The Aquatic Critter -Reptile Room

Middle TN's Most Complete Aquatic,       Pond & Reptile Facility

5009 Nolensville Pk Nashville TN 37211



Reptile Room

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Heating & Lighting For Life

March 15, 2017

Most living creatures need light to survive. The duration of light provided is called the photo period. Both a night and a day, of natural duration, MUST be provided. The amount of daylight can play a critical role in how well a reptile eats, how long it lives, and its ability to breed and produce young.

Once the amount of daylight required has been determined, a simple household timer, connected to the light source, will provide consistency which is equally as important as duration. Studies show that a light as close to the color of sunlight as possible should be used. Many reptiles respond to things like food because of its color. The use of unnatural colors of light can cause unanticipated physiological problems.

Metabolic bone disease is probably the number one killer of pet iguanas. With the use of a full spectrum light, this problem need not occur with any species. When using full spectrum lights, make sure the light is not placed on a glass or plastic canopy, as these tend to filter out most of the UV light.* Screen covers reflect as much as 50% of the UV light, greatly reducing its benefit. Many fluorescent bulbs will burn for years, but should be replaced at a minimum of once a year since the UV part of the spectrum burns out long before the visible light.

When in doubt if a reptile needs UV light or not, go the little extra and provide it.

When using an incandescent light bulb as a heat source, you must be careful not to upset the reptile’s photo period. The use of a red or black light bulb will eliminate this problem since colored light cannot be detected by the reptilian eye. Also, a thermal gradient must be provided. This means that a variety of different temperatures are available to the reptile. This can be accomplished by placing the heat source at one end of the enclosure and/or adding climbing branches. This allows the reptile to climb closer to, or further from, the heat source.

Other methods that can be used to achieve the required temperature are under-the-tank heating pads, heated caves, and electric limbs. Under-the-tank heating pads work best when the substrate used conducts heat well. The desert terrarium with sand or gravel are good choices.

* Oceanic fluorescent light strips have an in-line ballast, thus eliminating the generation of excess heat within the enclosure and, thus, possible burns. The strip light can be placed inside the reptile enclosure, allowing it to be moved closer to the reptile providing 100% of the UV light.

Captive Bred Vs. Wild Caught

March 15, 2017

Captive bred animals, while not always the least expensive choice for the initial reptile purchase, are almost always better than wild caught or "farm raised" animals. We carry a large number of species, but always choose the captive bred specimens over wild caught ones when possible. Captive produced reptiles are not only disease free, but are also almost always easier to handle and keep.

Wild caught reptiles have to endure large amounts of stress before they reach the customer. The stress, combined with even a minimal parasite load, produces a heavy mortality rate. Captive breeding bypasses all of the stress and parasites, making them much more suitable for pet purposes.

Leopard geckos, bearded dragons, veiled chameleons, and water dragons are captive bred and born lizards are readily available. Almost all of the snakes we carry are captive bred. Corn snakes, king snakes, red tail boas, and Burmese pythons are just a few.

Ball pythons, available as captive babies, are a good example of the benefits of captive breeding. Wild caught ball pythons are heavily parasitized and extremely prey specific. They sometimes do not adjust to captivity for many months, and are not recommended as pets. Captive bred specimens are preferable because they accept pre-killed rodents readily. All snakes we sell are feeding regularly on pre-killed, frozen and then thawed rodents. There will never be a need to feed a live mouse or rat.

Tarantula buffs, affectionately known as arachnophiles, will actually save money on most species by buying captive bred babies. We’ve just gotten some new exotic species like the Trinidad Chevron, Goliath Birdeaters, Mexican Firelegs, and South American Suntigers. The most rewarding experience in arachnoculture is to rear one of these baby spiderlings to an adult with a 6 to 8 inch legspan and outrageous coloration.

Amphibian lovers shouldn’t feel left out. White treefrogs, horned frogs, and the beloved red-eye treefrog are always on hand.

Captive bred animals are much hardier, but they still require proper husbandry. Verilux full spectrum bulbs and Rep-Cal calcium supplementation are absolutely essential for all basking species. Hagan heatwave pads provide the necessary bottom heat for snake species.

More experienced reptile keepers should not refrain from trying new and interesting wild caught specimens. After all, every established reptile species in captivity originally began as an import. If someone doesn’t strive to establish new captive bred species, then we may lose out on a new and exciting animal. Sad to say, but at the rate many exotic habitats are being lost to clear cutting and burning, many species may only survive as captive bred animals.

The Perfect Pets?

March 15, 2017

How about a pet that doesn't bark, scratch the furniture, dig up the yard or squawk and screech? How about a quiet, low-maintenance pet you don't have to take for walks, don't have to get a rabies shot for every year and won't chew your shoes? How about a pet that will give you a glimpse of nature you won't normally see in your everyday life?

People choose pets for a variety of personal reasons. Some want an animal they can cuddle and pet. Some relish being adored by a pair of melting brown/blue eyes. Some want an ever-loving animal companion. Others are attracted by the independence, appearance and personality of their chosen pets, and some just appreciate have an otherwise wild animal living with them.

Whatever your reasons or personal needs, if you appreciate nature and enjoy the thought of creating a mini ecosystem within your own home, a reptile may be the pet for you. Whether you prefer snakes, frogs or lizards (or maybe a combination of several), reptiles are really fascinating creatures. They come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and temperaments. Some are insect eaters and need to be fed live food. Others will take prepared foods. Still others are fruit and vegetable eaters. Beauty, moderate size, easy maintenance, and relative docility are qualities nearly all of them possess.

The difference between keeping dogs, cats, birds, etc., is that they live with you, sharing your living areas, maybe sleeping on the bed, eating in the kitchen, playing in the yard, while your reptile pets need their own environment to thrive. Therein lies one of the most enjoyable reasons for keeping them as pets. Depending on the species you chose, you get to create a mini desert, mangrove swamp or rainforest in a terrarium, aquarium, or combination habitat, and enjoy it in your own home.

Herpetology has come a long way over the years. Because of their specialized needs, many reptiles in the past were improperly kept; poor heat and light sources along with inadequate foods made it very hard to maintain a proper environment for them to thrive. But now there is a wealth of knowledge available on how to keep healthy, thriving reptiles and inexpensive equipment and foods to go along with it. (see Healthy Reptiles) Today's amateur herpetologist has graduated from just keeping a few common snakes or lizards to attempting to breed rare and obscure species. As reptile habitats around the world shrink and disappear, and laws restricting the collection of wild species tightens, the major sources of many species will be captive bred animals. So, not only do you not have to have these pets spayed or neutered, you are actually encouraged to breed them!

Which ones to choose? There are reptiles for every taste; gentle or aggressive, friendly or reclusive, beautiful, exotic, common or rare. Many reptiles will tolerate handling, petting and the occasional embrace, while other prefer to be left alone and admired from afar. either way, reptiles are an extremely unique investment, and if you'd like a slice of the really wild life, you should consider becoming a reptile 'parent.' The Aquatic Critter has a large and excellent herp center staffed with knowledgeable enthusiasts who will help you make your choice and advise you on successful herp keeping.

Reptile Lighting

March 15, 2017

Can too much ultraviolet radiation be harmful? How much is too much?

Experts agree that excess ultraviolet radiation can be harmful for humans and animals. Lower wavelengths have a known relationship with skin cancer in humans, cattle, cats, and horses.

We do not know how much UVB radiation reptiles can tolerate, and we do not know if UVA radiation is harmful. However, at least one publication has suggested that excess ultraviolet radiation (in this case, under outdoor conditions) may be associated with decreased reproductive success in amphibians. In addition, excess ultraviolet radiation may cause skin cancer and eye damage in other animals, presumably also in reptiles.

What is black light?

Black light is invisible ultraviolet or infrared radiation. Black lights generate UVA and are not considered useful for converting vitamin D to its active form.

What is a sunlamp?

Sunlamps are incandescent spotlights that mainly produce UVB and can be hazardous. Phototherapy units and tanning salons use similar fluorescent tubes that produce both UVA and UVB. (UVC wavelengths are the most dangerous and generally not produced in lighting systems or commercial bulbs or tubes).

What kind of light do infrared and neodymium bulbs produce?

Infrared bulbs, brooder lamps, and spotlights produce radiation with long wavelengths, transferring heat energy to surfaces, but they do not produce a full-spectrum or ultraviolet effect. The new "mini" versions of these powerful red heat lamps are extremely useful for heat applications for reptiles and birds. They usually are placed in conical aluminum reflectors that rest on top of the screen lids of reptile cages.

Violet or purple neodymium bulbs are incandescent sources in which neodymium elements are incorporated during production. Like infrared lamps, these units do not produce UVB radiation, but they can generate heat without much visible light, thus helping to avoid disrupting photoperiodism.

Neodymium bulbs are not as focused as infrared spotlights and are sometimes used in small tanks or nonbasking situations.

How close must reptiles be to full-spectrum fluorescent lamps to gain any benefit? How long do effective emissions last?

Presently, we do not know how near reptiles must be to full-spectrum fluorescent lamps to derive benefits. One group of researchers found, however, that one full-spectrum fluorescent light in its lab produced a vitamin D conversion effect in green iguanas at ranges greater than 12 inches. It may be that the less powerful the light, the nearer an animal must be to it to gain any benefits.

I am aware of no data supporting any theory that UVB emissions may fail or end before visible light emissions fail. Most of these tubes probably last one to two years.

What kind of reptiles need full-spectrum light?

Reptiles that bask or rest in natural sunlight in the wild may need UVB wavelengths in captivity to produce vitamin D3. Without it they may suffer from bone abnormalities and growth problems.

Nocturnal reptiles, or those living under cover, generally do not develop bone diseases without full-spectrum lights.

Can’t reptiles just be placed outside or in a window on sunny days?

Because window glass filters out UVB wavelengths generated by the sun, outdoor pens are excellent options or supplements to artificial lighting. And they provide fresh air and natural living conditions for captive reptiles. Before pet owners place their animals outside permanently, however, they should consider the likelihood of overheating, chilling, predators, thefts, escapes, and aggression during handling.

Reptile owners who live in climates where year-round or seasonal outdoor housing is not feasibly for their pets may be able to put their animals outdoors anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Because little is known about how much ultraviolet light reptiles require, or how much ultraviolet light tubes produce, natural lighting can be a good alternative to artificial lighting.

Healthy Reptiles

March 15, 2017

An increase in the popularity of lizards has resulted in the necessity of learning more effective health care methods and habitat requirements. We have found that with the proper heat, light, humidity, and diet, lizards can thrive in captivity.


The most important thing to know regarding the heating of lizard habitats is that lizards are ectothermic (cold-blooded) and rely on outside means to gain body heat. The amount of heat required depends on the particular species and whether the species is nocturnal or diurnal.

There are many methods of maintaining one’s lizard at the proper temperature. Whatever the method, you must be knowledgeable of your lizard’s natural temperature requirements in both the daytime and evening hours and in which part of the day it tends to be more active. The methods include:

An over the tank heater consists of an incandescent light bulb and a reflector. The wattage of the bulb is dependent on the size of the tank and the temperature to be maintained. A basking site providing a higher temperature area is recommended for those species of lizards that are active during the day. Nocturnal species that like a warmer temperature at night can be heated with nocturnal heat bulbs. These bulbs resemble an incandescent blacklight or infra-red bulb; producing heat, but light which is invisible to the lizard.

Ceramic heat emitters which are appropriate for both nocturnal and diurnal species as only heat is produced with no light being emitted. Their primary advantages are a more even heat gradient and a prolonged life span.

Under the tank heaters are recommended for lizards that need to maintain a constant temperature without basking. They can also be used in conjunction with over the tank heaters to regulate the photo period.

Heat rocks which we strongly do not recommend. A reptile’s dorsal surface is covered with nerves to control the holding and dispersal of heat. Its ventral surface, that portion of the body in contact with the heat rock, is the opposite, containing few nerves. Heat rocks are notorious for possessing uneven heat gradients; i.e. hot spots, which are capable of producing severe burns.


Lighting is a critical aspect of reptile care, with most lizards requiring an ultraviolet source. This light can only be produced by a full spectrum reptile fluorescent bulb. Without this U.V. light, metabolic bone disease (M.B.D.) will occur and the lizard will die. It is comparable to osteoporosis in women except that it will occur throughout the lizard’s body and not just with the vertebrae. The reason this occurs is the lizard cannot efficiently assimilate calcium or phosphorus without vitamin D3 which is produced by UVB radiation. These bulbs are available with a UVB rating of from 2 to 5%; with the high percentage being more efficient, more desirable and, somewhat more expensive. Full spectrum fluorescent bulbs should be replaced every six months. There are incandescent bulbs on the market which purportedly emit UVA and UVB. Incandescent bulbs, however, cannot produce light in the ultraviolet spectrum.

The photo period (the duration the habitat is illuminated) should be constant and should simulate the lizard’s natural daylight/darkness duration. This is inclusive of any light emitting bulbs being used as heat sources. Electrical timers provide the maximum convenience and surety in this respect.

Humidity is very easily controlled and maintained; both by the size of the water bowl placed in the habitat and by the frequency of misting the lizard(s) therein. At improper humidity levels, breeding will not occur, eggs will not hatch, and respiratory infections are likely. The investment in a humidity gauge and a brief indulgence in trial and error will prevent these problems.


The diet of a captive lizard is not nearly as diverse as its wild counterpart. Therefore, supplements are necessary, with calcium in a fine powder form being the most important. This is particularly true in the case of herbivores which are more prone to metabolic bone disease. Carnivores receive the majority of their calcium requirements from the bones of their prey, so supplementation is not as important.

Calcium should be dusted on vegetables and fruit just prior to feeding. With crickets and mealworms it is important to dust and feed only that amount which will be immediately consumed, as their movements about the habitat will rub off the calcium and negate its effectiveness.

Bait shop crickets are of questionable nutritional value at best. Unless they have been properly fed, vitamin supplemented, and provided with moisture, crickets offer noting but chitinous bulk having no nutritional content.

This is only a simple overview of reptile care. More lizard species are successfully brought into the trade everyday and with these species come new care requirements making reading fundamental to animal care. The Aquatic Critter has books on the care of nearly every species of lizard available, along with other reptile and amphibian books. Come in or call us with a question you might have and we will be happy to answer it as we recognize and respect the importance of the customer and their pet’s health.

So... You Want To Buy A Reptile

March 15, 2017

We see customers every day wanting to try out reptile ownership for the first time. The majority of these individuals initially look for the least expensive lizard or snake, to see "if everything will work out" first. This is a major mistake as less expensive reptiles may not be the best first time choices. Anoles, garter snakes, and green snakes, for example, should never be kept as first time pets. None of these animals will tolerate the handling most beginning reptile owners tend to want to do. Much better choices would be bearded dragons, leopard geckos, or corn snakes. These animals are more suitable for handling and make much hardier pets.

No one wants their first experience to be a failing one. First impressions are lasting, and a bad experience at this point can end many budding enthusiasts ardor for the hobby. For those people wishing to purchase an inexpensive reptile, calling it a disposable pet... please don’t! Purchase a pet rock instead. Don’t put you or your child/family or the animal through this.

There are many choices suitable for the first time reptile owner. A leopard gecko or corn snake have to be about the best two I can think of. Both are available as captive bred individuals and exhibit a wide array of colors. Habitats adequate for less expensive animals are usually more than adequate for these better suited "first-timer" species. Both animals can be set up in a standard ten gallon aquarium with a locking screen. Using an under-the-tank heat source, lighting can be left as an option. With proper care, they could live in excess of twenty years!

For the next step up I would recommend a ball python or bearded dragon. Although the bearded dragon requires a more elaborate set-up, the personalities of these wonderful creatures cannot be equaled.

Amphibian lovers aren’t left out. The Aquatic Critter always has a large stock of White’s tree frogs on hand. These wonderfully droll little creatures epitomize captive animal husbandry. They have absolutely ravenous appetites and tolerate handling better than any other amphibian species. Other than a tank and top, heat source of some type, and a few decorations, the only other necessity would be a calcium supplement such as Rep-Cal for the insect eaters. Full spectrum lighting is also a necessity for most lizard species.

There is no reason your initial reptile experience shouldn’t be a good one, just ask the advice of the sales person helping you. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re the ones who take care of all the animals on a daily basis and have also had extensive experience with keeping reptiles and amphibians on a personal level. We know what works and it can work for you, too.

Bromeliads For The Terrarium

March 15, 2017

Frog and Lizard enthusiasts will be thrilled to learn we have secured a wide selection of beautiful and sturdy Bromeliads for the terrarium. These beautiful South American plants are great for the beginner and the expert alike. Certain frogs all but require them for breeding, and many other species simply seem to enjoy them.

The reptile room has had a blast decorating our own display cages with these tough, ornamental plants. They definitely add a splash of color to an otherwise dreary and unexciting terrarium!

Leopard Geckos

March 15, 2017

Yes, it’s that time of year again, and it grows colder and darker by the day, trapping you and your children inside. The question is, are you bored yet? Well if you are, and not already a reptile hobbyist, The Aquatic Critter’s reptile department has a suggestion that will make your dull, bleak winter months bright and interesting. A new reptile is the key to your wintertime blues, and the incredible Leopard Gecko is it!

Leopard Geckos are a beautiful, docile, clean, and inexpensive species of nocturnal lizard that originate from the dry, rocky regions of the Middle East. Today, finding a wild caught Leopard Gecko is a rarity as they are captive-bred by the hundreds of thousands in the United States annually. There is a wide range of color varieties now available, that are not seen in the wild specimens. The Aquatic Critter’s reptile department has an assortment of healthy, captive-bred animals available to you at costs ranging from $45 to $100. With the cost so low there has to be a catch, but be reassured there isn’t. 

Housing and feeding prices for this fantastic animal are also phenomenally low, usually just above $100. This cost includes a 10 gallon aquarium with a screen lid, an under the tank heat pad, two thermometers, bedding, a hiding area complete with sphagnum moss, a water bowl, a book, and a calcium and vitamin supplement for the health of the animal.

Feeding the Leopard Gecko is a cinch! To make your life easy, The Aquatic Critter has a selection of food items for you to choose from including crickets of all sizes, mealworms, king mealworms, wax worms, and pink mice.

So, when the winter months get colder and darker, and you want a new and exciting reptile in your life remember the Leopard Gecko.

For more information on this incredible lizard, please refer to The Leopard Gecko Manual that can be found in The Aquatic Critter's extensive library, or call 832-4541 and speak to one of the many knowledgeable sales representatives available to you. Thanks!

The Kingsnake

March 15, 2017

Your brain is like a short attention span theater and already your fire for lizards and amphibians has burnt itself out; however, snakes are a new, exciting horizon yet to be explored! The question is - will you boldly go where other beginners have gone before and fail, or will you plunge successfully into the exciting realms of snake keeping? If you chose the latter of the two, then a Kingsnake is the key to success for you!

Kingsnakes belong to the family of Lampropeltis. Depending on the type, sizes can range from sixteen inches to six feet in length with colors varying from earth tones to hi-fi reds and orange. Most important to the beginner, Kingsnakes, with the exception of a few (i.e., Gray Band and Arizona Mountain Kings) will tolerate a fair amount of handling and still continue to feed, unlike other types of snakes (i.e., Baby Corn Snakes, Ball Pythons, etc.). The Aquatic Critter’s reptile department has several different types of Kingsnakes with prices below $100. A couple of examples include the Mexican Black and the Black and White California Kingsnakes.

Purchasing the proper set-up for a Kingsnake doesn’t require putting a second mortgage on the house because set-up prices are inexpensive. They range from $43 and up and may or may not include the following:

- an aquarium w/screen lid or a Sterilite box

- an Under the Tank heat pad

- thermometer(s)

- bedding

- hide shelter

- water bowl

- care book.

Feeding the Kingsnake is a breeze, as they will feed on pre-killed, frozen rodents available in The Aquatic Critter’s Reptile department.

Kingsnakes can be fed at varying intervals with babies being fed once weekly, and juveniles and adults being fed once every two to three weeks. A couple of methods for feeding a Kingsnake include tong feeding or just simply laying the rodent in the aquarium for the eagerly awaiting snake.

The Kingsnake is guaranteed to keep you happy, give you success in the area of snake keeping, and keep you out of the short attention span theater.

For more information on Kingsnakes, please refer to Kingsnakes and Milksnakes in The Aquatic Critter’s extensive library, or call 832-4541. Thank You.

Our Reptile Renaissance

March 15, 2017

Years ago, the Aquatic Critter opened its doors to a public that was tired of the old-fashioned way of doing things and was hungry for change. Three years later, after having already revolutionized the way tropical fish were kept and sold, the Aquatic Critter Reptile Department was born. More years of incredible growth led to the amazingly well-received relocation and expansion of the old “reptile room” to an incredible 1,500+ square foot HEAVEN for reptile and amphibian enthusiasts. Now, bursting at the seams, the reptile department is ready for the next step in its amazing evolution!!!

It is a daily occurrence that we not only have visitors and customers from all over the southeast, but as far away as new York, California, and even Canada! Moreover, because we often hear the jubilant refrain, “You guys are better than a zoo!” we came to our next logical conclusion: why NOT be “better than a zoo”??? Actually, not so much “better” as “different” - in a good way! We are now a new breed of retail “pet” reptile store and herpetological zoo; a hybrid of the best of both worlds! Our staff has been among the first ever to captive-breed several species of reptiles, and our regular visitors already know the quality of our animals is in a whole other league than 99% of “pet stores.” Like zoos, we discourage browsing shoppers from holding or petting most of our animals, which helps keep them healthy and stress and disease-free. Additionally, our staff is expert in recognizing and eliminating causes of disease in even the most exotic reptiles and amphibians. We also work with several top-rated local veterinarians to assist our customers in finding the best post-sale care and support for their animals. As cliche as it may sound, we DEFINITELY are not your father’s “pet” store! Our staff has been deeply involved in education, particularly in performing educational reptile “shows” for schools all over the middle-Tennessee area. An educator would be hard-pressed to find people more knowledgeable of reptiles in general than our herpetoculturists on staff.

We also have several state-of-the-art displays, such as our AWESOME and attention-grabbing Caiman pond, that truly and completely separates us from the rest. Extensive use of Mercury Vapor lighting, is but one way in which our understanding of cutting-edge technology is completely revolutionizing both our hobby and our industry! Zoos the world over are still slowly coming around to using these fantastic ultra-violet-producing bulbs. The Aquatic Critter has been using and selling them extensively for over three years! How is THAT for leading the industry.

And finally, it is the culmination of all our efforts and love of the animals that we can proudly say that all of our Reptile Department staff are thoroughly proficient in virtually every aspect of our hobby. Even our part-timers regularly answer questions called in by other “pet” stores! Why on earth would someone want to buy their animals or supplies from a store in which the employees must call their competition for help? It is this combination of zoo-quality knowledge and the retail pet store-quality service that makes us so special to our family of customers. We challenge you to find a zoo in which you can actually buy nature’s jewels, or a pet store in which you’d actually want to.

Reptile Room - Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have a Firebellied, a wood frog, and a White's treefrog. I was just wondering if the toxins from the firebelly toad harmful to the frogs. My other question is do you carry Northern leopard frogs or any species of red-eyed tree frog?

A. Technically, NONE of the frogs you mentioned need to be kept together, as they all come from different parts of the world, different climates, etc. Moreover, the firebellies DO secrete a certain amount of toxins which may adversely affect the other frogs. It is impossible to know if they will be harmed, as there are many variables at play.

We "do" sell N. leopard frogs and red-eyed tree frogs, our having these animals is dependent on availability from our suppliers, much of which is seasonal.

Q. I bought a Nile monitor lizard about a month ago and I was wondering what is the best way to handle him and how can I tell male from female? He is about a foot long and he is pretty aggressive. I really love him and don't mind that he bites.

A. Handling, in our opinion, is not a good idea with this animal as they (Nile monitors) do not appreciate it. Moreover, there really is no "taming" of this species. Sexing 'can' be achieved through blood work or 'probing,' but we usually decline sexing this animal until it is sexually mature (usually about 3') when it can be done visually.

Q. We purchased a baby leopard gecko a few months ago and up until the last few days she has done quite well. She seems to have lost her appetite for crickets and prefers the wax worms more. Is this normal or should we just give her the crickets and only supplement her with the wax worms once a week? I placed a few crickets in her home yesterday but she does not appear to have eaten them. Also, what causes a yellow coloring to periodically appear on her back and legs. I have given her the calcium supplement on the crickets and was wondering if this coloring was a lacking vitamin.

A. Yellowing is part of maturation. She could probably just be mature and not as hungry because she is not growing as quickly. Her care sounds appropriate. If she wants wax worms, give 'em to her and offer crickets. You might try investing in a good book on gecko care.

Q. How can I tell what gender my snakes are? They are both young grey ratsnakes. Just wondering if they will breed. Also, can I buy some mice and keep them in another tank and breed them for food for my snakes?

A. There are a few different methods available for determining the sex of snakes, and we prefer to probe them. Obviously, one needs a male and a female to breed them, as well as basic knowledge of the pre-breeding conditioning/incubation for the species. We have some EXCELLENT books on the subject.

You can breed your own mice if you like, however, we have long ago found it much easier to buy frozen rodents from professional suppliers. We also sell only frozen rodents, in addition to USING ONLY FROZEN.

Q. I have a orange bellied newt and I've been trying to feed it reptile sticks and he/she won't eat them. I was wondering what they eat and how cold the water should be.

A. Room temperature, clean, dechlorinated water, live crickets and bloodworms, and HBH "Newt Bites" as food.

Q. Awhile back I bought a Cuban Treefrog I was wondering whether or not there would be a breeding season? Also how many babies would a pair of adults have?

A. Breeding season is primarily in early spring. They can have hundreds of viable (fertile) eggs.

Q. My roommates and I got 3 frogs from you, and we like them very much but we cannot remember what they are called. I am passionate about animals and was trying to find more info on them. They are kinda lime green with black spots on the back. The underside is bright orange also with black spots. They are really small, no more than 2.5 inches long. I'm not good with estimating measurements, but they are real small little guys. I thought they were firebelly toads, and one roommate said firebelly tree frog, and someone else said oriental something.

A. They are indeed Firebelly Toads. They are an aquatic toad and are not a tree frog. They are from Asia, and so are sometimes called Oriental Firebelly Toads.

Q. Do you know how old a mandarin salamander, tylototriton verrucosus, can get? Can I keep a peppermint shrimp together with a pistol shrimp in my saltwater aquarium?

A. The pistol shrimp might kill the peppermint. Depends on size difference, thank size, hiding places, etc. As for the other question, we don't know that that is common knowledge. Tiger Salamanders can live well over 10 years while others only 5 or 6. The Mandarin Salamander (Emperor newt) probably lives more than the 5-6 because they are a bigger salamander. They are typically wild caught and very stressed upon arrival at local stores. They come from cool, wet mountainous regions of Asia living under moss, logs, etc., being mainly terrestrial. Coming from harsh habitats, they are pretty hardy once settled into captivity. They do best below 80 degrees F and will enter and feed in shallow water dishes. Try feeding small crickets, waxworms, blackworms. If kept properly, you should be able to keep this animal for many years.

Q. We bought a leopard gecko from you a while back for our son. We enjoy her a great deal. We named her Fisher to go along with the rest of our animals named after the Titans. The questions that I have are these: My husband would like a tarantula. What would we need for it and what are the best gentle species to get? We have a tank ready and he had picked out a baby he had seen at your store. A rose back? Can you tell me about this species and what I'd need to get for it?

A. Most likely the species you are inquiring about is a Chilean Rosehair. A small aquarium (10 gallons) with a screen lid, bark litter, under-tank heater, a few simple cage decorations and a good tarantula book.

Q. I am in California and have had a rodent problem. I noticed that kingsnakes eat rodents..can they deal with a live one...rats...the ones we have been catching are the young ones not as big or aggresive as adults. I know this is probably a strange question, but I am quite serious as the ways of poison and maiming traps are not satisfactory to me...would the snake stay in my yard or do they wander? I do have dogs but would think a snake could avoid them and they can be trained to not go near..I would appreciate any info you would be willing to share.

A. Whether they will stay or not is hard to determine, but yes, they do eat rodents. They would only be able to eat very small rats. You can live trap the rodents and re-release.

Q. We bought a leopard gecko from you a while back for our son. We enjoy her a great deal. We named her Fisher to go along with the rest of our animals named after the Titans. The questions that I have are these: My husband would like a tarantula. What would we need for it and what are the best gentle species to get? We have a tank ready and he had picked out a baby he had seen at your store. A rose back? Can you tell me about this species and what I'd need to get for it?

A. Most likely the species you are inquiring about is a Chilean Rosehair. A small aquarium (10 gallons) with a screen lid, bark litter, under-tank heater, a few simple cage decorations and a good tarantula book.

Q. I recently bought an albino burmese python from you and before that I had a ball python and the entire 8 months that I had my ball python it never snapped at me or anything. I was feeding my new snake and dropped the mouse in the container that I feed it in and when I went to pick it up it snapped at me. It didn't bite, just snapped. I was just wondering if I did something wrong to make it feel uncomfortable? How much more aggressive are albino burmese pythons than ball pythons?

A. Neither Ball Pythons nor Burmese Pythons are "aggressive," but BOTH have heat-sensing pits located on their upper lips. When you reach in front of ANY snake, in or out of its cage, you risk a defensive strike, but ESPECIALLY so if the snake possesses these heat-sensing pits. You were viewed as a possible threat, and the snake was merely defending itself.

Q. How often do you get blue tongue skinks. Mostly the male type. How do you tell the difference between the male and female?

A. We usually stock B-tongue skinks, but at certain times of the year (such as late spring) they are "in season" and more likely to be available. At the present, only wild-collected animals are available, of which we have some. Males usually have a longer, more slender neck and a longer, more arrow-shaped head, but this requires some experience as it is a comparative analysis.