Category Archives: Reptiles

Do Crocodiles Have Ears?


As response to an interesting question from my lovely little 2.5 year old niece, “Do crocodiles have ears?” I have written the following post, for mummy and daddy to read/explain to her… and for the rest of you to enjoy too 😉

So, let Aunty Ali answer your question Scarlett! Yes, crocodiles have ears. They are internal (on the inside) only – they have no external (outer) ear like we do, but they have very good hearing! Their ears are not always easy to spot – can you find the ear in the picture below?

Their ears are located behind their eyes, in the upper part of their heads; just like with Alligators. They have flaps which cover their ears forming a tight seal, preventing water from entering the ear when submerged.

Due to the location of their ears, they can hear whilst in the water, with just the tops of their heads sitting above water level. Their hearing is so sensitive, they can hear their offspring making noises inside their eggs!


All images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Tortoise Care


Tortoises, or land turtles, are one of the most popular reptile species which are keep as pets. Nowadays, we have a bit more knowledge about these unusual animals, which allows us to take the best care of them that we can!

Baby Hermanns Tortoise
Baby Hermann’s Tortoise – own image

Tortoise species which are kept domestically, typically have lifespans of 60-80 years. Lifespans differ between species.

As previously mentioned in my Reptile Awareness 2015 post, reptiles are endothermic (cold blooded) and need to bask in the heat, to absorb heat, to get moving! A heat source needs to be fitted in the vivarium (enclosure) for this purpose – but at one end of the vivarium, and far enough away from the other end,  that your tortoise can move into a cool spot when it likes. The natural source of heat is the sun, which naturally also provides UV, in a domestic environment, in the vivarium, a UV bulb should also be fitted. UV is a good source of vitamin D which aids in shell and bone development and growth. Without adequate heat and UV, your pet may become ill, or worse.

On a personal level, I would not recommend heat rocks or mats for any reptile species, as these can get very hot – if the animal is lay on a heat rock or mat when it’s too hot, it could cause harmful burns.

Before looking into diet, you need to know if the species of your tortoise is a herbivore or a carnivore. If it is a carnivore, ensure you know what you can and cannot feed your pet – including sizes (likely food source will be pinkies (newborn mice)). Most pet tortoise species (at least, that I have had the pleasure of caring for since I was 16) are herbivores. As with any herbivorous animal, you need to know what fruit and veggies and other greens are safe to feed your tortoise, and which are not!

Also, pellet foods supplement a diet vegetables and fruits and other greens; the pellets are filled with balanced nutritional requirements suitable for the tortoise species. The diet should also include fibrous plants like grasses and weeds.

Tasty fresh food - own image
Tasty fresh food – own image

Good greens, veggies and fruits include white nettle, dandelion (flower and leaves), corn poppy, apple, chickweed, bindweeds, chicory, clover, heather, sow thistle, rose petals, fuchsia, nipplewort, peach, clover, grape, honeysuckle, bittercress, melon, blackberry, raspberry, knapweed, leafy salads, lettuce, apricot, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, dahlia, spring greens, pumpkin, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, strawberry, carrot, tomato, kale, courgette, cabbage, and bell peppers. Leafy greens should be  the bulk of the vegetation.

Don’t forget to provide fresh water daily for your tortoise, don’t put the water bowl under the heat lamp, to ensure your pet has cool water to drink. Tortoises like to bathe too, and will often sit in their water bowl .

Tortoise bathing in water bowl - own image
Tortoise bathing in water bowl – own image

The best types to buy are the bowls with ramps/staggered sides to enable your tortoise to easily climb in and out – not that they will always use the ramp! Often they will bathe themselves when they are shedding (they shed in bits like a lizard, not all in one like a snake), to help remove dead skin and relieve itching.

Climbing out of water bowl - own image
Climbing out of water bowl – own image

Tortoises have always been quite popular, however, some things that previous generations have done with their pet tortoises, were (unknowingly) not in the best interests of the animal… Such as, painting the shell – this is a big do not as the paint can block the air holes in the shell, and cause suffocation. Some tortoise species will go into hibernation during the winter months, they will wake come spring-time – your pet is not dead, and does not need to be buried or disposed of!


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Reptile Awareness Day 21.10.15


Happy Reptile Awareness Day!

Reptiles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; colours and textures; habitats and countries… Even within one species type the diversity is vast! All reptiles are ectothermic – this means they cannot generate their own heat; and must warm up using external heat sources, to enable them to move around and function. Alligators, Crocodiles, Caymans, Komodo Dragons and other large reptiles, are often shown on Nature Documentaries sat out in the sun to warm themselves up to start the day. The sun is the main source of heat for wild reptiles; as well as sitting on rocks and other surfaces that have been warmed by the sun. Reptiles kept as pets have various sources of heat on offer for their vivarium (tank) – heat mats and rocks are popular, however can be dangerous as the animal can get too hot and stick to these and overheat (often fatally). The best source of heat (in my opinion) are heat lamps, sectioned off from the animal, so that the animal cannot come into direct contact and harm itself.

Lizards come in many colours (many can change colour), different scale types, even legless! A lizard is defined differently from a snake because they have eyelids and (internal) ears. Snakes come in a variety of colours and scale types also; snakes do no have eyelids or legs or ears (internal or external). Snakes ‘hear’ through their jaw by feeling vibrations. Personally, from handling both legless lizards such as the Glass lizard and various snake species including the Corn snake;  I find a big difference between the two is how fluid and graceful the movements of a snake are – how they will curl around your arm and up your neck so smoothly, and how a legless lizard is very much the same in its’ movement as a lizard with legs – moving a bit less fluidly, it always made me think that the movements seem jerky on a legless lizard, but fitting to a lizard with legs. Don’t get me wrong, a legless lizard moves around perfectly well in its’ own way, as it was designed to do – but the movement between a snake, a legless lizard, and a legged lizard are varied and unique, and perfect in their own way.

Chameleons have feet uniquely shaped to grip trees and twigs perfectly; Geckos have ‘sticky’ or ‘sucky’ feet to grip a wide variety of surfaces, Bearded Dragons have long nails well adapted for clinging to surfaces, and for digging. Turtles – sea and land (aka tortoise) – move rather slowly in comparison to most reptiles when on land. Land turtles or tortoises have claws for digging, and legs for walking; Sea turtles move brilliantly in the water with flippers for swimming and gliding in the water, however are poor movers on land – despite this they manage to move onto beaches and dig nests every year for laying. Terrapins have feet in between the two – they have little claws on webbed feet; moving fairly equally on land and in water. Alligators and Crocodiles (and the like) move swiftly in the water, making it their home for most of the time.

There are many, many reptile species – feel free to contact me with any question about any species, and I will respond to the best of my knowledge.

Please enjoy below the images (either my own or Google Open Source) of various reptiles species.

National Pet Week: 4th-10th May


This week is National Pet Week – a week to remember your loving pets; past and present.

All the companion animals that made their way into our hearts; the members of the family that we can’t live without. From large to tiny – no matter what species, pets are held close by their families.

Here are some photo’s of “People’s Pets” shared via various (Ali’s Answers) social media pages (if you want your pet adding to this post, share via the social media options at the end of this post:-

National Visit the Zoo Day


In tribute to all the species kept in zoos and safari parks, enjoy some pictures of species that are wild, unusual, rarely seen (outside of zoos/ safari parks), and protected species/ last of their species.

Not everyone agrees with zoos or safari parks – there can certainly be improvements made; but on the other hand, we all enjoy visiting the zoo or safari park and taking in the exquisite and diverse animal species.

Picking a Pet


There is plenty to consider when you think about getting a pet… I doubt I will cover anything but I hope to get across some of the main things in this post. So I’ll just dive right in…

What kind of pet is right for you?
Species, breed, age, lifespan, lifestyle requirements, environment – these are all important factors to consider when thinking about a pet.
– what sort of pet would fit in with your lifestyle?
– is your home suitable for the pet you want?
– what type of pet is your home suitable for?
– do you have time to give the pet the attention and care it needs?

Chilean Rose

Think about what pet you want. Think about whether or not you can commit. Can you commit to…
–  walking a dog daily, often multiple times daily?
–  ensuring a cat is exercised daily?
–  cleaning the glass, substrate, decor and filter of a fish tank?
–  cleaning a rodent cage multiple times a week?
–  the lifespan of the pet you desire?
If you cannot commit, either choose a different species or consider waiting until you are in a positions to commit fully to the pet you desire. If you do not have the time or the space for the kind of pet you want; then you may need to look into either waiting, or consider a different species/ breed.

Horses

There are many things to consider before adding a pet into your family.

Consider your finances – can you afford the pet you want? – Not just the one off payment for the pet and accessories; but the regular payments towards food, healthcare, replacement bedding, etc.

Space – Where will the pet live? Does it require specialised housing? Will it have free run of your home/ garden? Is your home suitable for the pet you want? Does this pet require large housing building/ buying? Do you know what housing type is best for the species you want?
Consider the positioning of any specialised housing – not near busy thoroughfares, or in direct sunlight/ under bright lights,  anywhere too dark, too cold, too hot, etc. Does the housing need to be outside? Do you have enough outside space to accommodate the animal?

Socialisation – Do yo need to buy more than one due to the animal being of a social species? Does the animal need socialising outside of the home? What is the best way to socialise the species?

There are many things to consider! So do some research, ask a professional (nb. not every person who works in a pet store, etc. is a professional!), check out a few different individuals of the species you want, and be as prepared as possible before diving in to pet ownership!

 


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information or advice regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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Pet Travel Safety


People don’t think about safety during travel with regards to there pets, as much as they should; especially with dogs in cars. Travelling with our pets is something we almost all do at some point – even if it’s just a trip to the vets.

Safety is important when travelling – smaller pets ought to be in a safe, secure pet carrier; suitable for the size of your pet. Someone ought to securely hold the small pets in the carrier, or the carrier ought to be secured in your vehicle; so that the carrier does not move about too much or tip over.

Hamster in carrier

Larger animals can be in larger pet carriers and crates/ cages, and secured in your vehicle. This can be a carrier that is mobile, or fitted in your vehicle.

Dog in crate
Dog in crate

Alternatives for larger pets, such as dogs and cats, are pet seat belts. These consist of harnesses and some way to fasten them into the seat belt buckle; some plug straight into the buckle plug, others have a loop in which the seatbelt goes through and plugs in as normal.

Dog Car Harness (loop)
Dog Car Harness (loop)

What is important to remember is that it’s not just your pet you put at risk by leaving them loose during travel. They could be a distraction and cause an accident without meaning to, and they are a weight that can be thrown into a person or out a window/windscreen if you get into a crash. Now my little Bedlington, in the image above, is 17″ to the shoulder and weighs upwards of 10kg – if he was lose in my car and there was an accident, 10kg slamming into a person could kill them; 10kg shooting out the window/windscreen could kill your pet too…

It is one of my biggest pet peeves (no pun intended) is seeing pets loose in a vehicle – the danger for the pet and people is greater than we tend to give credit to.

World Animal Day


4th October 2014 – World Animal Day

Also known as International Animal Day or World Animal Lover Day. World Animal Day is a day for remembering all animals; by the people who love and respect them.

So enjoy the following animal images…

Common Behavioural Problems: Introduction


What is a behavioural problem?
(a) A natural behaviour that is undesirable to the owner, but very desirable to the animal.
(b) A natural behaviour that us undesirable to both owner and animal.
(c) An abnormal behaviour exhibited (and often done in repetition) that suggests the animal has an inability to cope with something in its environment (known as Stereotypical Behaviour).

Common Behavioural Problems:
– Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)
– Coprophagia (eating faeces – not abnormal for certain species)
– Aggression
– Excessive Vocalisation
– Scratching/ biting/ kicking/ rearing/ bucking
– Anxiety
– Tail Chasing
– Feather Plucking/ Fur Pulling
– Chewing (things that they are not meant to chew)
– Hyper-excitability
– Excessive Grooming
– Wind Sucking/ Cribbing

Stereotypical Behaviours:
– Pacing
– Weaving/ Swaying
– Head Bobbing
– Circling
– Neck Twisting
– Bar Biting
– Rocking
– Self-Mutilation
– Vomiting (and then eating it, and vomiting again)
– Coprophilia (playing with faeces)
– Coprophaga (repeated)

How can behavioural problems be approached?
(1) Educating the owner
(2) Modifying the environment
(3) Modifying the animal


I will be doing some follow up posts on some of these behavioural problems, and some ways to tackle them. If you have anything specific you would like me to cover then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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Pet Health Check: Body


As a response to a message asking to know more about health checking your pet at home, here is some information… part two:

Last weeks post covered the face, this week will cover health checking the rest of the body – as a continuation from the face/ head…

SPINE:
From feeling for lumps, nicks, cuts, etc. on the head and face of your animal; run your hands gently down the spine, feeling all along for anything out of the ordinary.
– check the spine is straight, not sticking out at any odd angles
– no lumps or swelling around the spine
– check the skin around the spine is not punctured or wounded (open)
– feel gently, slowly, and carefully

TAIL:
– same as above, just continue down the spine to the tail, checking the same things
– if your pet is a tail chaser, check that your pet has not caught its’ tail and done damage (with their teeth)

ABDOMEN:
– gently apply a slight pressure, to check for any pain
– feel for any internal lumps

RIBCAGE:
– check it feels normal for the species, not oddly shaped
– gently apply pressure, checking there is no pain (nothing feels broken)
– no lumps or swelling

LEGS/ WINGS/ HIPS/ SHOULDERS:
– no lumps, swelling, cuts, nicks, etc.
– free from pain when gentle pressure is applied
– joints bend normally; no pain or stiffness

FEET/ NAILS/ HOOVES:
– not too long; curling
– not flaking or split
– clean and free from dirt, debris, stones, etc.

FUR/ FEATHERS/ SCALES/ SKIN:
The fur patterns on your pet tend to match up with the skin colour; i.e. black patches of fur will have dark skin beneath, white fur will have pale skin beneath, brown fur will have brown skin beneath (etc. etc.) so know what your pet looks like all over so you can tell if anything is unusual. Know what is normal for your pet in terms of fur/ skin/ feather/ scale type, note any benign abnormalities so that you are able to ascertain when anything unusual occurs.
– skin: free from dryness/ crusting; fur/feathers: free from dandruff/ debris
– fur free from matting/ knots
– feathers should have a healthy shine
– fur should be soft and shiny
– wire hair/fur should not be brittle
– scales ought to be normal; not raised, or discoloured
– free from parasites, abrasions, lesions, infection

Male Bearded Dragon