Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Richie Boy goes for a test drive

Enclosure renovation is still in progress. :-) I'm currently covering the platforms with "reptile carpet." It's not the most attractive stuff in the world, but it's practical for clean-up. They are affixed to the platforms with velcro.

I put Richard in for a little while to see how he would like it. He studied his surroundings carefully and seemed a little frightened by the new environment (as evidenced by his less than beautiful coloration in the photo above). He cheered up shortly thereafter. I sensed satisfaction.

I bought him a Dracaena plant! This is safe for herbivorous reptiles, according to multiple credible sources, including Tricia's Water Dragon Care Page. Tricia is basically the water dragon authority on the internet.

I gave the Dracaena plant some thorough bleach-water dunkings earlier and brand new, safe soil. I topped the pot off with coconut bark. This particular coconut bark is used for reptile and amphibian vivaria. I do have some artificial vines. I'll let my pothos plants grow a bit more before I use them in place of the artificial vines.

*Getting back to work*

Monday, March 30, 2009

Shaving kits and discoid roaches

We relocated Richard's tower from the living room to the bedroom during the enclosure-renovation process. He figured out how to get to a shelf in our closet. This should come as no surprise since Richard has an undying love for closets...

It just so happens that his dad's shaving kit is on the shelf, too. In a lizard's mind, I suppose it's a great place to relax, even if it doesn't make any sense. :-)

By the way, I'm thinking about putting a webcam on Richard's cage when it's complete, so that anyone with plenty of time to waste can watch our little guy as he... sits around. Basically, antics that will have you at the edge of your seat. Really exciting stuff, folks. :-P

Here are two shots of our discoid roaches.

Below is a nice photo taken by shadowshador from Flickr, used with permission. He also has an extensive portfolio of animal photography.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Enclosure progress, cockroaches, and MSDS

What I've done since last I blogged:
  • Sealed (x 3) the faux rock panels
  • Mounted them
  • Started staining the outside
  • Purchased a 36" Fluorescent fixture that accommodates two tubes (10.0 UVB and full spectrum)
  • Purchased a mercury vapor bulb (UVB, UVA, and heat)
  • Started the disinfection process of the driftwood and swimming pool
10.0 UVB is usually used for desert-dwelling reptiles, but since there is an aluminum screen between the fixture and the cage, 5.0 won't really do the job. Besides, the platform is over one foot below the fixture, and one foot is basically the limit of effectiveness for 5.0 UVB tubes (it's about 30 inches for 10.0). UVB is necessary for the production of Vitamin D, and Vitamin D is necessary for calcium uptake in lizards. (I won't speak for others, as I wouldn't know. I think snakes require much less UVB because they get the majority of their Vitamin D from the livers of their prey. That's what I READ. If I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me.)

Don't be surprised if Richard starts doing the hilarious, territorial arm-waving that is observed in several species of lizard. UVA light increases territorial behavior, as well as (no surprise) breeding behavior and appetite. I say this because the mercury vapor bulb I'm putting in produces quite a bit of UVA. The set up I currently use is crappy in that department, I admit. The mercury vapor bulb will be used in a part of the enclosure where Richard can't really get too close to it (right side), and it too is separated from the enclosure by an aluminum screen. I'll put some tall-ish driftwood on the right side so he can climb it.

The left platform that you see will just have a basking light over it. There will be ceramic heat emitters over the large platform.

I've consulted a water dragon expert in Illinois about the lighting scheme, and he likes it.

If I had to give some kind of estimate, I would say Richard's enclosure is 70 to 75% completed. I'm in the process of staining and sealing the outside, and don't worry, the cage is going to air out for a month, at least. After a month, we're running it with lamps and the humidifer (without Richard) for a few days. Then, if everything is peachy, Richard will move in.

On the fascinating subject of MSDS, I try to gather the information that is available, both anecdotal and otherwise. I read about the methods of others, whether or not they have had success, and then I look for information to confirm or deny what they say. Inert is inert.

It is certain than MSDS is flawed, but if I can't look at anecdotes and MSDS for SOME kind of idea as to whether or not I'm taking an appropriate route, who should I ask? Water is dangerous if you try breathing in it. A brick is dangerous if it falls on your head. A feeder insect can be dangerous if it has a parasite. A piece of non-toxic paint is dangerous if a lizard chokes on a chunk of it. Driftwood that has been disinfected and aired out can be dangerous if a splinter from it goes into Richard's eye.

Nothing about Richard's life is ever going to be 100% safe. I have to take reasonable actions, of course. I have to gather information as best as I can and hope nothing bad hapens. And I'm going to bank on the experiences of others, especially if dozens of them have used their methods without a hitch.


Richard's dad and I went to a reptile show here in town, and we bought Blaberus discoidalis cockroaches for Richard. Don't freak out. They aren't nearly as bad as you think. Crickets are much stinkier and annoying. Discoid cockroaches are more nutritious, easier to gutload, make no noise, have no odor, can't jump, can't fly, and have a long lifespan (up to a year or so). Lizards love them, and they are relatively easy to breed.

Basically, everything is better about them (except for their price. They are quite expensive), but they aren't mainstream because people hate cockroaches. After all, the sight of one in your house is most unwelcome.

Discoid roaches aren't cute or anything like that, but they're definitely not as horrible as you would think. Their scurrying motions freak me out, though. These are special cockroaches, though, and they are not native to the U.S.

I will blog later on their care. :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is it morning already?

... because I'm still so... sleepy...

*going back to sleep*

Friday, March 13, 2009

A little pearl

Check out his hands... (Click for a larger view)

Here are shots of William, the wild anole. He is really fat because I used to leave him mealworms. He lived on our front porch. We didn't keep him.

I had more mealworms than Richard could eat. I filled dishes with them for the birds, too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A sneak peak...

Here's a small part of Richard's new house. It is a faux rock that was constructed with styrofoam, tile grout, and paint. There's plenty more where it came from.

This is my first time trying to make faux rocks.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Funny way to relax, huh?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Tower for Richie

A perfect hang-out spot for a growing dragon to survey his kingdom from.

Today, I let Richard check it out while I worked on his house. I think he likes it. :-)

Update on Richie's house: I'm still working on the false-rock background. I'm carving the entire thing out of styrofoam! I spent almost six uninterrupted hours sculpting it today. Fwew.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I was sitting on the couch and eating popcorn while Richard sat with us. He seemed interested in what I was doing, so I offered him some to see what he would do. Sure enough, he deemed it edible. The video is actually of his second attempt. My apologies for the lighting!