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Reptiles and Amphibians – Are Exotic Pets Right For Your Lifestyle?

Reptiles and amphibians range from low- to high-maintenance care

Thinking of adding an exotic pet like a reptile or amphibian to your household? While they’re not exactly cuddly and affectionate, many ‘herps’ (coined from the Greek word for creeping thing) can make great pets, but different species will need different levels of owner experience and investment. Because reptiles and amphibians may require varying degrees of specialized care, it’s important to
do some research! Before you consider adopting one of these critters, here’s some basic information on reptiles and amphibians that could help you make the right decision for you and your family!

Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians

For kids and adults who may be allergic to furry or feathered pets or just want a pet that’s out of the norm, low maintenance reptiles and amphibians can be wonderful options. Some notes of caution – many herps do not like being handled and do not do well being handled, so there can be a risk of biting or injury. Low maintenance reptiles and amphibians include corn snakes, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, tortoises, and frogs, making them a great beginner options for families with children.

Smaller carnivorous lizards and amphibians feed on a varied diet that includes insects dusted with supplements, such as calcium and other vitamins. Larger carnivorous reptiles, such as monitor lizards and snakes will eat rodents – whether live, freshly killed or thawed from frozen. Others may need to be fed live crickets, mealworms, cockroaches, or worms.

How long do reptiles live?
Another thing to consider when deciding to adopt a reptile is how long do they live? When properly cared for, many reptiles will live far longer in captivity than in the wild, so owning one may be a longer commitment than having a dog or cat.

Snakes: Many types of snakes can live for decades. Corn snakes have a lifespan of 10-20 years. Ball pythons can live for 20-30 years. Kingsnakes average between 12-15 years. Some can even grow well over 5-feet long, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before bringing a snake home.

Turtles & Tortoises: Turtles are water-lovers; tortoises live on land. Turtles and tortoises have the longest potential lifespan. With proper care, some species can live up to 40 to 60 years or even longer. Tortoises often live to a ripe old age, so they’re definitely a long-term commitment – especially since they could outlive you.

Frogs: It’s difficult to answer this as tracking the lifespan of a single frog is next to impossible unless it’s raised in captivity. Depending on the species, frogs can live anywhere between 2 to 40 years, but the average age to expect a frog or toad to live is about 4 to 15 years.

Setting Up a Healthy Habitat
Aquariums, terrariums, tanks, and other habitats will need some specialized equipment, regular cleaning, and care. Reptiles cannot regulate their own body heat, so you will need to have temperature and brightness-regulating devices like:
● A humidifier to help keep the air warm and moist.
● Daytime lights and heat sources. Reptile tanks need a “hot side” and a “cool side” to regulate body temperature.
● Nighttime lights and heat sources. The cool side of the tank needs infrared heat lamps for nighttime use. Most reptiles – like iguanas – also require ultraviolet light.
● Thermometers. Get two thermometers: one for the hot side and one for the cooler side.

Required Accessories For Reptiles and Amphibians
● Hides where they can retreat from the heat and rest.
● Food and water bowls, some will need deeper water for swimming.
● Tile, newspaper, or reptile carpet bedding.
● Rocks, logs, plants, and other accessories.

Health considerations with reptiles and amphibians

With owning a reptile or amphibian comes some health considerations for both the animal and humans. Regular cleaning of the pet’s habitats, as well as lots of handwashing, is a must to help keep your family safe. All children should be closely supervised when caring for reptiles and amphibians because they can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria.

Each year, around 70,000 people in the U.S. contract salmonellosis from direct or indirect contact with reptiles and amphibians. Children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illness or death. If you or anyone in your household have health conditions that could put you at risk, it may not be the best fit.please consider another type of pet.

While many people would not consider owning these types of pets, some reptiles are prohibited by the Arizona Department of Wildlife. Illegal reptiles (without proper permits/licenses) include exotic venomous reptiles, such as cobras, cottonmouths, copperheads, mambas, etc., and any endangered or protected species. Crocodilians (crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials) are also illegal to own without proper permits.

Finally, remember that reptiles and amphibians need veterinary care, too. Regular wellness exams can help keep them happy and healthy for years to come.

Click here for a list of AZPetVet hospitals that treat exotics and reptiles.

10 Interesting Facts About Hummingbirds You May Not Have Known

Hummingbird facts and myths: Discover the secrets behind these speedy birds

In Arizona, if you’ve ever spent a morning sitting out on your patio enjoying the sun,
gone on a leisurely trail hike, or spent the day at a botanical garden, chances are
you’ve had an encounter with one of the smallest birds in the world — the
hummingbird. These adorable feathered friends grace our desert landscape with
their beauty as they flutter around from flower to flower. While there are over 300
hummingbird species found around the world, only around two dozen can be found
in the U.S.

Hummingbirds may be little, but there are a lot of exciting facts, quirks, and even a
few myths associated with these tiny treasures. Here are 10 interesting facts about
hummingbirds to expand your knowledge of these fascinating birds:

1. The calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird species in the U.S. — measuring
just 3 inches long.

2. Along with being one of the few species of birds that can hover,
hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backward. This fantastic skill is due
to the structure of their wings. Hummingbirds can rotate their wings in a full circle —
change direction, and it’s effectively putting them into reverse!

3. Our tiny feathered friends are not fans of walking, and can only use their feet
to scratch, preen and shuffle side to side on a perch. Hummingbirds’ feet have
evolved and adapted to become smaller to be more efficient flyers, but they’re not
very useful for speed-walking.

4. One common myth about hummingbirds is that they suck nectar up through
their long bills using a force called capillary action. This action can be observed by
placing a very long, thin tube in a glass of water. Without using any suction, water
will travel up the tube. However, the capillary action idea was recently disproven in
2015. Hummingbirds lick up nectar using their long, forked tongues that have hair-
like extensions that open up. Once the bird’s tongue hits the nectar, it retracts,
trapping the liquid inside as the hummingbird pulls its tongue back into its mouth.

5. Want to see a hummingbird’s tongue at work? You’ll need a special camera for
that. A hummingbird can lick up to 13 times per second — so you’ll need to be in
super slow-mo mode!

6. While they may be small, hummingbirds are fierce and are one of the most
aggressive bird species. If you have a hummingbird feeder, you’ll often see one
dominant hummingbird that will guard your backyard as its own to protect its food
source. Hummingbirds are also known to attack other birds, such as crows and
hawks if they invade their space.

7. The sword-billed hummingbird is the only bird in existence that has a bill
that’s longer than its body. In fact, the bill is so long that the hummingbird has to
continually hold it upright if it’s resting on a perch — otherwise, it will topple over.

8. When flying forward, a hummingbird can reach a speed of up to 30 mph.
When diving, these birds can reach up to 60 mph! Despite being incredibly fast,
hummingbirds still have predators that will happily feast on them if they can catch
them. Some of the hummingbirds’ natural predators include owls, praying mantises,
snakes, spiders, and roadrunners, among others.

9. A hummingbird’s wings can flap up to 70 times per second. Hummingbird
hearts can reach a rate of up to 1,260 beats per minute to power their speedy wings
and flight!

10. Hummingbirds have a speedy metabolism and have to eat about half of their
body weight every day. Our feathered friends have to consume so much food and
be consistently eating — if they slept the same way as humans do, they would starve!
Hummingbirds go into a much deeper form of sleep that’s similar to a mini hibernation. This process slows the bird’s metabolism down enough to make it through the night without needing a midnight snack.

Now that you know 10 interesting facts about hummingbirds, share these tidbits
with friends the next time you one of these speedy birds zooms by. Have a favorite
hummingbird fact that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

These 5 Fun Facts About Frogs Aren’t Well Known to Many

Five fun facts about frogs

Some of the most well-known amphibians are frogs. Evidence suggests that frogs have been around for over 200 million years. With the abundance of different species, it’s amazing how little many people know about these four-legged hoppers. Here are a few interesting facts that might just surprise you! 

Five fun facts about frogs you might not know: 

1. A group of frogs is called an army

Mimicking an army, large groups of frogs come together during the breeding season to search for food. Moving in a large group provides frogs who would otherwise be vulnerable traveling alone with an increased chance of survival. 

2. Frogs drink water through their skin

Frogs drink water through what’s known as a ‘drinking patch’, which is located on the underside of a frog’s belly and thighs that allows them to absorb water through their skin.

3. Frogs are found all over the world

Except for Antarctica. Far too cold! While frogs live both on land and in water, they move more efficiently on the ground by jumping and climbing. Using their long legs, many frogs can leap 20 times their body height! 

4. The world’s largest frog species is known as the ‘Goliath Frog’

The ‘Goliath Frog’ lives in Western Africa and can grow to be around a foot long and weigh up to 7 pounds! In contrast, the world’s smallest frogs are less than 1/2 inch long.

5. A frog’s eyes and nose are on the very top of their heads

This allows them to see and breathe while most of their body is underwater. The protruding eyes on the frog able them to see in front, to the sides, and slightly behind them. Their eyes also allow them to swallow their food. Each time the frog blinks, they are pulling their eyes down to the roof of their mouth to push the food down their throat. Some of the most common foods that frogs eat are bugs, spiders, worms, slugs, larvae, and sometimes small fish.

Now that your knowledge of frogs has expanded beyond Kermit, you can share these facts with your friends. Have a favorite frog fact that we missed? Tell us in the comments below.

Can Certain Snails Really Sleep for 3 Years? 

Let’s Learn Exactly How Some Snails Sleep

At first glance, you may not assume that land snails live very fascinating lives. However, these gastropods live quite unique lifestyles. These animals are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female reproductive organs. They have no sense of hearing, and salt is potentially toxic for them. However, one of the most interesting aspects of their life is how they sleep. Exactly, how long can certain snails sleep for? You may be surprised by the answer. 

How Long Can Snails Sleep?

Certain land snails can sleep for up to three years in hibernation or estivation. Yes, it’s true!  Although this extended nap may sound appealing at first, it is actually caused by less-than-ideal conditions. 

Why Do Snails Sleep So Long?

Snails need moisture to survive; so if the weather is not cooperating, they can actually sleep up to three years. It has been reported that depending on geography, snails can shift into hibernation (which occurs in the winter), or estivation (also known as ‘summer sleep’), helping to escape warm climates. During this time, the snails will secrete mucus over their bodies to protect themselves from the dry, hot weather. As glamorous as it may sound, snails don’t always sleep for three years in their own mucus. When the weather is just right, snails do tend to follow a pretty regular sleeping schedule.  

Does A Snails Sleep Schedule Differ From Humans?

Unlike humans, snails don’t abide by the rules of night and day. Generally, snails will sleep on and off in between periods of 13 to 15 hours. Afterwards, they experience a sudden jolt of energy for the next 30 hours, where they get all their snail chores done! 

How Can You Tell If a Snail Is Asleep?

It can be pretty tough to determine whether or not a snail is sleeping, considering they don’t show any obvious signs such as having their eyes closed or snoring. However, there are still a few simple ways that can help you tell whether or not a snail is sleeping:

  • The shell may hang away from their body slightly
  • Relaxed foot
  • Tentacles appear withdrawn a little 

It may be easy to assume that the gastropod is dead, but don’t jump to conclusions when you see an immobile snail in the garden — it may just be taking a power nap.