Upstate Herpetological Association
- Vice President Albany Open Position†
- Rodents & Food contact us for info
- Adoptions contact Sue Black at 607-264-3441 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Newsletter Steve and Maria Shockney at315-635-6238 or email email@example.com
The Upstate Herpetological Association promotes education and responsibility when keeping reptiles and amphibians.
Education and responsibility are our greatest weapons against extinction.
Redfoot Tortoise sculpture by Jonathan Gray
Did You Know...
This is the time of year when some reptiles naturally brumate
(hibernate). Many temperate species go into hiding and stop eating
completely, while tropical species often slow down in their activities
and food intake. Keep this in mind if your pet seems sluggish or
uninterested in food. Unless you are intentionally cycling your
animals for breeding, keep them warm, continue to offer food and water,
and be patient. When spring rolls around, your reptiles will be back
to their happy, glutinous selves.
Strange But True:
- Updated:2006-09-27 14:37:57
- Couple's Home Infested With Snakes
- WILFORD, Idaho (Sept. 26) - The Hepworths knew the house would require some maintenance. But they never thought they'd need a snake charmer. Shortly after Lyman and Jeanine Hepworth began working on a rundown property outside of town, they experienced a trauma more fit for Samuel L. Jackson 's character in "Snakes on a Plane" than a pair of eastern Idaho do-it-yourselfers.
Snakes fell on Lyman Hepworth's head when he opened the door to a pump house near the small house the couple planned to buy.
"When it warmed up, we walked onto the yard and the whole yard moved," Jeanine Hepworth told the Rexburg Standard Journal.
One day, Lyman Hepworth reached to turn on a light and discovered the pull cord was actually a snake.
Last March, the Hepworths were having money troubles. Struggling to pay off their medical bills and make house payments, they sold their old home.
They planned to buy a home and a couple of outbuildings from an acquaintance on a few acres outside tiny Wilford.
Then they found the snakes - in the lawn, in the living room and in their hair.
Turns out the property was a winter snake sanctuary, likely a snake den or hibernaculum where snakes gather in large numbers to hibernate for the winter, said Lauri Hanauska-Brown, a biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
In the spring and summer the snakes fan out across the wilds of eastern Idaho, but as the days get shorter and cooler, the snakes return to the resting place - in this case, the Hepworths' new home - where they ball up for heat.
The snakes are likely a terrestrial garter snake, Hanauska-Brown said. Reptiles are a protected species meaning the Hepworths cannot bait them or kill them, she said.
The couple have not contacted Fish and Game to move the garters, Hanauska-Brown said. The department would attempt to move the snakes, but it could be difficult because if they move them too far they would die and if they move them close by the snakes would likely return to hibernate, she said.
"They are used to going there and kind of balling up," Hanauska-Brown told The Associated Press. "That sounds kind of Indiana Jonesish. But this is a natural thing."
The Hepworths so far have not moved in, but Lyman Hepworth's brother is still making payments, though the seller offered to refund their money when he found out about the infestation.
Their plan: They sent a videotape of the house, their children and, of course, the snakes to the producers of "Extreme Home Makeover," in hopes the television show would send its decorators in for a filmed renovation.
The video showed snakes slithering on the back porch, climbing up the foundation and a ball of snakes on the side of the home, Jeanine Hepworth said.
The couple will not find out if the show chooses their reptile refuge for a fix-up challenge until next year.
Meanwhile, summer has turned to fall. And the snakes that have been out for the summer are making their way back to the Hepworths' little home in Wilford.
There are many exotic pets waiting to be adopted that are dropped off at your local shelters.
Rotterdam Mall article and pic and
Full Spectrum UV Lighting
- The main goal for most people who keep reptiles as pets is to provide their animals with the absolute best possible care. At the same time we want to create an environment for our animals that is as much like their natural habitat as possible. This is vital to the animals physical and mental well-being. One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of reptile keeping is that of lighting. This is especially vital with certain basking species such as bearded dragons and tortoises. In this article, I will discuss the importance of full spectrum lighting.
In the wild, many reptile species would, during the course of a given day, spend a considerable amount of time in direct sunlight. For the sake of explanation, lets use a bearded dragon as an example. In the morning, the lizard would come out of its nighttime lair and search for a nice place to perch himself where he can observe his domain and warm up. However, raising his body temperature is only part of whatís going on. In fact, an entire network of complex bio-chemical reactions are occurring every second that our saurian friend sits in the sun. Lets take a look at whatís actually going on, in a simple, step-by-step analysis.
We begin with the sun. The sun puts off tremendous amounts of heat as well as both visible and invisible light. The visible light is what makes us able to drive during the day without headlights. We are all familiar with this type, or spectrum, of lighting. The spectrum of lighting that concerns our discussion, is the UVA and UVB rays. This may sound technical and confusing, but UV (ultra violet) rays are nothing more than the invisible radiation that gives us a sunburn. In the keeping of reptiles, UVB rays are of the most importance, and are also most commonly overlooked. When these rays of light hit the skin of a reptile, something amazing begins.
In the skin, a biochemical reaction occurs, that put simply, results in the animals body producing vitamin D3. So, we have the sun up in space, shooting invisible rays of light through the sky that hit our bearded dragon, causing his body to make vitamin D3. So what? Why is vitamin D3 so important? Well, now that you understand how reptiles synthesize the vitamin, we can look at what makes it so vital you the health of your pet.
Most reptile owners have had or know someone who has raised a herp from baby to adult hood. All of these people realize the same thing very quickly: herps grow fast. Extremely fast when compared to mammals. Look again at our bearded dragon example. In the course of a year, they grow from a 4 inch hatchling to an 18Ē mature adult. In that 12 or so months, a tremendous amount of body mass is developed from the food matter the animal eats. A large percentage of the body mass is the growing skeleton. Bone is made of calcium, so a bearded dragon needs lots of calcium to build a strong skeletal structure.
Many people figure this out on their own, and just add calcium powder to their pets food. But thatís not enough. This is where the vitamin D3 ties in. In order for a reptile to effectively utilize dietary calcium, there must be adequate D3 levels in the blood. In other words, you can feed a reptile tons of calcium, but without vitamin D, they simply canít use it effectively. There are a number of excellent calcium, vitamin, and mineral supplements available for your reptiles. At our stores, we use and recommend Miner-All* by Sticky Tongue farm. The make both an indoor formula (with D3) and an outdoor formula (for animals raised exclusively outdoors). Although the indoor formula does contain D3, UV light is still highly recommended, just in case your pet does not receive enough D3 from itís diet. Additionally, there is some belief that vitamin D3 actually synthesized in the body is much more potent and effective than artificially produced sources.
We have just summed up in a few very topical paragraphs what usually takes chapters of text books to explain. Honestly, for the average hobbyist, the details are unimportant, and that is why I chose to only highlight the most vital points here. To summerize the process: Sunlight contacts your herp, your pet makes vitamin D3, you feed him a high calcium diet, and finally the calcium is absorbed in the body and used to create and replace skeletal mass.
This may be all fine and dandy, if you are a green iguana hanging in the jungle canopy of a tropical rainforest, but what about the thousands of reptile pets kept in living rooms and bedrooms all over the world? Luckily, reptiles have become mainstream enough that special UVB producing light bulbs are being manufactured just for reptile keepers. These bulbs, which traditionally have been in the form of a fluorescent tube, produce enough light in just the right wavelength to allow captive herps to grow strong and healthy without having to be outdoors. Zoo Med has revolutionized the market with their wildy successful Repti-Sun bulbs. These bulbs are available in two strengths. Repti-Sun 2.0* for amphibians, snakes, and other animals that generally receive little or filtered sunlight in nature, and the more popular Repti-Sun 5.0* for your higher UV requirements. These bulbs are well established in the market, and many experts, myself included, swear by their efficacy.
In the past few years, a new product has begun to dominate the market. These mercury vapor UV bulbs screw into a standard dome light fixture, and produce ample amounts of both heat and UV. In the past, one would have had to use two separate lighting rigs, one for heat, and one fluorescent hood for UV. These new combo bulbs change all that. For larger terrarium use, I highly recommend Zoo Medís Power Sun* unit. This bulb will heat your enclosure during daylight hours as well as provide the vital UV rays necessary for your pets health.
But wait, thereís more! Brand new from Zoo Med is a new compact Repti-Sun 10.0 UV bulb that produces plenty of UVB, no heat, yet has a standard screw base. This product will no doubt change how many animals with high UV requirements (i.e. basking species) will be maintained.
All of these bulbs are great sun replacements, but in the end they are just that, replacements. If you live in a pleasant part of the world, why not let your critter have a day out in the sun? An inexpensive sun cage such as Apogees Reptariums* work great. Just keep security in mind (donít lose your pet) and make sure that your herp has access to shade and water while their out catching some rays.
As you can see, lighting is a vital part of proper reptile husbandry. More herps perish from deficiencies associated with inadequate lighting and calcium levels than from any other cause. Please, if your pet needs UV, provide it. Itís easier than ever to set-up, and besides, we all want the best for our pets, so why not give them what they deserve.
- All the products mentioned are always available at LLLReptile.com.
- Editorís note: UVB does not penetrate glass. Setting a terrarium in a window will not only have no positive effect on your pet, but puts it in great risk of overheating. Likewise, do not set glass or plexi-glass enclosure out in the sun, they will quickly overheat.
Dealing with Snake Mites
- If you own snakes, or have read about their care, you no doubt have heard of snake mites. Some books make snake mites out to be the absolute end of the world for a snake keeper. This is not usually true, but don't get me wrong, because they can spread so quickly, they can be truly devastating to a large collection. Likewise, even an infestation involving only a few snakes can be deadly to the animal if not identified and treated in time. The purpose of this article is to provide the reader with the basic steps needed to identify a mite problem in your snake collection, and the steps that we recommend you take to remedy the problem.
How do you know if your snake has mites? Just look it over. Snake mites (which are species specific, and thus will not infect you, your family, or your dog) are tiny arthropods that feed on the blood of living snakes. When alive they look like tiny (pin point) size black, or sometimes red, dots moving around on the snake. They are usually concentrated around the eye, nostrils, and gular fold (the crease of skin on the snakes chin). You may also spot mites on your hands after handling an infected animal, or sometimes the mite feces are apparent (especially on dark colored snakes) as white flakes or specks. Infected snakes will often soak in their water bowl excessively in an effort to drown the mites. If you see excessive soaking, check your snake for mites as just described, or look at the water itself for dead mites. Don't mistake dirt in the water for snake mites.
If your snake has mites, don't fret. It most likely had nothing to do with your care of the snake. Think of mites like fleas with dogs. It happens, and there are flare ups from time to time, but with proper awareness and treatment, mites are easily controlled.
The steps that follow are the most sure-fire, proven methods for mite eradication. Although it may be possible to treat mites successfully while eliminating a step or two, it is not recommended. Doing so may result in your snake still having mites in the end, and you having wasted your time.
STEP 1. Get the supplies. You will need a secure plastic tub (Rubbermaid, etc) that your snake fits in. You will also need some products to actually kill the mites. We recommend Reptile Relief by Natural Chemistry (to treat the animal) and Provent-A-Mite by Pro Products (to treat the enclosure). Both of these products are available all the time from LLLReptile.com or by phone order. Avoid home remedies that you may have heard of. We have seen these prove harmful, or even fatal to snakes.
STEP 2. Treat the animal. Put your snake into the plastic tub, and spray it liberally with the Reptile Relief, coating the animal from head to tail. (See the directions on the Reptile Relief bottle for further information) You will now allow the animal to sit for 15 to 20 minutes while all of the mites on your snake are killed. After the alotted time, rinse the snake well with clean water, and rinse out the tub as well. Now soak the snake again for another 15 to 20 minutes, this time in chin deep clean water. This will prevent your snake from becoming dehydrated, as the Reptile Relief works by drying out the mites. In the 30 or so minutes required to treat the animal, you can begin working on the cage.
Note: We recommend re-treating the animal only, as just discussed, two more times, one week apart, to eliminate any chance of mites re-occurring.
STEP 3. Treat the enclosure. Eliminating the living mites on the snake is only half the battle. There are still live mites (and mite eggs) in the enclosure that must be eliminated to prevent re-infestation. First, remove all of the cage decor (wood, hide boxes, water dishes, etc.) All of these items will need to be thoroughly cleaned in a water and bleach solution. This is best accomplished by soaking the items in another large tub or trash can. Make sure that no part of the items are above the water level. The mites will climb up to prevent drowning, so the entire object must be submerged. You will need to let these items soak for about 20 minutes. While this is soaking, remove and discard all of the substrate (bark, sani-chips, etc) from your enclosure. To actually clean the cage you can use any mild cleanser, Zoo Med's Wipe Out #3 cage cleaner, or even better, the Reptile Relief can be used directly on the cage surfaces. Wipe down all surfaces thoroughly, and rinse with water if you suspect any residue. To get your cage glass sparkling clean use a non-toxic glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Avoid products with strong fumes or ammonia. After all (if any) fumes have dissipated, refill the cage with fresh substrate.
By now, your cage decorations should be ready for rinsing. Rinse them well with a strong jet of clean water until no evidence of bleach remains (odors, suds, etc). Letting the rinsed items dry in the hot sun is a great time saver.
Now you can replace all of your cage decor back into the cage EXCEPT for the water dish. That will go in last. Once the enclosure is all set up and looking great, it is time for the Provent-A-Mite. This stuff works great, but it is strong, so do not use any more than recommended. (See the directions on the Provent-A-Mite can for further information) Once it is dry, it is completely harmless to your snake, but in a liquid or gas form, it can be harmful (that is why you do not want the water dish in there when you spray.) You will now spray the Provent-A-Mite all over the bedding and decor at a rate of about one second per square foot (that's just over a second of spray for a 10 gallon tank). Allow the enclosure to air out for at least 15 minutes, or longer if you think you may have sprayed too much.
STEP 4. Replace animal and water dish. Finally, you can now add your snake and filled water dish to the completely mite-free enclosure.
In the grand scheme of things, spending an hour or two on this project isn't the end of the world, but it's certainly worth avoiding the stress on you and the animal. As a result, prevention is the best medicine. Luckily, the Provent-A-Mite will continue to protect your enclosure from mites for about a month. We recommend that every month you treat your enclosure as described regardless of whether mites are present or not. It only takes a few minutes. Just remember to take out your snake and water dish before spraying.
"Angel" sculpture by Jonathan Gray
Albany meetings are as follows:
- Albany Chapter Meetings will be held at the DEC's 5 Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar. Click on the map link for a printable map.
- 5 Rivers Map
- Albany Chapter meetings are suspended until a replacement VP is found.Now is the time to volunteer!
Join the Association
- Click on our main page link below for information on joining UHA
- Come to a meeting,hear a guest speaker,talk to other members,and fill out your membership form right there.
- Annual dues are $25.00
"Chef" and "Bishop" sculptures by Jonathan Gray
- See Jonathan's Nuns and inquire about his reptile sculptures: Sponsa Christi Divine Sculptures
Star Tortoise by Jonathan Gray
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