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. :-)


Haphazardkat said...

oh thank god he's OK!!! How scary for you!

Padawan said...

Plus, they don't bite. Allegedly.

Haphazardkat said...

wow, his new home is awesome!!
Fantastic job! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi just wondering how you did that awesome rovk wall

Anonymous said...

Get back to me I dony blog on here just came across it you can find me on facebook type in zach thompson im thr one with sunglasses and a rifle in my hands :p thanks