Dubia Roaches (Blaptica dubia) As Feeder Insects

Introduction to Dubia Roaches

Many reptile, amphibian and invertebrate owners commonly feed their pet(s) crickets. It’s a very common husbandry practice and crickets are most certainly an acceptable, affordable, and convenient feeding option. But did you know that exotic pets need a varied diet just like human beings and shouldn’t subsist solely on a diet of crickets?

So, what other insects should you should feed your reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate besides crickets? At Backwater Reptiles, often times when we don’t feed our animals crickets, mealworms, or commercially prepared food, we turn to dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia).

In this article, we’ll answer some very commonly asked questions about dubia roaches and their usefulness as feeder insects such as:

-What are dubia roaches and do they make good feeder insects?
-What types of exotic pets eat dubia roaches?
-Why should I feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate dubia roaches? What are the benefits?
-How do I breed and raise my own feeder dubia roaches for my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-What is “gut loading” and how does it affect my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-Where can I get dubia roaches to feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-I’ve received my order of dubia roaches. What do I do with them now?
-Are there any downsides to feeding my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate dubia roaches?

Dubia Roaches as Feeder Insects

What are dubia roaches and do they make good feeder insects?

Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia), which are also referred to as Guyana spotted roaches, Orange spotted roaches, and Argentine roaches, are a species of cockroach that are commonly used as feeder insects in the exotic pet industry.

dubia roach
Dubia Roaches make very nutritious meals for all types of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. They are full of protein and low in fat. They also contain a reasonable amount of moisture. We highly recommend them as feeder insects for all types of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Dubias range in size from one eight of an inch in length as nymphs to two inches long as mature adults. Interestingly enough, if they are not eaten by another animal, they typically have a life span of between one and a half to two years. They are also edible during their entire life span.

Although they might come with a slightly higher price point than traditional feeder insects like crickets and mealworms, dubias are also much higher in nutritional value. This means that YES, dubia roaches do indeed make excellent feeder insects!

What types of exotic pets eat Dubia Roaches?

The answer to this question is short and simple. Virtually all types of exotic pets, including reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, will eat dubia roaches.

Because dubias are available in so many sizes, they can be eaten by pretty much all sizes of carnivorous or omnivorous animals.

Reptiles that are particularly fond of dubia roaches include: bearded dragons, chameleons, and many species of gecko. Amphibians that eat dubias include mainly frogs and toads, although larger species of salamanders with hearty appetites (a la tiger salamanders) will readily consume dubias too. Finally, scorpions and arachnids are known to have a hunger for dubias as well.

Why should I feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate Dubia Roaches? What are the benefits?

Although crickets, mealworms, reptiworms, wax worms, and other similar feeder invertebrates all make great feeder options for various reasons, dubias are known for their highly nutritious nature.

Dubia roaches have very high protein levels compared to many other chitinous feeder insects. They pack a whopping thirty six percent protein percentage and also contain a lower fat content than many of the “worm” insects such as wax worms, reptiworms, and silk worms.

The calcium level present in dubias is also slightly higher than that of crickets and considerably higher than that of mealworms. This means that although we do still recommend dusting your feeder insects, there is a better chance that your pet will need vitamin supplements less frequently.

Finally, dubia roaches are 61 percent moisture, which is a reasonable amount. While most reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates do acquire moisture through other means, it is good to feed them an insect that contains a good moisture balance.

These nutritional ratios make dubia roaches quite possibly one of the most well-rounded nutritious options when it comes to herp health.

Aside from the obvious health benefits, dubia roaches are also relatively easy to maintain and keep. They are far less noisy, messy, and for lack of a better word, stinky, than crickets. Plus, as we’ve already established, they are edible to herps at all their life stages.

Unlike crickets, which are the most common feeder insect, dubias are not known escape artists. Crickets can and will jump out of holding containers, whereas dubias aren’t inclined to fly and they cannot climb on slick surfaces such as glass or plastic tubs. This means that temporary holding pens as well as long term housing for dubia breeding projects are easy to come by and you’ll never have to worry about a dubia “infestation” in your home from escaping roaches.

Another benefit that most herp owners probably haven’t even considered is the safety of their animal. Crickets are known “nibblers” and can actually injure your pet by gnawing on it if you leave them unattended with your herp. Dubia roaches, on the other hand, are not aggressive and won’t harm your pet if you leave them unattended in the animal’s cage.
How do I breed and raise my own feeder Dubia Roaches for my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?

While dubias are an excellent nutritional option for feeding your reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate, they are not as readily available via pet stores and they are also a bit costlier than traditional crickets. Luckily, dubias are actually relatively simple to breed and maintain. All you’ll need to raise your own dubias at home is a ventilated enclosure, heat source, food, water, and hiding space(s).

dubia roach breeding
Luckily, dubia roaches are very easy to maintain in captivity. They are edible at all life stages and breeding them is a breeze. You won’t need many supplies, just an enclosure, food, water, hiding spaces, and a heat source. You don’t even have to clean their enclosure frequently!

The first thing you’ll need to start your own breeding colony is of course the dubia roaches themselves. Luckily, Backwater Reptiles does sell starter breeding colonies! Each colony also comes with the supplies you’ll need to begin keeping your dubias including: instructions, roach food, water crystals, and egg crates.

The good news about keeping dubias is that they do best if you just leave them alone. You should regularly check to make sure that they have fresh food and water, but other than that, maintenance is very simple. In fact, dubia roach enclosures only need to be cleaned two to three times per year! Leaving the droppings and other accumulated detritus in the bottom of the enclosure is actually beneficial to the roaches for many reasons.

Once your colony has been established, you should remove feeder roaches at regular intervals and keep them housed separately from your growing roaches and breeding roaches.

Naturally, dubias are scavengers like all cockroaches and the good news for breeders is that this means you can feed them a variety of things. We recommend a food that is dry and doesn’t encourage rot, mold, or fungus to grow inside the roaches’ enclosure. Cereal, dry pet food, and chicken feed are all acceptable options, but you can also give them house scraps such as bread.

When it comes to roach feeding, it’s also recommended that you provide a “fresh” food source at least once or twice per week. Fresh food includes everything from leftover greens, citrus fruits, potatoes, and even fruit such as apples or grapes.

Just be very mindful when feeding your dubias fresh food items. You’ll want to make sure that the food you’re giving them is not harmful or toxic in any way to the species that will be ingesting the dubias. You’ll also want to remove any uneaten fresh food remnants from the enclosure to avoid bacteria, rot, and mold from forming.

What is “gut loading” and how does it affect my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?

Gut loading is the process of giving your feeder insects highly nutritious food in order to pass that nutrition on to your pet that will be consuming the roach. Keep in mind that your pet is essentially eating whatever your feeder insect eats, so gut loaded insects of all varieties, whether crickets, roaches, reptiworms, or any other type of invertebrate, are directly transferring the nutritional value of what they’ve eaten on to your pet. Ever heard that common saying that you are what you eat? Well, in the case of gut loaded feeder insects, this is literally true!

One thing to keep in mind when gut loading your dubias is that this species of roach has a slower digestion process. Unlike crickets and some other species of feeders which produce a lot of waste in very short amounts of time, the food given to a dubia will stay in the roach’s system for much longer, thereby providing more residual nutrition to your pet.

The bottom line is that you should feed your dubias well because their health is directly correlated to the health of your pet.

Where can I get Dubia Roaches to feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?

As we’ve already mentioned, dubia roaches are not readily available in most commercial pet stores.

However, the good news is that even if you are not lucky enough to have a store in your area where you can buy dubias, you can purchase them online.

bearded dragon adult
Bearded dragons are one species of lizard that will virtually never turn down a dubia roach. They love eating them and have quite large appetites!

Did you know that Backwater Reptiles sells feeder dubia roaches of all sizes and ages? And shipping is absolutely one hundred percent free!

I’ve received my order of Dubia Roaches. What do I do with them now?

If you have no intention of starting your own breeding colony of dubias, maintaining the dubias you ordered online is still just as easy.

The growth rate of dubias compared to crickets is much slower, so the good news is that whatever size roach you order should stay the same size for the duration that you have it before it gets fed to your pet.

We recommend providing the same elements you’d provide for your breeding colony – food, water, enclosure, heat element, and hiding space – only on a smaller scale.
Are there any downsides to feeding my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate dubia roaches?

In reality, dubia roaches are one of the most nutritious and “healthy” options for your pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate. There are not many downsides to mention in terms of nutritional worth.

Virtually the only cons we can think of when it comes to feeding your herp dubia roaches are the costliness of the roach and the availability of the roach.

As we’ve mentioned already, dubias are not commonly sold in stores, nor are they the cheapest insect you can feed your herp. However, if you can offset cost and availability by either breeding your own colony or making your roach orders last you for a while by practicing good husbandry habits, then feeding your pet dubia roaches is well worth the extra effort!

Conclusion

Dubia roaches are excellent choices as far as feeder insects are concerned.

Dubias are a very healthy and nutritious option for exotic pets and herps of all types! Scorpions, lizards, frogs, and even tarantulas all love to eat them. And the good news is that because dubias pack such a nutritional punch, you ultimately end up having to feed your pet fewer of them than you would if you chose another species of feeder insect.

Do you have any special tips or tricks to offer readers when it comes to dubia roach husbandry? List them in the comments! We’d love to hear your experiences!

Are Crickets Good Feeder Insects?

If you’ve ever had a pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate, you’re likely aware that many of these animals eat insects such as meal worms, crickets, and roaches at meal time.

Crickets are actually a very common insect that are eaten by virtually all types of insectivorous exotic animals. We’d even go so far as to say that they are a “staple food” when it comes to reptile feeding.

In this article, we’ll touch upon some commonly asked questions about feeder crickets such as:

-Do crickets make good feeder insects?
-What types of exotic pets eat crickets?
-Why should I feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate crickets? What are the benefits?
-How do I breed and raise my own feeder crickets for my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-What is “gut loading” and how does it affect my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-Where can I get crickets to feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?
-I’ve received my order of feeder crickets. What do I do with them now?
-Are there any downsides to feeding my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate crickets?

Crickets as Feeder Insects

Do crickets make good feeder insects?

The short, sweet, simple answer to this question is YES! They make great feeder insects and we highly recommend them for feeding virtually all types of animals.

crickets as feeder insects
As you can see, we keep a lot of crickets at Backwater Reptiles because we have many mouths to feed! All crickets need in order to thrive is a container to live in, a food source, and some egg crates or other similar “furniture.”

Crickets are probably the most popular option when it comes to feeding insectivorous and omnivorous reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates and for good reason. We’ll go into more detail as to why they make such nutritious meals later on in this article.

What types of exotic pets eat crickets?

As we’ve already mentioned, virtually all insectivorous reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates consume crickets.

Omnivorous lizards such as bearded dragons, some skinks, and even iguanas will all happily eat crickets. Carnivorous lizards such as young monitors, chameleons, geckos, and many species of agama also love to eat crickets on a daily basis.

Amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders are also insectivores and will therefore gladly eat crickets for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.

Believe it or not, even other invertebrates such as scorpions and tarantulas eat crickets.

Why should I feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate crickets?  What are the benefits to using crickets as feeder insects?

Crickets are extremely nutritious food for pet herps. They possess a ton of protein and a fairly decent water content as well. However, we will say that because they are both smaller and less dense than other feeder insects, like dubia roaches for example, your pet will need to consume more in a single sitting to get the same nutritional value.

We do highly recommend crickets as feeder insects due to their ubiquitous nature. Not only can you order feeder crickets in bulk online from many sellers, you can also pick up as many as you need from virtually any big box, commercial pet store in your area. Crickets are very, very commonly fed to exotic animals of all types, so they are very easy to purchase at a physical store front when necessary. This is a huge benefit in our book because if you accidentally run out of crickets and your pet is hungry, food for them is usually very easy to come by on that same day. No need to wait for them to arrive in the mail while your pet goes without food for a day or more.

Another added bonus to feeding your pet crickets that has nothing to do with nutritional value is that crickets are inexpensive. While other species of feeder insects most certainly are beneficial to your pet’s health, crickets are generally the cheapest option. This tends to be true whether you purchase them in bulk or on a case by case individual need basis. Because crickets are everywhere as a food source, the market for them is fairly inexpensive and this appeals to many exotic pet owners.

Not only are feeder crickets nutritious, ubiquitous, and inexpensive, they also come in a variety of sizes. You can purchase pinhead crickets to feed smaller reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates such as dart frogs, baby chameleons, and anoles, but you can also purchase full-grown adult crickets to feed to large pets such as mature bearded dragons, adult frogs of many species, and large scorpions and tarantulas.

How do I breed and raise my own feeder crickets for my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate? 

We’re going to be up front and state right off the bat that breeding and raising crickets to save money on purchasing them as feeders is quite a pain in the rear end! In most cases, it is actually more cost efficient and time efficient to just order your crickets online or purchase them locally from a pet store.

Raising and breeding crickets requires space, time, effort, and a tolerance for the cricket’s smell, noise level, and propensity to escape.

For these reasons, we don’t even breed and raise our own crickets at the Backwater Reptiles facility, and we feed hundreds of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates on a daily basis.

However, if your mind is set on breeding feeder crickets of your own, there are some very handy tutorials online. A quick Google search will reveal a multitude of videos and written instructions on how to do so, but we’re going to steer clear of this topic for the purposes of this blog article.

What is “gut loading” and how does it affect my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?

Gut loading is a term used to refer to what the feeder crickets are themselves eating at meal time. It essentially means that the crickets are being fed a specific diet that ensures that they are as nutritionally dense as possible for the animals that will be eating them.

Feeder crickets are essentially an empty vessel. Whatever the crickets eat is basically what your pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate will be eating. The process of gut loading feeder crickets ensures that your pet gets the most out of meal time.

Gut loaded crickets are fed a variety of foods that are healthy for exotic animals. Most will eat a commercial cricket chow that is specially formulated to deliver nutrition, but often times this staple food is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not uncommon to give feeder crickets items such as: carrots, dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, etc.), squash, sweet potatoes, wheat germ, prepackaged reptile foods, fish flakes, and regular potatoes (peel included). Your pet should have a varied and balanced diet, and because gut loaded feeder crickets usually do, the nutritional benefits are passed along.

Where can I get crickets to feed my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate?

As we’ve already mentioned, feeder crickets are very, very easy to come by both online and in physical store fronts.

In our opinion, where you buy your feeder crickets depends upon how many you require at a time, how many animals you’ll be feeding, and what’s most cost effective for your budget.

If you are a serious herp hobbyist with many pets to feed, we highly recommend ordering in bulk from an online retailer. It is not only more cost efficient, but it saves you time because you don’t have to trek to the store to purchase what you need. The crickets will be shipped direct to your doorstep, just like with any other type of online purchase.

scorpion eating a cricket
As you can see, crickets make excellent food items for invertebrates as well as reptiles and amphibians.

If you only need to buy a small amount of crickets because you’re just feeding a single animal, we don’t recommend ordering in bulk. This is because not only will your single animal probably not be able to eat all the crickets you order, but the crickets will likely grow and end up being too large for your pet to eat, especially if you buy juvenile crickets. There’s also the possibility that your crickets will die before they even get the chance to become your pet’s dinner.

If you’re looking for a reliable feeder cricket bulk supplier, Backwater Reptiles has certainly got you covered! Simply click here and select a quantity of either 500 or 1,000 from the drop down menu. Your feeder crickets will be shipped overnight for free direct to your doorstep. So convenient!

Smaller quantities of feeder crickets can be purchased from chain pet stores such as PetCo or PetSmart. Many smaller mom and pop feed stores and pet stores also sell feeder crickets in manageable quantities.

I’ve received my order of feeder crickets. What do I do with them now?

You can expect your feeder crickets to live about a few weeks, depending on the age and relative size that you purchase. Obviously, younger crickets will live for a bit longer as they are farther from the end of their life cycle.

Because your pet will probably not be eating all of the crickets you purchase in a single setting, there are things you should do in order to keep your remaining feeder crickets alive and healthy for your pet’s next meal time.

First of all, you will need a holding container for the crickets. Depending on the number of crickets you purchased, a bucket or tall tub should work just fine.

Next, make sure there is some sort of hiding space/crawling space that your crickets can call home for the brief remainder of their life cycle. Generally, when you purchase crickets from the store, you will get a piece of cardboard egg crate. This will usually suffice for the few days that you keep the remaining uneaten crickets.

Lastly, you’ll need to provide a food source for your feeder crickets. If you only have a few crickets to care for, you can just toss a carrot or a piece of potato into the container where your crickets are being held. There’s no need to provide a water dish as crickets get all the water they need from the food they consume.

Now that you’ve provided them with food and some “furniture,” your crickets have everything they need to survive for the next few days while you continue to feed them to your critter.

Are there any downsides to feeding my pet reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate crickets?

Although crickets are excellent food for many exotic pets, they are certainly not perfect. There are definitely some downsides to feeding them to your pet, although these are not because they are not nutritionally poor or lacking.

First of all, crickets can be quite smelly. This is one of the main reasons many people prefer to simply order and/or purchase crickets as needed rather than breed and raise them on their own. The digestive tract of crickets is rather short and simple, so they process their meals in twenty-four to forty-eight hours, and therefore create and eliminate waste rather quickly, which is what causes the distinctive odor that usually accompanies their housing arrangement.

newborn parsons chameleon
Because feeder crickets are available in multiple sizes, you can even find crickets small enough to feed to tiny animals like baby chameleons.

Secondly, crickets are actually rather mean insects. This doesn’t mean that they will bite you and you certainly have no need to fear your feeder crickets, but they can be quite nasty to your pet if left unattended. This essentially means that when you feed any reptile, amphibian, or even invertebrate crickets, you will need to stick around for the duration of the feeding and make sure that any crickets that are not consumed are removed from the enclosure. Otherwise, crickets can actually bite and injure many animals, no matter how unlikely it seems.

Crickets are also known for being escape artists. It’s pretty much inevitable that some will escape from their enclosure, especially if you keep large quantities.

And one final thing we’d like to mention about crickets as feeder insects is the noise they make. As you’re likely aware, crickets are known to chirp and this behavior stays with them even in captivity. So if noisiness bothers you, you might want to think twice about trying to maintain your own personal feeder cricket colony and just purchase feeders as needed.

Conclusion

We hope this blog article has been helpful in laying out the pros and cons of crickets as feeder insects.

While there are certain drawbacks to breeding and maintaining your own colony, we personally think it’s more cost efficient and less time-consuming to just purchase your feeder crickets as needed.

Overall, crickets make excellent meals for all sorts of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates!

How to Set Up a Scorpion Enclosure

One of the first things to consider when purchasing a non-traditional pet of any sort is where the animal will live. What type of cage or enclosure does it require to stay happy and healthy? How can you make sure your pet’s housing needs are met?

Because scorpions are pretty popular in the reptile hobbyist world (despite the fact that they’re obviously not reptiles!), we get asked a lot about scorpion care, housing, and husbandry. In this blog article we’ll answer the following questions:

Do scorpions make good pets?
What do you need to set up a scorpion enclosure?
How do I set up a scorpion enclosure?
What types of scorpions is this set up appropriate for?
Where can I buy a scorpion enclosure kit?

How to set up a scorpion enclosure

Do scorpions make good pets?

We certainly think that scorpions make great pets! However, they are certainly not for everyone.

Keep in mind that scorpions obviously have venomous, stinging tails and pinchers, so they can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle one. Most people report that the sting of a scorpion feels similar to a bee sting and the effects of the venom vary from species to species, but usually, they don’t cause too much harm unless you happen to be allergic.

So, because scorpions require careful handling and a knowledge of how to handle a venomous invertebrate, we’d say make sure that you are not squeamish, afraid, or allergic before you decide to purchase a pet scorpion.

We’d also like to mention that scorpions are not meant to be interactive, social pets. They thrive when left alone to their own devices, so please don’t purchase a pet scorpion with the intent of handling it all the time. Scorpions are relatively secretive and will get stressed with too much human interaction.

So, the bottom line is if you are not allergic to scorpion venom, if you are okay with a mostly “look don’t touch” pet, and you aren’t squeamish around invertebrates, then a scorpion would make a great pet!

What will I need to set up a scorpion enclosure?

Believe it or not, scorpions cages are very simple. You don’t need a lot of room, decorations, or other accessories in order for your pet scorpion to thrive.

Listed below are the items needed to set up your pet scorpion’s home:

Cage/Enclosure/Home – This is a pretty obvious requirement. Clearly your scorpion will need an enclosed space of some sort to call its home. We recommend a clear plastic or glass box or tank so that you are able to view your scorpion when it emerges from hiding.

Ideally, your enclosure will be longer rather than it is taller and possess more horizontal space than it does vertical as scorpions are not arboreal invertebrates and won’t be doing any climbing.

We also highly recommend that your tank or cage have a lid. While it’s true that scorpions can’t really climb, especially up the walls of a glass tank, we do recommend it for safety purposes. A lid can help prevent many types of accidents and will also prevent your scorpion from getting out of its tank on the off chance that it is an escape artist.

Substrate – All scorpion cages should be lined with some sort of substrate. Scorpions can be burrowers, so make sure to choose a substrate that supports this habit. At Backwater Reptiles, we usually use coconut husk mixed with sand because it holds tunnels well and is very safe for the scorpion. However, depending on the species, you can use other types of substrates too. Forest species will require some moisture, so substrates such as peat moss, coconut husk, and even orchid bark mixed with organic potting soil are all good options. Desert species such as the desert hairy scorpion, will require a much drier substrate. Sand is generally the best option for a desert species.

scorpion kit
Pictured is the Backwater Reptiles scorpion kit. It includes all that you see – a plastic faunarium complete with lid, a brick of plantation soil substrate, a faux plant, a water dish, and a rock hide space. This set up works great with nearly all species of scorpions.

Hide Space – Scorpions are by nature pretty shy and secretive, so a hide space is essential. They require an area where they can feel secure and invisible from predators.

There are any number of hides you can make or purchase. We prefer something simple with a bit of weight to it so that the scorpion can’t accidentally displace or dislodge it.

Water Dish – Although you’ll likely never ever see your pet scorpion drinking water, it is still in the best interests of your scorpion to provide a sturdy water dish.

A water dish helps maintain proper humidity levels and is also important for hydration should your scorpion become thirsty.

We highly recommend a dish that is heavy enough to stay put. You don’t want a light weight dish that will tip over or spill water everywhere within the scorpion’s cage as this could lead to the growth of mold or fungus.

Foliage/Plant – Scorpions don’t need a lot of cage accessories to do well in captivity. Because they usually do best in relatively small enclosures, we recommend a small plastic plant that doesn’t spread out or stick up too high. This gives a natural look to the cage and also provides a bit of decoration.

Heating Pad/Heating Mat – If you maintain decent temperatures and don’t allow your room to grow too cold or too warm, most scorpions don’t absolutely require a heating element, although we do recommend it to at least give them the option to thermoregulate.

If you do choose to provide a heating element, we don’t recommend heat lights or lamps as scorpions tend to avoid light and will simply hide from it all day. Rather, we recommend investing in a heat mat that you secure to the side of the enclosure. Because scorpions are known for burrowing, sticking the mat to the bottom of the tank might actually create temperatures that are too warm and you could inadvertently “cook” your scorpion!

Springtails – Believe it or not, springtails are actually something living that you can add to your scorpion’s set up in order to promote a healthy cage ecosystem. They are however not a necessary addition to your scorpion’s set up and are completely optional.

Springtails are actually tiny little bugs that are helpful in breaking down waste elements in the scorpion’s environment. This is beneficial to all parties because this means you have to clean your scorpion’s enclosure less frequently and your scorpion is not walking around in its own waste.

Remember how we mentioned that you want to be careful when choosing a water dish as you don’t want to create excess moisture that could lead to fungus and mold growing within the scorpion’s enclosure? Well, springtails can actually help alleviate mold and fungus, so they are also beneficial when it comes to keeping harmful and invasive elements out of your scorpion’s environment.

How do I set up a scorpion enclosure?

Once you’ve obtained the items on the list above (read more on where to purchase these items later on in this article), it’s a very straight forward, simple process to prepare your scorpion’s enclosure.

The first step is to line your enclosure with your chosen substrate. Make sure that it is at the proper moisture level. Desert scorpions should have dry substrate, while tropical species should have more moisture. Usually you want the substrate to be damp but certainly not dripping.

arizona bark scorpion
Pictured is a young Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). This species is actually the most venomous in the entire United States, so be wary when purchasing one. You can follow the set up we describe in this blog article when keeping an Arizona bark scorpion, just make sure to choose an appropriate substrate. As its name suggests, this particular species prefers dry bark, wood, or leaf litter.

If you have a heating pad, secure it to one side of the enclosure, preferably on a side wall and not on the bottom of the tank.

All of the other elements of the set up – the water dish, the hide space, and the  faux foliage – can be placed however you desire within the cage. We usually like to keep the water dish on the same side as the heat because the evaporation helps to maintain moisture levels. Just be aware that if you choose this option, you’ll likely need to refill the water dish more frequently.

As you can see, setting up the enclosure for a scorpion is really not rocket science. You basically just place the objects listed above in the cage as you choose and – voila – your scorpion’s home is ready to go!

What types of scorpions is this set up appropriate for?

This type of set up will work excellent for just about every type of scorpion available to keep as a pet.

We’d like to point out that the only real difference in cage set ups to be aware of is that desert scorpion species will require a dry substrate, whereas tropical species will require a moist substrate.

Otherwise, you can follow our instructions for setting up this type of scorpion enclosure for any species!

Where can I buy a scorpion enclosure kit?

If you’re wondering where to get all of the items listed above, it’s really actually very simple. Backwater Reptiles not only sells pet scorpions, we also sell scorpion kits!

Contained within the kit is the actual cage/terrarium itself, substrate, a plastic plant, and a water dish. The only items not included would be a heating pad and the springtails, although as we’ve mentioned, both are optional.

burrowing scorpion
Pictured is a burrowing scorpion which is a species known for being able to dig burrows nearly five feet deep in the wild. In captivity, you’ll want to be sure to provide as much burrowing area as possible, which means securing a substrate that can hold tunnels and burrows. Coconut husk mixed with sand is great option.

All you need to do to find our scorpion kits is visit any “scorpion for sale” page and scroll down to the bottom of the page. There you will find listed two different sized scorpion kits. You can select from small/medium and medium/large depending on the size of your pet scorpion.

If you do wish to buy a heating element, you can go to any commercial pet store and obtain a reptile heating mat for relatively low cost.

You can also go to a commercial pet store to purchase all the elements included in the Backwater Reptiles scorpion kit, however it does save you time, energy, effort, and money to purchase a kit/bundle.

Unfortunately, springtails are not sold by Backwater Reptiles. They are also not commercially available in pet stores. If you wish to add springtails to your scorpion’s little ecosystem, then your best bet is to purchase them online.

springtails
Springtails make great additions to your scorpion’s cage, although they are not necessary. They’ll simply help maintain cleanliness by breaking down waste and harmful organisms like mold and fungi.

How to set up a scorpion enclosure video tutorial

Although we’ve written out how to set up a scorpion’s enclosure and detailed the supplies needed to do so, we’ve also included a brief video tutorial that walks you through the same process. You can view it below.

Conclusion

We hope this article has shown you how simple and easy it is to set up a scorpion’s enclosure.

Scorpions can make awesome pets for the right owner. If you want a very low maintenance pet that is mostly “for looks,” then a scorpion would be a good fit.

Although they’re not a very hands on or interactive pet, they can be very rewarding to keep and show off to friends and family.

But please, be smart when buying a scorpion. Make sure that if you do handle it, you do so with extreme caution. Although scorpions are not lethal (unless you have an allergy), their sting is still painful.

 

How Does the Backwater Reptiles Shipping Process Work?

One of the biggest concerns many people have with purchasing an animal of any kind online is the safety of the animal during transit. To the unexperienced, it would seem like delivering a reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate in the mail would be dangerous. However, at Backwater Reptiles, we have years of experience packaging, shipping, and ensuring safe delivery of our animal cargo.

In this article, we will explain how we go about making sure that our animals and our customers are happy.

We will answer questions such as:
Exactly how safe is it to package and ship an animal? Isn’t it risky?
How does the entire ordering process work?
What happens if the animal is unintentionally harmed during transit?
How do I know that my pet will arrive safe and sound?
How will my pet be packaged?

We’ll even include a video demonstrating our packing method so that you can see exactly how the animals are boxed up.

How safe is it to package and ship a reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate? Isn’t it risky?

The short answer to this question is that it is very safe. Although there are rare instances where an unforeseen occurrence can injure an animal during the shipping process, it is rare. Most pets will arrive safe and sound at their new home with little to no stress.

Truthfully, the types of animals sold by Backwater Reptiles are all critters with pretty hardy dispositions. Most reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates don’t need to eat on a daily basis, so not eating for a day or night while they travel to you is nothing out of the ordinary for them.

hybrid box turtle
Turtles and tortoises fare particularly well during the shipping process. They do travel with their “homes” on their backs anyways!

And rest assured that at Backwater Reptiles we do everything in our power to make sure that the manner in which our animals are packaged and shipped keeps them within the proper temperature and moisture range. But we’ll touch upon that a little later in the article.

The bottom line is that it is very safe to ship snakes, lizards, frogs, spiders, scorpions, and all other types of pets sold by Backwater Reptiles. In fact, ninety-eight percent of orders we send out arrive safe and sound and we’re very proud of those numbers.

How does the entire ordering process work?

Our ordering process is very straight forward and simple. It’s not really that different from ordering anything else online.

You can browse www.backwaterreptiles.com by the type of animal you’re looking for. For instance, we have a section for lizards, snakes, toads, frogs, spiders, etc. Each of these categories is further divided into specific species categories. The lizards section contains species tabs such as geckos, iguanas, and chameleons. The snakes section contains species tabs such as boas, pythons, and corn snakes. We like to make browsing as uncomplicated and easy as possible.

You also have the option to use the Backwater Reptiles website’s search feature. This is useful if you have a specific species name or even a scientific genus and species you’re looking for.

One you’ve located the pet you wish to purchase, simply add it to your cart. Generally, you can also purchase all the needed supplies and accessories for any given type of animal on that specific animal’s “for sale” page. For example, on each chameleon for sale page, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and add a chameleon kit to your order.

What happens if you have a question? What if you have a gender request, size request, or even color request for any given animal?

All you need to do if you have a question of any kind before placing your order is email our hard-working customer service team. They work full-time to ensure that all your questions are addressed. After all, we do want you to be one hundred percent satisfied with your order!

We would like to mention that the main difference between ordering a living creature and ordering any other product online is that we require our carriers to obtain a signature from the recipient of the animal to ensure that it was delivered in a timely, efficient, and secure manner. So check out our shipping schedule when you place your order and make sure that you are ordering for delivery on a day when someone will be present to sign and accept the animal.

antilles pink toe tarantula spiderling
Invertebrates such as this Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula spiderling also fare extremely well during the shipping process.

How do I know that my pet will arrive safe and sound?

While we can’t guarantee with one hundred percent certainty that all will go exactly as planned during the shipping process for every single order placed, at Backwater Reptiles we take every precaution to ensure that each and every animal that we ship out is packaged with care and attention to detail.

When packing a shipment, we take into consideration everything from the external temperature in our location to the temperature of the animal’s final destination. We also make sure that each animal is packed in an appropriately sized container with the correct amount of air circulation.

Furthermore, we clearly and distinctly label each and every box with a stamp that indicates that there is a live animal inside. This helps make sure that the carriers are gentle with the boxes and therefore makes the journey safer for the animals.

All animals that depart from the Backwater Reptile facility are sent out using overnight shipping. This means that the animal is transported quickly and with minimal stress. Although most of the animal we ship don’t mind being in a small space for periods of time, we do like to make sure that they get to their destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most will depart our facility in the morning before or around noon and arrive at your doorstep the following morning.

Using overnight shipping not only means that your pet arrives quickly, it means that you receive up to date tracking information that allows you to follow the progress of your pet and make sure that you are home to sign for it. While being able to sign for the animal on the first attempt is ideal, most FedEx and UPS facilities will hold the animal for pick up at your convenience. If you do happen to miss your delivery window for any reason, we do highly recommend retrieving the animal as soon as possible to avoid stress or injury from occurring.

What happens if my pet is unintentionally harmed during transit?

It’s beneficial to all parties involved if the animal arrives at its new forever home safe, sound, and without incident. However, there are unfortunate times when animals will arrive either injured, ill, or dead on arrival (DOA). And while nobody wants to have to deal with the heart ache or hassle of such an occurrence, just know that at Backwater Reptiles, we take good care of our customers and we will do everything to make sure that you have a good experience with us.

contact backwater reptiles
If you ever have any issues with your order, all you have to do is use the contact form on our website or email our customer service team via sales@backwaterreptiles.com.

We also think it’s worthwhile to mention that we have a shipping success rate of ninety-eight percent, which means that only two percent of all orders sent out have any issues. We’re very pleased with this statistic because it means that our animals are treated well, our customers are treated well, and we can rest easy knowing that we do and will continue to do everything within our power to be humane and ethical when delivering our beloved critters to their new forever families.

Because we do offer a live arrival guarantee PLUS an extended seven day warranty on all animals ordered from us, if you do ever happen to have something go wrong with your order, the process of either getting a refund or a replacement animal is very straight forward. All you have to do is email our customer service team and tell them your situation. They are fully equipped and ready to address your concerns and want to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

How will my pet be packaged?

Packing and prepping an animal to be mailed is not as simple as putting a frog in a box. It requires a bit of planning and careful placement and organization. After all, you don’t want your pet bouncing around inside a box or getting too cold, too wet, or too hot.

Most animals sold by Backwater Reptiles are small enough to fit inside small plastic cups with breathing holes. Most hatchling snakes, invertebrates, amphibians, and small lizards fall into this category. However, sometimes reptiles that are too large (i.e. some iguanas, some mature snakes, and other adult animals) will be sealed inside a breathable bag for transportation. No matter what temporary container your new pet is inside of, we make sure that said container is placed comfortably but securely within the shipping box to minimize movement and jerkiness.

Styrofoam inserts are placed on all sides of the box to not only secure the container from moving around, but also to create additional insulation. The styrofoam helps maintain the desired temperature within the box.

Whether or not a heat or cool pack is included inside your new pet’s shipping box depends on several factors – namely, the local temperature at our facility and the temperature at the animal’s final destination.

For instance, because the Backwater Reptiles facility is located in Northern California, our summers can get into triple digit temperatures. This means that even if the animal’s destination is somewhere cold, we can’t include a heat pack to keep the animal warm because it would overheat while in transit from our location. It’s a balancing act taken case by case, and usually we choose to take into account the most extreme temperature situation at either the departure location or the destination and compensate for it.

We will also take temperature into account when poking air holes in the actual shipping box itself. More holes does allow for more air flow, but it also allows the temperature exchange to occur more quickly. So, for instance, if the exterior temperatures are very cold and we’ve packed the animal with a heat pack to compensate, it doesn’t make sense to poke a ton of air holes in the shipping box because it allows all the heat created by the pack to escape. There’s no need to fret though – the boxes themselves aren’t sealed to the point of preventing proper air circulation, so your new pet will not suffocate.

All of our shipping boxes are also properly labeled to help the FedEx and UPS carriers understand that there is a live animal inside. Not only are the boxes labeled as such, but we use a special “LIVE ANIMAL” stamp to add extra security.

All you have to do once your new pet arrives is crack the tape seal on the box, open and remove your critter! Most animals will need anywhere from a day to a week to feel at home in their new enclosure and to begin eating, drinking, and functioning as normal.

Below is a video demonstrating the details of how we package each animal. The video does go over much of the same information that’s listed above, but it’s a useful visual representation for those who prefer watching a video over reading.

Conclusion

We hope that this blog article has helped make you comfortable with the process of ordering a living animal online.

Our goal is to show current, past, and future customers that delivering animals through the mail is safe. Even if something does go wrong in transit, Backwater Reptiles will do everything to make sure our customers are happy by either offering a replacement animal or a refund.

We also have the best live arrival and warranty terms of any online reptile vendor!

If you have any questions or concerns that were left unanswered by this article, feel free to ask them in the comments section.

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.