Chickens are pretty omnivorous, but it is very important for them to have a balanced diet. Unless you are very expert at chicken feeding, the best way to do this is to base your chickens’ diet on one of the pelleted feeds. You can feed your chickens this in conjunction with corn or wheat, the consensus of opinion being to feed the pellets in the morning from a feeder that keeps the food dry, then the grain in the afternoon as a scatter food. If the chicken run you choose is under cover, then you are assured the food will be kept dry, but if your chickens are free-range it is important to buy feeders with lids on. Feed your chickens at a rate that leaves a little left over at the end of the day, as this will assure you that every bird is getting enough to eat. Birds love fresh greens and they will also benefit from these. If you can’t get your birds onto a grassy area regularly, then give them some cabbage or something similar. Once you are sure the birds are properly nourished, you can add a few treats which won’t do them any harm and will be much appreciated by your chickens. Bread, cereal or sunflower seeds make good treats.

DRINK

Fresh, clean water must be made available during the daylight hours. A drinking fountain will keep a reserve of clean water which fills up a small trough, making it harder for the water to be fouled. If you lock your birds in the chicken coop at night, it isn’t necessary to make water available.

GRIT

Hens need (flint) grit to grind food in their crop. Some grit will be included in a good quality food, but it’s also a good idea to supply some in a suitable container. There will also be a source of calcium in their food which is necessary for the production of eggshells, but many poultry keepers like to supply extra calcium in the form of ground oyster shell which is usually mixed in with the grit.

CLEANING

The chicken house will need to be cleaned regularly, exactly how often depends on the amount of birds you are keeping and the time of year, but ideally once a week. It is very important to keep all the crevices of the chicken coop clean and watch for signs of infestation by red mite or fleas The floor of the chicken house should be covered with sawdust but it is very important that this should be dust-free wood shavings as chickens have delicate respiratory systems and dust can be very harmful to them. For the same reason clean, dry wheat straw (not hay) should be used in their nesting boxes, preferably on a layer of sawdust. The floor can be lined with old newspaper first, then sawdust, droppings and all can simply be rolled up. Poultry droppings make one of the best garden manures you can get, though used fresh and direct, in quantity, can be too strong for plants. It is better to allow the manure to rot down with the old straw and sawdust – it really shouldn’t smell.

EGGS

Hens don’t need a cockerel with them in order to lay eggs, the cockerel is only required if you want fertile eggs (which if collected regularly are perfectly OK to eat). The rate of lay depends on the nutrition your hens are getting, the amount of contentment they feel, the age of the bird, day length and breed of bird. 14 hours of daylight is the optimum day length and commercial producers may use lights to provide a false dawn. Dusk should be gradual for the welfare of your birds as this allows your chickens time to roost. Chickens usually start laying again after the winter, around mid-February, but you will probably get the odd egg all year round. It is true that a china egg can help stimulate laying. It’s very important for your chickens to have the correct environment for laying eggs. The nesting area within the chicken coop needs to be dark and reasonably private. It is advisable to collect your eggs at least once a day as you don’t want birds to start sitting on a clutch (unless you want to start breeding!) or to get a taste for eggs themselves. Whether to clean eggs is a debateable matter. If you do, then just wipe them with a cloth dipped in clean, tepid water. Eggs are porous and so will absorb any smells. Mark the collection date on the shells with a pencil so that you use the oldest first and enjoy the incomparable taste of a really fresh egg!

MOULT

Once a year chickens lose their feathers (not all of them) and grow new ones. They can go rather quiet and tend not to lay as much, but after a few weeks you will see them looking good again. It is advisable that birds are in tip top condition prior to the moult, as this process can take a lot out of your chickens, so ensure your worming and parasite control is up to date. You do not need to take any other action, although some hen keepers like to add some extra vitamins to their hens’ food as an encouragement.

FLOCK RELATIONS

Chickens have a hierarchical social system with the stronger, more assertive birds having first crack at feeding. They will also boss the lower order chickens around. This is known as the ‘pecking order’. You will notice, as you watch your chickens, the order of precedence. This behaviour becomes particularly obvious when new birds are introduced to an established flock. Until the order is re-established any new birds that have been introduced to the flock will be bullied, sometimes quite badly. It is often necessary for the protection of new birds, to segregate them in an enclosure within the main run until they are accepted into the flock. General well-being Contented, busy chickens are much more likely to thrive and lay well, compared to those that are unhappy. Chickens feed mainly by scratching the ground, then pecking an earth floor to the run. A few inches of bark chippings or similar will also keep them occupied and happy. Another simple measure is to provide their greens hung up in a string bag or on a hook so they have to reach up to get at it. If possible, let them roam free - they will love the space but may play havoc with your garden! With care, especially during the high summer and through the winter months, a small number of chickens will not do much damage in a garden. They will eat up a lot of pests – they love slugs – spread some very fine manure, and be a pleasure to have around. Keep an eye on your flock’s behaviour, droppings and food consumption - any bird that ‘goes quiet’, has a messy tail or loses feathers should be investigated.

SUGGESTED FEEDING GUIDELINES

Guinea pigs can eat a wide variety of foods. We recommend giving as much hay or grass as possible. This should be supplemented with fresh food and a pellet mix (we recommend Burgess SupaGuinea as it is rich in vitamin C which is essential) to give the ideal balance. Guinea pigs will eat almost any leafy greens or vegetable. Tomatoes and potatoes should be avoided. Lettuce and apples should only be given in moderation to avoid digestive upsets. HOUSING & HANDLING

Guinea pigs can be kept indoors or outdoors. During winter a guinea pig kept outdoors will need lots of extra hay and a covering for the hutch at night to protect from cold and frost. Remember to check the water bottle twice a day to ensure it is not frozen. In summer the hutch should be kept in the shade to prevent heat stress. Guinea pigs are very social animals and like company. It is best to keep two females together or if you have two males have them castrated at six months old to avoid fighting. Guinea pigs should not be kept with rabbits under any circumstances. Handle your guinea pig every day so it gets used to human contact. A well cared for guinea pig should live for four to six years.

DENTAL CARE & NAIL CLIPPING

Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continually throughout their lifetime. In the wild they eat grass and gnaw twigs but in captivity dental problems frequently occur. To help with this ensure that your guinea pig has plenty of fresh grass and hay. Carrot tops and chew sticks help as well. If you find your guinea pig has difficulty eating, has a wet chin or is losing weight he or she should be checked by a vet immediately. Dental disease in guinea pigs is an extremely difficult condition to manage so getting the diet right in the first place is absolutely vital. Don’t forget that your guinea pig’s nails will grow all year round and will need clipping occasionally. We recommend having a nail clip with our practice nurse every three months.

SKIN MITES

Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continually throughout their lifetime. In the wild they eat grass and gnaw twigs but in captivity dental problems

AND FINALLY

We hope that you will have lots of fun and pleasure from your guinea pig over the coming years. We trust he or she will enjoy good health and to help achieve this we recommend a health review every year at your vets.

SUGGESTED FEEDING GUIDELINES

In the wild, hamsters forage for their food so it is likely that the usual hamster mixes are a perfectly acceptable form of food for these creatures. Hamsters should have a readily topped up bowl of food which they will consume mostly at night. They should also be provided with a water bottle that is cleaned and topped up each day.

HANDLING & HOUSING

There are many types of hamster available but the most common is the Syrian. Hamsters are solitary animals so it is imperative that they are kept singly to avoid fighting and injury. Hamsters are also well known for their ability to escape, many a hamster has been called Houdini! For this reason it is important to buy an escape-proof cage or aquarium. In fact you can purchase some quite fantastic hamster cages now with connecting tunnels, wheels and bedding areas to keep these small critters happy. For bedding materials use pine shavings or shredded paper. Do not use cotton wool, shredded J-cloths or similar materials as they can get caught around the feet and act like a snare causing great harm. Due to their nocturnal habits it is important that you wake a hamster up for play carefully and slowly to avoid frightening them – a sleepy hamster will be grumpy and more likely to bite!

NEUTERING

Because your hamster lives on its own it is not necessary to neuter it. However some female hamsters do develop problems with their ovaries and so surgery is occasionally necessary.

DENTAL CARE

Hamsters’ incisor teeth will grow throughout life, therefore it is important that an array of chewing toys is available to help wear the teeth down. You should check your hamster’s front teeth from time to time to ensure they do not become overgrown and cause ulceration of the lips.

PLAYING & EXERCISE

It is very important that your hamster gets used to handling, so as soon as you get it you should make a point of handling it gently each day. Your hamster should have a big enough cage to allow some exercise toys like a wheel or some climbing ladders. Remember, hamsters are nocturnal animals so they will only really become active at night time. As such keeping them in a bedroom may not be the best idea!

SUGGESTED FEEDING GUIDELINES

The easiest way to ensure a good level of nutrition for your rabbit is to feed a mixture of fresh grass and hay, supplemented with Burgess Supa-Rabbit rabbit food, on top of this you should feed it fresh vegetables - but not too many. You want your bunny to eat as much grass and hay as possible. Also, always make sure that your rabbit has a fresh supply of water to drink – remember water bottles will freeze in the winter.

VACCINATIONS

Your rabbit should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis which is a serious and usually fatal disease. It is caused by a highly contagious virus, spread by fleas and mosquitoes. Myxomatosis vaccine can be given from six weeks of age and a booster given every six months. Rabbits should also be vaccinated against Viral Haemorrhagic Disease [VHD]. This is given from ten weeks of age and a booster given yearly. Both vaccines should be given two weeks apart.

NEUTERING

Neutering females at an early age is very important as it reduces the likelihood of developing uterine cancer, as well as aggression. Neutering males can reduce the likelihood of territory spraying and aggression. Rabbits can be neutered from six months.

INSURANCE

Insurance for your pet is something we strongly recommend as veterinary fees can be expensive. We recommend Petplan who have a policy especially designed for rabbit owners.

DENTAL CARE

Rabbits’ teeth continually grow throughout their lifetime. In the wild they eat grass and gnaw twigs but in captivity dental problems frequently occur. To help with this ensure that your rabbit has plenty of grass, fresh hay, carrots and chew sticks. If you find your rabbit has difficulty eating, a wet chin or is losing weight it should be checked by a vet ASAP.

FLY STRIKE

Fly strike is common in the rabbit. It happens in hot and humid weather. Flies, attracted to a rabbit’s bottom because it is dirty, lay their eggs. In as little as eight hours the eggs hatch out into maggots. The maggots feast on the rabbit’s flesh causing tremendous pain and if left untreated, death. Prevent this by checking the hutch twice a day to ensure it stays free from droppings. Hang a fly strip close to the hutch, or cover the front of the hutch with a net curtain. Check your rabbit’s bottom twice a day to make sure it is clean.

AND FINALLY

We hope that you will have lots of fun and pleasure from your rabbit over the coming years. We trust he or she will enjoy good health and to help achieve this we recommend a health review every six months at your vets.

DISTRIBUTION

These snakes come from areas of Central and Western Africa, where they are often found on the ground or in the trees of forest land.

SIZE

Hatchlings begin at around 30 to 40cm (12 to 16 inches) in length, reaching around 60cm (2 feet) within the first 12 months of growth with an eventual size of around 120 to 180cm (4 - 6 feet) in length. This is usually within 5 years.

DIET

Their main diet consists of pink mice and fuzzies for hatchlings. As the snake grows, so will the frequency and amount of food given as well as an increase in prey size, from pink mice to eventually large rats and medium sized poultry. Problem feeding specimens can usually be tempted to feed with Gerbils.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can either be reflector spot lights in green, red or blue, ceramics, tubular heaters or thermostatically controlled heat mats. UV Light Source:- Although there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of UV supplementation with snakes, many herpetologists wouldn’t be without one. It has therefore been included here as a suggestion and the recommended type for snakes until further scientific research proves otherwise is a 2.0% UV light. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. Care should be taken however if your snake is albino as the light intensity could have detrimental effects on the eyes of your snake. Vitamin D3 supplements should also be kept to a minimum. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. Hatchlings would require a small hatchling tub (pen pal, geoflat or even a ventilated sandwich box) which can be housed in a heated vivarium. A pair of adult snakes can be housed within a vivarium measuring 90cm long by 45cm deep by 45cm high (36 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches). Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the vivarium. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.

WATER

These animals require a water container which will allow them to bathe without constriction. This water should be changed daily as this is also the water they drink.

TEMPERATURES

A background temperature of 29 - 31°C (84 - 86°F) is required. A basking area covering one third of the vivarium should be allowed to reach temperatures of 33 - 34°C (88 - 90°F). At night the temperature may be allowed to drop to 27°C (80°F), although this is not recommended if your snakes is suffering from any respiratory infections.

LONGEVITY

These snakes have been known to reach ages of around 18 years, although snakes living up to and in excess of 25 years are not uncommon. NB- This species is renowned for being a problem feeder, always ensure that the snake is feeding prior to purchase. For this reason it is not suitable as a first time snake.

SUBSTRATE

This can be anything from newspaper, brown paper or even astro turf. Whatever you use remember that it must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease.

DISTRIBUTION

These animals are found in many areas of the United States especially southern areas.

SIZE

These are small lizards which grow between 15 to 20cm (6 and 8 inches) in length.

DIET

Anoles are mainly insectivorous animals. Foods eaten consist of arthropods, smaller lizards, mealworms, wax worms, black field crickets, locusts, brown crickets, earthworms, pink mice and some sweet fruit. All foods should be dusted with a good quality calcium supplement prior to feeding.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This should be a guarded reflector spot bulb (either red, green or blue) or a ceramic or tubular heater. Heat mats may also be used as an extra source of heat, but they are not essential. UV Light Source:- Require a UVB Reptisun 5.0 light. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 12 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your green anole sufficient levels of UV. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. A vivarium measuring 60cm by 45cm by 45cm (24 inches in length by 18 inches deep by 18 inches high) is sufficient for a small colony of anoles (3 or 4). However, males are notoriously aggressive and should not be kept with other males. Hatchlings should be kept in a smaller container which can be housed in their future vivarium. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the enclosure. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides. WATER These animals in particular do not require great amounts of water, spraying on a daily basis is often sufficient. However, it may be wise to supply a shallow bowl of water to enable the animal to use it when needed. Alternatively a drip watering system can also be set up.

TEMPERATURES

A basking area of 30C (86°F) should be provided at one end of the vivarium. A background temperature ranging from 23 to 26C (75°F to 78°F) is also required.

HUMIDITY

Green anoles arise from dry, hot areas of south America and therefore require medium levels of humidity, usually around 50 - 60%.

LONGEVITY

If kept under the correct conditions and given the correct diet green anoles can live for 3 - 5 years with some exceeding this.

SUBSTRATE

This can be anything from newspaper, brown paper or even astro turf. Whatever you use remember that it must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal.

DISTRIBUTION

The leopard gecko can be found in areas of northwest India, southwest Afghanistan, eastern Iran and Pakistan. Baby leopard geckos often found in pet shops are delicate in appearance compared to the stocky adults they can become, reaching breeding age at around 18 months.

SIZE

These animals grow between 18 and 24cm in length.

DIET

Geckos are mainly insectivorous animals. Foods taken in captivity consist of arthropods, mealworms, wax worms, black field crickets, locusts, brown crickets, earthworms and pink mice.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can be either reflector (spot) lights in green, red or blue, ceramic or tubular heaters or thermostatically controlled heat mats. UV Light Source:- Require a 2.0% UVB lamp. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your lizard sufficient levels of UV in order to allow vitamin D3 synthesis. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. A vivarium measuring 30 inches in length by 18 inches deep by 18 inches high) is sufficient for a small colony of geckos (3 or 4). However, males are notoriously aggressive and should not be kept with other males. Hatchlings should be kept in a smaller container which can be housed in their future vivarium. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used, in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the enclosure. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.

WATER

These animals in particular do not require great amounts of water, spraying on a daily basis is often sufficient. HSowever, it may be wise to supply a shallow bowl of water to enable the animal to use it when needed.

TEMPERATURE

A basking area of 30 - 35°C (86 - 96°F) is required at one end of the vivarium. The background temperature should range from 26 - 28°C with a night time temperature of 20 - 25°C.

HUMIDITY

These animals arise from fairly dry areas and therefore require lower levels of humidity, usually around 50 - 55%. A humid hide should also be provided, to assist with shedding.

LONGEVITY

If kept under the right conditions leopard gecko’s can live between 8 and 15 years with some exceeding this.

SUBSTRATE

Calcium sand is recommended as the geckos will eat some of the sand whilst they catch and eat their insect prey. Calcium sand can be digested without causing harm to the gecko.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal. Remember, you are just as likely to contract salmonella from your Sunday lunch, cream cake or dog so don’t automatically assume that your lizard is the only suspect!

DISTRIBUTION

The Bearded Dragon can be found in areas of Australia. SIZE

Dependent upon species can range from 20cm (8 inches) to 45 - 50cm (18 - 20 inches) in total length.

DIET

Bearded dragons are mainly omnivorous animals. Foods eaten consist of arthropods, frogs, small lizards and birds, mealworms, wax worms, black field crickets, locusts, brown crickets, earthworms, pink mice, snails and some fruit and plant matter. The food items should be dusted with Calcium powder prior to feeding.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This should be a guarded reflector spot bulb (either red, green or blue) or conical ceramic heater. Heat mats may also be used as an additional source of heat. UV Light Source:- Require a Reptisun 5.0% UVB lamp. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your lizard sufficient levels of UV. Housing:- This should consist of wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. Males are notoriously aggressive and should not be kept with other males. Hatchlings should be kept in a smaller container which can be housed in their future vivarium. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the enclosure. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.

WATER

These animals require a small, shallow water bowl. This must be changed daily.

TEMPERATURES

A basking area of 32 - 36°C (88 - 97°F) is required at one end of the vivarium. The background temperature should range from 19 - 28°C (68 - 84°F).

LONGEVITY

Bearded dragons can live for 7 - 10 years in captivity.

SUBSTRATE

Calci sand is the preferred substrate for these animals as they will be able to digest any sand which they ingest. It should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal. Remember, you are just as likely to contract salmonella from your Sunday lunch, cream cake or dog so don’t automatically assume that your lizard is the only suspect!

DISTRIBUTION

This species of Chameleon originates around the river valleys in Yemen and Southern Saudi Arabia.

SIZE

The average adult body size is between 25 and 50cm (10” and 20”). Males are usually larger and have a larger head crest. This species has a rapid growth rate and can be very near to its adult size by around 8 months of age.

DIET

We recommend gut loading your live food with jelly pots and fresh fruit. These lizards should be offered food from an opaque raised dish, this will enable the chameleon to catch the food as it climbs out. Young chameleons should be fed daily, on small crickets. Adults should be offered food every other day. Adults can be offered insect prey such as crickets, house flies, fruit flies, mealworms and wax worms. They should also be offered small amounts of salads and fruits.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can be either reflector (spot) lights in green, blue or red or ceramic bulbs. Ultra Violet Light Source:- Require a 5.0% UVB lamp. This should be left on for 8 - 12 hours a day and replaced every six months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your reptile sufficient levels of UV to allow vitamin D3 synthesis. Thermostat:- An essential part of every vivarium and is required to control the heat inside the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent any thermal burns from occurring. Thermometers:- One should be placed at either end of the vivarium. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat, as this is often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides. Housing:- This can be either a wooden Vivarium or a new Vivarium on the market the Reptariums (a new entirely mesh screen Vivarium) are perfect for chameleons. As long as they are situated in a draught free area. NB – Adult Chameleons should be housed individually, if a pair (Male and female) are to be housed together then the enclosure must be massive!

TEMPERATURES

The temperature at the basking spot should be between 32C and 37C (90F and 100F), with a background temperature falling to around 26C (80F) at the coolest point. At night the temperature may be allowed to drop to around 22C (72F).

HUMIDITY

Veiled Chameleons in general will not drink standing water. The best way to provide water for these reptiles is to create a drip watering system (These can be bought). The enclosure should also be misted daily.

SUBSTRATE

Sphagnum moss or beech chips and bark substrate can be used. Whichever substrate is used care should be taken to ensure that none is ingested during feeding.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal. Remember, you are just as likely to contract salmonella from your Sunday lunch, cream cake or dog so don’t automatically assume that your lizard is the only suspect!

SUGGESTED FEEDING GUIDELINES

Gerbils should have a balanced diet made up from a basic pet shop gerbil mix. This can be supplemented with fresh items like tomatoes, carrots or grapes. Gerbils like to bury things so instead of a food bowl it is sometimes a better idea to simply spread some food around the tank to allow them to forage for their food.

HOUSING & HANDLING

Although gerbils live naturally in colonies, they can also be very territorial and hence fight. Therefore in the confined space of an aquarium it is probably best to keep a gerbil on its own. They are mainly nocturnal animals but do become active for short periods during the day. They live between three to five years. Gerbils are natural diggers and also like to jump and climb so are best kept in aquariums. A close fitting lid allowing good ventilation and security is essential. For bedding materials use shredded paper or hay. Do not use cotton wool, shredded J-cloths or similar materials as they can get caught around the feet and act like a snare causing great harm. A sandbox with 2-3 cm deep chinchilla sand for your gerbil to bath in each day is important to avoid skin problems. Additionally, toilet roll tubes make great play things for gerbils! The correct way to handle a gerbil is to hold the animal at the base of its tail, (nearest the body), between thumb and forefinger and then place it on the palm of your other hand for support. Do not pick up a gerbil by its tail without supporting the rest of its body as this will stress it and make it more likely to bite or injure itself. Because of this, gerbils may not be suitable pets for very young children. Handle your pet every day so it gets used to human contact.

SEXING GERBILS

Sexing gerbils is important if you do decide to keep more than one. Luckily it is quite easy and is a matter of judging the distance between the genital and the anus. This distance is greater in males so it is best to have at least two animals to compare and contrast before making your mind up. It is always advisable to have this checked out ASAP by a vet.

DENTAL CARE

Gerbils’ incisor teeth grow throughout life, therefore it is important that an array of chewing toys is available to help wear the teeth down. You should check your gerbil’s front teeth from time to time to ensure they do not become overgrown and cause ulceration of the lips.

AND FINALLY

We hope that you will have lots of fun and pleasure from your gerbil over the coming years. We trust he or she will enjoy good health and to help achieve this we recommend a health review every year at your vets.

DISTRIBUTION

The majority of these snakes arise in the areas around the United States although there are a number of species which can be found in other areas of the world.

SIZE

Hatchlings begin at around 22.5cm to 35cm (9 to 14 inches) in length reaching around 60cm (2 feet) within the first 12 months of growth with the eventuality of becoming around 75cm to 150cm (2.5 to 5 feet) in length. This is usually within 5 years. Very few species reach 180cm (6 feet).

DIET

Their main diet consists of pink mice and fuzzies for hatchlings although in the wild their main diet would normally consist of frogs and small lizards. As the snake grows, so will the frequency and amount of food given as well as an increase in prey size, from pink mice to eventually small rats and extra large mice.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can be either reflector spot lights in green, red or blue, ceramics, tubular heaters or thermostatically controlled heat mats. UV Light Source:-Although there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of UV supplementation with snakes, many herpetologists wouldn’t be without one. It has therefore been included here as a suggestion and the recommended type for snakes until further scientific research proves otherwise is a 2.0% UVB. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. However, care should be taken if your snake is albino as the light intensity could have a detrimental effect on the snakes eyes. Vitamin D3 supplements should also be kept to a minimum. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. Juveniles would require a small hatchling tub (pen pal, geoflat or even a ventilated sandwich box) which can be housed in a heated vivarium. A pair of adult snakes can live quite happily in a vivarium measuring 90cm long by 45cm deep by 45cm high (36 inches by 18 inches by 18 inches. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the vivarium. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.

WATER

These animals require a water container which will allow them to bathe without constriction. This water should be changed daily as this is also the water they drink.

TEMPERATURES

A background temperature of 25 - 26°C (75 - 78°F) should be created with a basking area of one third of the vivarium reaching temperatures of 27 - 28°C (80 - 82°F). At night the temperature may be allowed to drop to 26°C (78°F) although this is not recommended if the snake is suffering any respiratory infections.

LONGEVITY

These animals have been known to reach ages of around 15 years although snakes living up to 20 years are not uncommon.

SUBSTRATE

This can be anything from newspaper, brown paper or even astro turf. Whatever you use remember that it must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease. Never feed your snake over substrate that could be ingested. Corn cob and wood chippings should not be used as substrate for this reason.

BRUMATION

If you choose to brumate your snake a temperature of 12 - 17°C (52 - 62°F) for a period of 90 days would be satisfactory. Most people tend to do this around the end of October until the end of January. Water should always be available and no food should be given from 2 weeks before the beginning of the brumation period. This is not recommended if your snake is unwell in any way or if your snake has not eaten sufficiently during the year. It is also not recommended for hatchlings.

DISTRIBUTION

There are currently two sub-species of Hermann’s Tortoises, which are recognised. One is Testudo hermanni boettgeri, which originates from the Balkans, Albania, Southern Italy and Yugoslavia. The other subspecies is Testudo hermanni hermanni, which occurs in France, Mediterranean Coast of Spain and Italy. Most Hermann’s tortoises kept in the UK are Testudo hermanni boettgeri. Although the care of both subspecies is similar, they should not be kept together. At one point this species was removed from its natural habitat in such numbers that they are now all protected by law. For more information on registering your tortoise please contact DEFRA, who will be able to assist you through the paperwork required. NB - All Captive Bred tortoises in the UK should have paperwork to prove their origin.

SIZE

Adult Hermann’s Tortoises can reach sizes of around 15 to 20cm (for T. hermanni hermanni) and up to 25cm (for T. hermanni boettgeri). Males are always smaller than females. Horsefield tortoises are generally smaller.

DIET

Horsefield and Hermann’s tortoises are vegetarian and eat a wide range of green leafy plants as well as their flowers. For further information on Tortoise diets it is advised to read The Tortoise and Turtle Feeding Manual, by Andy Highfield. (Carapace Press).

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can be either a reflector (spot) lights in green, blue or red. Also ceramics or tubular heaters can be used. UV Lighting:- The Hermann’s Tortoise requires access to a Reptisun 10.0 UV light. To assist in synthesis of D3. Housing:- They are very active animals. It should be noted that Glass Aquariums are not designed to maintain tortoises in. It is best to house Hermann’s Tortoise seperately, unless a large area is provided like a garden or a converted greenhouse. Males should always be kept seperately. A large enclosure is best, one measuring 180cm long by 120cm wide x 60cm high (6ft x 4ft x 2ft). The above measurements are meant as a guide only. If a Vivarium is chosen then it is best to ensure that your tortoise cannot see out of the front as it will damage itself. A wooden plynth can be placed along the front to stop this problem occuring. Thermostat:- An essential part of every Vivarium and is required to control the internal heat inside the vivarium and to prevent your pet becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent any thermal burns from occurring. Thermometers:- One should be placed at either end of the vivarium. Never go by the temperature shown on the thermostat as this is often innaccurate. Hides:- These should always be provided to prevent the animals from becoming stressed and exposed. Water:- It was once believed that tortoises obtained all of their moisture from food. This has been disproved by studies on wild tortoises. They should be offered water daily in the form of a shallow bath. Even if they do not have a drink, it aids them in the excreting of waste products.

TEMPERATURES

The Tortoise should have access to a basking area of around 30C (86F). The background temperature should drop to around 20C (68f).

LONGEVITY

Hermann’s Tortoises have been recorded living beyond 100 years old.

HIBERNATION

Hermann’s Tortoises should be hibernated, unless they have been unwell during the course of the year. Just prior to hibernation and after waking up they should be given a health check by a vet. The tortoise trust have an information pack on hibernation.

SUBSTRATE

Use beech chippings or Tortoise substrate.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry naturally occurring Salmonella. It must be stated however that Salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal.

DISTRIBUTION

This species of gecko is common in its native South East Asia, although it has now been introduced to many countries around the world.

SIZE

Adults generally reach sizes of 8 - 13cm (3 - 5 inches), although the average size is 8cm (3 inches).

DIET

This gecko eats a large variety of insects and larvae. The food should be kept as varied as possible in order to ensure proper nutrition. Will eat a variety of small flies and crickets. Also likes earthworms (and beetle/moth larvae). All of the food should be dusted with a calcium and phosphorous supplement (ratio 1:2) prior to feeding. This species should be fed in the early evening.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This can be a low wattage reflector (green, red or blue) bulb / ceramic although heat mats are a useful extra source of heat. UV Light Source:- Require a 2.0% UVB lamp. This should be left on for 10 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your lizard sufficient levels of UV in order to allow vitamin D3 synthesis. Housing:- This should consist of a dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. A vivarium measuring 45cm by 60cm by 90cm (18 inches by 2 foot by 3 foot) would be adequate for a pair of adults. Hatchling geckos should be kept in a small fauna box or pen pal, within their future vivarium. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the enclosure. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides.

TEMPERATURE

Day time temperatures should be maintained between 21 - 31°C (70 - 88°F). Night time temperatures should be allowed to fall to between 17 - 22°C (62 - 72°F).

HUMIDITY

This species requires moderate to high levels of humidity, misting the vivarium daily is essential. However a shallow bowl of fresh water should always be available for drinking and soaking.

LONGEVITY

These geckos will generally live between 6 and 10 years, depending on how they have been cared for. SUBSTRATE

Calcium sand is the best substrate to use at present, with approximately a third of the vivarium being damp moss, to assist with shedding and for maintaining the humidity levels. All substrates should be cleaned regularly in order to prevent contamination from disease. N.B. Males should be kept separately as they are territorial. This species of gecko is hyperactive and difficult to hold. Additional Notes: Adult males possess hemipenal bulges and have femoral and preanal pores. This is an extremely hardy species of gecko. Due to the lively nature of this species they aren’t recommended for young children.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal. Remember, you are just as likely to contract salmonella from your Sunday lunch, cream cake or dog so don’t automatically assume that your lizard is the only suspect!

DISTRIBUTION

Generally found in areas such as Thailand, China, South East Asia, Indo-Australian Archipelago and tropical rain forests.

SIZE

Water Dragons have a total length of about 90cm (3 Feet) the majority of which is the tail. Maturity is reached by 2 to 3 years of age.

DIET

Water Dragons are mainly insectivorous animals. Foods eaten consist of anthropods, frogs, small lizards, birds, mealworms, wax worms, black field crickets, locusts, brown crickets, earthworms, fish, pink mice and some fruit. However, they do tend to have a habit of only eating food which moves (alive). Wriggling the dead food sometimes works but not always. Unfortunately not all of the above foods have a high nutritional content and many illnesses are due to an unfortified diet.

REQUIREMENTS

Heat Source:- This should be a guarded reflector spot bulb (either red, green or blue). Heat mats may also be used as an extra source of heat, but they are not essential. UV Light Source:- Water Dragons require a UVB 5.0% light. This should be left on for 8 to 12 hours a day and replaced every 6 months unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer. This will create a day and night time effect as well as give your water dragon sufficient levels of UV. Housing:- This should consist of a spacious dark wooden vivarium with glass frontage and adequate ventilation. Juveniles would require a vivarium measuring 45cm long by 30cm deep by 45cm high (18 inches long by 12 inches deep by 18 inches high). An adult would require a vivarium measuring 120cm long by 60cm deep by 120cm high (4ft long by 2ft deep by 4ft high). These measurements are to be used as a guideline only. Thermostat:- An essential part of any vivarium and is required to regulate the internal temperatures of the vivarium and to prevent your pet from becoming too hot or too cold. Wire Mesh Guards:- These should be fitted over all heat sources used in order to prevent thermal burns. Thermometers:- One should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the enclosure. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate. Hides:- These are essential to prevent stress and allow your pet to hide away from the outside world. Artificial plants, boxes, plant pots, caves etc. all make excellent hides. Climbing Facilities:- These can be branches, logs, rocks etc. Care must be taken to ensure that there are no sharp edges, which could cause injury to the animal.

WATER

Water Dragons love to swim and dive into water. A large water bowl or small pool should be fitted into the base of the vivarium to enable the animal to use when needed.

TEMPERATURE

A basking area of 31 - 34°C (86 - 92°F) is required. The background temperature should range between 28 - 29.5°C (77 - 84°F).

HUMIDITY

65 to 85% with the occasional misting using tepid water. LONGEVITY

If kept under the correct conditions and given the correct diet a Water Dragon can live for 10 - 15 years with some exceeding this.

SUBSTRATE

This can be anything from newspaper, brown paper or even astro turf. Whatever you use remember that it must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent contamination from disease. Never feed your Water Dragon over substrate which it might swallow. For this reason corn cob and wood chippings should not be used as substrate.

SALMONELLA

Many reptiles carry the naturally forming bacteria Salmonella. It must be stated that salmonella bacteria can only be contracted by ingestion (via the mouth). Good hygiene is therefore very important when keeping any animal.