Old £5 Notes

The old paper £5 note goes out of legal tender on May 5th 2017. After this date they will have to be exchanged by the holder with the bank of England.

We will accept the old note up until the 4th of May 2017 (to enable us to bank any cash on the morning of the 5th). After this date we will only accept the new polymer based £5 notes. We do not expect this to cause any issues for our customers as the old notes are being phased out by the banks at a rate that means very few will be in circulation by the withdrawal date.

If you do end up with old fivers after the withdrawal date the Bank of England has an excellent site that details what to do with old notes (of any description).

 

The Angell Pets Team

Hog Island Boa Care Sheet

Hog Island boas are an island variety of common boa. The two main differences are size and colouration. Hog Island boas are naturally hypomelanistic (low in black pigment). This allows the other colours to stand out more, giving a lovely muted pattern of light browns and pinks to orange and even blue. Adult female common boas may reach 12 feet but it is very rare for a Hog Island boa to get above 6 feet and males generally reach 4 feet. Common boas would make great first snakes if it were not for their adult size. The smaller size of the Hog Island boa makes it a great alternative to the often fussy royal python as a choice of first snake. This Hog Island boa care sheet sets out the basics for you.

hog island boa

Housing

Obviously the other “advantage” the Hog Island boa has over the larger commons is that being smaller, they require less space, allowing for a smaller enclosure. The old rule of thumb, length of vivarium plus depth of vivarium equals length of snake shows a three foot vivarium large enough for all but the largest specimens and a four foot enough for even a large female. So for someone wanting a boa but without the space (or the funds) to house a large common, the Hog Island boa makes an obvious choice.

As to keeping a smaller Hog Island boa in a small box until it is bigger and more confident. Can you? Well, yes you can. Do you have to? Well, no you don’t. If you want to house a young Hog Island boa in the vivarium that will last into adulthood and beyond, that is fine. Just ensure there are plenty of places for it to hide away in different areas of the viv.

Heating

The Hog Island boa comes from the tropical Cayos Cachinos Islands off the coast of Honduras. So they need heat and a reasonable level of humidity (although not wet). Around 29C at the hot end and a humidity level of around 60% is fine. I prefer heating with a ceramic heat emitter and this must have a cage around it to prevent contact with the snake and consequent burns. Due to the smaller size of the Hog Island boa you could use a heat mat (mounted on the end wall of the viv. to prevent thermal blocking). Which ever you use, a thermostat to control the temperature is essential. Over heating will damage a snake much more quickly than under heating. Of the two methods of heating mentioned, heat mats and on/off thermostats are cheaper, whilst ceramics and pulse proportional thermostats give a finer level of control.

hog island boa

Lighting

The Hog Island boa generally does not require specialist lighting but why have a snake in a vivarium and then not be able to see it? I find the best modern solution to be LED lighting. Most are neat, quite stylish, don’t generate heat so don’t need to be guarded, can come in a variety of colours (some will automatically change from day to night lighting if you want to be flash), are low voltage inside the viv, are energy efficient, last the lifetime of the snake so don’t require regular replacement of blown lamps…As you can see I am quite sold on them. However properly guarded incandescent lamps can be used (but take the heat generated into consideration) and fluorescent tubes work well but will need to be replaced occasionally.

hog island boa

Substrate

I prefer bark chips (orchid bark) for a Hog Island boa. The dark colour sets off the snake well and this substrate works well as a holder of moisture, helping to maintain some humidity. Other substrates can be used, aspen, lignocel, beech chip, cage carpet etc. Humidity can be maintained by positioning of the water bowl – at the hot end increases humidity as the water evaporates. Water should be changed daily anyway so it will not be there long enough for it all to disappear. In the end the choice of substrate is yours, most cost around the same so that shouldn’t be a factor. Whatever you want for your Hog Island boa.

Decor

As with most snakes, a hide of some description is a must so the Hog Island boa has somewhere to go when it feels the need to be secure. More than one is better, so the snake can choose the temperature of the hide it wants to use. A hide is also a good place to put some damp moss for localised increase of humidity when shedding. Some form of branch is good (environmental or habitat enrichment to get all professional) to allow climbing behaviour. Aside from these it’s your viv. so it’s your choice. Silk plants are an attractive addition to a vivarium (real plants work too but you may spend more time looking after them than the Hog Island boa) and of course a skull always looks good with a snake coming out the eye socket. No? Just me then.

Feeding

Apart from an Amazon Tree Boa I had once (there is always one), every boa I have had has been a good feeder. The Hog Island boa is no exception. I have heard that they can go off their food if they feel insecure but if you have the correct set up in your vivarium this is not going to happen. Mice for smaller specimens is fine but I would get onto rats as soon as possible as larger ones are going to need larger food and there is a possibility it could get habituated to mice. Not the Hog Island boa examples I have had though. They eat anything (well not really anything but you get the point). As with any snake, don’t feed too large a mouse or rat though. There are a lot of risks associated with this, from refusing food to regurgitating later to damage to the insides of the snake from sharp rat claws etc. It’s just not worth risking it for no perceivable benefit to the snake. I feed once a week on smaller food up to once every two weeks for larger. The snake will let you know. Oh and I always use tongs for feeding. A nice smell of rat coupled with a nice warm hand can result in a snake striking at the wrong thing. A Hog Island boa is no exception to this potential confusion.

Handling

The Hog Island boa is quite a docile snake and certainly doesn’t seem to mind being handled (I can’t speak snake so I wouldn’t like to say they enjoy it). As with all snakes, the more secure they feel the less likely to try to escape, strike etc. The more points of contact on its body, the more secure the snake will feel. Always approach a snake from behind, never from in front of its head. The Hog Island boa has a lot of very highly tuned sensors (nostrils, eyes, tongue and Jacobson’s organ and heat pits) Continue reading

Pet Shop Gloucester tips on general snake handling

Pet Shop Gloucester tips. Just a brief post on 5 top tips on handling NON VENOMOUS snakes from your favourite Gloucester pet shop.

  • If your snake has just fed, DON’T HANDLE IT. Handling a snake after it has just fed can be at best unpleasant and at worst dangerous. Snakes swallow their food whole and rely on strong stomach acids to break it down. Whilst this happens relatively quickly, for the first 24 – 48 hours the snake has a large, hard object in a small, confined space. In the wild they would lay up during this period and allow the acids to do their work. Handling causes the snake to move around and this puts pressure on its stomach (or in the case of inexperienced handlers they may actually squeeze the area). This action can make the snake regurgitate the meal (if it hasn’t already as a threat response), bringing up the very strong stomach acid with it, which can cause damage. Even worse, if the snake doesn’t regurgitate and the meal is still undigested other internal organs can be damaged by the pressure, if handled roughly (or dropped). Then of course there is the risk to you. Even a docile snake may strike when it has just been fed or is digesting its meal. It knows you shouldn’t be picking it up even if you don’t.
  • pet shop gloucester reptile boarding

    One Of Our Reptile Boarders Being Fed

For more advice on feeding snakes come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • If your snake is shedding, DON’T HANDLE IT. It’s not so much that it dangerous for the snake (although it may lead to incomplete shedding) but with its eyes clouded over it can’t see. Would you be in good mood if you suddenly had one of your senses taken away? The snake still has other, very accurate senses, so it can and will tag you.

For more advice on problem shedding come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • So assuming your snake is not shedding and has not been fed within the last 48 hours the most important things is to BE CONFIDENT. Most people who keep snakes will tell you the snake can sense it if you’re nervous. I don’t think they have any ability to sense nerves in you at all, however they can pick up on your body language. If you go in with a hesitant hand, that’s shaking or moving in then pulling back etc. the poor old snake doesn’t know what is going on. When they are unsure of a situation they naturally get defensive and may well strike. I can and have, on several occasions, demonstrated this in the shop where I can simulate a nervous owner and get even a cornsnake to strike or conversely, be confident with a rather nippy kingsnake and not get tagged. In fact someone once brought such a kingsnake into the shop, complete with viv. (as they couldn’t get the snake out, it was so aggressive). The snake was hissing and striking at the glass. I opened the viv. picked the snake straight up and it was quite calm. The owner then hesitantly took the snake off me and promptly got bitten on the neck. Which takes us to the next point.

For more advice or demonstrations on snake handling come and see us in our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Keep the snake away from your face. If a snake does bite it should only be able, at worst, to get your hand. If it gets anywhere else, guess what? That was your fault. Staring up close into the face of a snake is a bad idea. Snakes are carnivores, their senses for the most part are binocular and forward facing in order to judge direction, distance and to strike accurately. This means they are particularly sensitive to anything immediately in front of them that moves. If you wave your hand about in front of your snakes head, or worse your nose (especially if it’s as big as mine) you are much more likely to get tagged. Also all reptiles can carry salmonella. Letting a snake touch your face near your mouth (i.e. kissing it!!) is really a bad idea.

For more advice on being bitten by snakes (especially if the snake won’t let go !!) call us at our pet shop Gloucester.

  • Wash your hands afterwards. As stated, snakes can carry salmonella. This bacterium is quite likely to be found on the snakes skin. They poop in the viv and move around – it will transfer bacteria onto its skin. You will be letting the snake run through your hands, you will touch it near its cloaca (vent) where the poop comes out so you will get bacteria on your hands. If you don’t wash your hands immediately you will be transferring bacteria everywhere you touch. Salmonella is a dangerous infection, potentially fatal in infants, the elderly and immune suppressed individuals. If you are fit and healthy you will survive but you will never want to get it again. I have had the disease. It is unpleasant, debilitating, incredibly painful and will take some time to recover from. All you have to do to avoid getting it, or giving it to your family, is wash your hands, preferably with an anti bacterial hand wash. We sell them, so you have no excuse. Also some snakes carry diseases that can be passed onto other snakes, the one that springs to mind is IBD (inclusion body disease) that can infect boids (pythons and boas). It is highly contagious and always fatal to the snake. Always disinfect when moving from one boid viv. to another or any other enclosure for that matter. Cross contamination by the owner is the commonest vector for the spread of mites, for example. An alcohol hand wash will kill any eggs on your skin (it dehydrates them) as well as any bacteria and the mechanical action also helps lift dirt that is harbouring other pathogens.

For more advice on reptile hygiene contact us at our pet shop Gloucester 

I hope these tips are of use. If you have any more questions or need more advanced help with anything just get in touch with our pet shop Gloucester and we will try to help.

Uromastyx Care Sheet

Uromastyx lizards make great reptiles to keep, especially for those who do not want to feed livefood. These, often colourful, lizards are in a way the vegetarian equivalent of a bearded dragon (they belong to the same family), a similar size (some are smaller and one is larger) with similar heat and light requirements (a bit hotter though) and are almost as interactive (although some individuals can be a little shy).

There are a number of different species (out of 18 in total plus sub species) of Uromastyx generally available. These all have similar environmental (check for your species on specific measurements) and food requirements.

uromastyx

North African Uromastyx (Uromastyx acanthinura nigriventris)

The natural range of the various species of uromastyx is north of the equator from north Africa round into the Indian sub continent. With the variety of sizes there is also a variety of maxium ages, with the Egyptian uromastyx generaly being the largest and longest lived. 15 years is a good average age for any uromastyx although 30 years has been reported for a captive specimen.

Housing

Uromastyx need it hot and dry. Due to the high basking heat levels you will need a larger vivarium that for similar sized bearded dragon. This is not because the uromastyx needs more space as such (although I am sure it will appreciate it) but due to the need to maintain a sufficient temperature gradient for you uromastyx to effectivley thermo regulate. In a small viv. with such a high temperature basking area you will inevitably be raising the temperature across the whole viv. and your “cool end” will not be cool enough. We would recommend from 3′ to 6′, depending on species and size of the uromastyx. Personally I would recommend a wooden viv. that will keep the heat in, with a good quality thermostat to prevent overheating. Trying to keep the temperature up in a glass viv. that looses heat readilly could cost a bit in electric and the life cost of any pet should always be taken into consideration before getting one to avoid having to pass it onto a “resue center” when it becomes too expensive to maintain.

Heating

High daytime temperatures are very important to a uromastyx. They are a diurnal lizard (active during the day) and spend nightimes in a burrow away from predators. Night time temperatures can fall quite low, 18C (in a normal house you could switch all heating off at night or have a small heat mat if your house is consistently cold at night). Day time temperatures are kept high. Ambient temperature needs to be around 38C at the hot end and around 26C at the cool end with a basking spot temperature of 48 to 60C. In trying to keep a temperature this high it is essential to have correctly sized heat equipement and a good quality thermostat to prevent overheating your uromastyx. With all uromastyx the brightness of the lighting is also important so using bright incandescent or halogen lamps for the basking area heat is best.

Lighting

As said, bright daytime lighting is essential for a uromastyx. Not only does it stimulate feeding behaviour is also brings out the best colours. Generally the uromastyx colours only really show when they have heated up in bright light. UVB is also critical to the continued good health of the uromastyx. WIthout adequate levels of UVB they cannot absorb calcium from their diet and will get seriously ill. In fact on a really hot day (30C plus) a uromastyx will love basking in a secure area outside. You cannot get a better UV source than the sun! In the vivarium use either a minimum of a 10% UVB fluorescent tube (which will need to be changed at least every 9 months) or a combined heat and UVB mercury vapour or metal hallide basking lamp (these cannot be regulated by a thermostat so size correctly).

Decor

It is a good idea to ensure there are multiple levels (use rocks or ledges) so not only can the uromastyx find a wider variation in temperatures but also so it can bask nearer to the UVB source (not too close if using a combined heat and UV source, it must not be able to touch it). UV light does not travel very far from the light source and the strength of the UVB rays deteriorates rapidly with distance. A deep substrate will provide burrowing media but hides placed around the viv. are a good supplement/alternative. Make sure any rocks cannot fall and crush your uromastyx and that hides are placed throughout the enclosure so the uromastyx can lay up at night and get out of the high temperatures during the day in a temperature needed at that point.

Substrate

A deep substrate that can hold itself together and provide a burrowing medium is a good idea. We tend to use Lucky Reptile desert bedding as it can hold a bit of humidity at lower levels, so best replicates the wild environment. It also looks the part! I would avoid pure silica sand (play sand) as there is a higher risk of impaction and I don’t like calci sand myself for the same reason. Others do use these substrates and claim to have had no problems but I would rather avoid the risk. You can also use more utilitarian substrates but they do not have the structure to form burrows or localised humidity.

Feeding

In the wild, Uromastyx eat vegetable matter. In extremis they will eat insects but this is only done when vegetable matter is unavailable (drought conditions) and no alternative is available. The animal protein is thought to cause harm to the internal organs (especially the kidneys). In captivity vegetable matter is obviously always available so insects should not be given. A variety is best for your uromastyx. Green leaves such as rocket, unsprayed dandelion etc. are good for uromastyx. Avoid brassicas – cabbages etc. as these contain oxylates that bind up dietary calcium, making it unavailable to the uromastyx metabolism. Squashes, carrots etc (finely chopped or grated) can also be given and proprietary brands of herbivore food (usually sold for iguanas, tortoises etc.) make a good store room standby. Dusting food with a little calcium powder daily is a good idea but restrict vitamin powders to weekly as it is possible to overdose vitamins. If you are giving plenty of variation of fresh foods to your uromastyx additional vitamins will not be necessary more that once a week. If feeding a balanced, fresh diet a uromastyx will rarely drink water (some highland and coastal species may). You may wish to present a water dish once a week but do not leave it in the vivarium for too long (an hour is adequate) as with the high heat levels it will quickly evaporate and raise the humidity. This is harmless in the short term but leaving a water bowl in the vivarium all the time can be detrimental to the health of the lizard (consistently high humidity will make it susceptible to respiratory infection). I don’t bother with a water bowl.

All the Uromastyx we have had have been docile. I have never been bitten or even tail whipped by one although anything with a jaw could bite I suppose. Consequently they make great “pets” although they should not be kept out of the vivarium for too long ( a couple of hours is fine) as they do need the high temperature and UV levels.

The Angell Pets Team

Get the right advice BEFORE you buy a pet.

We have recently had an influx of requests for advice on animal care from people who have bought animals from other shops, on line, from Facebook sellers, Gumtree, from a woman down the road etc. We understand why people bring these problems to us, they trust us, but there is a limit to what we can do.

Whilst we do not mind giving advice to any pet owner, it does become a bit gauling after a while. These animals were not bought from us but we are being asked to provide the after sales service normally afforded to our own customers.

If a seller is unable or unwilling to give you, their customer, the proper advice just do not buy from them. If they cannot tell you the best care plan for your pet then they cannot have been looking after it properly themselves. You may think you are getting a pet “cheap” but you are probably just buying a large vet bill. Also you are going to have one hell of a job taking a problem animal back to this type of seller.

I have been keeping and breeding a wide range of animals for over 40 years. I have built up a lifetimes experience and have expended a lot of time and money getting some high level qualifications. This knowledge and that of the rest of our staff is freely given to our customers at the point of sale and for years afterward. It is a bit much to ask me to provide the same level of service to other peoples’ customers for free.

So if you need help with an animal please, by all means ask us but be prepared to be asked, where you bought it, why you haven’t been given any advice from the seller (and if the answer is “because they didn’t know” – then why did you buy it!) and be aware that the final response may well be – take it back to where you bought it. There are only so many hours in a day and we need that time to support our own customers so you may have to wait until we have served everyone else before we can help you with a problem you have just bought yourself on Facebook.

Before buying any animal you need to understand that you are taking on full responsibility for its welfare so get the information first and above all buy responsibly from professionals with the experience and qualifications to provide after sales support. Check the credentials of the seller, ask to see any qualifications.

A bit of a rant, I know but it is very saddening seeing the condition of some of the animals brought into us (snakes with mites, rabbits with untreated injuries and diseases, ferrets with behaviour problems, lizards with life threatening conditions, incorectly sexed animals, the list goes on) and also listening to some of the rubbish people have been told about how to care for them. These are living creatures not second hand gagets, if you are unsure at all, don’t buy.

The Angell Pets Team

 

Ackie Monitors (Varanus acanthurus) Care Sheet

Ackie monitors (or spiny tailed monitors) make a good first monitor lizard or a step up from the more commonly kept agamid lizards such as bearded dragons.

Akie monitor (spiny tailed monitor) Varanus acanthurus

Like bearded dragons, Ackies are from the dryer regions of Australia and need similar (but not the same) conditions. They get a little larger (well longer at least) and so will need a large enclosure. They should also be quite active, making a larger enclosure essential.

Due to their relatively small size (for monitors) and generally good temperment, Ackies make a good starter monitor but are attractive enough to appeal to more experienced keepers too.

Enclosure

Akies get to around 2 feet in length (males slightly larger). They are a very active lizard and like to burrow in the substrate. This, coupled to the fact that they like it very hot in the basking area (50-60 degrees centigrade) means that they need a large vivarium. Large enough that a good temperature gradient can be maintained (50 degrees hot end 20-25 degrees “cold” end) and that the substrate can be deep enough to remain moist under the surface.

As large an enclosure as possible is desirable but a minimum of 4’x2’x2′. Some people recommend larger to ensure the correct depth of substrate but by using stones to form a retaining wall you can acheive the necessary depth in a vivarium of this size.

Make sure that when being assembled the edges of the vivarium are well sealed. The idea is to have moist soil in the viv and if care is not taken to seal all the edges and joins the vivarium will not last long. Better still use glass, although these are more expensive. Plastic will work well, I just don’t like them myself.

Ackies will make their own burrows but then they are not accessible. Providing a hide will encourage it to stay where you can find it. Providing plenty of hides throughout the enclosure will give the lizard a choice of where to hide when maintaing body temperature so the more the merrier.

A large water bowl is good idea.  Placed correctly, overfilling the bowl can help keep the lower levels of substrate moist and the Ackie will certainly relish going in the bowl. Ours burrow under the bowl, which is at the cooler end of the viv. I assume this creates a cooler hide and ours move between this and their “favourite” rock hide during the day

Heating

Ackies like it HOT. My preferred way to create a very hot basking area is with a combination of ceramic heat emmitter (on all the time) and basking lamp (on during the day). In very large vivs you can use a combined heat and UV lamp. These are not dimmable but if the viv is big enough and the lamp sized correctly, as they like it so hot, you can get away with it. You will still need another form of heat for overnight when the lamp is off. If in any doubt, go for a combinination of heat emmiter and basking lamp with a pulse proportional stat on the emmitter. This will give you control day and night.

Lighting

Ackies need high intensity UV. If you have a large viv. and have gone for a combined heat and UV basking lamp then job done. If not, you will need as large a wattage 10% or 12% UVB tube as you can fit in the viv. Fitting a reflector to the tube will greatly increase the amount of UV recieved by the lizard. UVB is essential for calcium metabolism (manufacture of vitamin D3 in the skin) so is not an “optional” requirement.

UVB tubes stop giving out noticeable levels of UV after around 9 months (the combined heat and UV lamps a little longer), so ensure you budget to replace these. Unless you have an expensive UV monitor you will not notice the difference but your lizard will and if the tube is not replaced will eventually get metabolic bone disease and probably die a painful death. If you cannot afford the replacement tubes, don’t get an Ackie.

Basking lamps and UVB lamps should be switched off overnight to give a good day/night cycle. Leaving lighting on all night can stress diurnal animals (and is a waste of electricity and will speed up the replacement of your UVB lamps!). Also, by having a dark rest period they tend to be more acitve during the limited (around 12 hours) daylight hours.

Substrate

Ackies like to dig. They will dig hunting for food, they will dig out burrows to rest in, they will dig to lay eggs, sometimes they will just dig! Therefor the substrate needs to be as deep as you can make it. As already alluded to, you can make a retaining wall with rocks to create an area with deeper substrate. In the wild they like to move around rocky outcrops and drop into gaps when threatened so putting in plenty of areas to climb and hide is a good idea. They will dig out a burrow to hide in and this needs to be at a higher humidity than the surrounding air. To maintain this, regular dampening or misting of the substrate is required to stop it drying out. If it is too shallow, not only will it not support a burrow, it will dry out too quickly. That said the word is damp, not wet!

A good soil, sand mix works well. I like to use desert bedding. It has a good structure that retains moisture at lower levels and can suport burrows without collapse. Other types of soil are also suitable. Mixing in some coir helps moisture retention but I don’t like Ackies on pure coir (has to be too wet to support a burrow)

Feeding

Like other monitors, Ackies are carnivores. The bulk of their diet should be insects but they will take pinkes and fuzzies etc. (although weaned rodents contain more calcium and less fat), as well as a little egg and turkey (I don’t bother with turkey myself) . Don’t use dog and cat food – some people do but it is never a good idea.  Ackies store fat in the base of their tails. Feeding to much meat (i.e. food they don’t have to actively hunt) can lead to obesity, although they are nowhere near as prone to this as say, a Bosc Monitor. Better to encourage them to run around hunting by feeding live insects. I use gut loaded cockroaches in the main but vary this as much as possible. We sell livefood so I always have a wide range avaiable so I am a bit spoilt for choice. Dust the food with calcium a few times a week(every day when young) and vitamin powder once a week. Gut loading the insects prior to feeding is the best way to ensure a balanced diet.

Breeding

I am not going to go into detail about breeding. Female Ackies are cyclical breeders. They build up fat stores in their tails and when a certain level is reached and conditions are right, they start to produce eggs. When ready they produce a pheramone that stimulates the male into mating behaviour. Fertilzed eggs are then laid in a burrow. As with most lizards, if the eggs are removed to an incubator for hatching they must not be turned and must be kept in their original orientation or the embryo will die.

Should I get one?

Ackies are great lizards to keep. Most will become quite tame (our male is very tame, the female less so, although she can be handled). They do need large enclosures and the right equipment, regularly maintained. They are probably not for someone who has never owned a reptile before but make a good step up from the usual beaded dragons and leopard geckos etc. Remember they are quite long lived, 15 – 20 years so if considering these fascinating little monitor lizards you need to understand the comittment you are undertaking before buying. They are quite hardy if kept under the right conditions but it is always wise to find out where your nearest specialist reptile vet is located before you need to use one. Normal vets will not have a clue with most reptiles.

The Angell Pets Team

Balkan Green Lizard Care Sheet

Balkan green lizards (Lacerta trilineata) are part of a group of related species ranging across Europe and western Asia. The eastern lizards of this grouping are slightly larger than their western cousins and a bit bolder too. This aside, care is very similar for all species. Balkans have a reputation of being less damp tolerant than some of the other species such as Lacerta viridis.

balkan green lizard

Housing

We would not recommend keeping more than one of these lizards in an enclosure. Males will fight and females, whilst more tolerant, may do so as well unless the enclosure is quite large. Keeping a male and female together outside of breeding may also risk injury or stress to the smaller female as well, if she cannot get away from him.They have been kept together succesfully in a suitably large enclosures by experienced breeders but why take the risk? This care sheet is aimed at the beginner/intermediate keeper and does not cover keeping large breeding colonies which require very large enclosures (up to 20m2 in some cases. Green lizards can be kept outside through the summer but I am not covering that here. Needless to say cage security is a big issue with keeping them outside).

We would recommend a wooden (or glass) vivarium of around 30″ – 36″ x 18″ x 18″. You can use a smaller 15″ cross section but I just find that restricts the view and reduces the lay out a bit. I do like naturalistic, display vivs so tend toward larger vivs for display purposes.

Substrate

A variety of substrates can be used. Some people have used sand – I don’t. The risk of impaction is higher and whilst easier to seive I find it will smell dirty, quicker than other substrates. Beech chips are fine but I find them a bit utilitarian for my taste. Orchid bark chips work well (if you are worried about swallowing of bark pieces then use a coarser grade). There are several newer products coming along all the time that work really well. I like Pro Reps Tortoise life substrate for these lizards. I place some at one end of the viv and blend into orchid bark for the other two thirds, banking this up over a piece of cork bark which acts as a hide and as structure for the layout. Damp moss under the hide will produce a more humid microclimate that helps with shedding. The additional depth of orchid bark acts as an anchor for upright fake plants (Exo Terra and Komodo’s Boston Ferns for example). A few well placed rocks (I use Red Jasper) improve the look further and help keep everything in place. the Torrtoise Life encourages natural digging behaviour. You could use something like Tortoise Life (a clean, pathogen free “soil” type substrate) across the whole viv. Green lizards like to dig and burrow so make sure it has some depth to it (5cm is OK).

Lighting

Green lizards are diurnal so require UVB lighting. A 5- 6% tube or compact UVB lamp will be sufficient to ensure production of vitamin D3 and so uptake of calcium from the diet. This will avoid metabolic bone disease and some other nasties that these li\zards would otherwise be prone to.

They will also benefit from a basking spot lamp. We use one that produces some UVA light as this helps promote a natural circadian rhythm. Don’t have one that is too powerful for the size of your vivarium and ensure that the lizard cannot come into contact with the lamp (a guard may be necessary to ensure this). Incadescent lamps produce a lot of heat as well as light so (especially in a wooden vivarium that helps keep heat in) a method of ensuring that the lamp does not overheat the viv is essential. This normally means a dimming thermostat.

Heating

In addition to a basking spot lamp we use a heat mat to provide background and overnight heat although in a hot summer this can be switched off. The basking spot (on during the day) should not exceed 40C at the hottest point (a rock directly under the lamp would be good) and the cool end of the viv wants to be around  20C during most of the year. The lizards will benefit from a lowering of temperature during the winter however. If you are looking to breed this is essential to stimulate breeding behaviour in the spring. when the temperature increases again. Overnight the temperature will drop with the basking lamp switched off. This is not only acceptable but desirable to reproduce natural conditions. Around 20C at the hottest point overnight would be good. Maintaining a gradient across the viv to allow thermo regulation during the day is the key.

A thermometer is an essential piece of kit. A basic dial type is sufficient. I don’t use these. Not because they don’t work, they do but because I have a lot of vivs and that’s a lot of thermometers, I prefer to use an infra red “point and press” thermometer. More expensive if you only have one viv but cheaper if you have lots. Much more accurate too as you can take surface temperature readings at any point across the temperature gradient (hot side to cool side). If you don’t have one of these then two dial termometers, one at each end will do. Just remember that the temperature on the back wall of your viv will be less than that directly under the basking lamp so a reading of 30C is sufficient. Adjust whatever thermostat you are using to the reading you get from your thermometer and don’t worry too much about what the termostat setting says, worry about what temperature you are actually acheiving.

If using a heat mat I would, in this case, place it on the wall of the viv rather than the bottom. The substrate will be too deep and will insulate the heat mat, possibly to the point of creating a dangerously hot spot if a fault develops in the mat. If you wish to use a ceramic heat emitter instead of heat mats that would be fine but again make sure the lizard cannot touch it – they get very hot to touch.

Feeding

Green lizards are insectivores. We use a wide variety of cultivated insects. Crickets form the mainstay. They are very active and encourage natural hunting behaviour. We vary these with locusts, some morio and mealworms and occasional waxworms and fruit beetle grubs (the smallest ones we can find). Dust the insects with calcium and occasionally with vitamin powder containing D3 (We do this once a week) . Since we feed our insects throughout the week to keep them alive on our shelves for our customers, ours are gut loaded anyway so we do not have to worry about that. Just remember, whatever you feed your insects you are feeding to your lizard in the insect’s gut so you can supplement your lizard’s diet that way.

Do not use insects captured from the garden. They could carry parasites or diseases, could have been feeding on a neighbours plants that have been sprayed with something etc. I know people do it and do not have problems. However my response to this is my mother in law smokes 20 cigarettes a day and is in her eighties and in good health, However I wouldn’t recommend it to your children. Enough said.

A water dish is obviously essential. Occasionally a lizard will use it to bathe in as well as to drink. Make sure the water is changed regularly as in the warm environment bacteria will grow very quickly and these lizards do occasionally use the water bowl as a toilet!

Handling

Green lizards are fast and can be defensive. Handling is not always easy. If you lack confidence then use a glove until you gain some. It is harder to hold the lizard with a glove on but easier to catch it in the first place so I wouild recommend removing the glove once caught. Holding the lizard across its shoulders with the first two fingers and under its chest with the thumb means is cannot get away and cannot bite. Always grab the lizard near its head when catching it and NEVER grab its tail. Like a lot of lizards (although no where near all) they display caudal autonomy – the ability to “drop” the tail. This is a defence against predators. Whilst the predator (or you) are stood looking at the still wriggling tail the lizard has hot footed it to safety. Whilst in green lizards the tail does grow back it never grows back looking as good as the original and losing its tail in this way is stressful to the lizard and to you!

Disease

Green lizards can all suffer from an highly infectious disease called viral papillomata which can appear as a black growth on the skin or in the mouth. It is always fatal, although it can take years to develop. This is really a disease of wild populations and a lizard obtained from disease free captive stock will not get this condition unless intorduced to diseased individuals. My first reptiles were a pair of European Green lizards (Lacerta viridis). I obtained them seperately. The second one had the disease and subsequently both died of it. This was however, “Ahem,” over 40 years ago  so both would have been wild caught individuals and these days, thanks to improvements in care, restrictons in capturing and moving wild animals and excellent breeders any you find for sale are likely to be disease and parasite free, captive bred lizards.

 

Cleaning

Spot clean daily – take out any poop you can see with a bit of tissue. If you do this daily and are thourough, you should only have to replace the substrate every three months or so. If you do not do this regualry then the vivarium will start to smell quite quickly and the substrate will need replacing more regularly.

After removing the substrate disinfect the vivarium with a good quality reptile disifectant. As we have a wide variety of animals (reptiles, mammals, birds) we are currently using F10 as it is safe for everything we stock (obviously not fish!!!) but there are others avaiable. Do not use household disinfectants. Many contain toxic phenols (the distinctive TCP smell you get in some famous household disinfectants).

As already mentioned, clean the water bowl regularly (daily is best but at least every two days). This should be disinfected each time as this is likely to prove the dirtiest part of the set up (everything will collect there, lizard poop, drowned crickets, bits of shed skin, bacterial scum etc).

It shouldn’t really need saying but I will say it anyway – always wash your hands after handling your lizard or anything inside the vivarium. Reptiles can carry E.coli and salmonella bacteria and you really do not want a dose of salmonella. In the weak it can be fatal but even in healthy individuals it is embarrasingly unpleasant, incredibly painful and debilitaiting. Don’t take risks, get some anti bacterial hand cleaner.

 

The Angell Pets Team

 

Ferret kits now available

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Ferrets have a defined breeding season, so kits are only available at certain times of year. We only sell our own ferrets in the shop and this means that they are only in stock for short periods of time each year.

The first of this years kits from our breeding group are now available for sale and can be veiwed in store from today. We have a variety of colours available, both Hobs and Jills. We have over 40 years of breeding experience and all our ferrets are hand tame even before they get to the shop. You can view avaiability and price online but please note we do not sell animals online. You will need to visit the shop to view the animal before you buy and for us to ensure you have considered everything first and so are ready to take one away.

ferret kits

Ferrets have been used for centuries for hunting and are intelligent, inquisitive animals that can make excellent pets. Before considering a ferret as a pet though please read our ferret basic care sheet. This outlines several issues to take into consideration first. They will need a lot of stimulation, a good sized enclosure and have important health requirements so you need to include vaccinations and neutering in your plans.

If you do all this you will get years of fun and interaction from your new pet ferret and we will be there for any further advice and assistance you will need.

The Angell Pets Team

Easy-Tie Now In Stock

Easy-Tie, the new easy to use tie system to safely secure your dog whilst out on a walk is now in stock at Angell Pets.

Avaiable in two sizes, Easy-Tie removes the need to remove your dog’s lead and use it to tie up your dog to a post, railing etc. This reduces the risk of accidents as you secure your dog and excessive wear on your lead. Works with all leads, including extending ones. In fact it is the best way to secure a dog whilst using an extendable lead.

WHAT IS THE EASY-TIE?

The Easy-Tie is a clever, Patent Pending functional accessory. It allows you to Safely, Easily & Quickly secure your dog to a café table, railing, post etc, without taking the lead off the collar.

Dogs often see the releasing of their lead as permission to roam freely (some with haste). This is bad news if you’re in a public area or by a roadside. The Easy-Tie keeps your dog safe, reduces the hassle when securing them, and is about 10 times quicker than the ‘Old Way’. In short, the Easy-Tie helps you to stay in control of your dog!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Easy-Tie - How To UseSimply click the Easy-Tie to a café table, railing, post or any other narrow object. Alternatively, you can wrap your lead around a small tree or lamppost, and back on to the lead to create a lock. Features a red lock button for added security.Easy-Tie - How To Use

WHO IS IT FOR?

Easy-Tie is suitable for all dogs, from small pups to the largest breeds.

It has been rigorously tested to the highest of standards and is available for dogs up to 48kg. Whether you quickly pop into a shop, or lounge at your favourite cafe/beer garden, the Easy-Tie offers less hassle, increased safety & speed for when you need to secure your dog.

Many of our customers also tell us that the Easy-Tie is great as a control mechanism for their exciteable puppies (as well as some exciteable adult dogs).

Easy-Tie is now avaialable in our webstore

CLICK HERE to see a video of Easy-Tie in action.

The Angell Pets Team

 

Axolotl basics

Axolotl – the salamander that doesn’t grow up. These facinating animals make excellent pets if given the correct habitat and care. They are cold water, relatively easy to care for (no more difficult than a goldfish really, although there are a couple of important differences) and make an attractive display animal.

Axolotl

All axolotls in captivity originally come from some specimens sent over to Europe for study. Sadly they are extremely rare in the wild. They come from only two high altitude lakes in Mexico. One of these is no longer there and the other is much reduced (broken up into canals), polluted and full of introduced fish that like the odd Axolotl! The last survey failed to find any wild specimens.

Due to their facinating life cycle, size of embryo and strange abilities the Axolotl is used extensively in a number of areas of reseach, such as spinal cord growth, heart function, brain growth, transplantation etc. Of course there are lots of surviving individuals in the pet population too.

Wild specimens range in colour from black through olive to brown. Albinism can occur naturally but due to predation would tend to be selected against. In captivity albinos are common so colours range from “pink” (albino with red eyes), gold (albiono but gold in colour with red or sometimes whitish eyes), leucistic (white, or pink, with black eyes) to “natural” or “black”.

The Axolotl lives in “cold water” ideally between 17 and 20 C. They can and do tolerate colder temperatures in the wild but metabolism would be much slower. They do not tolerate warmer temperatures very well at all, becoming very stressed and long term warm conditions can be fatal (it has to be remembered that warm water can also carry less oxygen than cold water).

The Axolotl is basically a species of salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum, part of the Ambystoma tigrum complex) that remains in the “tadpole” stage throughout its life. This phenomenom, called neoteny is quite common as a survival strategy amongst salamaders living at high altitude but the Axolotl has turned it into the norm. Injection with thyroid hormones or with iodine or high levels of cannabilsm (an Axolotl will eat another if food is not plentiful) will sitmulate an Axolotl to metamorphose into and adult, terrestrial salamander (very similar to the naturally occuring, adult tiger slamander).

The Axolotls is famous for their ability to regenerate parts of their bodies. They can regrow damaged or missing parts of their tails and limbs. If only a part is missing or has been damaged they may extra limbs or digits. They can even regrow certain organs, even parts of their brains.

So for care of the Axolotl. A single Axolotl needs at least a 40-45 liter tank. Obviously a bigger tank is good. If you wish to keep more than one then a bigger tank is a must or you could still find yourself with still only one Axolotl one morning. They do not like currents, so if using a cartridge type internal of external filter it is advisable to point the filter outlet toward the side of the tank to still the flow. Leaving the Axolotl in what equates to fast running water will stress it and could lead to disease as the animals immune system suffers. We use under gravel filtration (I know, “GRAVEL!”, I’ll come to that soon) in the shop and that works well. You get very good filtration, aeration and nitrogen removal but low water currents in the tank. There is not a “this filtration system is best”. Many different types will work if the issue of flow is taken into account. The Axolotl is cold water, you DO NOT need a heater, in fact this could kill your Axolotl. I have heard of some pet supermarkets selling 10 liter tanks and heaters for Axolotls. Don’t buy from these places, they don’t know what they are doing and therefor shouldn’t be selling you an Axolotl or giving  advice on set ups and should be avoided at all costs.

Now gravel. An Axolotl should NOT be kept on gravel. They eat anything that fits into their mouths and that will include gravel. Often this will pass through but not always, so impaction, followed by death is a real threat. If using undergravel filtration use either fine sand or large pebbles (larger than the mouth of the Axolotl) that cannot be swallowed. Some people use external filters with no substrate, just the glass tank bottom. Nothing wrong with that, as long as there is a good population of bacteria in the filter, I just find it a bit sterile looking. It’s a matter of personal taste. Large rocks work well too but can be difficult to keep clean.

In the shop we do use gravel (hold on, let me finish) but it is covered with “cage carpet” – a thin, porous,  nylon matting, which is weighted down with hides and rocks. This keeps the gravel (where the nitrosomonas and nitrobacter grow) and the Axolotl away from each other. It just allows us a bit of flexibility. When we have no Axolotls we can easilly convert to goldfish without having to mature the tank and gravel is easier to keep clean than sand.

If you wish to use plants we would recommend broad leaved. There is less risk of the Axolotl tangling its gills. Thin, trailing plants present this risk. We would also not recommend keeping axolotls with fish. They will eat smaller fish and larger fish could nibble on the external gills of the Axolotl .

Axolotls eat a wide range of foods. Worms, fish, lavae etc. We use waxworms, mealworm pupae, morio worm pupae, blood worm and small fish. We also sometimes feed pinkies (usually if one of the hatchling snakes hasn’t fed). The Axolotls finds food by smell. If it drops onto its head it will generally snap it up straight away. If it falls to the side it may take a few minutes to find it. I have yet to have an Axolotl that will not feed every couple of days. They feed through air pressure really. They open their mouths extremely quickly. This creates very low presssure inside the mouth. The pressure of the atmosphere above (several miles of it!) pushing down, under gravity, on the water around the Axolotl pushes it, with the food, into the mouth. This is basically how all pumps work. It happens very fast. The video below shows this process happening. I have slowed the video down before and still couldn’t see the food move. It looks like trick photograhy (or videography) but it is in real time.

An Axolotl can grow to 18 inches. However this is extremely rare. It is rare for one to get to 12 inches. 9 to 10 inches is the norm. Male Axolotls will have a swelling around the cloaca, absent in females. Females will tend to have a wider body than the male although males are larger overall with a wider head. They can live for up to (and that is UP TO) 20 years.

 

To look after your Axolotl you have to look after your water. Always mature a tank before putting in an Axolotl. You need the bacteria to remove the nitrogenous waste as you would for fish. Also you MUST dechlorinate the water if it comes from a tap. Leaving it standing for 24 hours only removes free chlorine, not chloramines. These are toxic to the Axolotl and to the waste disposal bacteria. Regular partial water changes are essential to good health. For more info on how to look after the water go to our sheet on goldfish care.

 

The Angell Pets Team