Saturday, January 27, 2007


Two Cage Accessories Worthy of Your Trans-Pecos Ratsnake

I have been keeping snakes and other reptiles for over 20 years, and I have used a lot of different hideboxes and water bowls; with everything from empty cereal and shoe boxes to naturalistic rock-formation hides made from real rock (or some type of cement) to dog bowls, food containers and reptile dishes etc. for water bowls.
Well, there are two products that I have decided are the absolute best after years of trying many things.

One is the Creature Cubbyhole manufactured by ESU, and the other is the 4" stoneware crock dish made by Ethical Products, Inc.
As you can see, the Creature Cubbyhole comes in many different sizes (fitting hatchling to adult colubrids and anything in between), is stackable, durable yet light (made of ABS plastic), and is easily washed. They're also dark, which benefits your snakes' sense of security, especially if they're nocturnal. They're also inexpensive. I bought about 50 of these when I got my Vision Racks, and it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.

The other item in the picture is the stoneware crock dish. They are big and heavy enough so that they don't ever topple over. Yet they are small enough to save on floor space in a small cage. They are just deep enough so that water doesn't evaporate overnight. They are easily washed by hand and are dishwasher safe. And as you can see in the photo, they are also stackable for storage, etc. Perhaps most importantly, they work for any size of Trans-Pecos Ratsnake; from hatchling to 5-foot adult, the 4" crock dish is a perfect fit. They are both obtainable from many pet stores and online order stores. Our favorite supplier is

Friday, January 26, 2007


Disposable Sexing Probes for Snakes

Just to report on a really cool piece of advice from a herp veterinarian, Dale DeNardo, who wrote the chapter Reproductive Biology in Doug Mader's book, Reptile Medicine and Surgery...the author strongly endorses the use of straightened plastic-tipped bobby pins as "the best probes because they are inexpensive and disposable after a single use". "This", he continues, "eliminates the possibility of transferring microorganisms between individuals."

I gotta tell 'ya...I'm hooked on using these for good. There is no need for me to go out and buy another set of stainless steel probes (mine have been missing since we moved from Texas to Utah).
For you veterinary professionals, keep a jar of these handy next to your cotton balls, Q-Tips®, and tongue depressors. No more washing them everyday. No more sticking them in the autoclave to be sterilized. Can you imagine the time and money you'll save?! "Single use and disposable" supplies are worth their weight in gold to a vet clinic.
The same to you folks who own large numbers of snakes or varanids; I'd urge you to keep a supply of these on your work counter.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


A Recommended Book Worth Your Investment

"Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere."
-- Ronald Reagan

The aforementioned quote really captures the manner in which the idea for this recommended book from the Rhoads' bookshelf was conceived and executed.
To tie in to the above quote by one of our nations's great leaders from the past, the preface of the book I am endorsing states:
"Having more than 70 authors contribute to a text is a wonderful thing. No one person can have the knowledge to write a comprehensive book such as this. The reader...will be able to look up information in this book and often find not one, but two or three viewpoints. As mentioned in the first edition, I don't necessarily agree with all the viewpoints--but that is what makes this text so great...there is always someone out there who has more experience or knowledge than you do--all the more reason to have more than one opinion."
The book is Reptile Medicine and Surgery - Second Edition (2006). The editor of the book is Douglas Mader. Just about every significant effort and accomplishment in herp medicine during the past 20 years can trace its roots to Doug Mader. This book is no exception.
You can see that I uploaded a photo of my bookshelf featuring the book, photographed right next to the first edition. (Please forgive the sloppiness of the shelf - it gets used quite frequently!) That first 1996 edition was a going-away gift from a vet who I worked for over four years ago. It had 512 pages with many black and white photos. It was a landmark for the herp medicine industry, no doubt.
Ten years later, we now have the Second Edition. It is in full color with just under 1000 images, with 39 more chapters than its predecessor, and a whopping 1,242 pages -- 730 more than the first edition!
Though this book is intended as a comprehensive textbook for students of veterinary medicine and an indispensable resource for qualified vets, it offers unparalleled, expert insight into reptile biology, disease and husbandry for the reptile keeper and caretaker.
Some of the new chapters that should be of interest to herpetoculturists are ones such as Disinfectants for the Vivarium, Medical Care of Amphibians, Laws and Regulations--American and European, Stress in Captive Reptiles, Behavior, Ultrasound, and Working with Venomous Species -- Emergency Protocols.
If you could only choose three books about reptile care, this would be one of those I'd recommend.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Subocs at the Houston Zoo

So last week I went to visit the Reptile House at the Houston Zoo, (which is where I am originally from, by the way) to look at (what else?) reptiles and to talk "Bogeys" with any zoo herp keepers that I could bother while I was there.
Andrew Godambe and Dan were both very nice and answered all of my questions. And lo and behold, there was a new first rate suboc vivarium in a showy, corner cage! This is the cage that I'm going to build to keep some of my subocs in one day...(sigh) day...

The suboc that was resting out on its rocky ledge was a large, handsome golden-yellowish orange animal, and somewhere else hidden in the cage was a silver blonde. He emerged from his subterranean retreat in the late afternoon. It was a really nice, rainy, cold, ugly day...the perfect kind of day to be at the zoo and have the entire reptile house to yourself so you can just take your time indulgently observing unmolested animals and their activities until you get your fill.
The habitat was absolutely perfect for these animals. You could just tell that the snake was quite content. Anyway, hope you get a kick out of the picture. It was a truly nice set up.

By the way, Happy New Year to All, and may you have success with your resolutions and goals for 2007 (and may you have lots of subocs too...)!

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