Endangered Reptiles Hobbyists Wish They Could Have as Pets

Many species of reptiles kept as pets are commonly bred in captivity. Many are easy to care for because they are hardy animals both in captivity and in their natural habitats. There is no shortage of these critters either in captivity or in the wild.

However, just like there are endangered mammals and birds, there are also endangered reptiles. Although we’d never keep a critically endangered species as a pet or encourage trade in these animals, we can always fantasize about how cool it would be to keep some as pets in a perfect world.

In this blog article, we’ll name some of the critically endangered reptiles that we think would make amazing pets for one reason or another. Since we’ve never kept or seen these reptiles in real life (except for maybe at a zoo if we’re lucky!), this article won’t focus on care tips or handling techniques.

Instead, we’ll discuss why these endangered species are unique and what makes us so interested in them. Perhaps we’ll even raise some awareness and inspire conservation efforts to protect them.

Gharial/Gavial (Gavialis gangeticus)

The gharial or gavial is a crocodilian known for its very unique snout and appearance. Unlike typical crocodiles and alligators, the gavial’s mouth and nose are long and narrow rather than triangular in shape.

The narrowness of the mouth combined with sharp teeth that lace together in an interlocking pattern makes it perfectly suited to catch fish, which just happen to make up this reptile’s main diet.

Topping off the long mouth is a bulbous snout which is said to resemble an earthenware pot known as a ghara in Hindi. This is where the gharial’s common name is derived. It’s believed that this nose bulb is used in mating behaviors such as bubbling water to attract a mate and as a visual indicator of gender.

This photo very clearly shows the prominent bulb on the gavial’s nose. It also lets you see that the gavial’s mouth is longer, more tapered, and more pointy than any other crocodilian’s. And although those teeth protrude and look quite fierce, the gavial’s primary diet is fish, which means that it’s less likely to view you as an appetizer.

The gavial is native to India. While this fascinating creature used to inhabit nearly all the major rivers in India, it can now only be found in two percent of these waterways. The numbers of the gavial have been declining largely due to hunting for trophies, indigenous medicine, and consumption of the reptile’s eggs.

We think the gavial would make a cool pet because of its very particular mouth and nose. Unlike a croc or gator, the gavial actually doesn’t possess a whole lot of jaw strength. This means that although we’re not sure we’d recommend it, you could probably hold a gavial with much less fear of being bitten.

We’re sure that a gavial’s bite would still be pretty painful, but probably not nearly as bad as that of a reptile with as much jaw strength and ferocity as a crocodile.

Cayman Island Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi)

As its name suggests, the Cayman Island blue iguana is a lizard with a stunning color palate. At rest, these iguanas have a grayish complexion, but when breeding season hits, or when the iguana becomes agitated or excited, it transforms into a brilliant azure blue color.

The Cayman Island blue iguana is endemic to the Cayman Islands and is actually considered to be one of the most endangered lizards alive today. Back in 1940 when this reptile was originally described taxonomically, it was considered to be on the brink of extinction, and with human interference, whether accidental or intentional, its numbers have dwindled even further. In fact, in 2002, the population of these lizards remaining in the wild was estimated to be a mere ten to twenty-five animals!

cayman island blue iguana
This photo captures the true azure blue coloration of the Cayman Island blue iguana. Who wouldn’t be proud to show off such a beautiful lizard to family and friends?

Efforts to preserve the species have definitely been ongoing. As recently as 2004, a wildlife conservation group released hundreds of animals back into the wild. Additionally, at least five separate nonprofit organizations are working with the Grand Cayman government with the hope of preserving this colorful iguana.

Considered to be the largest native land animal living on Grand Cayman, the Cayman Island blue iguana maxes out around twenty to thirty inches in body length with a tail that is usually around the same length, putting the average animal anywhere between forty to sixty inches in total length. Despite this large size, the iguana is still preyed upon by non-native, invasive species such as feral cats and dogs.

While there are certainly blue iguanas available to reptile hobbyists nowadays, these are just variants of the very common green iguana and are still of the genus and species Iguana iguana. We think it would be beyond rewarding to be able to keep a breeding population of these “true” blue iguanas and be able to help contribute to the conservation efforts as well as enjoy the beauty of such a flashy lizard.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

We admit, having a pelagic reptile of any kind as a pet seems no easy feat. But, in a perfect world, wouldn’t it be cool to have a salt water aquarium full of tropical fish and a sea turtle or two?

Like all sea turtle species, hawksbill turtles are endangered due to human interference. Believe it or not, people eat sea turtle eggs and mature sea turtles around the world, despite the protected status of these majestic ocean reptiles. Hawksbills in particular also have very beautifully designed shells which people love to collect. The fishing industry is also a factor in the endangered status of the hawksbill. Often times, these turtles will become accidentally entangled in fishing nets which can lead to drowning.

hawksbill sea turtle
The scutes or hard, bony plates that make up the hawksbill’s carapace are visible in this photo. People hunt the turtle to keep the beautifully patterned shell as a trophy.

Out of all the sea turtle species, the hawksbill turtle is one of the smaller species. Adults will grow to be around forty-five inches long and weigh around 150 pounds.

Hatchling hawksbill sea turtles have heart-shaped carapaces which eventually elongate. When mature, the shells have overlapping serrated scutes, or bony plates. They also have unusually sharp points on their nose/mouth area that resemble a bird of prey’s beak, which is how they received their common name. And yet another characteristic feature of the hawksbill is a pair of claws that adorn each flipper. Overall, the hawksbill sea turtle is a very visually striking reptile.

As reptile lovers, many of us are familiar with the struggle infant sea turtles of all species must undergo when it comes to safely making their first journey to the sea. The mother turtles lay their eggs in a hole dug into a sandy beach and some months later, baby turtles emerge. Because sea turtles make mass migrations to beaches to lay their eggs, the baby turtles tend to all hatch around the same time, meaning that tons of baby sea turtles end up crawling out of the sand and into the ocean.

Because there are so many, they wind up being easy prey targets for predatory animals, namely birds and crabs. In addition, due to human encroachment and installation of street lights and hotel lights along beach fronts, baby sea turtles often wind up crawling towards civilization instead of their true home, which also has an impact on the wild populations.

We’d truly enjoy raising a baby hawksbill sea turtle and watching it grow into a regal adult. But we’ve got to admit that “Finding Nemo” has us a little biased towards that idea. Can’t you just picture them swimming around and speaking in surfer lingo?

Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus)

What makes the tuatara so fascinating to scientists and reptile enthusiasts alike is that this animal is part of its own distinct lineage – the order Rhynchocephalia. This means that although the tuatara very much resembles a lizard, it is in fact, not a lizard!

From a scientific stand point, the closest living ancestor of the tuatara is the squamates, which of course are lizards and snakes. Scientists study the tuatara in order to learn more about the history and appearance of early reptiles called diapsids.

Tuataras are endemic to New Zealand. Because they are so isolated geographically coupled with the fact that they take many years to reproduce, the population of these reptiles has dwindled placing them on the endangered species list.

Although it resembles a common lizard such as an iguana, the tuatara is in a family all its own.

Quite possibly one of the coolest things about the tuatara is that it possesses a third eye! This third eye appears in the middle of the reptile’s forehead and is called a parietal eye. Just like normal eyes used for seeing, the tuatara’s parietal eye has its own lens, cornea, retina with rod-like structures, and is connected to the brain via a degenerated nerve.

When tuataras are babies, the parietal eye appears as a translucent spot in the middle of the animal’s head, but sadly, as tuataras mature, the eye becomes covered with scales and pigment. This is why you don’t see photos of adult tuataras with three eyes, although we think that would be pretty freaky!

As far as function is concerned, scientists have deduced that the purpose of the parietal eye is to help with absorption of UV rays to help the tuatara produce vitamin D. It’s also been postulated that the eye helps with thermoregulation as well as determining light and dark/day and night cycles.

Unlike other reptiles, tuataras thrive in much lower temperatures. They can be active in temperatures as low as forty-one degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures over eighty-two degrees Fahrenheit can actually be fatal to them. This unique animal has the lowest resting body temperature of any reptile. This also means they have a particularly slow metabolism.

Tuataras have unusually long life spans. In captivity, they are estimated to be able to live up to two hundred years old! In fact, Henry the tuatara, who lives in the New Zealand Zoo, became a father at the ripe old age of one hundred and eleven!

Since they have such low metabolic rates (as we already mentioned), tuataras take a long time to reach sexual maturity and a long time to reproduce. Tuataras aren’t ready to mate until they are ten or twenty years old! From start to finish, the entire reproductive cycle can take two to five years, which is the longest of any reptile.

So, if the abundance of weird factoids and cool tidbits of knowledge about this “living fossil” reptile hasn’t convinced you that a tuatara would make a fascinating pet, we’re not sure you’re reading the right blog!


We have already mentioned that this a purely hypothetical blog article. As reptile lovers, we are definitely not endorsing capturing any of the endangered species, exporting them, and/or keeping them as pets for our own entertainment and pleasure.

We are fully aware that these reptiles are in need of serious help and this article is written from a place of wishful thinking. In a perfect world, these wonderful and rare species wouldn’t need our help to survive in the wild and we wouldn’t have to feel bad about having them be a part of our families as pets.

But alas, all we can do for now is discuss how neat it would be to care for these reptiles and hope that this article inspires people to try and help with conservation efforts.

If you want to help preserve these magnificent animals, we recommend donating to a conservationist group. There are multitudes of organizations that focus on protecting specific species as well as plenty of groups that specialize in general endangered species preservation efforts.

Rather than have us tell you who we donate to, we feel you should do your research and find a group whose goals, morals, and standards are in line with your own.

Misrepresentations of Snakes in Movies

It’s a given that we all love reptiles at Backwater Reptiles, so it also makes sense that we love seeing some of our favorite scaly, slithering snakes on the big screen in movies. Don’t you?

However, one thing that kind of bugs us is when the critters we love get misrepresented in cinema. For instance, being snake fanatics, we know that often times non-venomous species of snakes are depicted as venomous in order to create a sense of danger because non-snake fanatics don’t know any better.

So, in this blog article, we’ll discuss some common tropes associated with snakes in film and why their incorrect portrayal of our scaly companions can sometimes be annoying.

snakes in movies
We’re always happy to see snakes in movies, but they do tend to be misrepresented or stereotyped.

Snakes in Movies – The definitive list

Oversized or Giant Monster Snakes

It’s common knowledge that members of the boidae and pythonidae families (boas, pythons, and anacondas) are the largest species of snakes in the world. However, often times, these snakes will be depicted on screen as enormous, monster, killer snakes.

There are a few SyFy channel original movies starring killer giant snakes such as “Piranhaconda,” “Mega Snake,” and “Boa Vs. Python.” However, although these films are relevant to this discussion, we’re intentionally leaving them out due to their intended gimmicky nature and the fact that they played on television and not in movie theaters.

Probably the best example of an oversized killer snake within recent memory is the 1997 flick “Anaconda” starring Jennifer Lopez, Jon Voight, and Ice Cube. While this movie does in fact place the anaconda in the correct native habitat, the snake itself is depicted as larger than life.

In reality, the largest reported anaconda was twenty eight feet long and had a recorded girth of forty-four inches. This is obviously a huge snake, but the killer snake represented in “Anaconda” was large enough to consume Jon Voight’s character whole in one bite with no trouble or resistance. While anacondas can eat large prey items like deer and pigs, it’s highly unlikely one would get big enough to accomplish this feat so easily.

anaconda movie poster
It’s clear from the tagline of this movie poster that “Anaconda” is a movie where a giant snake is out to “get you.”

We’d also like to mention that a snake so large would most likely not be as energetic or active as the anaconda in the film. Sure, anacondas are quick to strike, but they are not typically considered speedy. Perhaps in water they are nimble, but overall, these heavy animals lie in wait for their prey and don’t tend to seek it out or chase after it.

The bottom line is that oversized, gigantic and monstrous snakes in movies can be fun but they are also misleading. People who don’t know better might actually think that anacondas commonly grow to the proportions shown in the film, which is just not true. And because we sell snakes to the public and believe in educating our customers, it can be annoying to have incorrect portrayals of the creatures we love so much in the media.

Overly Bad Tempered Snakes

While it’s clearly not a film meant to be taken seriously, “Snakes on a Plane” is an epic misrepresentation of the temperament of snakes as a whole. No matter the species of snake, the ones on Samuel L. Jackson’s plane are mean and out for vengeance which is a completely inaccurate picture of the disposition of snakes in general.

Whether they’re attacking people in the lavatory or actively chasing potential victims down the crowded aisles of the plane, the snakes in this film are certainly overly aggressive. Even in real life, venomous snakes don’t chase people or seek out ways in which to harm them, no matter how small the space they are in.

While there might not be too many other films specifically dedicated to multitudes of snakes murdering people in confined spaces, we feel that it’s safe to say that in general, snakes cast as the “bad guy” or meant to be a threat to a character in some way or other are nearly always shown as being unrealistically bad tempered.

Because we handle snakes on a regular basis at the Backwater Reptiles facility, we know that in real life, most snakes prefer to hide and be left to their own devices. Some species don’t mind interacting with people, but many snake species that are not bred in captivity will only bite as a last resort. They will usually choose to try and escape from you rather than seek you out and come after you.

The bottom line is that snakes chasing down humans – whether the snakes are normal-sized like those in “Snakes on a Plane” or monstrous like the previously discussed killer snake in “Anaconda” – is a myth.

While we know the truth about how to handle snakes of different dispositions ranging from grumpy to docile, not everyone does. We think portrayals of snakes with bad tempers gives people the wrong idea and more reason to vilify these already misunderstood animals.

Snakes as Comic Relief

There are several instances where snakes are cast as comic relief in films. Have you seen “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold”? There is one scene in particular in this comedy where a character believes he has been bitten on the rear end by a rattlesnake, when in reality, he just sat on a cactus. Clearly, the rattlesnake is the butt of the joke so to speak in this scenario.

If you’ve seen any of the original Indiana Jones flicks, you’ll remember that our hero Indie has quite a dislike for our slithering pals, and there’s an epic snake pit involved (full of snakes that have no business being in Egypt, by the way). While the actual snakes present in the film never do anything that makes them seem funny or silly, their screen time is met with a laugh from the audience due to how they make Indiana Jones so uncomfortable.

The sentiment behind the joke being that such a masculine, virile, explorer who can tackle life threatening situations daily can’t handle a few serpents makes the snakes funny.

In our opinion, this is one of the few snake-related jokes in a movie series that’s okay by us. Because we handle, feed, and ship out snakes on a daily basis, it’s old hat for us to be around snakes of all personality types. While we know that many people do have a phobia of snakes, we can’t say we understand it since we love these animals so much. It’s hard for us to sympathize with anyone, let alone an action hero, who is afraid of these amazing reptiles.

Another more well-known instance in which snakes are cast in a humorous light is in Disney animated films. We’ve all seen “The Jungle Book” and know of the snake Kaa’s scenes with Mowgli. Kaa’s attempts to hypnotize Mowgli and eat him are met with disapproval and ultimately humiliation.

Another animated Disney snake of note is Sir Hiss from “Robin Hood.” Sir Hiss is the henchman of Prince John and as a rule of thumb, henchmen tend to be silly, stupid, or foolish characters in cartoon movies. Sir Hiss is no exception as his attempts to warn Price John are always met with temper tantrums and punishment.

sir hiss
This screen capture from Disney’s “Robin Hood” shows that Sir Hiss is definitely cast as comic relief in this scene.

Granted, Disney animated cartoons with anthropomorphic critter characters are obviously not meant to be taken as serious representations of what animals are really like, but these caricatures are usually based on stereotypes.

Although it might be entertaining to cast snakes as nitwitted characters that always over-pronounce their “S” sounds in their speech, we think it’s a definite over simplification of the true nature of these fascinating animals.

Snakes have personalities just like other pets, plus they should definitely be respected regardless of whether or not they are a non-venomous constrictor or a dangerous black mamba. While casting them as comic relief doesn’t cause them to be misunderstood in the same manner that casting them as villains does, we still think it’s an unjust, albeit far more pleasant role for them to play in film.

Snakes as Villains

The most well-known, recent example we can think of where snakes are credited as being villainous is the Harry Potter series. Obviously these movies were books first, but the representation of snakes as evil or wicked remains true in both the novels and the films.

In the second Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” a giant snake called a basilisk is running rampant throughout Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The entirety of the film is spent trying to locate the “monster” that resides within the Chamber and save the students from being killed or petrified. This is an example of two common snake tropes in action – both the gigantic snake and the villainous snake are at play in the character of the basilisk.

Although there is no such animal in real life, the mythical basilisk is known for being able to kill with a single glance, which is also true in the Harry Potter film. What could possibly be more malevolent than a creature that kills you before you can even see it coming?

harry potter basilisk
Harry Potter is battling the evil basilisk in this scene.

Aside from the basilisk, the all time worst villain in the Harry Potter series, Lord Voldemort, keeps a “pet” snake that he actually instills with part of himself. This snake is akin to Voldemort’s “familiar” and actually helped him be reborn and ascend back into power by giving its venom to sustain and feed him when he was weak.

And while we’re on the subject, Lord Voldemort himself can speak Parseltongue, which is the language of serpents. And it is a well-known fact within the wizarding community that the ability to speak to snakes tends to mark one as being a practitioner of dark magic.

In addition, Voldemort’s dark mark that he brands all of his followers with is the image of a snake intertwined with a skull. And the crest of one of the four houses of Hogwarts, Slytherin, that is reputed to have produced all the wizards who ultimately end up siding with Voldemort and practicing the dark arts, also features a snake as its center piece.

While we’re fully aware that Harry Potter is clearly a work of fiction and fantasy, there is no doubt that snakes are a symbol and representation of all that is evil in this particular series of movies. They have no redeeming qualities or facets.

Aside from Harry Potter, snakes are often cast as villains in films where massive amounts of them are out to get the often unsuspecting and otherwise innocent human beings. A few examples of this are the aforementioned “Snakes of a Plane,” “Snake Island” (2002), and “Rattlers” (1976). All of these movies feature large groups of snakes that for some weird reason just want to kill people.

While we’re not incredibly alarmed by snakes being depicted as villains in either fantasy or science fiction films, we would like to reiterate that real snakes would much rather flee from humans than seek them out and murder them. Again, these wonderful animals are being shown in a bad light and we just wish there were more instances in film where snakes are not mean or malicious.

Rattlesnakes in the Western Genre

It’s pretty much a given that any movie in the Western genre will have a rattlesnake in it at some point or other. We have no real problem with this trope as it’s not necessarily untrue, but we do think that rattlesnakes in Westerns has gotten sort of cliche.

In most dramatic Westerns, whether they are more recent or from thirty plus years ago, rattlesnakes are simply part of the terrain. A character will often encounter one in some capacity or another. Sometimes the hero will interact with the snake by either killing it, eating it, or being bitten by it. Nothing too alarming about that, although we still think that more often than not, rattlesnakes would rather hide from cowboys than bother them.

A good example of a snake character that utilizes nearly all the tropes listed above is Rattlesnake Jake from the 2011 animated film “Rango.” We’re a fan of this movie not only because it’s funny and appropriate for many ages and audiences, but also because many of the main characters are cartoon reptiles!

rattlesnake jake
Rattlesnake Jake clearly looks pretty villainous despite being an animated character.

Rattlesnake Jake is of course initially depicted as the villain in “Rango,” although it later comes to light that he is not as evil as some other characters, so that takes care of the “snake as villain” trope. Jake is also comic relief at times, although we’d say “Rango” is a comedy in general, so nearly all the characters have humorous moments on screen. Jake also has a bad temper, although he doesn’t set out to hunt down innocent bystanders like many other ferocious snakes in cinema.

Conclusion – Snakes in Movies

Overall, we’re happy to see snakes in movies at all and therefore we can’t complain too much when they are easily type cast and tropes are over utilized.

However, we do think it would be nice to see snakes cast in a more positive light from time to time. What do you think? Are you happy with the way snakes are often seen in cinema? What would you change? Can you name any films where snakes are portrayed as more dynamic entities?


Aldabra Tortoise Care (Geochelone gigantea)

If you’re reading this, you want to know all about Aldabra tortoise care (Geochelone gigantea), and rest assured, you’ve come to the right place! These tortoises are very intelligent, responsive, and interactive pet reptiles. Many people are attracted to the larger species of tortoise because they can let them roam their yard much like a dog. Many are even trained to come when you call them!

No matter what your reason for keeping an Aldabra tortoise, clearly you’ll need to know how to care for such a long-lived animal. In this blog article, we’ll set out to detail how to best care for an Aldabra and hopefully prepare you for a tortoise of your own.

Aldabra Tortoise Care Explained

Aldabra Tortoise Description

Did you know that the Aldabra tortoise is the second largest species of tortoise in the world? The only other tortoise that grows larger is the Galapagos tortoise. On average, a mature adult Aldabra can weigh around 500 pounds, although the Aldabra at the Fort Worth Zoo weighs in at around 800 pounds!

Aldabras are very long-lived. Some have been reported to live 200 years and there is currently one in captivity that is 170 years old. So be prepared to pass your Aldabra down to your children and possibly even grand children!

aldabra tortoise care
Aldabra tortoises grow very large and for proper care will need a large amount of space in which to roam around. We highly recommend setting up a backyard enclosure if you plan to keep one as a pet. Pictured is one of our 5-inch beauties.

Aldabra tortoises get their name from the location from which they hail – the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles islands in the Indian ocean. They can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from mangrove swamps to coastal dunes.

Overall, Aldabras are quite remarkable as far as physical appearance is concerned. They have domed carapaces with super long necks and pointed heads. They range in color from dark grey to black and sometimes even dark brown.

Creating an Aldabra Tortoise Enclosure

Like many of the larger tortoise species, the best way to keep an Aldabra is outdoors if possible. Tortoises older than two years old do best with a large space to roam, backyard vegetation to nibble on, and natural sunlight and weather conditions to absorb.

If your backyard doesn’t have a fence, you can create boundaries for your tortoise using cinder blocks or even wooden planks. Your wall should be just over two feet tall and contain as much square footage as you are able to provide.

Using see-through fencing is risky because a tortoise will almost always try to get somewhere it can see. Aldabras aren’t big on digging, like the Sulcata tortoises, so that’s not too much of a risk. We recommend solid wood or cinder block walls.

Your Aldabra will also require a little tortoise home or hide to escape from cold or too hot weather. You will also need to provide a heat source if you live somewhere where the weather drops below seventy five degrees Fahrenheit.

Large heating pads will suffice–we use pig blankets, which automatically heat 20-degrees (F) warmer than the surrounding temperatures, unless it’s already warm out, in which case they don’t activate. You can also simply bring your tortoise indoors during bad weather.

Keep in mind, cooler temperatures generally aren’t overly dangerous to tortoises, it’s cold and wet that’s dangerous. If your nighttime temperatures are dipping below 60F, we recommend bringing your tortoise into a warmer area such as a garage for the evening, unless you’ve got a tortoise house with a heat pad already set up.

If temperatures go below 50F, regardless if you have a tortoise house and heating pad, just take the tortoise indoors.

aldabra tortoise
Pictured is a young Aldabra tortoise, but they can live up to 200 years and weigh up to 500 pounds! Make sure you are prepared for such a long-term pet before purchasing.

It’s not necessary, but if you can provide a mudhole for your Aldabra, that is ideal. Surprisingly, Aldabras enjoy wallowing and soaking in a mudhole if one is provided.

Feeding Your Aldabra Tortoise

Many people enjoy keeping pet tortoises because they are vegetarians, which means no insects or mice to feed them.

Aldabra tortoises nibble as they roam on everything from backyard grasses and weeds, but they will also thoroughly enjoy prepared foods. Leafy greens high in nutrition such as collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and spinach are all excellent options.

Some fruit is also a treat for them, but avoid acidic fruits as they can harm intestinal biotic balance. They are particularly fond of melons. Hay is a great food for them as well. Remember, they are grazers and aren’t used to highly nutritious foods. Mazuri tortoise pellets are also great for supplemental feeding.

Fun fact: If your Aldabra tortoise knows you have food or a treat ready for it, it will come running to greet you. Be prepared – Aldabras are not slow movers, despite what you might believe!

aldabra tortoise
Aldabra tortoises are vegetarians that will eat as they roam your yard. However, they always enjoy it when you prepare them meals of leafy greens mixed with the occasional fruit treat.

Conclusion – Aldabra tortoise care

Aldabra tortoises are known for their large size and unique personalities. They are fascinating and rewarding animals to keep as pets. They make excellent backyard companions who will absolutely learn to recognize you.

If you are up to the task of caring for such a long-term pet that you can literally pass down to your grand children, then an Aldabra tortoise just might be the reptile for you!

Pixie Frog Care (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Pixie frog care isn’t complicated or difficult. These frogs are known for their insatiable appetites, large size, and inclination to eat virtually anything small enough to fit in their mouth. Overall, they make for very entertaining and lively pet frogs, which is why they are so popular in the reptile hobbyist world.

Thinking of buying a pixie frog of your own? Then you’ll need to know how to care for one of these amphibious eating machines. Continue reading this blog article to find out how we care for ours at the Backwater Reptiles facility.

Pixie Frog Care (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Pixie Frog Description

Known mainly for their massive size at maturity, pixie frogs are true giants. They are the second largest frog in the world and can reach lengths up to ten inches and weigh approximately two pounds! That might not seem like much, but it’s tremendous for a frog.

The largest frog in the world is the Goliath frog from Cameroon (Africa). It’s basically a huge frog that likes to jump–imagine a normal adult American Bullfrog, except 2-3 times larger.


huge goliath frog
Here’s a Goliath frog in Cameroon.

Goliath frogs are actually illegal to export from Cameroon, and it’s just as well–they don’t fare well in captivity due to their habit of jumping several feet at a time. There just isn’t an enclosure large enough for them.

pixie frog care
Young pixie frogs like this one are not usually as chubby as their adult counterparts. They also have more prominent stripes and spotted markings that will usually fade with age.

It should also be noted that pixie frogs are known by several common monikers. You might hear them referred to as African bull frogs, African burrowing frogs, and sometimes South African Pyxies.

Pixies are usually an olive green color at maturity, but they can also be shades of brown, yellow, and even creamy beige. They have very thick, stocky, hefty bodies and as adults, their bellies tend to protrude, which can give them a somewhat blob-like shape at rest. When they are babies, they tend to be a dark green shade with dark striped accents and cream-colored tummies.

Pixie Frog Habitat

Pixie frogs hail from Africa where they spend most of their time burrowed underground. This means that they will require a substrate that accommodates this behavior. Eco-earth, fertilizer-free, organic potting soil, and even paper towels are all acceptable options.You’ll want the substrate to stay moist and damp, but not wet.

A humid environment is best for pixies. We recommend keeping the enclosure at around eighty percent humidity for best results. Regular misting of the substrate will help keep the moisture level in the proper range. We use a spritzer bottle filled with water and squirt the substrate itself, the glass walls of the tank, and sometimes even the frogs themselves.

It’s also wise to invest in a sturdy water dish that is wide and shallow. You won’t see your pixie drink the water, but it helps maintain humidity levels and also allows your pixie to have itself a soak if it wants to.

young pixie frog
This pixie is approximately four weeks old. The quarter is provided to show scale.

Although most pixies will simply burrow to hide themselves, we definitely recommend placing a hide space or two within your frog’s enclosure. Terra cotta pots, logs, and hides purchased from pet stores are all good options.

We use coconut husk fiber as substrate, at about two-inches deep. We keep the substrate damp throughout, but not dripping wet. If you notice the surface drying out, it’s a signal you’re not keeping the substrate damp enough.

If your frog senses a drier environment, it’ll cover itself in a type of cocoon layer to prevent moisture loss. This really shouldn’t happen in captivity. If you see it, make sure to make adjustments to prevent it from happening again.

Try to keep the tank in the temperature range of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. We keep them very successfully at room temperature.

Pixie Frog Feeding

If we haven’t already made it clear, pixie frogs love to eat! In the wild, they are ambush predators and will sit around until something comes their way that they can fit into their mouth. This means their prey items range from invertebrates to small birds!

Because they are not active animals, you will have to be careful not to overfeed your pixie frog. In fact, you’ll have to keep a close eye on your frog’s weight because pixies are prone to obesity.

We feed our pixies a staple diet of appropriately-sized insects, depending on the size of the frog. Our babies will eat mostly crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. Adults will eat crickets, hornworms, roaches, and wax worms.

Some people will feed their pixies pinkies or fuzzies, but we recommend this only as an occasional treat item. Again, pixies will eat to the point of being unhealthy, and fatty, high calorie items like mice will only contribute to the problem. Moderation is key.

Pixie Frog Disposition

As a general rule, most pet frogs don’t take well to human interaction or handling. We’ve found that with pixies, it tends to be a mixed bag. Some pixies don’t tend to mind being picked up, while others are quite opposed to the idea.

adult pixie frog
Adult pixies can be held, but beware of putting your fingers near their mouth as they can deliver quite a powerful bite.

If you do want to handle your pixie on a regular basis, be sure it is supported fully. A flailing frog is not a happy frog. We also recommend washing your hands before and after picking up your pixie for the safety of both human and frog.

We’d also like to say that pixies have nasty bites. Be sure that when you pick up your frog that you keep wiggling fingers that could be mistaken for food away from its mouth.

However, I’ve picked-up hundreds of Pixie frogs spanning all sizes, and I’ve never had one attempt to bite or put on a threat posture.

These frogs rarely fight with each other, or have territory issues. If you keep more than one in an enclosure, just make sure you’re feeding them well. Don’t keep noticeably different sizes together because, as mentioned, they’ll eat anything they can fit into their mouths–including their own species.

Conclusion – Pixie frog care

Pixie frogs make excellent, fascinating, long-lived pets. They’re really fun to raise from babies to full-grown chubby adults. Feeding time is always entertaining when you have a pixie–a definite crowd-pleasing event!

If you’re interested in purchasing a pixie frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells both captive bred hatchlings and adults. You won’t be disappointed with this behemoth of a species!

How to Pick Up Your Pet Lizard

Wondering how to pick up a lizard? There are countless numbers of animals available in the reptile hobbyist world and many of them can be picked-up and held. Some pet lizards even enjoy human interaction.

However, lizards are not domesticated animals like cats or dogs, and so they can be tricky to handle if you don’t have experience. That’s why we’ll explain our methods for picking up lizards, address some common mistakes made when handling lizards, and offer up helpful tips and tricks we’ve learned throughout our years of experience dealing with all kinds of lizard species.

How to pick up a lizard

There are several methods you can use when picking up lizards and in truth, the best method will vary from animal to animal, species to species, and even person to person! It’s going to take some experience on your part to learn which way works best for your own pet.

how to pick up a lizard
Geckos are more delicate than other species of lizards. Be careful not to restrain them too tightly or you may accidentally injure them. Gentle handling is the key.

The first thing to take into account when picking up and handling any pet lizard is the size of the animal. Larger species such as bearded dragons and Savannah monitors will require a different technique than something as small as a dwarf gecko species.

If you are dealing with a larger species or a species that has a good disposition, such as a leopard gecko, then picking up and handling the lizard is very straight forward. Approach the animal steadily with no jerky or overly speedy movements and simply pick it up. Once the lizard is in your hands, make sure it is supported and that it has a place to crawl if it is moving or wiggling a lot.

If you are working with a smaller species or a more delicate species, such as a day gecko or an anole, we recommend cupping the animal rather than grabbing it outright. You can accomplish this by literally trapping the animal under a cup and sliding a piece of paper or other flat, solid object underneath the cup. Or, alternately, you could form a cup with your hands over top of the lizard and pick it up from there.

Things to avoid when picking up your pet lizard

Possibly the most important thing you want avoid when dealing with your pet lizard is squeezing it or making it feel trapped. If you hold it too tight in order to prevent escape, your lizard will feel very stressed and uncomfortable. If you can’t hold the lizard without feeling like you’re physically restraining it, odds are you’ve got a lizard that isn’t meant to be held.

crocodile skink
This crocodile skink is being supported and has a comfortable perch. Be sure to cradle and not squeeze your pet lizard and you will both be more at ease during the handling process.

Never try to hang onto a lizard by its tail. Many species actually drop their tails as a defense mechanism against predators when they are stressed. While its true that ultimately it won’t harm your lizard in the long run to drop its tail, it’s still a stress to the animal at the time it occurs and many people dislike how their lizard appears cosmetically after losing a tail.

Helpful tips and tricks for handling your pet lizard

  1. Big lizards will need two hands. It’s common sense that you shouldn’t try to pick up a four foot long monitor with just one hand. Bigger lizards need more support and therefore more hands.
  2. Not all lizards should be picked up. Again, keep in mind that lizards are not domesticated animals and they do not all enjoy interacting with people. In fact, many of the smaller, flightier species will get overly stressed out if you handle them because they will think that you are a predator. And some species are so delicate that you can actually injure them if you pick them up incorrectly.
  3. Take some time to get to know your lizard’s personality and read its moods. If you invest in learning about lizard body language, you’ll be able to tell if your pet is in the mood to come out and play or not. This will help avoid unnescessary stress and will also help avoid any unnecessary biting or scratching.


bearded dragon hatchling
Bearded dragons are very interactive lizards that enjoy being held by humans.

Lizards make great pets and there are many species that are hands on and incredibly interactive animals. However, not all species will enjoy being held and it’s up to you as a potential pet owner to do your research and make sure you’re choosing a species that suits your needs.

We hope that this article has given you some insight into how to handle different species of lizards. But if you have any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to share them in the comments!

How to Care for Baby Scorpions

What if your pet scorpions have mated and now you’ve got a bunch of scorpion babies to care for? Or perhaps you recently acquired a gravid mother scorpion who just gave birth? No matter the scenario, you now have scorplings to care for.

You’re probably wondering what to do with all the tiny, delicate babies? How do you care for them? What does such a tiny invertebrate eat? Is it safe to handle them?

In this blog article, we will answer commonly asked questions such as the ones above and discuss in detail how we care for our scorplings.

How to care for baby scorpions

What do I do once my scorpion has given birth?

If you don’t handle your scorpion too frequently, you may not even be aware that your female is gravid, particularly if you’ve only recently acquired her. It’s very possible you might wake up one morning to discover a batch of scorplings riding around on her back.

caring for baby scorpions
Luckily, mother scorpions do most of the work when it comes to caring for newborn scorplings. Here’s one of our Dictator scorpions (Pandinus dictator) with her babies.

If you just have a single female in a small enclosure, don’t move her. The less you disturb her, the better. Disturbances will stress her and could even cause her to eat her babies.

The babies will actually ride around on the mother scorpion’s back for a few weeks until they have undergone their first molt. During this time, the mother will make sure they are fed and cared for, so the best thing you can do to care for the babies is to ensure the mother is well-cared for.

Perhaps the most important aspect of baby scorpion care when the scorplings are still on the mother’s back is making sure that mama scorpion is well-fed. If she feels hungry or doesn’t get enough food, she will eat her children, so we recommend offering her food on a daily basis.

Watch the mother and babies closely for the first few weeks. You will want to remove the babies once they have molted as they will no longer ride around on their mother’s back. Allowing them to remain in the same enclosure as their mother once they are off her back is a bad idea as once more, the mother might see her babies as a food source rather than as her children.

What kind of care set up should I provide for my baby scorpions?

Not surprisingly, baby scorpions have the same care requirements as their adult counterparts. The only real difference in care is that obviously smaller invertebrates eat smaller food. We will go into what to feed your baby scorpion in the next section.

When creating a habitat for your baby scorpions, it is generally acceptable to place them all in a single container until they outgrow it.

baby pandinus dictator
Pictured is a baby Dictator scorpion (Pandinus dictator).

Your scorpion tank should be well-ventilated with a screen lid or lid with holes in it. You should line the bottom of the tank with a substrate such as cocoa fiber, moss, or other similar material.

A UV light is not necessary as scorpions tend to avoid lighted areas. Instead, you should use a heat mat in order to maintain ambient temperatures in the 80s. We don’t recommend using a heat lamp unless you want to mist the enclosure regularly as heat lamps tend to dry out substrates.

Another essential element to a scorpion enclosure is plenty of places to hide. You can use something as simple as used toilet paper or paper towel rolls to fancy logs and pet store hide spaces.

What do I feed my baby scorpions?

Small, fragile  baby scorpions means small prey items. What then, is small enough to feed baby scorpions?

At Backwater Reptiles, once our scorplings are not living on their mother’s back anymore, we feed them pinhead crickets and fruit flies. Both of these are appropriately-sized invertebrates that baby scorpions are quick to consume.

You can place one or two pinhead crickets per scorpion into the enclosure each day. We’ve even heard that squishing the crickets so that the soft insides come out is a useful trick to get baby scorpions to eat, but ours seem to eat living crickets just fine.

In addition to food, baby scorpions should have a water source. You can place a small container that the scorplings can’t drown in inside the cage, however, we think that soaking a cotton ball in water is actually a better way to hydrate your baby scorpions.

When are my baby scorpions old enough to be handled?

Technically, once the babies are off the mother’s back, they can be handled, but we don’t recommend it as they are still very fragile and still very small.

Once their exoskeletons have had time to harden, it should be safe to pick up and handle your baby scorpions. This could take anywhere from a few weeks to a month and a half depending on the species.

dictator scorpion babies
Baby scorpions will cluster on their mother’s back until they have undergone their first molt.

We personally recommend leaving handling to a minimum until the scorplings have darkened up or gotten close to reaching their adult coloration. Once this occurs, their exoskeletons are usually hard enough to protect them properly from any jostling that might unintentionally occur.

Conclusion – baby scorpion care

Overall, caring for baby scorpions is not really that much different than caring for adult scorpions. The main difference is in what size prey items you offer.

And luckily, mother scorpions are actually pretty good at taking care of their babies until they are strong enough to fend for themselves. Nature takes care of the hardest part for you. All you need to do is pick up where mama scorpion leaves off.

If you are interested in starting a scorpion family of your own, Backwater Reptiles has many different species of scorpion for sale.



How to Care for Your Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

If you are unfamiliar with the sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor), you’re not alone. Because these prismatic snakes have pretty specific care requirements, they’re actually not very popular in the reptile world.

Truth be told, there’s also not a lot of information online explaining how to best care for the sunbeam snake. Therefore, in this blog article, we’ll detail how we care for our sunbeams and hopefully help out anyone thinking about investing in one of these gorgeous animals.

Sunbeam Snake Description

The most striking feature of the sunbeam snake is its unmistakable iridescence. In fact, this brilliant rainbow hue is how this snake got its common name. Other snakes such as the rainbow boa might also be iridescent, but when the sunbeam snake’s scales interact with the sun’s rays, the result is unbelievable. Other snakes just can’t compete!

sunbeam snake care
Sunbeams snakes are known for their iridescent scales.

Aside from shimmering scales, sunbeam snakes are fairly monochromatic. Their dorsal sides are dark, deep brown or even black. Their under bellies are cream-colored or whitish. They have small eyes and pointy heads with little neck demarcation.

Sunbeam Snake Habitat & Housing

The first thing that is important to know when keeping a sunbeam snake is that these reptiles are burrowers. They live in Asian rice paddies in the wild where there is lots of moisture, humidity, and plenty of places to hide. Therefore, sunbeam snakes spend lots of time underground.

Because sunbeams are burrowers, it is of utmost importance that you provide your snake with a substrate that accommodates this behavior as well as retains moisture. Cypress mulch, moss, and loose reptile bark all work well. Be sure that the substrate is damp, but not dripping wet.

sunbeam snake
Sunbeam snakes have specific care requirements. We recommend doing your research and making sure this species is suitable for you before you purchase.

Humidity levels need to stay between 80 to 100% at all times. This might seem a bit high, but keep in mind that rice paddies are nearly always flood lands and sunbeams are used to this type of environment. One of the worst things an owner can do for a sunbeam snake is to allow its home to dry out.

The hot end of your sunbeam snake’s enclosure should stay between 85 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side should be in between 75 to 80 degrees. We recommend a heating pad to regulate temperature, but you can also use a lamp that doesn’t give off light. Sunbeams aren’t nocturnal or afraid of light, but they do spend most of their time underground, so there is no real need for UV lighting.

Sunbeam Snake Disposition

As we’ve already mentioned, sunbeam snakes are burrowers. They spend most of their time underground and usually only emerge to catch prey and eat. This means they are solitary, secretive animals that appreciate privacy.

Sunbeam snakes are not aggressive, but they don’t really enjoy being handled too frequently. In fact, it rather stresses them out. If you want a hands on pet snake, we don’t recommend that you get a sunbeam. Sunbeam snakes should be handled minimally and left to their own devices when possible.

handling your sunbeam snake
Sunbeams are shy snakes that definitely prefer to be left alone. However, when you have to clean their cage or remove them for any other reason, they are not aggressive and can be handled like any other species of snake.

One thing that you should also be aware of is that sunbeam snakes can excrete a very nasty musk when stressed. So, unless you want to shower, we highly recommend not poking, prodding, holding, or otherwise making your sunbeam feel threatened.

Feeding Your Sunbeam Snake

Many people are surprised at how quickly sunbeam snakes eat. They lunge for prey very speedily, constrict, and swallow it nearly as rapidly.

In the wild, sunbeams are known to consume frogs, shrews, moles, lizards, and other small vertebrates. In captivity, they will strike at anything that disturbs their substrate, so we recommend using tongs and offering them appropriately sized frozen/thawed mice.


Although sunbeam snakes are absolutely stunning animals with brilliantly shiny rainbow scales, we don’t recommend them to everyone. These snakes are best suited to owners who understand that sunbeams enjoy solitude and like being left alone.

Keep in mind that sunbeam snakes have four basic requirements in captivity to stay happy and healthy: solitude, humidity, a place to burrow, and warmth. If you are ready to provide these things to a pet sunbeam snake of your very own, Backwater Reptiles does sell them.

What Do Green Iguanas Eat?

If you’re considering purchasing one of these majestic beasts, you’ve no doubt asked yourself, “What do Green iguanas eat?” Despite their large size at maturity, green iguanas (Iguana iguana) continue to be one of the most popular pet lizards amongst reptile enthusiasts.

Perhaps it’s due to their prehistoric appearance – spikes down their back, dewlaps at their throat, and impressive claws – or maybe it’s because they have such prominent personalities.

If you are considering a pet iguana, one of the most valuable pieces of information you’ll need, aside from housing requirements, is what to feed your pet. In this article, we will discuss in detail what we feed our green iguanas and how you can make sure your iguanas nutritional needs are met.

what do green iguanas eat
Hatchling green iguanas are a bit more insecure than their adult counterparts, but they still make excellent pets.

What do green iguanas eat?

Green iguanas are classified as herbivores, although when it comes down to it, they are opportunistic omnivores and will consume anything they find appetizing. They have been observed in the wild as well as in captivity eating protein in the form of smaller lizards and insects.

In the wild, green iguanas will seek out vegetation such as flowers, leaves, and some fruit. If they happen to chance upon a tasty invertebrate or even small vertebrate like a rodent, they will also consume meat.

In captivity, a green iguana’s diet should consist of approximately 80 to 90% vegetable matter, ten percent or less fruit, and ten percent or less protein.

How do I prepare my iguanas food?

If you wish to forego commercially prepackaged green iguana food, we want to stress that variety is key when it comes to preparing your iguana’s meals.

green iguana juvenile
Young green iguanas will need to eat more frequently than adults.

You will want 45 to 50 percent of the iguana’s nutrients to come from leafy greens. We recommend kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens. All of these veggies are high in vitamins and are extremely nutritious to both people and iguanas!

As far as preparation of leafy greens is concerned, we recommend washing the greens thoroughly and then doing a rough chop on them. You want the pieces to be bite sized so the iguana doesn’t choke. Pre-packaged, pre-cut greens are also appropriate and clearly less work than chopping your own.

Approximately 40 percent of your iguana’s diet can subsist of other veggies. We have found that squash, zucchini, green beans, snap/snow peas, carrots, and bell peppers are all appropriate fare.

The same rules apply to preparing non-leafy veggies for consumption. We’ve actually grated many of the veggies to make it quick and simple for the iguana to chow down, although dicing the veggies into bite size pieces is also perfectly acceptable.

Acceptable fruit options include: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, mangos, apples, and bananas. However, please keep in mind that with fruits, as well as with any other veggie, our list and examples is not exhaustive. These are just food items we discovered our iguanas take to quite readily.

As we’ve already mentioned, iguanas can and have been known to consume animal protein. However, we do not recommend that you feed your iguana much meat, if any at all. Perhaps as an occasional treat you could offer some dog food or insects, but we do highly advise sticking to a primarily vegetable-based diet. Too much protein will be very hard on your iguana’s liver.

What feeding schedule should I adhere to?

We feed our juvenile iguanas twice per day as they are growing and need all the vitamins and nutrients they can in order to develop strong bones and heathy scales.

Mature, adult green iguanas really only need to be fed once per day. We prepare a large plate of fresh veggies and a small amount of fruit and allow the iguana to eat until it is full. Iguanas have large appetites, but they are not gluttons and will stop eating when they’re full.

blue axanthic iguana
Pictured is a juvenile blue axanthic iguana. These iguanas have the same dietary requirements as a typical green iguana.

Remove any uneaten food from the iguana’s enclosure as you don’t want to encourage fruit flies or bacteria to grow  inside the cage.

How much water should I provide my iguana?

Like any living creature, green iguanas need a fresh water supply. There are several ways to go about ensuring your iguana is being properly hydrated.

One method is to spray water directly onto your iguana’s meal. This is usually a good method for leafy greens as they will hold the water in their folds and crevices rather than have it remain in the food dish.

Another method that is equally simple and actually kind of a no-brainer is to maintain a fresh water dish within your iguana’s cage. You might not actually see your iguana lapping at the water, but it will drink it when its thirsty.

If you have concerns about whether or not your iguana is drinking enough water, you can actually train it to drink from the water dish. We’ve heard of people placing a treat food into the water dish so that the iguana is forced to ingest water when consuming its tasty tidbit of food.


Because iguanas are herbivores, they make fantastic pets for people who don’t enjoy feeding their pet other living creatures such as insects, feeder fish, or even mice.

Green iguanas are also highly trainable and friendly when you work with them, so we think that as long as you’re committed to keeping a lizard that can grow to be six feet long from nose to tail, they make excellent and rewarding pets.

If you are ready for a pet green iguana of your own, Backwater Reptiles does sell them. We hope we’ve been able to effectively explain what iguanas eat in captivity.


Oddest Pet Frogs

At Backwater Reptiles, we love reptiles and amphibians of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether or not most people would label them as cute. In fact, some of our favorites are the oddballs!

In this article, we’re going to list our favorite odd-looking pet frogs. Although these frogs are not for everyone, each of them is certainly unique.

The Oddest Pet Frogs

Budgett’s Frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis)

This jelly-like frog is also known as the hippo frog and the Freddy Krueger frog. We’re not quite sure where the hippo moniker arises from, but this frog is nicknamed after the infamous horror villain because its long fingers are reminiscent of his knife hands. This frog also packs quite an attitude and is known to be aggressive and mean. It opens its wide mouth as big as possible and emits what is best described as a scream in an effort to scare off threats.

oddest pet frogs
As you can see from this photo, Budgett’s frogs very closely resemble blobs of jelly, making it one of the more odd pet frogs.

In addition to this interesting defense mechanism, Budgett’s frogs are memorable because they are just so strange-looking. Besides having bodies built like blobs, they have tiny protuberant eyes on top of their heads. And because they rarely leave the water, they can appear somewhat soggy to boot.

But we want to stress that even though Budgett’s frogs are unusual, both in appearance and in behavior, they still make rewarding and fascinating pets.

If you are interested in caring for a Budgett’s frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles does sell them. And we even wrote an entire blog article dedicated to their care.

Mozambique Rain Frog (Breviceps mossambicus)

We’re huge fans of the Mozambique rain frog because it is such a comical amphibian. Not only is this an adorably silly-looking frog, it also has some charming behaviors that many people find extremely endearing, albeit weird.

Rain frogs are known as “grumpy frogs” and have several variations of memes circulating around the internet to comment on their squashed, flat, surly little faces. Besides their squashed faces, rain frogs possess somewhat balloon-ish bodies with pigeon-toed feet. They’re almost reminiscent of froggy bulldogs.

mozambique rain frog
Mozambique rain frogs have balloon-like bodies and pigeon-toed feet. We think this makes them look like little bulldog frogs.

Oh, and did we mention that rain frogs squeak rather than croak like a typical frog? Some people say that the rain frog’s call sounds like a kitten’s cry or a tiny squeal. No matter what you think it sounds like, most people agree that the noise is simply adorable.

Because rain frogs are relatively new to the reptile and amphibian pet world, we actually wrote an entire article dedicated to their care.

And if you’re wondering where you can get a pet Mozambique rain frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles can definitely help you out.

Surinam Giant Toad (Pipa pipa)

Everything about the Suriname toad is odd. This toad (which is actually a frog) looks weird, it behaves weird, and it even reproduces weird! We think that they make awesome pets simply because you’ll have so many curious factoids about them to tell to your friends and family.

The first thing you’ll notice when you see a Suriname toad is that it is a flat frog. And we do mean that quite literally. It has a triangular, flat head and its body is also very pancake-like.This is an adaptation to allow the frog to appear like leaf litter or wooden detritus on the bottom of the bodies of water where it resides. It also helps the frog to be stream-lined.

Even if you never get your pet Surinam toad to reproduce, you should be aware that these frogs produce their babies in a very unconventional manner.  After an elaborate mating ritual, the eggs stick to the female’s back and sink into a honeycomb shaped “nest” in her skin. The eggs will stay there on her back in the protective honeycomb until fully formed froglets emerge! Suriname toads don’t go through a tadpole phase.

If you want a pet Suriname toad to call your own, be sure to check out our blog article detailing how to care for them.

pipa pipa
Suriname toads are flat like pancakes. Nobody can deny that these are some strange-looking frogs!


We hope that this article shows you that just because a frog is kind of bizarre-looking, that doesn’t make it a bad pet. In our opinion, being odd just makes these frogs that much more lovable. We hope that you agree, and that you’ve enjoyed perusing our list of the oddest pet frogs in the world!

Fire Bellied Toad Care (Bombina orientalis)

Wondering how to care for your Fire-bellied toad? Although they are commonly called “toads,” they are in fact, frogs. They make excellent pets, particularly for first time amphibian owners and we highly recommend them to herpers of all ages and experience levels.

If you’re wondering how to care for this colorful frog, simply read on as we’ve devoted this article to discussing their care requirements in captivity.

Fire Bellied Toad Care Sheet

Fire Belled Toad Description

The fire bellied toad, which should probably actually be named the “fire bellied frog” gets its common name from its hard to miss red belly speckled with black spots. This red tummy is meant as a warning to potential predators that the frog is toxic and shouldn’t be eaten, although this toxin is so mild that humans don’t have a reaction to it. The frog’s back is also a very bright colored green covered with black splotches and spots. Fire bellied toads are quite striking little amphibians.

fire bellied toad care
Fire bellied toads have green dorsal sides with black spots and bright red undersides with black spots. We’ll describe in detail how to care for this species.

Fire bellies are small frogs which makes them ideal for pet owners who have limited space. A mature frog will usually get to be between one and two inches long. They have average life spans of anywhere from seven to fifteen years in captivity.

Unlike many frog species, fire bellies are diurnal and therefore awake and active during the day. This means that as a pet owner, you actually get to see your frog go about its every day activities. It’s especially nice to not have to wait for the sun to go down to hear your frog’s calls or to watch it eat.

Fire Bellied Toad Habitat

As we’ve already mentioned, fire bellied toads are actually frogs and therefore require a more aquatic habitat. A typical enclosure for a fire belly should actually be half aquatic. Most owners will set up a tank that has water in half with a slope of substrate that terminates in a solid ground area. This is because fire bellied toads are extremely happy when they can float in water with their back legs and toes just barely touching something solid underneath.

These small frogs don’t require a lot of space to be happy. You can comfortably house up to three fire bellies in a ten gallon aquarium and up to six in a twenty gallon tank.

fire bellied toad
This photo shows off the red and black underside of the fire bellied toad.

It’s not necessary to provide a basking area for fire bellied toads. However, you will want to maintain a reasonable ambient temperature. During the day, the tank should be kept at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and at night, the tank can drop to 60 to 68 degrees. You should monitor the temperature with a heat gun, which is a tool that every reptile or amphibian owner needs to keep handy.

Fire Bellied Toad Feeding

Despite their small size, fire bellied toads have rather fierce appetites. They are ambush predators and will lunge at any sign of movement that involves an item they think will fit in their mouth.

Fire bellied toads will readily consume virtually any insect. At Backwater Reptiles, our frogs are offered a staple diet of vitamin dusted crickets combined with aquatic worms. We supplement with small larvae and even cut up earth worms. Fire bellied toads will see virtually any invertebrate as food so long as they detect movement.

Fire Bellied Toad Temperament

Even though their red bellies scream “toxic” to potential predators, owners of fire bellied toads need not be concerned. The toxin produced by the frog is not harmful to people. So as long as you wash your hands after touching the frog and don’t put your fingers in your mouth after handling, the frog’s toxin is harmless.

Fire bellied toads are not at all aggressive towards people. However, we should say that being held is not one of their favorite activities. They won’t object much to being held aside from a little bit of squirming, but it’s best for all parties involved if you mostly allow your frog to be seen and not touched.

bombina orientalis
Fire bellied toads make awesome pets for beginning herp hobbyists and experienced reptile parents alike.


We’ve seen experienced herp hobbyists dismiss fire bellied toads as “common” pets simply because they are so widely available.If this species was rare, it would be one of the most sought-after amphibians in the world.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Fire bellied toad care sheet. We think that these cute little frogs are excellent pets for beginners and experts alike. Ready for a fire bellied toad of your own? Backwater Reptiles has got you covered!