Best Pet Reptiles and Amphibians for Kids

Is your son or daughter interested in a pet reptile or amphibian? Are you unsure where to start when it comes to choosing a suitable herp companion?

Well, search no further! This article is dedicated to covering the animals we think are the best pet reptiles and amphibians for kids in terms of care level, responsibility, and hands-on interaction.

But please, keep in mind that adopting a pet reptile or amphibian is just as much responsibility as owning a traditional pet such as a cat or dog. While exotic animals like the ones on our list might require slightly less maintenance on a daily basis, they are still a life-long commitment, so it goes without saying that we do highly recommend that your child is fully prepared and ready to handle any pet before you purchase.

Best Pet Reptiles for Kids

Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius)

Not only would we recommend leopard geckos as excellent pets for kids, we’d also say that they make great starter herps for people who are just jumping into the world of keeping reptiles. They are generally healthy animals with a great history of being captive bred which means they’re accustomed to a life with people and take well to being handled by kids.

Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling, desert lizards with simple needs. All you will need to successfully keep a single leopard gecko happy is at least a twenty gallon-sized tank, substrate, heat source, water dish, and food.

Many reptiles with track records of being bred in captivity are now available in seemingly countless morphs or phases. This means that the animals have been selectively bred to exhibit specific traits, colors, or markings. Leopard geckos have a high success rate of captive breeding and there are so many morphs on the market that it can be hard to choose a favorite!

super snow morph leopard gecko
This leopard gecko is a super snow morph, which is an exaggerated version of the Snow/Mack Snow morph. This morph is known for its bold black and white tones and black eyes, but there are a seemingly infinite amount of morphs on the market from breeders these days.

If you are interested in learning more about that basics of leopard gecko morphs, including what the most popular and well-known varieties look like, we actually have an entire blog article dedicated to this very topic. There’s a leopard gecko morph for all aesthetic tastes!

Caring for a leopard gecko is also really easy. Most desert substrates only require spot cleaning as feces or dead bugs collect every other day or so. A full tank cleaning is generally only required once a month. So cage maintenance is simple and uncomplicated.

Leopard geckos don’t require a full-spectrum UV light, so there is no need to worry about lighting the enclosure and replacing bulbs every six months. In fact, bright lights can actually be too harsh for leopard geckos, so we only recommend a heat lamp.

Your cage will also require a hiding place or two, a water dish, and a dish for live insects such as mealworms. You can decorate with fake plants and other accessories if you desire, but it’s really not necessary. Remember – the more items in your animal’s cage, the more items you have to clean!

Want a guide on exactly how to set up your leopard gecko’s enclosure? Guess what? We’ve also got an entire blog article dedicated to that topic! We highly recommend reading it if you are a first time leopard gecko owner.

You don’t need to search very far if you’ve decided a leopard gecko is the right fit for your child. Backwater Reptiles has many different leopard gecko morphs for sale.

Cherry Head Red Foot Tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria)

While there are many species of tortoise that would all make agreeable pets for children, we’ve selected the cherry head red foot as our top pick mainly because it stays a very manageable size even when fully grown. Some tortoise species, such as the sulcata, can grow to very large sizes and weigh upwards of one hundred pounds, but a cherry head red foot tortoise won’t surpass eleven to fourteen inches in length making them the perfect size for children to be able to handle them without issues.

Cherry head red foot tortoises are known to have curious personalities. They aren’t shy or frightful reptiles and so interaction with people of all ages shouldn’t pose any problems.

Many parents also like keeping tortoises of any species for their children because tortoises are primarily vegetarian, even if they occasionally ingest an insect or two while grazing. This means there is no need to go to the pet store to pick up crickets or any other type of invertebrate and ultimately a much simpler meal time.

cherry head red foot tortoise
Cherry head red foot tortoises are named for their bright red-colored feet and heads. They thrive in outdoor pens but can also be kept indoors.

Cherry head red foot tortoises will eat many types of veggies and fruits such as spring mix lettuce and berries, but commercially produced tortoise pellets are also perfectly acceptable. They have strong appetites and children really enjoy watching them chow down at breakfast, lunch, or dinner time.

Adult red foots can be kept outdoors provided the weather stays reasonable. Make sure that if it gets colder than fifty degrees you have a heated area or hide box available. Shaded areas are equally important during summer time.

Baby and juvenile red foots are best housed indoors. This keeps them safe from predators, allows you and your children to monitor their diet closely, and also facilitates more human interaction. Luckily, creating an indoor habitat for a young cherry head red foot tortoise is very easy. Your tortoise’s enclosure can be something as simple as a plastic sweaterbox, provided the walls are tall enough to prevent the tortoise from climbing out. What’s more important to your tortoise’s health is a good substrate, UV lighting, a heated area, and proper cage “furniture.”

Backwater Reptiles does sell captive bred cherry head red foot tortoises.

Best Pet Amphibians for Kids

Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)

While salamanders in general probably aren’t the best pets for children due to their secretive nature, aversion to being held, and tendency to spend most of their time hiding, tiger salamanders are the exception. They are the largest of the land-based salamanders and they have docile dispositions with quirky personalities.

We’ve seen many tiger salamanders come to recognize their owner. When the cage opens for meal time, it’s not uncommon for them to come running in anticipation of their meal. Many will even take insects from their owner’s fingers with some training. They are quite entertaining at meal time.

tiger salamander
Tiger salamanders are burrowers, but they enjoy meal time and will emerge from hiding for food. They can even be trained to accept insects from your fingers!

A pet tiger salamander doesn’t require a tall enclosure. They are burrowers so a tank with horizontal floor space is more important than vertical climbing space. It’s also very important that you choose a proper substrate to facilitate their burrowing behavior. We recommend a commercial topsoil mix free of any additives or chemicals that you can find at most hardware stores. However, coconut fiber will also work. You want something that allows the salamander to burrow and that also retains plenty of moisture. The substrate should feel moist when you pick some up in your fist, but shouldn’t be dripping wet.

If you want your children to be able to see your tiger salamander and not have to dig into the substrate to uncover him/her, we recommend investing in some lightweight hides that the salamander can burrow directly underneath. That way, rather than digging for your salamander, you just have to lift up the hide and your salamander should be waiting for you underneath.

Your salamander’s enclosure should be kept in the temperature range of fifty to seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. You can provide a gentle, soft light, although it’s not necessary and is really only for the owner’s benefit, not the salamander’s.

If you think a tiger salamander is a good fit for your child, Backwater Reptiles has healthy medium to large-sized ones for sale.

Pixie Frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Pixie frogs are known for being the second largest frog in the world. They are very humorous to observe and their appetites are seemingly endless. They make great pets and your child will enjoy watching his or her pixie grow into a monster frog.

Not only are pixie frogs entertaining amphibians with long life spans (fifteen years is not unheard of), they are pretty simple to care for. They don’t need much in terms of cage accessories, lighting, or temperature gradients and simpler is usually better when it comes to pixie enclosures.

A single juvenile frog can be kept in a ten gallon tank, while adults will need at least a twenty gallon. Because pixies enjoy burrowing, we do recommend lining your tank with coconut fiber and sphagnum moss. These substrates will not only help maintain proper moisture levels, but they are also visually appealing.

young pixie frog
Pixie frog hatchlings are hardly bigger than a silver dollar, but they grow quickly! Pictured is a two to three inch frog next to a quarter for scale.

You don’t need to provide many cage accessories for your pixie frog as they do tend to topple fake plants and decorations. However, lightweight hides that won’t harm your frog if they fall over or are burrowed beneath are always nice touches.

A water dish large enough to allow your pixie to sit inside of it is a necessity. Pixies enjoy a good soak and can actually spend a considerable amount of time in their water dish. Just keep an eye on the water for cleanliness as frogs and other reptiles and amphibians are known to defecate and urinate in their water sources.

As we’ve already established, pixie frogs have impressive appetites and children will love watching them eat. But what exactly do pixie frogs eat?

In short, pixie frogs will eat pretty much anything that fits into their mouth! They are piggies and will eat to the point of obesity, so pixie owners must be careful about how often and how much their frog consumes.

We recommend a varied diet that consists of insects such as crickets, roaches, wax worms, horn worms, and reptiworms. Be sure to dust your pixie’s insects with vitamin supplements once or twice per week, particularly if you have a juvenile frog that is still growing.

Once your pixie has grown up and reached maturity, it will be large enough to eat mice! However, as we’ve previously mentioned, pixies are prone to obesity and overeating, so we recommend avoiding feeding them mice. Because mammals possess much higher fat levels than invertebrates, if you feed your pixie mice regularly, it will not only cause it to gain weight rapidly, it can also be hard on the frog’s internal organs.

If you think a pixie frog sounds like the perfect pet for your child, head to the Backwater Reptiles website. We’ve got healthy, captive bred specimens for sale.

Conclusion – Best Pet Reptiles and Amphibians For Kids

We love all reptiles and amphibians, however not all of these amazing animals would make good pets for children. We’ve compiled this list of four reptiles and amphibians that we think are the most suitable companions for kids and provided some insight as to how to care for them and what is involved in keeping one as a pet.

However, keep in mind that this list of the animals we think would make good matches for kids certainly isn’t exclusive. Children have all sorts of personalities and parents can certainly have different experience levels with herps themselves. Our list is just intended as a jumping off point for parents who might not know where to start or who are unsure what species would mesh best with their own family.

What do you think? What was the first reptile or amphibian you purchased for your children? How did the experience work out? Are there any reptiles or amphibians you would recommend for kids? Let us know 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.

 

 

Most Popular Poisonous or Venomous Pets

Not everyone is intimidated or afraid of keeping a venomous or poisonous exotic pet. In fact, many people feel exactly the opposite. They love showing off their scorpions, spiders, and other critters to friends and family alike.

In this article, we’ll list the most popular venomous or poisonous pets sold at Backwater Reptiles.

Most Popular Poisonous or Venomous Pets

Mexican Redknee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)

Mexican redknee tarantulas are a very docile and calm species of spider, which makes them very popular pets. If you want a pet spider that you can interact with safely, our recommendation would be a Mexican redknee.

As far as temperament is concerned, Mexican redknees would much rather run away from you than be aggressive towards you. In most cases, you’d be hard-pressed to get one to bite you and inject you with venom. This spider’s preferred defense mechanism is actually to brush its irritating urticating hairs on you. However, we’d like to mention that even if a redknee did happen to bite you, its venom is not fatal and it’s been said that the pain it causes is equivalent to a bee or wasp sting.

most popular poisonous/venomous pets
Mexican redknee tarantulas are known for the docile temperaments and orange legs, although they are venomous.

Mexican redknee tarantulas are excellent pets for first time spider owners. They eat crickets, meal worms, roaches, and other insects and it’s always fascinating to watch them undergo the molting process. They are especially great animals to keep in kids’ classrooms, although we don’t necessarily recommend the children handle the spider without supervision.

If you are ready to become a parent to a Mexican redknee tarantula, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered!

Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus longimanus)

Asian forest scorpions are fairly large scorpions with stocky builds, black or very dark brown bodies, and somewhat defensive personalities. They will grow to be approximately four to five inches in length and can live up to seven years in captivity.

Although they are not as large as their cousin the Emperor scorpion, Asian forest scorpions do look very similar and many people often confuse the two species.

asian forest scorpion
It is certainly possible to hold your Asian forest scorpion when you do so with care and proper technique.

As far as temperament is concerned, if you want a docile invertebrate, an Asian forest scorpion might not be the best choice for you. These scorpions are not known for being overly aggressive, but at the same time, they are not hesitant to sting if provoked.

Asian forest scorpions are not known to be especially toxic to people if you do happen to be stung, but their sting is certainly painful. We recommend handling your scorpion only if you are experienced at reading their behavior and are confident in your capabilities as a scorpion wrangler.

Backwater Reptiles has baby Asian forest scorpions and full-grown scorpions for sale at very affordable prices.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

We’ve put the Strawberry dart frog on our list, however in truth, we have to say that this species of dart frog, and all species of dart frog for that matter, are actually not poisonous when kept in captivity.

In the wild, poison dart frog are able to ingest insects and other food sources that allow them to produce their special namesake toxin. They secrete this toxin through their skin and it protects them from predators. However, because captive dart frogs are fed a speciality diet of gut-loaded insects, they are unable to produce this toxin.

strawberry poison dart frog
Strawberry poison dart frogs are known for their red and blue/black two-tone color combo. However, poison dart frogs are actually available in many different color schemes.

This means that although poison dart frogs might seem intimidating to people who don’t know better, in reality, they are just really colorful little frogs who make great pets. We’re huge fans of them because their habitats don’t take up a lot of space!

If you are interested in a tiny, boldly colored pet frog, we recommend purchasing a strawberry dart frog. There are also many other colors of poison dart frogs on the market that have the same care requirements.

Conclusion – Most Popular Poisonous or Venomous Pets

Although each of the animals on this list is technically venomous or poisonous, we think they are also misunderstood.

With proper care and proper technique, even stinging invertebrates like scorpions can be picked up and handled. Just make sure that you are aware of the dangers associated with this practice and also be aware that it can cause the animal stress if you do it incorrectly.

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.

Dictator Scorpion Care (Pandinus dictator)

The dictator scorpion (Pandinus dictator) is elusive in the exotic pet world. They are highly sought after, very rare, and some people even argue that this species doesn’t exist! Well, we’re here to assure you that the dictator scorpion is real and what’s more, we care for them and sell them to happy customers at Backwater Reptiles. Read on to learn about Dictator scorpion care in captivity.

In this blog article, we’ll cover topics ranging from physical attributes of the dictator scorpion to its basic care requirements. Continue reading to learn more about this illusory scorpion.

Dictator Scorpion Care

Dictator scorpions are very often confused with their close relative the Emperor scorpion (Pandinus imperator). Both are very similar in appearance with the main difference being the size of the animal. Emperor scorpions will rarely grow to be eight inches in length, whereas the dictator scorpion can easily get this big.

dictator scorpion care
Pictured is a gravid female dictator scorpion. She is not all too happy to have her photograph taken, as you can deduce from her stance.

Another more concrete way to distinguish between species of the Pandinus family is to count the number of trichobothria, or small sensitive hairs on the scorpion’s pincers. Each species possesses a different number than its brethren.

Overall, dictator scorpions are a very dark brown or black color. They have stocky, hefty bodies and broad, powerful pincers. Their appendages (i.e. legs and tail) are more substantial than most scorpion species and are known for being rather thick.

Dictators hail from Africa, but they do have a limited range. They can be found in Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.

Dictator Scorpion Care Information

Like most scorpion species, the dictator is a shy animal that will spend most of its time hiding in a burrow or crawl space. They usually only come out to eat or mate, so be prepared not to see a whole lot of your dictator unless you go searching for it.

Although many species of scorpion are solitary animals, the dictator actually shows signs of being gregarious. In captivity, it is usually safe to house several scorpions of the same size in a single enclosure, provided you give enough space and don’t put multiple males together.

pandinus dicator female
Dictator scorpions are very large, stocky scorpions with dark bodies. This female has lighter sides showing on her abdomen because she is gravid and like a pregnant human, her “tummy” is stretching to accommodate the baby scorpions.

Your dictator scorpion’s home should have a nice substrate suitable for burrowing. We also recommend a few above ground hide spaces if you want to be able to view your scorpion without digging it out of its substrate.

Although dictators are large invertebrates, they actually don’t need a large enclosure to roam around in. A ten gallon size horizontal glass tank is ideal for one or two dictators, but if you keep more than two together, get a slightly larger tank.

Temperatures should be kept in the mid-80s throughout the day. A slight drop in temperature at night is fine. Because scorpions don’t like bright light, avoid heat lights to keep the temperature at the desired range. Instead, we recommend using heat tape or a commercially constructed heat pad that you can purchase from any commercial pet store.

Dictator Scorpion Feeding

Dictator scorpions are not shy eaters. They are ambush predators and will gladly eat virtually any type of insect.

The dictators at Backwater Reptiles are given gut-loaded crickets, roaches, mealworms, and wax worms as an occasional treat. Usually a few insects per animal every other day is an acceptable amount of food.

Dictator Scorpion Temperament

Although dictator scorpions are certainly large, they are not necessarily overly aggressive. Like any scorpion species, if you are calm when dealing with the animal, it will usually respond to you calmly as well.

Keep in mind though that we do not recommend a dictator scorpion (or any other scorpion for that matter) as a pet that you coddle or hold frequently. Although you can handle your dictator, copious amounts of human interaction can stress the animal and also result in aggression in the form of stinging.

Conclusion – Dictator scorpion care

Dictator scorpions are highly sought after and we understand why. These large scorpions are impressive specimens to show off to friends and family. We keep them successfully in captivity, and rear babies as well.

If you are interested in a rare dictator scorpion of your own, Backwater Reptiles can help you out.

Mealworms as Feeder Insects

If you have an insectivorous pet reptile or amphibian of any variety, odds are you have at least heard of mealworms. But just in case you haven’t, you should know that in the reptile enthusiast world, mealworms are feeder insects that are commonly consumed by virtually every type of critter that needs protein in its diet.

In this article, we’ll touch upon the life cycle of the mealworm, tell you why you should feed your critter mealworms, and even discuss how you can raise feeder mealworms of your own.

What are feeder mealworms?

Mealworms are the larval form of a beetle called the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor). They essentially look as their common name describes them – like worms. If you examine them closely, however, you will be able to see that they do have segmented bodies with short legs towards their heads.

When in the larval state, mealworms are light brown and can have darker brown accent bands. Standard size worms will range in size from a quarter of an inch up to three quarters of an inch. There are also giant mealworms available, which measure approximately an inch long on average.

In their natural habitat, mealworms can be found in dark, damp and warm places such as underneath decaying logs or compost. They are composters by nature  and will essentially eat anything that is decomposing, including garbage.

mealworms as feeder insects
These mealworms are being kept in a container that is too tall for them to climb out of.

Why should I use mealworms as feeder insects?

Mealworms are readily available at pet stores and are extremely common feeder insects for all types of exotic pets. This is mainly because they are extremely high in protein content which makes them very nutritious to reptiles and amphibians.

Reptiles and amphibians such as bearded dragons, frogs, chameleons, leopard geckos, and even some turtles enjoy eating mealworms. In fact, pretty much any carnivorous reptile, amphibian, and even tarantulas and scorpions on occasion will consume mealworms.

Because mealworms can vary so much in size, we do recommend that you carefully assess whether or not the mealworm in question is too large for your pet. Generally, if the invertebrate is not larger than the space between the eyes of the animal that will be consuming it, it is safe to feed to your pet.

Interestingly enough, mealworms can also be frozen or dried as a means to preserve them. However, we want to make it clear that not many reptiles or amphibians will recognize dead insects as a food source. The movement of the invertebrate is usually what triggers the food response in your pet, so a dead mealworm is not usually a viable option for most owners, even if it might be more convenient. We’ve really only seen dried/frozen mealworms work as feeders for aquatic eaters like some species of turtle.

How can I raise mealworms of my own to feed to my pet?

mealworm
On this close up photo of a single mealworm, you can see that this “worm” has small legs near its head.

Once they have stored up enough energy to transform into the next phase of their life cycle, a mealworm will become a pupa and then a beetle afterwards. If you want to continue the life cycle of your mealworms on your own, it won’t really require much effort on your part.

If you intend to prolong the shelf life of the larval worm stage, keep uneaten worms in the refrigerator and take them out every few days to feed them. The cold will slow their metabolisms and hopefully give you more time with the worm phase (i.e. the edible phase).

Once you are ready to start the worms breeding, all you need is a container, substrate, food, water, and approximately a hundred worms to start your colony.

A container tall enough that the worms can’t crawl out is all you need. Your mealworm’s substrate will be its food. Wheat bran, oatmeal, corn meal, and other dry grainy foods are all options.

Don’t put a water dish in the enclosure as the worms will just drown. Instead, some water-heavy veggies are the way to go. Try putting some potato slices, carrots, or apples in the mealworms’ home for the best results.

Allow the life cycle to continue on and remove any new beetles and pupa as they accumulate.

Conclusion

Mealworms are very tasty treats for reptiles and amphibians of all types. If you own a carnivorous pet, odds are it will avidly consume mealworms.

Backwater Reptiles sells feeder mealworms of various sizes and in various quantities.

What to Do If Your Pet Scorpion is Gravid

Even if you haven’t taken steps to breed your pet scorpion, it’s possible to receive a new pet scorpion and – lo and behold – it’s a girl and she’s gravid. By the way, when a scorpion female is going to have babies, we don’t call her “pregnant.” The appropriate term is gravid.

If you plan to keep mating pairs of scorpions in the same enclosure or you happened to discover your female scorpion is gravid, then read on to have these frequently asked questions addressed:

-How can I tell which gender my scorpion is?
-How do I know if my pet scorpion is gravid?
-How do I care for my gravid scorpion?
-What happens when my scorpion gives birth?

How can I tell which gender my scorpion is?

First of all, if you have a juvenile or very young scorpion, odds are it will be nearly impossible to distinguish the gender of the animal. Until they are fully mature, scorpions species of both genders tend to look nearly identical.

gravid pet scorpion
Pictured is a gravid Pandinus dictator scorpion.

If you are dealing with a fully mature scorpion, there are several tricks used to determine the animal’s gender. You can assess the animal based on its physical traits. Females are generally larger than males with thicker, heftier bodies. Males tend to appear longer and skinnier with longer, thicker, or fuller pincers (AKA pedipalps).

You can also take a look at the underside of your scorpion at what are called pectines. These are a series of comb-like sensory organs that are visible on the last pair of legs closest to the tail. Males will have very long, defined pectines, whereas the female’s will be shorter. Place the scorpion on a see-through surface to look at the pectines. It’s not wise to try to flip the scorpion on its back as this could stress the animal and incite it to sting.

How do I know if my pet scorpion is gravid?

You can assume your female scorpion is gravid by witnessing actual mating behavior between two animals.

If you happen to see two scorpions whose pincers are locked together doing a sort of dance, you have just witnessed scorpions breeding. When scorpions mate, the male deposits a sperm packet on the ground and then drags the female over it. Hooks on the sperm packet latch onto the female’s genital opening and fertilization occurs internally.

If you haven’t actually seen your scorpions mating, you will probably notice a change in your scorpion’s physique. Like any pregnant animal, gravid scorpions will swell up due to carrying the babies internally.

A gravid female’s abdomen will enlarge, stretch, and even become semi-transparent. It’s not uncommon to be able to see the outlines of baby scorpions through her skin!

gravid pandinus dictator
This side view of a gravid Pandinus dictator scorpion shows how the female’s abdomen is stretched and swollen. The babies are even visible!

How do I care for my gravid scorpion?

Not a lot should change when caring for a gravid scorpion. Obviously, your scorpion will be very hungry, so don’t neglect to feed her regularly.

She might also be shier or more aggressive, so we recommend providing plenty of places for her to hide out if she doesn’t feel social. Keep the handling of her to a minimum as you don’t want to stress her out or risk being stung due to an unpredictable temperament.

Gestation can range from seven months to a year, so watch her closely as care requirements will need to adjust slightly once the scorplings are born.

What happens when my scorpion gives birth?

Most females will bear anywhere from eight to thirty babies. The scorplings are born alive as scorpions do not lay eggs.

The babies will be white or nearly transparent and will stay attached to the mother’s back until their first molt.

If you keep multiple scorpions in the same enclosure, be sure to remove all other scorpions once the babies are born. Don’t move the mother as this will stress her out unnecessarily. She will get aggressive, defensive, and stressed if other scorpions are present. Not to mention you don’t want any cannibalism to occur.

scorplings
Baby scorpions (AKA scorplings) ride on their mother’s back until their first molt.

Never attempt to dislodge the scorplings from the female’s back. There is a high chance she will eat them if you attempt this. Plus scorplings that are raised by the mother fare much better and are healthier overall.

The baby scorpions will eat small insects. Pinhead crickets, small waxworms, and freshly molted small mealworms are all acceptable food for scorplings.

Conclusion – Gravid pet scorpions

Scorpion breeding will occur naturally if you house a mating pair together. Keep an eye out for swollen, stretched abdomens as this is the best way to tell if your scorpion is expecting.

Think you want to start a scorpion family of your own? Backwater Reptiles has quite a selection of scorpions for sale. You may end up with a gravid pet scorpion of your own!

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Care (Avicularia versicolor)

Many exotic pet enthusiasts are drawn to the Antilles pink toe tarantula for its striking coloration and fairly mild disposition. People enjoy purchasing these tarantulas as spiderlings and watching the animal molt, change color, and mature into a big, beautiful arachnid.

Below you’ll read our Antilles pink toe care sheet, based upon our experience with these strikingly beautiful tarantulas.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Description

This brilliantly colored spider is found in Martinique, which is off the coast of South America. It makes its home in trees and is therefore also commonly called the Martinique Red Tree Spider.

antilles pink toe tarantula care
Pictured is a juvenile Antilles pink toe tarantula. Notice it steely blue coloration. Their care isn’t complex, although we do recommend doing your research.

As baby spiders, Antilles pink toes are a metallic, steely blue-black color, but once mature, they become remarkably more colorful. Adults have a metallic greenish blue carapace while their abdomens are covered in red hairs. Their long legs are coated in a combination of red, brown, and pink hairs.

Antilles pink toes are considered to be medium-sized spiders. Adults will grow to have leg spans of four and a half to six inches. Males will be thinner than females with a more spindly-like appearance, while the females will tend to be a bit meatier and heftier of body.

The disposition of these colorful spiders is relatively even-tempered. They are not particularly aggressive, although they can and do bite from time to time. Overall, they prefer to be left alone as they can be quite skittish. In fact, Antilles pink toes are very fast and can jump quite far. This means that if you do handle your spider, you’ll want to stay near to a flat surface and make sure that the spider doesn’t have very far to fall if it should decide to jump out of your hands.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Housing

Because they are an arboreal species, Antilles pink toes should be kept in an enclosure that is vertically oriented. Be sure to provide hide spaces and objects to climb on. Plants, wooden decorations, and other stable, vertically-oriented pieces are best.

The cage or enclosure needs to be kept at a relatively high humidity level, but also needs to be well ventilated to prevent stagnation. Generally, enclosures with one or two mesh screens or vents meet this requirement. Ideally, humidity levels should be kept at 75 to 85%, while the temperature range should be 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

antilles pink toe tarantula
Spiderlings can be housed in an enclosure as small as a shoebox stood up vertically.

Although they live in colonies in the wild, in captivity, Antilles pink toe tarantulas should be housed separately with the exception of mating pairs.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Feeding Habits

These tarantulas are aggressive feeders and usually don’t reject food. It is acceptable to feed your Antilles pink toe nearly any type of feeder invertebrate – roaches, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and horn worms are all great fare for this spider.

Interestingly enough, in the wild, Antilles pink toes are known to consume anole lizards and other small vertebrates, but in captivity, it’s best to stick to various insects.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Molting

If you’ve never kept a pet tarantula before, you need to know that spiders molt and shed their old exoskeletons on a regular basis.

Prior to the actual molt occurring, tarantulas generally start to behave differently, and this is also true for the Antilles pink toe. Don’t be surprised if your spider becomes lethargic and even refuses food. The spider might also do a lot of extensive web spinning.

Eventually, you’ll notice that your tarantula has flipped over onto its back. It will appear to be dead, but don’t be misled. This is a completely normal behavior for molting spiders. Just be sure to not disturb your spider when it is in this state.

adult antilles pink toe tarantula
When your Antilles pink toe has undergone enough molts, it will be bold red and blue/green in color like the one pictured.

Once your tarantula has righted itself, it will be vulnerable until its new exoskeleton hardens. Be sure not to feed it until a fair amount of time has passed. Feeder insects can actually hurt the spider if you feed it before the hardening process has completed.

If you want more information on this process, we wrote an entire separate article on what to do when your pet tarantula molts.

Conclusion

Antilles pink toe tarantulas are best looked at and kept as pets for display purposes. They are not considered aggressive, but are very fast and can jump far. This means they are not ideal for being handled or coddled.

If you are ready to commit to a colorful spider that you can show off to your friends and family, Backwater Reptiles has Antilles pink toe tarantulas for sale.

Whip Spider Care (Amblypygi sp.)

Wondering how to care for a Whip spider? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whip spiders are arachnids also known by the name tailless whip scorpions. They belong to an order of arthropods named Amblypygi and are not to be confused with whip scorpions and vinegaroons, which are similar invertebrates that belong to a different order.

Although these arachnids are commonly known as tailless whip scorpions, they do earn their name, as they are indeed tailless. In fact, the word Amblypygi actually means “blunt rump” and refers to the fact that these animals don’t actually possess stinging scorpion tails or silk saks.

They do, however, have pinching pedipalps (AKA pinchers) that can grab your fingers if the scorpion feels threatened. But they aren’t venomous, nor are they usually aggressive, so they aren’t considered dangerous pets.

tailless whip spider care
Whip spiders are harmless, even though they might look rather intimidating. Caring for them as pets is very easy.

Tailless whip scorpions are flat, wide invertebrates with eight legs. Only six of these legs are actually used for walking and the scorpion has a somewhat sideways gait similar to that of a crab. The front appendages are modified into long, thin segmented feelers, which the scorpion uses to orient itself and find prey. These feelers, which just happen to resemble whips, are also what gives these arachnids their common name.

When their legs are not stretched out, most whip spiders will average around two to three inches in length. However, it has been reported that these scorpions can stretch out to make their leg span as long as twenty three inches.

Tailless Whip Spider Care

When it comes to feeding, tailless whip scorpions are sit and wait predators. They will patiently wait and feel around with their long “antennae” until they sense that prey is nearby. Once the scorpion detects that prey is close enough, it will pounce and grab the prey using its pinchers and immediately begin chewing.

In the wild, whip spiders are insectivores primarily. In captivity, we give ours meals of crickets, roaches, and occasional wax worms. Sometimes, if your whip spider isn’t too shy, you can even get it to accept an insect from tongs.

amblypygi
A close up of the whip spider shows its pincers that it uses to snatch prey.

Like all arachnids, whip spiders molt as they grow. However, unlike most spiders and scorpions, they require a place to hang from while molting. Most arachnids will molt on the ground, but whip spiders need a vertical space to hang from while they wriggle out of their old exoskeleton. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that owners provide a surface that the scorpion can cling to in order to perform this behavior.

Directly following a molt, your whip spider will be a white or green color and will be far more vulnerable. This means that prey items such as crickets or roaches that can bite your whip spider need to be removed immediately from the cage if they are not eaten.

Believe it or not, prey can actually injure the whip spider while it is green or white. But not to worry – after a few days, your whip spider’s new exoskeleton will harden and you can resume feeding as normal.

Whip spiders are fairly active arachnids, so we recommend a decent sized enclosure. A ten gallon tank should suffice for a single scorpion, but if you add additional house mates, a larger home will obviously be required.

As previously mentioned when molting was discussed, be sure to have multiple angled surface with various textures that your scorpion can cling to and hang from while molting. And as far as substrate is concerned, anything that holds moisture will do just fine. We recommend coconut fiber, peat moss, or organic potting soil.

Be sure to maintain high humidity levels in your whip spider’s enclosure. These are animals that are naturally found in wet caves with naturally collecting water. They need humidity to thrive and go through proper molting.

A good way to maintain humidity is to mist your whip scorpion’s enclosure. This is also helpful because the scorpions won’t drink from a standing water dish, but they will drink water that has naturally collected on cage décor.

tailless whip scorpion
Notice the long “feelers” on the tailless whip scorpion that help it detect prey.

Caring for Tailless Whip Spiders – Conclusion

We think that whip spiders make excellent pets and are simple to care for, especially for people who want an arachnid but don’t want to be bitten by a spider or stung by a scorpion.

Best Pet Tarantulas

Welcome to our list of the best pet tarantulas in the world. Pet spiders are very polarizing – people either love the idea of keeping a large spider in their home or they hate it. At Backwater Reptiles, we take care of spiders destined to be people’s pets every day, so we understand the appeal of arachnids.

Our goal for this blog article is to describe and detail our picks for the top four best pet tarantulas. Read on to find out which species we chose.

Mexican Red Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)

Red Knees are one of the most commonly kept pet tarantulas. They are readily available in chain pet stores and most people probably think of this species when they imagine what a tarantula looks like.

As you’ve probably surmised, Mexican red knee tarantulas are dark brown or black with distinctive red knee patches on the joints of their limbs. They grow to have a leg span of approximately seven inches. Males will live for around three to six years old, while females can live for around twenty five years.

best pet tarantulas
Although we don’t necessarily recommend putting any tarantula with urticating hairs on your face, red knees are so docile that most owners feel comfortable enough to take the risk. Here’s one of our employees (Amanda) with her favorite Red knee.

Known for their reasonable temperaments, red knees usually don’t mind being handled. Although there is always some danger of being bit or getting urticating hairs in your skin, you don’t usually need to worry about this behavior with red knees. For the most part, although they can be skittish at first, red knees would rather hide from you than attack you.

We highly recommend a docile Mexican red knee tarantula if you are interested in acquiring a pet tarantula.

Rose Hair Tarantula (Grammostola rosea)

Rose hair tarantulas get their common name from the color of the hairs on their bodies. Some are more brightly colored than others with semi-metallic pink hairs, while others just have more of a dull pink tinge to them.

The rose hair is another species of tarantula that is known for its docile disposition. Many rose hair owners play with and handle their spiders on a regular basis without fear of being bitten or getting irritating hairs embedded in their skin.

rose hair tarantula
This particular rose hair tarantula only has hints of pink or rose to its coloration. The amount of pink to the spider’s hairs varies from animal to animal.

If you purchase a spiderling rose hair, it will take approximately three to four years for it to reach maturity. A spiderling that starts off life around the size of a pencil eraser will eventually grow up to have a leg span between four to five inches.

Purchase your own pet rose hair tarantula from Backwater Reptiles.

Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammastola pulchra)

Many people label the Brazilian black tarantula as the “ideal” pet spider. This is because they are a bold, jet black color with highly docile attitudes. They have simple care requirements and healthy appetites. They actually make great pet tarantulas for beginners and we’d even recommend them as a classroom pet.

Brazilian Blacks are terrestrial spiders, so although they don’t require a massive amount of space, we do highly recommend that your spider live in an enclosure that is wide and not super tall.

brazilian black tarantula spiderling
Pictured is a baby Brazilian black tarantula. They start out small, but they grow quite large.

Interestingly enough, we do recommend keeping a water dish in the Brazilian Black’s enclosure. Even though you might never see your spider drink water, both spiderlings and adults need humidity, and a water dish helps to maintain that.

Ready for a classroom pet? Or just want a friendly pet spider? Backwater Reptiles has healthy pet Brazilian Black tarantulas for sale.

Golden Blue Leg Baboon Tarantula (Harpactira pulchripes)

We’ve included the rare golden blue leg baboon tarantula on our list because it is almost a “collector’s” spider. Because it is so hard to find in the U.S., it becomes a highly sought after spider for arachnid enthusiasts. Keep in mind that because it is so sought after, it does come with a fairly steep price point.

Although it begins life as a relatively unremarkable spiderling with a tinge of blue to it, the golden blue leg baboon tarantula matures into a beautiful, large spider with metallic blue legs.

golden blue leg baboon spiderling
This spiderling is a very rare. When this little spider matures, it will have brilliant blue legs.

Like all the spiders on this list, the golden blue leg baboon will happily eat crickets and other appropriately sized invertebrates. Spiderlings can eat a small cricket every day, whereas adults are perfectly happy eating once or twice a week.

If you’re a spider enthusiast, Backwater Reptiles does sell rare golden blue leg baboon  tarantulas.

Conclusion – The Best Pet Tarantulas

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our guide to the best pet tarantulas in the world. Indeed, tarantulas aren’t for everyone. But, if you’re not an arachnophobe, then we would recommend any of the spiders on this list as a pet. Most are pretty friendly and all of them are very easy to care for in captivity.