they've been housed in was definitely not conducive to breeding, this may prove 100% wrong or maybe just wishful thinking but only time will tell.
August 2009, not to much to say really this month the reluctant feeder is still very, very reluctant but generally seams in good health so I'll keep persevering with her, good news is I've purchased but not yet collected a female CB07 Caramel Corn so hopefully this time next year we'll be seeing Caramel Hatchlings, on the down side the Eyed Lizard egg's went bad, ho hum, better look next time, just trying to wait patiently for Hamm. currently bulding several more smaller viv's, not of course that I'm going to come home from Hamm with a box of critters . . .
Finally the September 2009 came around, hurrah, blew the turbo on the car, boo, work arranged hire car, hurrah, picked Mr Webb up at 3.55am Friday morning & headed for Dover, picked up the 8.10am ferry to Calais then nigh on 600 mile spin to Hamm via France, Belgium & the Netherlands, arrived Hamm 4.00pm, checked into the hotel, had a few beers, went for pizza, had a few more beers & then crashed out early doors despite anticipation over the day to follow.
had done some dealing prior to heading to the Fatherland so after making are
way through the masses at the entrance we delivered a box of CB09 & CB08
Cunningham Skinks, Egernia cunninghami, as well as a fistful of euro's
in exchange for a pair of CB09 Gidgee Skinks, a clutch of CB09 Australian
Tree skinks, & a single CB09 Northern Blue Tongue, with the deal done
& money burning a hole in my pocket we began to investigate the main arena.
Unsurprisingly it didn't take long before I was parted from a fistful of euro's with the purchase of a pair of CB09 Kenyan Sand Boa's, Gongylophis c. loveridgei, these were closely followed by a CB08 female Blue Tongue, Tiliqua gigas, she's about half the size of Skunky Too at the moment in six months or so I can maybe start to think about breeding. For those of you who haven't been to Hamm before, & remember this was my first time, it's a bit rabbit in the headlights, it would be just so easy to blow everything before you've even covered a fraction of the show, so trying to show as much restraint as I could I pushed on, it wasn't much longer however before acquired a pair of beautiful CB09 (Columbian) Arabesque Boa's, Boa constrictor imperator, these were without doubt an impulse buy but I don't regret buying them one little bit.
know the hoardes were thinning out a bit & it was considerably easier
to see what was on offer, I had been thinking for a while about purchasing
a Yemen Chameleon & so it was no surprise when half an hour later I exchanged
hard earned cash for a CB lovely looking three month old Chameleon calyptratus
who has proved incredibly fearless & happily climbs out of his viv
& onto your hand, arm or shoulder. By now everyone, me included , was
looking a bit knackard, I was a tad disappointed as I'd been hoping to pick
up a female Dessert King as a potential mate for my male but having done the
rounds I'd lucked out so with my last few euro's I haggled for a particularly
cute CB09 Desert Phase Aberrant Californian Kingsnake, Lampropeltis g.
californiae, Mr Webb, having restrained himself, or maybe just in shock
after his mega money deal, eventually exchanged favours for a stunning little
Gargoyle Gecko, it was sods law by the way that on the last half dozen tables
in a small sideroom we'd missed out I found two female Desert King's, hurrah,
only problem was by now we were both skint, bugger.
So, spent up, knackard but happy we secured our purchases & hit the road, we were booked on the 9.00pm ferry from Calais, three hundred & fifty miles, & it was about 4.30pm, baring in mind you're supposed to be at the ferry twenty minutes or so before it sails, we had four & a bit hours to make it back, a tad tight you might say, still it was autobahn pretty much all the way back, unfortunately it took nearly three quarters of an hour to clear Hamm, no pressure.
With foot to the floor I got us to within hundred miles of the ferry with two hours to go when Mark decided it was his turn to fly, sorry, drive, two minutes later he missed the turning to Brugge, the dotted line on his map turned out to be an unbuilt autobahn & we found ourselves lost in rural Belgium, following our noses we headed across country & despite the locals having covered over, turned round or simply uprooted all the signs pointing towards our destination we eventually got back to the autobahn. With time running out we reluctantly realised we'd missed any chance of getting to Calais in time for the 9.00pm ferry. Pulling into Her Majesties Customs at three minutes to nine Mark announced that whilst he hadn't lost his passport he wasn't quite sure where exactly it was, minutes later it was uncovered & we pulled onto a deserted waiting zone, miraculously the chap on duty waved us through & we accelerated up onto the ferry ramp as sirens announced it was closing, both of us were absolutely gob smacked we'd made.
Back in Blighty we headed for the M25 & I phoned a chap in Orpington whom I'd purchased a CB07 female Caramel Cornsnake off a couple of weeks earlier but not had chance to collect or courier, armed with directions we got to his place just after midnight, collected said snake & made it back to Buxton at 2.30pm, tucked everything up for the night & got a good nights kip before settling everybody into their new homes the next morning.
All in all it was a fantastic if tiring weekend, saw a huge array of critters, met some interesting if not strange people, because obviously I'm as normal as they come, & am now planning next years trip.
The week after Hamm I had occasion to visit Ascension Island, see Chapter Thirteen of "Aimo's tales from the Falklands, Antarctica & Beyond", whilst there I was pleased to discover that contrary to my assumptions there was in fact a couple of introduced reptiles, the locally called Coconut Palm Gecko or more correctly called Gray's Leaf-toed gecko, Hemidactylus mercatorious, in addition there in the dryer parts of the island there is reported to be Weigmann's Tree Iguana, Liolaemus weigmanni, unfortunately however whilst I managed to get several, albeit, poor photographs of the first I didn't get time to search out the latter, on the upside however I'll be spending five or so months on Ascension in 2010 so I should get plenty of opportunity to hopefully search them out as well as checking out the land crabs, the common scorpion , the Tanzanian Blue Ringleg centipede & of course the abundant marine life including the Green Turtle, on the down side I'm going to sorely miss Kate & the kids, bugger.
I got back from Ascension mid May 2010, Blythe had done a pretty good job of looking after all the critters at home, it was a lot to ask of her but hats off to her she'd coped admirably, unfortunately however one of the Pink Tongues had succumbed to old age & not to long after my return the second Pink Tongue went the same way, when I first got these two, see above, we'd reckoned on them being seven years or so old however some belated digging suggests they were significantly older, I don't regret buying them really but in hindsight & in view of how they'd been kept/fed previously it wasn't the best buy, at least for the time I had them they were well fed & cared for.
In July 2010 with little inclination or intention of long term working abroad again & everything in order in the reptile shack an advert on RFUK caught my eye, shortly thereafter & I'd collected a small group of Stenodactylus sthenodactylus, or as there more commonly known Israeli Sand, Litchenstein's Short Fingered, Sand Eye, Whip Tail or Elegant Gecko's, these little beauties are only some three inches or so long & live quite happily together by all accounts, I've got them set up in a a two foot viv with a couple of inches of sand & plenty of little hide holes, being truly nocturnal they don't require UV so with a heat mat under the back of the tank they're getting along just swell. I feed them every two to three days on small dusted crickets & occasionally on hatchling roaches or waxworm & mist the tank morning & night. The chap I bought them off assured me that two are gravid & it certainly looks that way so I'm watching them carefully to see if they are going to produce any eggs, fingers crossed. Incidentally whilst researching these fellas it turns out that their name is one of the more famous spelling mistakes in gecko literature - the extra “h” in “sthenodactylus” is due to a typographical error in the original description, 1823, Lichtenstein.
July 2009, see above, Dr Webb, pick up a trio of baby Pink Tongues, twelve
months on they have happily turned out to be amale & two females, the
latter of which produced twenty two babies between them, I've collected four
of them, the last of remainder being sold at Doncaster last week, the four
are doing well on a mix of snail, catfood & earthworms.
Talking of Doncaster Doc Webb has managed to produce a multitude of offspring , Pink Tongues, Blue Tongues, Day & Leopard Gecko's as well as selling box after box of roaches, all in all it was a very successful day, pretty busy from start to finish, everything on the table sold including my Wood Turtle,Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima. I managed to keep my hand in my pocket for the best part of the day however I finally succumbed to temptation & picked up a pair of CB08 Connant's MIlksnake's, Lampropeltis triangulum conanti, they're beautifully coloured so hopefully come 2011 we'll see some eggs cooking.
Looking forward I should hopefully be picking up a trio of CB10 Ackies later this month so watch this space.
Bloody, bloody hell, it's December 2010 now & I've ignored the the website since July, so there's a bit to catch up on, in short the trio of Ackies, Yellow's, Varanus acanthurus brachyurus, not Red's unfortunately, turned into two unsexed pairs, they're still to young to sex but fingers crossed for one male/three female, if not then I'll move them on to pastures new until this is achieved. As expected they've got voracious appetites & will happily shovel as many crickets & roaches as I'm happy to feed them, mixed in with this they're taking once weekly treats of diced chicken, turkey, beef or prawn.
In addition to the Ackies I've also picked up a, unproven, CB09 trio of Moroccan Uromastyx, Uromastyx acanthinurus, they're fairly secretive & spend most of their time in the artificial burrows I've created for them. I think these are really fascinating little chaps & I'm hoping with time they settle down & become a little less secretive, one of the three, the male, seems happy to be at large when I'm pottering around the herpotorium, hopefully his ladies will follow suit.
In September, IHS Doncaster, I couldn't resist a really cute CB10 hatchling Normal/Banded California Kingsnake, Lampropeltis g. californiae, she/he is around the same size as the KS I picked up last year at Hamm, it's got an excellent feeding response, well, pretty muck what you'd expect of a kingsnake, strike first, see if it's edible second.
I have to be honest, acquisitions didn't end there, my love affair with Oriental Fire Bellied Toads, Bombina orientalis, has been rekindled & a hopefully little breeding group is now in residence, I really love to listen to these peeps chirping away of an evening.
The Kenyan Sand Boa's picked up from Hamm in September 2009 are doing well & have now been joined by a CB10 male Rough Scaled Sand Boa, Gongylophis conicus, courtesy of the combined IHS/CREAK Kidderminster Breeders meeting in November, I now just need to keep an eye out for a female, at the same meeting I finally succumbed to temptation & purchased a CB06 male Western Hognose, Heterodon nasicus, he gets a touch hissy at feeding time but apart from that he's been good as gold so far.
Generally everybody's doing well, the normally ravenous MBK is off his food a tad & the Desert KS recently regurgitated so I'm keeping a eye on him, no food for a couple of weeks until his stomachs back up to speed, on the upside the male Royal has developed an appetite so hopefully he'll be up for a spot of fun with his betrothed in 2011.
Finally well almost, I should be picking up a couple or three more Israeli Sand Gecko's next week from a geezer in Frodsham (Update Dec 2010, pick up turned into two but likely to collect three more in Jan 2011)
Finally, yep, this time it is, after Kidderminster in November I'd assumed no more shows until next year however a week or so back I got a call to say there was a run planed to Hamm in December & was I up for it, does a bear shit in the woods or what, of course I'm bloody up for it, so's the credit card, hehehehe, watch this space.
Friday, 10th December 2010, 3.00am & just got up to go pick up Doc Webb then onwards to to Johnny's to Dover to catch the 10.00am ferry to Calais & on to Terraristika Hamm as per September last year, same format, breakfast on the ferry, except there's three of us sharing the driving instead of two & it's cold, we left tit tol late the book a hotel in Hamm itself so Johnny had booked a place in Kamen, about 30 minutes from Hamm. Pleasant evening, good food, couple or seven beers, then bed. After a really excellent breakfast we headed into Hamm & joined the queue, the doors open at 10.00am, Mark & Johnny had made a couple of private sales & contacted the sellers to arrange where & when to meet, they'd had snow previous to the weekend but by know it was raining but still pretty cool so it was a less than pleasant wait till we eventually got inside the building, agreeing to meet up in the cafe about 12.30 we split up & I headed into the main room. There's over 550 sellers at the meeting with it shutting at 4.00pm you're hard pressed to get around everything & remember what you saw & where you saw it.
By late morning I'd covered considerable ground but amazingly still hadn't spent anything, I actually started to consider that my wish list would remain unfulfilled, about then Mark phoned to say he'd seen a female Blue Tongue Skink, T.gigas, in one of the side rooms, several stuttering conversations later, the seller 'Black Reptiles' were Hungarian, I walked away with the CB08 female as well as a CB08 male T.gigas, feeling quite please I walked around the rest of the room & found a table with a female CB10 Rough Scaled Sand Boa, Gongylophis conicus, to potentially pair up with the male I bought at Kidderminster in November, feeling pretty pleased with myself I went to join Mark & Johnny for a plate of chips. Mark & Johnny had both eventually collected there prearranged purchases so after suitable carbohydrates & caffeine we piled back in to see what else we could find.
By about half three I'd crossed another of the list, a pair of CB10 Rosey Boa's, Lichanura trivirgata saslowi. I'd also picked up an 'extra' to the list, a trio of Maasai Girdled Lizards aka Maasai Sungazer's, Cordylus beraduccii , turns out the guy, a dead nice German, had had six of these, he'd sold the first three to Mark, originally these had been named as a sub species of C.tropidosternum living in isolation on the Ngorogoro crater in Tanzania however (Broadley & Branch ) it was later given individual rcognition as a seperate sub species of Cordylus.
I needed more heat mats so I had a quick shufty in the dry goods tent & picked up the three I needed.
With time pressing on I'd got my eye on a pair of Children's Python, on the list, & a couple of Vietnamese Blue Beauties, not on the list but long admired, in the end I didn't buy either of these but plumped for a CB05 female Eyed Lizard, Timon lepidas, to join the pair I've already got, this lady was on the list & shell be joining the pair in being cooled for the winter with a view, hopefully, to breed in the spring. In lieu of what I didn't buy I then picked up a beautiful pair of CB09 Timor (Spotted Tree) Monitor's, Varanus timorensis, absolutely stunning.
With time running out & stalls packing up we filled the car, literally, Mark had bought three Exo-terra type glass tanks, & headed out of town & back towards Blighty, I eventually got home around 2.15am Sunday morning & after crumpets & watching the re-run of Match of the Day, I spent the rest of the day, today actually, reorganising the Herpotorium to accommodate the weekends purchases, bliss.
June 2011, bloody hell, I didn't realise just how long it had been since I updated the site, let alone the reptile page, so without further ado here's where we're up to;
There's been a few up & downs since December 2010, the first calamity was the sad loss of one of my new Timor Monitor's, both seemed happy if not jumpy, but that's nothing new for this species, they were in a well planted 4' viv with lots of cover/bark etc & although mostly unseen were devouring the crickets, mealworm etc that went in every few days. Anyway come the middle of February I opened up the viv to change their water only to find one curled up dead, not a mark on it, colour still vibrant, reasonably plump, to say I was gutted was understatement, I cleaned out the viv, disinfected, boiled the rocks, through out & replaced the plants, the second Timor has been fine & continues to eat well albeit still as nervy as when first acquired, he/she remains unsexed at the moment which is something that needs addressing so I can go hunt down a mate or two.
Whilst we're on things going (badly) wrong I have to report that the trio (unsexed) of Cordylus beraduccii haven't made it, they were doing really well, very active, eating well etc, mid April however, mark, who'd picked up the second trio dropped round for a brew & told me that he'd lost two of his Maasai Girdled Lizards, reason unknown, mine at this point seemed to be doing really well, maybe it was an omen but within the space of a couple of weeks of Mark telling me this sad news all three of mine, one by one, just faded away, eating one day, gone the next, I did consider a post-mortem but decided against it as they were in isolation from all my other rep's & as I was unlikely/reluctant to replace them I'd draw a line under their passing & move on, bizarrely the remaining of Marks three is looking better than ever.
Apart from the above losses I've also sold on my trio of Eastern Plated Lizards but not before they produced three enormous eggs, one of these collapsed almost immediately however the other two look pretty good & are currently sat in the incubator along with various other bits & pieces, see below, I'm crossing my fingers on these, as far as I'm aware although these are a pretty cheap lizard/not every body's cup of tea, they are rarely if at all bred in captivity in the UK so if I can bring them to term I'll be chuffed to bits.
Unexpectedly this year my Pink Tongue Skinks produced a small clutch , eight, of babies, I hadn't cooled them off over the winter as I considered them still relatively immature & a project for next winter, the unsexed group had turned out to be a single female &males so I've moved the smaller males on & just kept the larger male & the gravid female, the babies are doing really well & as I type all but two have new homes. On the baby front my trio of Eyed lizards produced thirteen eggs between them mid February. I'd cooled them of over the winter & as soon as they were back in the viv they got on with the job of mating, the five eggs from the newly acquired female, Hamm Dec 2010, quickly collapsed however the eight from the original female stayed nice & plump , the incubation period for these is between 85 & 120 days, average 102.5, all eight hatched on 102 days & produced eight fantastic looking lizards, all are eating really well on cricket & roach & all are sold pending collection at the end of the month (IHS Doncaster 26/06/11) Apart from these I've got a couple of clutches of corn eggs in the incubator from my pair of caramel's & my Crimson/Amel.
Other than babies & eggs there's been no additions to the menagerie other than a very pretty CB10 Checkered Garter snake, Thamnophis marcianus, purchased from Solid Staff Reptiles, sex is currently unknown so along with several other snakes a afternoon of probing is required, this isn't something I've personally ever done so I'm arranging for a friend of a friend to cover over one Sunday so I can spend the afternoon seeing exactly how it's done (subsequently probed as female)
That pretty much brings things up to date other than probably spending some of the cash raised by sale of babies at the IHS breeders meeting at the end of the month.
OK, June 2011 IHS came & went, by the time it came around the baby eyed lizards had hatched & were all sold, supposedly, five were collected from Doncaster however the chap having the remaining three via courier collection dropped me a line the day after Doncaster telling me there was a change of plan, was a tad bloody annoying as I could have sold them 10 times over at the IHS breeders meeting, two have however now been sold, just trying to move on the last one, in addition to the eyed lizards I also sold on the last of this years Pink Tongue babies. It wasn't all sales however, First off picked up a female CB08 Western Hognose, Heterodon nasicus, the plan being to breed her to my CB06 male next year, secondly I collected a unsexed Sandfish, Scincus scincus, I had a couple of months back agreed to purchase a pair of these from a RFUK forum member, regrettably one died before I collected but the seller decided I should take the remaining skink for free, as above I used to keep a small colony of barrel skinks & I think the sand skinks as a whole are really interesting, hopefully this single Sandfish won't be alone for too long.
Separate from the IHS meeting I was very pleased to get hold of a male CB08 Children's Python, Antaresia childreni, I was looking for a pair of these at Hamm last year however it just didn't happen but when I saw this beauty up for sale I just couldn't resist, only problem now is getting hold of a similar aged female, fingers crossed.
Another chap I know has a very nice collection of snakes, amongst these he has a number of unrelated Huachuca Mountain Kingsnakes, Lampropeltis pyromelana woodini, he now has two less than he did before as I've bought an unrelated pair of CB10 hatchlings of him, one for the future breeding programme me thinks.
Finally the corn eggs have all now hatched, eighteen in total, thirteeen from the Caramel/Caramel Het for butter pairing & five from the Amel/Crimson pair, if i'm honest these were bred for fun rather than profit, I've given a couple away & the remaining have mostly been sold on for pennies as ity's a buyers market for cornsnakes.
September just ended actually, 2nd October 2011 today, not a huge amount to report, most of the cornhatchlings have been sold so I assumed this was the end of babies for 2011, doh, went into the reptile room on Friday to find my female CB08 Connant's Milksnake curled up protectively around three long white shiny eggs, I'd given up on hoping they'd breed this year having seen no sign of them whatsoever making eyes at each other. On the downside the last of the plated eggs, see above hatched, the first two having collapsed mid incubation, what emerged was a beautiful looking fully formed Eastern Plated lizard, unfortunately its front legs were clasped to its chest & it had no use of them, for several weeks I tried to ease its legs into use but all to no avail, it ate well but just could chase it's food, having to push itself around with only its back legs, with great reluctance I decided to put it out of its misery.
Last but not least my CREAK membership card finally appeared & I joined the BHS , so just eagerly waiting for my Herpetological Bulletin, Herpetological Journal & Natterjack.
October 2011, only a month now before I head for Cape Town then Antarctica, with this is mind I'll be passing out various rep's to friends to ease the burden on ones eldest sibling until I return in March, so what's new, well my CB08 Conant's Milksnake caught me on the hop earlier this week, I'd seen no signs whatsoever of them locking so I'd written them off for this year at least so I was chuffed to bits when I found three relatively large eggs on Monday morning, I'd fed all the snakes on Sunday, she hadn't eaten but then she's normally quite fussy & does occasionally refuse, as said she's a picky eater & refuses to eat anything other than pinkies as a rule, she certainly didn't feel gravid so this really was a pleasant suprise, needles to say egg's went straight into the incubator.
More good news this week as my KSB finally gave birth, I had suspected she was gravid for sometime & over the last couple of weeks you could feel her bumps, anyway she gave birth today, just the four but real beauties, two normal, one albino & one anerythristic , chuffed to bits.
Downside, damm, managed to leave the glass unhitched last week on my PTS, male's gone walkabout, he can't get out of the rep room so I'll just have to keep moving boxes until I find him (two weeks later, pulled room apart, littel bugger back in his box)
Another Antarctic season gone, another year begun, well, as it's March 2012 well underway really, now with having been away for 4 months things have been a tad on the quiet side, I managed to spend a morning on top of a mountain, saw a few lizards, no snakes alas, pictures to follow. I'd farmed out a good few critters to friends menageries to reduce the burden on Blythe whilst I was on the ice, I arrived home around midnight last night (08/03/12) so other than briefly popping my head into the herpoturium this afternoon to make sure everybody was OK I've yet to collect the waifs & strays from the there winter hibernation/holiday homes, the good news when I do is that the baby KSB's as noted above are all sold & I've got a couple of stunning hatchling Conant Milksnakes to collect/sell. I've also decided to move all five of my Cornsnakes on, nothing against them, beautiful snakes & regrettably they don't feature in my future plans.
OK, I've been back a couple of months now, April 2012, had four weeks or so of work, hurrah, cleaned out & reorganised the reptile room &, no surprises made a few changes;
First off as mentioned in March the cornsnakes were offered on one of the forums & were sold as a group to Enigma Exotics in Chesterfield, I broke even on the sale which given how cornsnake prices are now was I figured a result all things considered. I also decided to move on the Royals, lovely snakes but I guess I bought them without really thinking about what I wanted to achieve, they've gone their separate ways but both buyers seemed very pleased with what they'd got, the female went very quickly & I guess I could have actually sold here for good bit more than I did but then I didn't lose out so I didn't mind so much. I anticipated having trouble selling a normal male however I fell upon a chap who'd acquired a small female Moroccan Uro but was happy to exchange for the male Ball so I guess we both felt happy with what we got.
For the last couple of months before flying south I'd been repeatedly trying to sex my group of Ackies as I'd begun to suspect that at least three if not all four were male, back from Antarctica I still wasn't 100% sure however after posting pictures of their bits on a couple of the forums the opinion of all was that yes I'd ended up with four bloody males, bugger, the chances of this occurring was just over 6% or 1 in 16, just my luck I guess. Having been handled almost daily the four boys were pretty friendly & would happily run up your arm when the viv glass was opened looking for a treat however four boys together would ultimately end up with somebody getting hurt so I decided to split them up & maybe try to get a couple of females, easier said than done. With this in mind I put the boys up for sale & started to look around for ladies, the outcome however was all four males were sold & I fell upon a proven trio only twenty miles or so up the road, the males have all gone to their new homes & I picked up the new trio on the 28th so they're still settling in really, I'll post a couple of pictures once they feel at home.
As said above on returning back to the UK went into the office for a couple of days but then took four weeks off, after spending a couple of days changing substrata etc one of the first things I did was spend a day touring all the "local" reptile shops, I think it was nine in one day, 250 miles or so later I returned home with a very cute CB11 female Dessert Kingsnake (Cheers Charles - Snake's & Ladder's, Sheffield) I know it'll be a a couple of years before she can play doctors & nurse's with my male but she is a beauty, hopefully I'll pick up a second, older, female later this year to keep the fella amused but if not he'll just have to bide his time. On the same tripI i arranged to deliver four Thai Beauty snakes for a friend to the Stockport Pet Warehouse but whilst in there I picked up a slightly larger exo for my Pink Tongue Skink's so they'd have a tad more room.
Finally (I think) I arranged to collect a pair of CB11 Aesculapian Snake, Zamenis longissimus, s from a breeder in Stafford, at the moment they're about 15" long & have been hibernated by the breeder over the winter, they seem to be settling in quite well &, to be frank (Hi Frank) are a delight, incredibly graceful & a pleasure to watch, photo's will follow.
So far I've had one clutch of eggs from the Eyed Lizards but I missed them & to be honest they don't look good, have to see how they develop, fingers crossed.
Doh ! I hadn't realised that I'd not updated this page for so long, it's now September 2012, saying that there's not huge amounts to tell but not much point having a web page if I'm not going to fill it with bollocks.
So, back in May I made a couple of purchases, namely a CB10 female MB, Lampropeltis g.nagrita, & a female CB08, maybe 09, Mexican Rosy Boa, both were bought with a view to future breeding however the female MBK needs at least another couple of years under her belt.
As it turns out the new female Rosy Boa is a Lichanura t.trivirgata ,where as my existing male is the more orangey coloured locale from found in the California Baja penninsula area, L.t.saslowi, the upshot being I'm now looking for a female & male to match up with my existing male & female.
May I also popped over for a beer with the Staffordshire Reptile Group, so
far I've tried the Manchester & Belper groups, decent peeps, decent beer.
Come the end of June I'd booked a table at the the IHS Breeders meeting at the Doncaster Dome, as the meeting date approached it looked increasingly like the APA were going to make it a hat trick of 2012 meetings that by blatant lies, intimidation & threats got cancelled, fortunately, & at considerable expense, the courts quite rightly ruled on the side of the IHS & the meeting went ahead, result. Possibly because of what had happened, maybe it was the sun coming out, or maybe because of the previously aborted shows, or maybe all three the June meeting was absolutely rammed.
I'd done a deal with a chap for a 1.2 trio of Sandfish, Scincus scincus, with that in mind my existing male went on the table for sale along with left over KSB hatchlings, my remaining juvenile Connant's Milksnake, a surplus male California Kingsnake & a few other bits & pieces, I also decided to put my solitary Timor Monitor, Varanus timorensis, I wasn't to fussed if the latter didn't sell but I thought I'd see if there was any interest. Well there was interest a plenty & by the middle of the afternoon every thing I'd taken was sold. Needless to say I didn't come home completely empty handed, besides the Sandfish I was stunned to find a beautiful female CB09 Tatar Sand Boa, Eryx tataricus, these aren't particularly common so to find so I was chuffed to bits to pick this one up to pair with my male. I'd also found a chap selling a female European Eyed Lizard, Timon lepidus, I couldn't help bringing this home with me so I now have a mini 1.3 group, the next step is to find a second male.
Finally, & retrospectively sadly, I'd also arranged to collect a1.2 trio of Red Sided Skinks, Mabuya perroteti, firstly, the seller "mislaid" one of the females before leaving home so he brought a second male, not wanting a 2.1 trio I immediately sold one of the males on, in hindsight I wish I hadn't. By the end of the day the smaller female wasn't looking to clever, within hours of getting home I was down to a single male, he gradually deteriorated despite eating well,I hope whoever the chap was that bought the male from me was but I hope he had better luck than me.
On the upside despite the above purchases I still came home with over £300.
Now I do try to always purchase CB, not that I've got anything against WC, afterall if there wasn't any WC then they'd be no CB, but I figure if there's enough CB about to keep us all happy, I made an exception hover early in July when I picked up a sexed pair of WC Sunbeam Snakes, Xenopeltis unicolor, from their size I'd estimate them as being two, maybe three years old. I'd first seen this pair back in April but before committing to buy I wanted to do a bit more reading up on them, I'd finally arranged to buy them at Doncaster Dome but left picking them up until I was happy with the set up I'd prepared for them. They seem to have settled in well & have fed several times, maybe once every three weeks on average & are shedding well too.
As expected you don't really see a lot of them as they pretty much stay buried all the time, I dig them out every couple of weeks to check them over & aerate the damp if not wet top soil, coconut fiber & sand substrate mix I keep them in, this is definitely a "project" for the future however it is one that nearly didn't happen. To expand I don't keep the Sunbeam's in the reptile room, I've set them up separately elsewhere. A month or so back, first week August maybe, a neighbour knocked at the door with his kids in tow asking if I was the chap who kept snakes as there was a snake in his neighbours garden. Walking around the corner I suggested it may be an adder or a grass snake of the moor & if so they should just leave it be. Walking down his drive there was a line of cowering adults behind the fence pointing towards the plastic tool chest against the wall, it was at this point that one of the watchers told me he'd phoned the RSPCA, muttering about that one I moved the plastic box & discovered my male Sunbeam. Keeping calm & smiling outwardly I informed them it wasn't going to eat them & no it wasn't venomous & no it wasn't of the moor but was indeed an escapee. This is the first time anything of mine has made it to the outside world, very pleased I got it back, fortunately the RSPCA didn't call the neighbour back, saying that I was perversely looking forward to telling them to go forth & multiply.
November 2012, just a note to say nothings really happened since September, didn't get to any of the IHS or CREAK meetings post September, haven'y bought anything new, only bit of good news is the that male Rough Scaled Sand Boa that went walkabout in October poke its head from behind a stack of viv's mid November such that I managed to get him back in his tub all safe & sound.
Bit of a downer this month, December 2012, gravid KSB finally gave birth, all bar one were still born, the eggs from my Conant's were infertile as were the eggs from my Sunbeam project, be very glad to see this year out reptile wise. Come January I'll be cooling everybody down ready for next season.
After the above I didn't feel like updating this page much, bit of a downer but I thought I'd add a bit to pretty much cover the first half of 2013, It's now May, some ups, some downs. I'd decided to let my male Californian Kingsnake, very pretty, High White/Desert Phase, but it was time for a sort out so he's been moved on. I also had to have one of my female eyed lizard's put to sleep, she'd had a rupture in her abdomen & despite the vets best efforts it wasn't a good prognosis so reluctantly the decisdion was made, to cap the fist six months off my large male BTS just ran out of steam, I'd had him since 2007 & he was no spring chicken when he came to me, he had a good innings but I guess old age catches up with us all eventually.
On the plus side everybody else is doing well, even my pain in the backside awkward feeding feeding Children's Python is now eating like there's no tomorrow, early January he just decided that it was OK to eat unassisted whatever is offered, since then, touch wood, he hasn't missed a single feed , shed or no shed.
I also picked up a CB10 Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Epicrates cenchria cenchria, very pretty, great appetite, typically secrative.
Finally I collected my hatchling Freckled Monitors, Varanus tristis orientalis, from a chap over nottinghasm way, they've settled in well, if not a little nervously & are eating well/putting on weight.
April 2013, it's surprising how time flies, sometimes for the good, some times not so, in June last year I had to go back to the Falkland's for a month or two, as it was my daughter had not yet departed for UEA so with Hoggies & Arabesque Boa's tucked up at a mates elder off spring was left in charge of the critters, as she'd looked after them previously for much longer periods it wasn't really a problem, famous last words. When I returned to Blighty towards the end of July & after duly handing out novelty gifts I headed for the reptiles to spend a happy day checking everybody out & cleaning up, it wasn't long before I discovered that the Freckled Monitors were missing, after three days scouring the reptile room I had to admit defeat & concede that they'd gone, daughter was very apologetic obviously realising she must have left the glass slightly open one night & not realised but it was a real kick in the bollocks to find them gone, it wasn't the money, although that hurt, it was plain & simple just the loss, in fact it came close to pushing me towards selling up.
For the next couple of months I did what I had to to ensure all were well cared for but it was all done without any great enthusiasm, after a couple of months, thankfully, my enthusiasm returned.
In December 2013 I considered going over to Hamm with friends however money was a little tight so I passed on the trip however I had arranged for the collection by a friend of a hatchling pair of CB2013 Conant's Milksnake from a German breeder, Gerrit Helming. Where my existing pair of CB2008 are typical of the subspecies, dirty white banding, this pair have a distinct Yellow tint to their banding & are I believe a locale to Acapulco, Mexico, they've got excellent appetites &are as cute as hell, definitely a breeding project I'm looking forward to in a couple of years.
With everything ticking over the winter solstice came & went & my pair of KSB's again produced a clutch of typically bloody awkward feeders, I've still holding these back as I type & continuing to assist feed on weener tails, strange how it plays out, their parents have a fantastic feeding response.
At the end of January 2014 I started to think about Hamm again & decided that March would be on the cards, yet again however work conspired against me as they asked could I bugger off to the Falklands again as our head honcho out there was being medi-vac'd for an operation, it just so happened I'd be returning to the UK on the same bloody weekend as Hamm so yet again plans were shelved, maybe somebody's trying to tell me something.
Not to be completely thwarted I did finally manage to source a CB2010 male 256g Mexican Rosy Boa, L.t.trivirgata, to pair with the female CB2008 I'd acquired in May 2012, not to be outdone I'd also been put in touch with a chap in Cardiff who had a couple of female CB2009 L.t.saslowi available, I agreed to purchase the smaller 210g female but as I was about to fly off to the Falklands I paid for her but agreed that she'd stay in Cardiff until I was back in Blighty, duly returned home I collected her at the end of March.
Some time before heading for the Falklands it was pleasing to see my Pink Tongue Skinks repeatedly locking so I had high hopes of babies towards the end of April, thus far despite early signs of increased girth the female is looking decidedly not gravid.
To bring matters finally up to date I'd been planning for some considerable time to set up a viv to suit a arboreal snake as I had a number of unoccupied viv's one of which is a nice four feet high, I wanted something that was definitely active & preferably diurnal as well as not to much of a killer, when the chance came to pick up a CB2012 male Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephala, I jumped at it, after various exchanges of email's, photographs & conversation I collected him up from Bristol late in March, to say he's stunning is an understatement, to say he's feisty isn't.
So that pretty much brings the reptileroom up to date, the female Eyed Lizards will soon be off to new home & there are several fout foot viv's currently unoccupied plus I'm after a female Children's Python & a male American Checkered Garter, other than that I can see more dwarf monitors on the next Hamm shopping list.
As noted above the remaining pair of female eyed lizards have been moved to pastures new, I dropped them off with a chap in Bridgnorth last week, April 2014, I'd also decided to have another gowith Freckled Monitors however rather than hatchlings I picked up an adult male, a proven female, they also came with a male sub adult that was offspring from the female however I more or less immediately soldthe sub adult on as I definately didn't want him breeding back with his mother, they've settled in really quite well although thr female is still a bit nervy.
So, its early August, not to much happening on the reptile front, I picked up a pair of adult Freckled Monitors, Varanus tristis orientalis, a couple or three months back from a chap emigrating to Paris, the male is thought to be CB08 & the female CB09, there was a second male, CB11, but he was the off spring of the female so I pretty much sold him straight away as I don't want any inbreeding The male is pretty chilled but the female was very skittery at first but several months on she's calming down & whilst she isn't keen on being picked up she will now happily continue to bask when I open the viv glass.
I did go along to the IHS show at Doncaster in June as a couple of friends had a table, I wasn't particularly going with the idea buying anything but I had arranged to collect a couple of proven female Pink Tongues, as it was the chap who I was buying these from had a female CB Fire Skink that he'd offered me for free, it had been bred by him a couple of years back but he'd decided to part with it but didn't want to sell it so he'd asked was I interested in taking. As it happens I have kept these previously & I did have a spare tank I could accommodate it in so I agreed to take her in. She seems to have settled well & has plenty of weight on her but is typical of Fire Skinks in that she's quite secretive unless she's on the hunt for food.
I did I have to say make one impulse purchase as I came away with another male CB11 Kenyan Sand Boa, I really shouldn't have done this but it was nice looking if nothing special but probably just means I'll end up buying a second female at some point.
As things are playing out I was meant to be off to the Falklands again mid September until November but thankfully this has been pulled so it looks like I'll make it to Hamm in September, who knows what that'll bring !
Well, September did bring a few changes, first off was indeed a trip to Hamm, there were four of us this time around, the others had all done various deals & were delivering both lizards & snakes to various buyers both inside & outside of the venue. We left Buxton around 6.00am, bit late actually, we had to rush somewhat to make the 10.20am chunnel crossing, fortunately the train was a couple of minutes late so we made it. After a dash across France, Belgium & the Netherlands we finally got to Hamm around 5.30pm. After checking in at the hotel we headed out for a few beers & chow.
Saturday morning we got to the show early & joined the growing queue. It always amazes me just how far a field people travel to attend Hamm, I got talking to two guys, one was from Spain, the other from Kuwait, both were first time visitors to the show.
Anyway once inside I hurtled around the although I didn't bother with the HOTS room, I've just looked in the listings for the show, there were nearly 600 tables no wonder it gets bloody warm ! Anyway, after my dash around I went back to the selected stalls & did my business.
off I picked up a very nice pair of hatchling Storr's Monitors, Varanus
storri, this was closely followed up by a tiny, tiny pair of Red Milksnakes,
Lampropeltis triangulumsyspila, as adults these are a relatively small
snake, the hatchlings were only 3 grams. Currently they're being assist fed
on around 1" pieces of tail form a medium sized mouse twice a week, I
think it could be a good while before there's any hope of them taking pinkies.
Finally I'd plumped for a pair of captive bred Reticulate Te Racerunner, or
more properly Eremias grammica, these are a desert species that inhabit
the central Asian plains of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the
middle and southern Kazakhstan. Their also found in the north-eastern Iran,
northern Afghanistan and north-western China. They're not a particularly big
lizard but they appeal to me.
So spent up I spent a leisurely afternoon pottering around the tables before piling into the car with the others & heading back for Blighty around 4.30pm getting back home around 2.45am Sunday morning. I'd just climbed into my pit when one of the guys phoned to say he'd lost a hatchling Russian Rat snake & was it in my car, without swearing I got back up & went to find out. The simple answer was no it wasn't but calling him back we reckoned it had escaped when he was transferring his acquired critters into his van. The next morning, I was up at 7.00am watching the repeat of Match of the Day, after this I was pottering in the reptile room but I kept going & checking outside just in case. On about the 5th occasion I spotted what looked like a twig heading across the road for the fields beyond, it was the elusive ratsnake !
So with Hamm done & dusted I joined a few mates on a table at the IHS breeders meeting in Doncaster last Sunday, I was actually quite a good boy & didn't buy anything but I did sell a new of critters. I'd decided to move on my impulsively purchased male CB11 KSB from June, I shouldn't have bought it when I did so hopefully it's now with someone who bought with their head not their heart. I also moved on the CB Fire Skink I'd been given, don't get me wrong I really like these & have kept them before but it just didn't figure in current plans. I'd also got three hold over hatchling KSB's from last year & after feeding them on I decided it was time to move them on. On top of this I'd decided to move on the remaining pair of Halmahera BTS I'd bought at Hamm in 2009 as well as my Arabesque Boa's that I'd also picked up in 2009 at Hamm. I actually really liked both but I'd decided that it was time for a change of direction so the deed was done. I know need to think about what happens next so I guess watch this space.
Small note to add, December dawns & my well & truly grown up female Kenyan sand Boa has just provided me with another seven fat & healthy babies, cuties every one of them.
I've also finally had a stroke of luck, I happened to glance through the classifieds on RFUK a week or so back & found a very reasonably priced adult female children's python for sale in Edinburgh, the chaps even coming over to Liverpool next week so an easy pick up, & a sub-adult male checkered garter snake, although I will have to travel south for that one.
So Christmas came & went & arrangements were made to collect my new male garter snake as well as the female children's python, both are settling in well. The garter is a little smaller than I thought it would be so he'll need to grow quite a bit before I let him anywhere near the female. The female children's python is quite a beauty slightly defensive about her home but like most snakes as soon as she's in the hand she's a kitten to handle. With the new additions various snakes have been move around into new viv's & rub's so as all pairs are in adjacent homes under the same heating & lighting conditions.
The 2014 Hamm additions are doing well & I finally got the red Milk's to take day old pinkie heads, thus far they'd been on pieces of mouse tail, fine for keeping them going/adding a little weight but nowhere near as nutritional.
I've also picked up a male African Red Toad or African Split-Skin Toad, Schismaderma carens, as they're sometimes referred to, a fairly undemanding species, settled in nicely, really should have bought a pair.
The other change post Hamm that I'd forgotten about was that I've taken my male Brazilian Rainbow Boa around to Mr Brickland's to be paired up with his female. JB's female has previously produced some very nice babies, unfortunately however his male passed away so mine has stepped in to take up the mantle.
So, its nearly July 2015, a couple of weeks since the IHS Breeders Meeting at the racecourse, Doncastor. I shared a table on the Sunday with a couple of peeps although I wasn't particularly selling anything, just helping them out with their sales, meeting friends old & new as well as enjoying the crack. On the Saturday I attended the FBH conference, somereally interesting talks on various species plus in the afternoon a presentation by Grant Miller of the UK Border Force on Illegal Wildlife Trade followed the the RSPCA, needless to say the latter got an interesting if not cold reception.
I'd urge anybody reading this that cares a jot about the hobby to attend this conference at least once, see ya next year Mr Newman.
Post conference there was much consumption of beer & gin. Unfortunately the hotel had cocked up the booking I'd made for myself & a mate, for a while it looked like we had no room but then we did, hurrah, unfortunately it was the last room & it had a double bed, boo, boo, at least they gave us a couple of duvets so I only had to share the mattress with Mark, thank fuck.
The next morning, hangover free & post fry up, I don't get them (unlike Mark W No.1 who looked like death warmed up) we headed for racecourse & met up with Mark W No. 2 & filled the table with snakes & cockroaches. As said I wasn't selling but did pick up another sub-adult checkered garter snake from the same chap as I bought the male from earlier in the year. I also made a sort of impulse buy, well maybe impulse is the wrong word really. Ever since spending time on Ascension Island back in 2009 I've quite fancied getting a pair or trio of Desert Iguana, Dipsosaurus dorsalis. I've seen a few in various reptile shops as well as a couple for sale on the forums but for one reason or another I've not been tempted enough to buy. Long storey short however the first thing I see inside the breeders meeting on the Sunday on the table next to ours is a box with a 1.2 trio. I spoke a couple of times to the lass selling them & well, you can guess, we agreed a price & having booked the Monday off work in advance spent a pleasant day setting up a vivarium for them next to my trio of Moroccan Uromastyx.
is therefore still well with the world, happy days.
Well, it's late August 2015, chunnel tickets & hotel is booked for Hamm next month, September, so you think I'd be saving pennies like they've gone out of fashion - doh. Back in 2006 I kept a small communal colony of Chalcides ocellatus, or Ocellated Skink, whilst ideally perusing the classifieds on RFUK over lunch one day at work this week I spotted a pair for sale, looked quite young/small but advertiser suggested WF13, needless to say they're now settling in having picked them this morning.
September 2015, Hamm was fun. The trip on Friday was long, two hour tailback around Antwerp, left home at 7.00am, arrived at Hamm 12 hours later.
Yet again the hotel cocked up, two single rooms turned into one twin room, still better than IHS conference in June when two single rooms turned into a double bed. The evening was nicely rounded of with a few beers & a pizza in down town Hamm.
Dr Webb was dropping off a number of Eastern & Northern Blue Tongues as well as a clutch of Pink Tongue Skinks & I was picking up a hatchling pair of Philodryas patagonensis for a friend whose had forgone the trip due to starting a new job, with deals done we joined the queue & headed inside clutching a wad of euro's & a list of what ifs. This was the twentieth year of the Hamm Terraristika reptile fair & it was as busy & hot as ever. As usual I spent the morning blasting around the main room as well as the smaller hall, the amphitheater, the tents & even the hots room before joining Mark in the cafe for cream champignon, schnitzel & croquettes. I'd seen a few things on my list, some within reach, others just to bloody pricey as well as a couple of "why the hell the not" however all I'd spent money on was a tiny hatchling replacement female Red Milksnakes, Lampropeltis triangulumsyspila, as unfortunately the female I'd purchased last September hadn't made it whilst the male eating like a trooper. I'd also picked up a small group, 1.3 of ,Steppes Racerunner, Eremias arguta, on the back of the pair of Eremias grammica I picked up last year (these are settling into their viv nicely & already eating well)
Post food, we headed back into the scrum agreeing to meet up around 4.00ish back at the cafe.
I'd had my fingers crossed on maybe coming across a female Red Tailed Racer to pair up with my CB12 having lucked out with a number of (former) breeders, unfortunately my luck was just as bad, not even hatchlings. On the upside however I was amazed when I came across a table that had a young Lampropeltis pyromelana woodini as I still have the CB10 male I got of a mate in August 2011. My German is none existent & just for a change the chap on the table spoke no English but fortunately another punter came to my assistance & translated my questioning as the gender wasn't noted on the tub. It turned out he didn't know the sex but also that he had a second but older, a yearling, Huachua Mountain king under the table. This snake to was unsexed but after a brief examination it turned out it was a she, price agreed I walked away a happy bunny.
Whilst wandering the tables I'd spotted several complete with 2015 Philodryas baroni, Barons Green Racer's. I've always been taken with these arboreal slender pretty snakes despite them being rear fanged. Decision made I purchased two females from one table & set off to a second table who had a couple of males available. Unfortunately the chaps table was bare & the chap had gone walkabout but his mate explained there was a male under the table & if I came back in quarter of an hour when the breeder returned we could do the deal. After a further wander I dually returned & hung around as he wasn't back. When he eventually did he smiled sympathetically but told me the male he had wasn't for sale ? A tad naffed of with this I set off for the other couple of tables where I'd seen others for sale. A frustrating sweaty hour later I'd almost given up as I couldn't find one anywhere but on a second spin around the tent, having missed it the first time around, I found a stunning 2015 male which snapped up before somebody else did.
Finally I coughed up for two female Desert Iguana to add to my 1.2 trio, one had a slight kink in her tail & the other is a tad scrawny so will need a bit of tlc to build her up before she joins the main group.
With a wad of cash still in pocket, knackard but pleasantly happy we departed Hamm & headed for Bllighty discussing the days purchases, sights & plans for the future including the IHS bredders meeting next week & selling the hoggies.
The September IHS came & went, popped over for an hour or so but but was a good boy, just caught up with peeps with whom I'm acquainted & chatted sociably - makes a change for me - well, technically I did buy something, but it was just a tub of Cuban Tropical Gray Woodlice to add to my attempted bio-substrate in the Pink Tongue Skinks viv which was already home to several cultures of Dwarf White Tropical Woodlice & Springtails.
The Hognoses have been sold (October 2015) but as i'm off to Tristan da Cunha for a month or so (back for Christmas hopefully ?) nothing will be replacing them in the short-term - see you in January 2016.
Shit well & truly happens - As said above I was out of Blighty until the weekend before Christmas, as I was going to be away for five or six weeks I took the opportunity to cool most of the critters off, early brumation, although abunch went off to a mates that didn't require or I didn't want to cool off. Over the weeks before I flew to Cape Town I reduced feeding/temperatures/lighting as required to the point that all were suitably chilled a week before I got on the big silver bird. Unfortunately while I was away there was a hick up, quiet a large hick up actually. I'm not going into the details, there's no point now, it happened, I've just got to deal with it. The upshot was I lost a number of snakes & lizards,around a dozen all told. I came close to calling it a day but after much contemplation I didn't, life goes on, let's see what tomorrow brings (again)
Responsible Bit , arghhhhh
Now for the responsible bit (What little old me, Yes sir, you sir) If the idea of keeping a scaly, or not so scaly, friend appeals then go for it but I would add that like anything kept in a tank they don't look after themselves, they can smell, they can, & will, bite the hand that feeds them, they don't appreciate you clearing up their poo or chasing crickets around the bedroom & their not bothered that there's mice in the freezer, just below the ice cream. If changing the water in a gold fish bowl is to much trouble then buy a pet rock, its less hassle & loves you about the same.
If your not a member of the IHS or BHS by the way then go & join now, it wont break the bank & you'll get lots of shiny bits to read.
Also very worthy of mention are the FBH
or maybe check out