Frog and Toad Myths Debunked

At Backwater Reptiles, we love exotic critters of all types – arachnids, amphibians, and reptiles alike! However, some people are not so fond of our amphibious friends, frogs and toads. This could be because frogs and toads are not traditionally “cute” like most pets, or maybe it’s due to lack of education on the species.

No matter what reason someone might have for disliking frogs and toads, in this article, we’ll set out to explain some of the more popular frog and toad myths. Hopefully a little knowledge will help some people see frogs and toads in a new light.

Myth #1 – Frogs and toads cause warts

First off, let us say that through years of experience handling toads and frogs on pretty much a daily basis, this myth is just NOT true. Let us state that again – frogs and toads DO NOT cause warts! You can safely pick up any frog or toad no matter how wet, sticky, or dirty it appears to be and you can rest easy knowing that your hands and face will be free of warts.

frog and toad myths debunked
As you can see, this baby Pixie frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) is not giving this handler warts of any kind. Another amphibian myth debunked.

Warts are actually caused by a virus. Frogs and toads are not capable of transmitting this virus. So, essentially, you could get warts by interacting with another human being, but interacting with an amphibian will not give them to you.

Myth #2 – Frogs and toads are slimy

This myth is only partially false. Toads tend to be “dryer” than frogs and this is because frogs live closer to bodies of water and are usually moister than toads. Toads have bumpier, rougher skin and tend to stay out of the water for the most part. So, the bottom line is that you might encounter a wet frog, but you’ll probably only encounter a moist toad.

We also want to mention that even though frogs are wetter than toads, that does not make them slimy. They are not sticky and don’t leave mucous behind on your hands if you hold them.

smooth sided toad
This Smooth Sided Toad (Bufo guttatus) is not slimy and not leaving residue on its handler. Frogs and toads might be moist or wet, but they are not mucous-y like a snail.

So, the takeaway from this myth debunking is: frogs and toads might be moist or wet due to the nature of their skin, but they won’t be slimy. No residue will be left on your skin.

Myth #3 – Toads and frogs are associated with witch craft

While frogs and toads might hold certain places of honor in the world of Harry Potter, in real life, toads and frogs are just like any other creature that has a bad reputation. Take for instance black cats. We all know that it’s just a superstition that a black cat crossing your path means bad luck. The same principle holds true for frogs and toads.

In fact, in some cultures frogs and toads are actually good omens or signs of good luck! Just goes to show you that it depends on your upbringing and belief system and not the animal itself.

Myth #4 – Licking a toad will cause you to hallucinate

This myth actually has a somewhat factual basis. Both frogs and toads can be deadly if handled improperly due to poisons secreted through their skins.

For example, the poison dart frog is very aptly named. This group of frog species secretes a poison through its skin that is toxic to all kinds of animals if ingested or allowed to get into the bloodstream.

However, it’s not a hallucinogen, so licking a poison dart frog will more than likely kill you or make you very ill instead of make you high.

strawberry dart frog
Although dart frogs are poisonous in the wild, in captivity they lose this trait. We definitely do not recommend licking a frog or toad regardless of whether or not the animal is poisonous.

On the other hand, many species of toads actually secrete a substance called bufotoxin through glands behind their eyes when they are stressed or threatened.

This toxin is deadly when “raw” and many family pets are actually killed each year from accidentally ingesting bufotoxins from Cane toads. What can happen is, the toad will actually try to eat the dry dog or cat food from their outside dishes (yes, these toads will eat dog food), and the dog or cat will then defend its food by biting the toad. Bad move.

However, bufotoxins can technically be processed scientifically and are then considered hallucinogens, so this myth is partially true. Colorado River toads are notorious for their bufotoxins and are actually banned in some states.

You can lick a toad or frog in an attempt to get high and hallucinate, but more than likely you’ll just end up in the hospital. Lesson: don’t lick toads.

Conclusion – Frog and Toad Myths

We think that frogs and toads make awesome pets, so we hope that this blog article has helped shed some light on common myths surrounding them.

Frogs and toads are just amphibians trying to survive like any other animal. We don’t think they deserve to be shunned or avoided just because someone once told you that touching them gives you warts!

 

 

 

The 3 Most Popular Pet Boas

Of all the snake species commonly kept as pets, boas are one of the most reputable among hobbyists. These constrictor snakes can attain considerable sizes and are very well-known for being interactive pet snakes.

In this article, we will list our most popular pet boas and touch upon what makes each species unique and special.

Most Popular Pet Boas

Boa Constrictor (Boa c. imperator & Boa c.constrictor)

For the purposes of this list, we have lumped together two very closely related species of boas into a single category since they have exactly the same care requirements and are very similar in appearance as well. If you wish to know all the differences between these two boa constrictor species, we did devote an entire blog article to it that you can find here.

Herp enthusiasts know that when people think of a boa constrictor snake, these two species are the animal they picture. In other words, these boas are what we would think of as a “classic” boa.

most popular pet boas
This is a Central American Boa Constrictor (Boa c. constrictor).

Boa constrictors have been captive bred for many generations. This means that they are very healthy animals free of parasites, are fairly used to human handling, and also come in a variety of color morphs. All of these factors play into this snake’s popularity within the world of pet reptiles.

A typical boa constrictor will grow to be anywhere from five to seven feet long. Females are generally larger than males. You can expect your pet boa to live anywhere from twenty to thirty years, although there have been recorded cases of boas living to beyond forty years old!

It’s common to keep a boa constrictor in a glass tank with a screen top lid. Be sure that the cage is appropriately-sized for the animal. Young snakes do not require a large enclosure, but full-grown animals should have homes that are at least four feet long and two feet wide.

Brazilian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria)

The Brazilian rainbow boa is very aptly named. It has often times been dubbed “the most beautiful snake in the world” due to its unique color scheme. These boas tend to be a rusty orange or red color with dark black accent rings and spots. But what really turns heads and gives this snake so many admirers is its iridescent, rainbow sheen. Brazilian rainbow boas are just gorgeous to look at, especially if you take one outside and allow the sun to reflect off its scales.

brazilian rainbow boa
Notice the iridescent sheen on the scales of this baby Brazilian rainbow boa.

Brazilian rainbow boas are moderately-sized animals. Babies start out around  eight to twelve inches long. Adult snakes will grow to be anywhere between five and six feet long. Females tend to be larger than males. You can expect your pet Brazilian rainbow boa to live between ten and twenty years.

Rainbow boas are primarily nocturnal animals, so it’s important to provide a day/night cycle. And in order to get your boa’s iridescence to really shine through, we recommend placing a low-wattage incandescent light on one side of the cage. This will really bring out the shine in its scales.

Kenyan Sand Boa (Eryx c. loveridgei

Kenyan sand boas are the smallest of the boa species on this list. They will only attain lengths of approximately two feet at most. As is the case with most boa species, the females tend to be larger than the males, who rarely surpass twenty inches in length.

This species of boa is a burrower and is known for being shy and secretive. However, we’d like to mention that although they prefer to hide, they are overall a very docile species that takes well to human interaction.

kenyan sand boa
This is a standard morph Kenyan sand boa, but these snakes are available in a multitude of different color morphs, including black and white.

When considering a Kenyan sand boa as a pet, you need to think long term. Although this is a fairly small species with minimal care requirements, they do live for a very long time. With proper care and husbandry, a typical sand boa will live for around twenty years, although there have been reports of snakes living well into their thirties!

Conclusion – Most Popular Pet Boas

Any of the three species of boas listed in this article would make a great addition to any snake fan’s collection. They are all very interactive snakes with generally good dispositions. We would recommend them for both beginners and experienced herpers alike.

If you are interested in a pet boa constrictor, Brazilian rainbow boa, or Kenyan sand boa, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered! We hope you are more informed about the most popular pet boas in the world, and feel confident making a decision upon which species is  right for you.

 

Western Hognose Snake Care (Heterodon nasicus)

If you’re looking for more information on Western Hognose snake care, you’ve come to the right place. A snake that is quickly growing in popularity among reptile enthusiasts is the Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus).

These small colubrids are not only cute, but they are well-suited to captivity and make great pets for families and classrooms. In this article, we’ll go over the care requirements for this quirky little snake.

western hognose snake care
Pictured is a juvenile Western hognose snake. They are known for their distinctive upturned noses.

Western Hognose Snake Description

The first thing most people notice about the hognose snake is its trademark pointy nose. This little upturned nose is used to assist the hognose when it burrows and digs in lose, sandy soil.

Hognose snakes are stout in build with keeled scales. They can be a variety of colors, but they tend to be a light brown or cream color with darker brown, beige, black, orange or olive patterns.

Hognose snakes are also known for their peculiar defense mechanisms. First of all, these snakes will sometimes roll over and play dead when they feel threatened. They even open their mouth and allow their tongue to loll out! However, we would like to mention that if they feel too threatened, they will also release a foul-smelling musk to accompany this playing dead behavior, which is less amusing than the act of playing dead.

western hognose snake
Western hognose snakes are adept burrowers.

Another harmless hognose defense is to puff up and push air through its skull and rostral bone creating a unique hissing noise. They will also flatten out and attempt to appear much larger than they are in reality. This might be accompanied by some feigned aggression. Hognoses might strike out, but they won’t bite. Instead, they’ll essentially headbutt any enemy with their nose! When it comes down to it, hognose snakes are all bark and no bite.

As we’ve already established, Western hognose snakes stay relatively small. Males tend to max out around twenty-four inches long (two feet), while females can grow to be just shy of three feet long. They have been known to live between ten and eighteen years in captivity.

Western Hognose Snake Care

Due to its small size, you will not need a large home for your hognose snake. Hatchlings will thrive in a five-gallon size enclosure and an adult will do great in a twenty gallon tank. Because they are a ground-dwelling species with burrowing and digging habits, vertical space is not as important as floor space. We also recommend that whatever type of cage/enclosure you opt for have a secure lid since all snakes tend to be escape artists, no matter what species they are.

You need not supply many cage furnishings for a hognose. They prefer to burrow and hide, so vegetation is not needed unless you want to decorate the enclosure. All a hognose really needs in its enclosure as far as “furniture” is concerned is a sturdy water dish and a few hiding spaces.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to substrate for a hognose. Hatchlings do best in newspaper since it is inexpensive, easy to clean, and also helps prevent bacterial growth. For an adult, you can provide aspen snake bedding, newspaper, paper towels, or sand. But please keep in mind that housing any snake in sand can cause impaction. If you do use sand as a substrate, we highly  recommend feeding your snake in a separate, clean container so that no accidental ingestion of the sand occurs.

Hognoses are diurnal snakes and will require a full-spectrum UV lighting set up in order to stay healthy. You can manually turn your snake’s lights on and off each day, or you can buy lights that are on timers at nearly every pet store.

Your hognose’s basking spot needs to stay around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler end of the tank is usually fine at room temperature. This means anywhere from 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Just be sure it doesn’t get too cold at night or too warm during the day and that the enclosure has a hot side and a cooler side (i.e. that there is a temperature gradient).

handling your western hognose snake
Western hognose snakes are friendly little snakes that interact well with humans.

Western Hognose Snake Care: Feeding

Hognose snakes are little piggies when it comes to meal time. They’re also not too concerned with accuracy when it comes to striking at their food. This means that even though they aren’t trying to intentionally hurt you, they might accidentally bite you when you attempt to feed them. All you need to do to avoid this is feed your snake using tongs or tweezers.

At Backwater Reptiles, we feed our hognose snakes appropriately sized frozen/thawed mice. Adults can be fed once per week, but growing hatchlings should be offered food at least twice per week.

Conclusion – Western Hognose Snake Care

We recommend Western hognose snakes for reptile lovers of all experience levels. These compact and humorous little snakes are not only easy to care for, they’re easy to fall in love with!

Ready for a Western hognose snake of your own? Backwater Reptiles has several morphs available for sale.

Most Colorful Pet Frogs

Frogs of all shapes and sizes make fun and unique pets. But since many people can find some type of frog in their local neighborhood, the most popular frogs are the ones that are not as common and that attract attention. In our experience, this means the colorful frogs are the biggest hits with hobbyists.

In this article, we will discuss our most popular, most colorful pet frogs sold at Backwater Reptiles.

Painted Mantella (Mantella madagascariensis)

The painted mantella is a small frog that packs a colorful punch. Their dark black bodies are decorated with orange blocks on their hind legs and bright green on their front legs and face. The overall effect is quite beautiful. No wonder these little frogs are called “painted.”

most colorful pet frogs
Painted mantellas are a memorable species of pet frog known for both their tiny size and bold color combinations.

Like most frogs that are kept as pets, painted mantellas are “look not touch” animals. Due to their delicate size, mantellas will see human hands as predators and are therefore skittish. You are likely to drop the frog or accidentally injure it if you attempt to interact with your mantella often. We recommend handling them only to clean their cage or on special occasions.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

Dart frogs come in a variety of colors. The strawberry dart frog has a strawberry red body (hence its common name) with dark blue/black limbs. Its torso is often speckled with dark spots as well.

strawberry dart frog
As this photo demonstrates, strawberry dart frogs are not usually larger than a quarter!

Although they are dubbed poisonous, dart frogs in captivity actually lose their toxicity. Because they are eating a different diet, they are unable to synthesize the toxins that they secrete through their skin in the wild, making them harmless to people.

It might seem that a frog species this small would be tough to feed, but we find that ours will accept a diet of fruit flies and pinhead crickets quite readily.

Clown Tree Frog (Hyla leucophyllata)

The common phase of clown tree frogs found in the pet herp industry is a dark red/orange/dusky brown color with white/cream colored accent blotches. The body of this morph tends to be the darker tone while the extremities are more of a cherry red tone.

pet clown tree frog
Clown tree frogs are moderately-sized tree frogs with hardy dispositions.

Of all the species on this list, we feel that the clown tree frog is probably the most interactive pet frog. It is a hardy and common frog in its native habitat and this translates well to captive bred animals. Like nearly all frog species, we wouldn’t go so far as to say that clown tree frogs enjoy being held, per se, but they tolerate it well. This species is not so delicate that you will risk harming the animal if you pick it up. They are also probably the least skittish of all the species on this list, although they are still fast and can jump far when they want to, so take special care when you do handle your clown tree frog.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis)

Tiger leg tree frogs hail from the Amazonian rain forest and make spectacular tropical pets that will surely impress your friends and family.

These beautiful frogs have green bodies with orange sides flecked with black speckles. They also have cream-colored bellies and eyes with cat-like vertical pupils. They are quite remarkable in appearance.

Tiger leg tree frogs will grow to a moderate size. It’s common for them to be anywhere from one and half to two and half inches long. Females are also usually larger than males.

handling a tiger leg tree frog
Tiger leg tree frogs are sleepy during the day, which makes them easier than most frogs to handle. However, they do have fairly delicate dispositions, so we don’t recommend holding them too often.

If you are a night owl, a tiger leg tree frog might just be the perfect pet frog for you. They are distinctly nocturnal by habit, so they will be active at night. During the day, it’s likely your tiger leg tree frog will attach itself to a leaf and happily snooze the day away.

If you are interested in a pet tiger leg tree frog and want to learn more about their care requirements in captivity, feel free to check out the blog article we wrote detailing how to take care of them.

Conclusion

While all herp species make good pets for different types of people, we’re willing to bet that the colorful frogs on our list will be popular hits with nearly anyone.

If you are interested in creating a habitat for a colorful pet frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells painted mantellas, strawberry dart frogs, clown tree frogs, and tiger leg tree frogs. We’ll help get you started with any of these species.

Western Painted Turtle Care (Chrysemys p. belli)

Aquatic turtles make great pets for all types of people and we’d say that the Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys p. belli) is one of our top selling animals for this reason. In this blog article, we’ll lay out how to best care for your pet Western painted turtle.

Western Painted Turtle Care Sheet

Western Painted Turtle Description

Western painted turtles are certainly a very attractive species of aquatic turtle. They are dark olive, brown, or green with very colorful markings that range from bright orange to striking yellow. The underside of their shell is an explosion of orange or red, while the top of their carapace is bordered with yellow or red seams. They also have red, yellow, or orange stripes on their heads and necks.

There are several varieties of painted turtles that are widespread throughout the U.S, but they all have virtually the same care requirements in captivity. The Western painted turtle is native to the Western side of the U.S. as its name suggests.

Another reason Western painted turtles are such popular pets is that they will reach a moderate size which makes them manageable as indoor pets. An average painted turtle will be anywhere from six to eight inches with females being relatively smaller in comparison to males.

Western painted turtles are also very long-lived pets. Captive animals have been reported to live as long as fifty years! However, most painted turtles will live between ten and twenty five years realistically.

western painted turtle care
Painted turtles make great aquatic pets and they are very attractive to look at.

Western Painted Turtle Care Requirements

Many people are inclined to create elaborate homes for their painted turtles, however this is not a requirement for the turtle to be healthy. In fact, you can create a simple enclosure or a very decorated one depending on your preference so long as the turtle’s basic needs are met.

Although Western painted turtles are aquatic by nature, you should never be filling an entire tank with water. A good rule to follow is to never make the water level higher than twice the width of the turtle’s shell. It is also imperative that you have a platform of some type that allows your turtle to get out of the water completely and bask.

The water temperature should stay between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Ambient air temperature should be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the basking area underneath the lights should be kept between 85 and 95 degrees. In order to keep the basking area warm, we recommend providing a full spectrum UV light. You can regulate temperature using a thermometer placed at a convenient place inside the tank.

Even though they are mid-sized turtles, painted turtles are relatively active reptiles, so they do need a moderately sized tank. A hatchling can be accommodated in a ten gallon tank for a short period of time, but as it grows, you will of course need to upgrade your tank size. Housing a bigger animal means a bigger tank will be required.

Adult painted turtles will do equally well indoors or outdoors. If you live in a climate that does not have temperature extremes, painted turtles will thrive in a backyard pond. You might even end up with baby turtles if you have more than one per pond. They will naturally reproduce according to the seasons.

western painted turtle
Western painted turtles are omnivores and will eat both plant and vegetable matter.

Western Painted Turtle Diet

All painted turtles are opportunistic omnivores. They will gladly consume meat or vegetation with  no hesitation as they are not picky feeders.

There are many commercial turtle foods on the market, but we like to supplement our painted turtles’ diets with fresh food. Hatchlings are growing and need lots of protein, so we give them small invertebrates like crickets and mealworms in addition to leafy green veggies. Kale, spinach, and even aquatic plants are all good choices.

Conclusion

Western painted turtles might not be the most hands-on pet, but really, most turtles prefer to be left to their own devices anyways. Painted turtles are most certainly beautiful to look at and they make excellent additions to backyard ponds.

If you are ready to purchase a Western painted turtle of your own, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered!

Most Common Wild California Reptiles

Backwater Reptiles is based out of California and we experience many climates. We’ve got dry deserts, brisk coasts, and even mountains. This means that we’re lucky enough to have many different species of reptiles thriving in our own backyards!

In this blog article, we’ll tell you a little about some of the most commonly found wild reptiles we see in the Golden State.

California King Snake (Lampropeltis g. californiae)

In addition to being widespread in the wild throughout the state of California as their name suggests, California king snakes are also extremely popular pets in captivity.

Cal Kings can actually be found all along the west coast of North America. They are very adaptable and live in all types of habitats – woodland chaparral, grassland, deserts, marshes, and even developed suburban areas.

most common reptiles in California
This is a normal morph California king snake, although king snakes have been bred to express many different types of markings and colorations.

They have a habit of rattling their tail, coiling their bodies, and hissing when they feel threatened in an attempt to mimic their much more dangerous cousin, the rattlesnake. However, it should be noted that if you find a Cal King in the wild and are able to pick it up and handle it, these snakes are not venomous or dangerous to people. The worst that could happen to you is the snake might defecate on you or you could get a small bite.

Side Blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)

The common side blotched lizard is found all along the Pacific coast of North America. They are small lizards that typically don’t surpass two and half inches long. Males are larger than females.

female side blotched lizard
This is a female side blotched lizard. Females are less colorful than males who often times have blue spots and stripes.

There are three distinct wild morphs of side blotched lizards. Each lizard has a different color throat (yellow, orange, or blue) and actually behaves differently when it comes to mating strategies. But one thing all three morphs have in common is a mark, blotch, or dot on their torso behind their forearms. This mark is what gives the lizard its common name and also helps identify it in the wild.

Side blotched lizards are really interesting to observe in the wild and do make good pets. However, be warned that they are small lizards and have relatively short life spans. They also don’t enjoy being held as they are prey for many predators in the wild, so it may take lots of handling to tame one as a pet.

Red Eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys s. elegans)

Let us preface this section by stating that although red eared slider turtles are now commonly seen in ponds and lakes throughout California, they are not endemic to the state. In fact, they are actually considered invasive as they compete with native turtles for food and basking spots.

Red eared sliders are very adaptive and can thrive in any body of water ranging from a river to a pond in your backyard. They are opportunistic omnivores and will eat decaying organic matter whether it’s protein-based or plant-based.

red eared slider turtle hatchlings
Red eared sliders are popular pets, but because they are invasive to the state of California, please re-home your turtle responsibly if you can no longer care for it.

While they make fantastic pets, many of the sliders found in the wild in California are actually pets that have been released into local ponds, canals, or estuaries when they are no longer wanted. If you own a red eared slider, please be a responsible pet owner and re-home your turtle appropriately if you can no longer care for it.

Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

Western fence lizards are extremely common not only in California, but also in Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Northern Mexico. Many people refer to them as “blue bellies” due to the bold blue coloring on their throats and tummies.

western fence lizard
This is the common Western Fence Lizard, also known as the “blue belly” lizard. The photo shows its underside which demonstrates how this little lizard got its common name.

Western fence lizards are very common throughout all areas of California. They inhabit chaparral, grasslands, sage brush, woodland, forests, farmland, and surprisingly, even suburban areas. In fact, if you live in a sunny area of California, it’s not uncommon to find a blue belly basking in your yard or scuttling underfoot if you cross their path.

Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)

Gopher snakes are very commonly found throughout much of North America and any California herp enthusiast has probably caught or encountered a wild one at some point in his or her life. This snake’s broad range is a testament to its adaptability, hardiness, and overall survival skills.

Although most California natives can probably find a gopher snake in their backyard or within an hour’s distance of their backyard, if you want one for a pet, we always recommend purchasing a captive bred animal. They generally don’t have any parasites, are more docile, and have grown accustomed to a captive life style.

gopher snake
Gopher snakes are usually pretty docile and captive bred animals take to human interaction well.

Gophers have simple care requirements. Virtually any type of substrate will suit them, although we prefer aspen snake bedding. Provide more horizontal floor space than vertical climbing space, a few hiding spots, and a water dish, and your gopher snake should thrive. It’s not even necessary to provide any special UV lighting, although we always use one just to help regulate the temperature and provide day/night cycles.

Conclusion

All of the species listed above are very commonly found throughout the state of California. We’d even wager that most California natives will or have already come in contact with three out of the five species listed.

Common Snapping Turtle vs. Florida Snapping Turtle

We get asked lots of questions at Backwater Reptiles ranging from how to care for specific animals to behavioral information queries. Name a question – odds are we’ve probably been asked before!

In this article, we’ll set out to answer a question we get asked occasionally:

What’s the difference between the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) and the Florida snapping turtle (Chelydra s. osceola)?

And because the answer to this question is actually very straight forward and simple, we’ll follow up the answer with some care tips and tricks for snapping turtles.

Common Snapping Turtle vs. Florida Snapping Turtle
Here is a side by side depiction of a common snapping turtle (top) and a Florida snapping turtle (bottom).

Common Snapping Turtle vs. Florida Snapping Turtle

Florida snappers and common snappers are extremely similar in appearance. We’d even go so far as to say that it would take an experienced reptile enthusiast to be able to distinguish between the two.

But there are two main characteristics that mark these species as different from one another – the location where each animal can be found in the wild and their physical appearances.

First of all, the common snapping turtle can be found all across North America in any slow-moving or brackish water environment. The Florida snapper on the other hand, is only found in peninsular Florida.

However, it should be noted that just because a snapper is found in the state of Florida, that does not automatically make it a Florida snapping turtle. That’s where knowing the physical differences between the two species comes in handy.

Truth be told, there are not a whole lot of physical differences between Florida snappers and common snappers and those few differences are not that marked or noticeable.

Both species of snapping turtle have soft spikes on their necks and heads that are known as tubercles. Common snappers have rounded tubercles, whereas the tubercles on Florida snappers are pointed.

The second physical difference between the two species of snapper is coloration. Florida snappers tend to be a warm, light brown in color when they are young. Common snapping turtles, on the other hand, are usually a dark grey or black.

As far as habits and behavior are concerned, both turtles are identical. This means that they have the same care requirements in captivity. Continue reading if you want to find out how we care for our snapping turtles at Backwater Reptiles.

common snapping turtle
Pictured is a common snapping turtle. They are found all across the U.S. in slow-moving or brackish bodies of water.

Snapping Turtle Behavior

Young snapping turtles are relatively docile, but as they mature, they definitely live up to their common name and are known to deliver quite a powerful bite.

Snapping turtles are aquatic reptiles and reside in bodies of water. They can usually be found resting along the bottom of rivers, lakes, and ponds burrowed into the dirt, debris, and silt along the bottom.

Juveniles are more active than adults and will sometimes forage for food, but adults tend to stay in once place and ambush prey as it stumbles across their path.

Although they do live most of their lives in water, snappers can be found on land at times. In Florida, they are commonly seen crossing roads in order to reach new bodies of water.

As far as behavior is concerned, there is noting to mention in the Common snapping turtle vs. Florida snapping turtle conversation, as they are virtually identical in this area.

Snapping Turtle Care

When keeping a snapping turtle as a pet, you will require an aquatic enclosure. It’s not necessary to have a tank filled to the brim with water. A shallow layer that fully allows the turtle to submerge will suffice.

We always place plenty of hiding spaces in the tank as this allows the turtle to feel secure. Logs, hollowed out rocks, and even items purchased from pet store are all great hides.

Even though snappers are not particularly avid baskers, we do always put some sort of platform in the water that enables the turtle to climb out and bask if it desires. This also means that we have a full spectrum UV light on during the day time.

Florida snapping turtle
This baby Florida snapping turtle is lighter in color than a common snapper.

Snappers are voracious eaters and are therefore not difficult to feed. They are true omnivores as well as opportunistic feeders in the wild, so this makes it easy to provide a healthy diet in captivity.

We feed ours everything from feeder fish to worms. You can also try vegetation. The best method is to place a little bit of fresh vegetable matter in the tank daily or even every other day, and remove it if it is uneaten.

Regarding the Common snapping turtle vs. Florida snapping turtle conversation, there is no difference in care between the two species.

Conclusion: Common snapping turtle vs. Florida snapping turtle

Although there are not too many differences between Florida snapping turtles and common snapping turtles, they both make good pets for experienced herpers who can handle their ornery dispositions.

If you are ready to adopt a snapping turtle of your own, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered!

 

 

The Biggest Pet Lizards

What are the biggest pet lizards in the world? We aim to answer that question in the below article, based upon our experience with some of the largest reptiles in the world.

Big pet lizards are not for everyone, just like big pet dogs are not for everyone. It takes a specific personality and certain commitments in order to care for such a large pet, whether it’s a mammal or a reptile.

In this article, we’ll list the best biggest pet lizards sold at Backwater Reptiles as well as why we think they make great pets for the right people.

The Biggest Pet Lizards

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Green iguanas are probably the most common large lizard sold at Backwater Reptiles. They are very recognizable with their large dewlaps, spiky spines, and brilliant green coloration.

Most people will purchase their green iguana as a hatchling and raise it to adulthood. We recommend this process as it gives your iguana time to get used to you. Many hatchling iguanas can be flighty, so the more time your pet iguana has to acclimate to you, the better.

biggest pet lizards
Green iguana hatchlings can fit in your hand, but don’t be fooled. They grow fast!

Iguanas are the only true herbivores on this list. They will thrive on a diet of leafy greens, fruit, and small amounts of protein. We recommend chopped squash, kale, spinach, collard greens, and carrots. Fruit in moderation is also acceptable – apples, strawberries, and blueberries are all examples of fruit that iguanas are known to enjoy. You can also give your iguana small amounts of protein, but keep this to a minimum as it can cause renal damage in large amounts.

Savannah Monitor (Varanus exanthematicus)

No list of the biggest pet lizards would be complete without mentioning monitors. Although it’s not the biggest species of monitor lizard, we do think Savannah monitors are one of the best choices as far as pet monitor lizards are concerned.

Hatchlings are only a few inches long, but mature Savannahs will usually grow to be around three feet long, give or take, and live anywhere between fifteen to twenty years. This makes them moderately-sized monitors that are more suited to living a domestic life with human beings as companions than some of their larger monitor cousins.

baby savannah monitor
This baby Savannah monitor is only a few inches long and will be fine in a ten gallon tank for now. However, it will require more space as it grows.

The minimum size cage we recommend for an adult Savannah is six feet long by four feet tall. If you keep a breeding pair, you should have a slightly larger enclosure.

Savannahs are carnivores and very voracious eaters with no lack of appetite. Hatchlings should be fed a diet of various insects that are gut-loaded and vitamin dusted.

Once they are larger, we’ve found that ground turkey or other lean meat mixed with raw egg and vitamin powder is an appropriate staple diet. It’s also just fine to feed rodents, but because they are prone to obesity, we recommend keeping the rodents to a minimum.

Their cousins, the Blackthroat monitors, are even larger and can become wonderful pet lizards if you’ve got the space.

Argentine Black and White Tegu (Tupinambis merianae)

With proper husbandry and care, an Argentine black and white tegu can grow to be four and a half feet long. Males are considerably larger both in terms of length and body mass. Most females won’t surpass three feet long.

baby argentine black and white tegu
Baby Argentine tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos.

When they are babies, Argentine black and white tegus have emerald green heads and upper torsos, but after several sheds, this green color fades away. At maturity, they are black and white with beaded markings.

Although they require lots of room to roam, Argentine black and white tegus are popular pets because they are highly intelligent. Many people liken them to dogs or cats because they can be house-trained and will become very docile with regular human interaction.

Parson’s Chameleon (Calumma parsonii)

Compared to the other lizards on this list, the Parson’s chameleon is actually relatively small. However, when compared with other chameleons, the Parson’s is a giant! Rather than calling it one of the biggest pet lizards, it’s probably more accurate to say “easily the most massive chameleon in the world.”

We also want to say that although Parson’s chameleons are the smallest of the lizards on this list, that doesn’t mean they are the easiest to care for. In fact, we might say that the opposite is true.

parsons chameleon adult male
As you can see, an adult male Parson’s chameleon takes up an entire forearm! The largest specimens have been said to be the size of a house cat.

Parson’s chameleons might require less space to thrive, but the other conditions required to keep them happy and healthy are tougher to maintain. Like nearly all chameleon species, Parson’s are finicky. They can be tough to feed and if their natural environment is not replicated well enough, they can easily become ill.

If you are interested in a pet Parson’s chameleon, we highly recommend that you research the animal extensively and make sure that you can provide proper lighting, plant life, humidity and water, and a balanced diet.

Conclusion: The biggest pet lizards

Sure, big lizards aren’t for everyone. It takes someone who has the available space and time to devote to such a large pet reptile.

If you think you’re ready to take on one of these large lizards, Backwater Reptiles sells green iguanas, Argentine black and white tegus, Savannah monitors, and Parson’s chameleons.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care (Centruroides gracilis)

Although they’re not necessarily the most hands-on kind of pet, scorpions are most certainly growing in popularity. Florida Bark scorpion care doesn’t have to be complex–it’s actually fairly simple.

This blog article will spot-light the Florida bark scorpion (Centruroides gracilis), which is also commonly called the brown bark scorpion, and the slender brown scorpion. We’ll go into detail about how we care for them at Backwater Reptiles.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care

Florida Bark Scorpion Description

Considered a medium to large-sized scorpion, the Florida bark scorpion will reach lengths of approximately four inches. Males will usually have slightly longer tails than females and therefore be slightly longer, although females tend to have bulkier bodies.

Florida bark scorpion care
Florida bark scorpions can be found in southern Florida, explaining the origin of this scorpion’s common name. We will explain their care requirements in this article.

A typical Florida bark scorpion has a dark brown body, which appears nearly black in dim lighting, although sometimes they appear dusky brownish red as well. Its legs are typically lighter in tone and it will usually have faint yellowish markings on its back.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care: Habitat

Florida bark scorpions prefer warm, humid climates and can be found throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and southern Florida.

Unlike many species of scorpions, the Florida bark scorpion can be housed communally with other scorpions. Just be sure they are of comparable size as smaller scorpions will be considered food!

This species requires very little space to thrive. In fact, a five gallon tank is sufficient room for an entire colony. However, if you do keep multiple animals together, we do recommend keeping an eye out for gravid females as you don’t want any babies to get eaten once they are birthed.

slender brown scorpion
Florida bark scorpions are dark brown with lighter brown extremities.

Make sure your tank has a secure lid. Even though it might not seem true, Florida bark scorpions are known for their propensity to escape and they will slip through screen lids that are not tightly fitted. We’ve heard of owners who actually put a one inch band of petroleum jelly or other lubricating agent around the inside rim of the enclosure to make it too slippery for the scorpion to escape.

The appropriate temperature range for the Florida bark scorpion is 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend a heating pad to achieve this temperature as scorpions avoid light and heat lamps could cause undue stress to them.

Provide a substrate that retains moisture well as these scorpions enjoy humid environments. We recommend chemical-free, organic potting soil or coconut husk mulch. A few light-weight decorations that provide crevices and hiding places such as cork bark will also make good cage accessories.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care: Feeding

Florida bark scorpions are carnivores and will eat pretty much any insect they can grab in the wild.

At Backwater Reptiles, we offer our Florida bark scorpions a variety of feeder insects. Gut-loaded crickets, small roaches, and meal worms are all acceptable options.

florida bark scorpion
Florida bark scorpions are carnivores and will eat virtually any insect they stumble upon.

We suggest offering a variety so that your scorpion’s nutritional needs are met.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care: Handling

Like all scorpion species, the Florida bark scorpion is venomous. Therefore, unless you are extremely confident in your abilities, we do not recommend picking up or holding any species of pet scorpion unless it’s necessary.

Florida bark scorpions are known to be speedy, feisty, and somewhat more aggressive. If you do handle this species, be sure that you are prepared to potentially be stung. While they are not known to be particularly venomous or toxic, their sting is reputed to be more painful than most.

You can also handle the Florida bark scorpion with tongs/tweezers by gripping it near the tip of the tail. We’ve actually written a comprehensive article all about how to handle your pet scorpion if you need more tips.

brown bark scorpion
We don’t recommend handling a Florida bark scorpion unless you are very experienced because they can be feisty.

Florida Bark Scorpion Care: Conclusion

Florida bark scorpions can make exciting and stimulating pet invertebrates if you are not in the market for a pet you can cuddle with on the couch.

This species might be inclined to sting and rather feisty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to love one. We just recommend that you have some experience keeping scorpions before investing in a pet Florida bark scorpion.

If you think you have what it takes to care for a Florida bark scorpion of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells these beautiful invertebrates. We hope you’ve gleaned some helpful information from our Florida Bark scorpion care sheet.

How to Pick Up Your Pet Snake

If you’d like to learn how to pick up your pet snake, you’ve come to the right place. In truth, many pet reptiles and amphibians are better off as observational pets–in other words, it’s better for the animal’s health if you keep the human interaction to a minimum.

Luckily, this is not true for most species of snakes that are commonly kept as pets. In this article, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions about how to handle your pet snake.

How to pick up your pet snake

How should I pick up my snake?

We’d like to start off by stating that even docile snakes can be slightly skittish or nervous when you are in the process of removing them from their enclosure. Sometimes this is due to the temperament of the species, sometimes it is because you are waking up a sleepy snake, and other times, you might unintentionally frighten your snake.

The bottom line is that even the best pet snakes do strike out from time to time, and it is usually when they are in the process of being taken out of the cage to be held.

how to handle your pet snake
This is a gopher snake being held. Gophers aren’t traditionally “friendly” snakes, although they’re also not typically aggressive. But as you can see, most snakes are friendly once you let them grow accustomed to you.

We also recommend transferring your snake to a separate container for meals. If you feed your snake in its normal enclosure, it could begin to associate the cage opening and therefore seeing you with food. This will lead to unintentional striking and biting at you as the snake will think that every time the cage opens, it’s dinner time.

Getting your pet snake out of its cage is not as simple as grabbing it and lifting it out. There are certain things you should do and things you should also avoid.

Here are some DO’s for picking up your pet snake:

-Do grab the snake around the middle section of its body.

-Do support as much of the snake’s body as much as you can. Try letting it wrap around your fingers, arm, and wrist so that it feels secure.

-Do be confident and consistent in your mannerisms when you pick up your snake. Try not to be timid, shy, or nervous as this will translate in your body language. Consistency will teach the snake that no harm will come to it when you pick it up and it will get used to interacting with you.

sunbeam snake
When your pet snake is relatively small, it will enjoy wrapping itself around your fingers and wrist. Just make sure most of the snake is supported, and it should be a pleasant experience for both the snake and the owner.

And on the other side of things, here are some definite things you want to avoid when picking up your pet snake:

-Don’t grab the snake by the tail. Many snakes will spin or thrash around if you grab their tail, and this behavior can cause the snake bodily harm.

-Don’t pick up your snake by its head. Many snakes are “head-shy,” which means that anything suddenly touching the animal’s head will scare it and could result in biting.

-Don’t let your snake flail around in your grip. You want the animal to be relaxed and calm, which will happen if you support its body and allow it to feel safe.

What snakes react best to being handled?

Corn snakes, king snakes, boas, pythons, and milk snakes are all good snakes for people that enjoy holding and connecting with their pet through physical contact.

All of these species adapt very well to captivity and many are even captive bred so they have no parasites and are in overall peak health.

Another good thing about many of these species is that they have relatively calm temperaments and with the exception of a few species of constrictors, they also don’t usually grow overly large. Smaller snake = smaller and less harmful bite if the snake does happen to strike at you for some reason.

rubber boa
Pictured is a rubber boa. These are very calm, docile snakes and will take to being held very well.

I own a venomous pet snake. How should I pick it up?

We highly recommend that you keep the handling and interaction with venomous snake species to an absolute minimum.

Unless you are an expert, playing with, holding, and otherwise having contact with a venomous snake can spell disaster.

However, if you feel ready to own a venomous pet snake and you want to remove it from its enclosure, we highly recommend using a snake hook, which we will talk about more below.

Should I use a snake hook to pick up my snake?

If you are unfamiliar with what a snake hook is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a metal tool with a handle on one end and a hook on the other end. They are used to handle venomous, aggressive, or nervous snakes.

snake hook
This is what a snake hook looks like. We recommend using them with venomous species as well as aggressive species.

Generally, once you get to know your pet snake and its own individual disposition, you’ll be able to read its body language. If your snake is in a defensive posture and you need to pick it up, we recommend using a snake hood to avoid being bitten.

Once you have removed the snake from the enclosure using the hook, it is usually safe to transfer it to your hands. Again, as we’ve previously mentioned, snakes tend to be at their most nervous at the initial time you are taking them out of the cage.

Conclusion – How to pick up my pet snake

Many species of snakes do well when interacting with people. Most are content to sit in the palm of your hand, but others develop habits of wrapping around your arm, shoulder, or neck.

No matter where your snake likes to sit, if you follow our tips and tricks, you’ll have a calmer, more pleasant experience each time you hold your snake.