Is My Reptile’s Poop Normal?

Do reptiles pee? Is my reptile’s poop and waste normal? Buckle up – you’re about to read an entire article devoted to reptile waste elimination! If you’re new to herpetology, you might be wondering what normal waste looks like. Should it be white? Solid or liquid? How often should you be cleaning it up? The truth is that poop consistency and frequency will vary depending upon the species, but there are some general guidelines to normal-looking waste and things to watch out for that might indicate a problem with your pet’s health. Do reptiles pee? Reptiles “drink” water differently than mammals do. Of course, they can drink it directly through their mouth, but did you know that many species can actually benefit from soaks or baths to keep them hydrated as well? They can also derive moisture through food they eat. Why do we bring this up you ask? Well, because reptiles don’t typically drink water in the same manner as mammals, they also don’t urinate separately the way that mammals are accustomed to doing. The short answer is that yes, reptiles do pee. However, in healthy reptiles, their pee is always accompanied by solid waste. They do not pee and poop separately. snake poop What should my pet reptile’s poop look like? Have you ever seen bird poop on a car, statue or sidewalk? It’s usually white and liquidy with some brown or black solid elements to it. Reptile waste is very similar to bird poop in this manner. The white and liquid parts are comparable to urine and of course, the solid part is the poop. So, reptiles poop and pee simultaneously for the most part. When examining your reptile’s waste, you should notice three components. There should be a clear or yellowish liquid urine, a semi-solid white or opaque urate and a solid, brown or black poop. It should be noted that depending upon your pet’s substrate, you may or may not notice the liquid element of the waste. Many substrates are fairly absorbent and therefore you may only notice white and black/brown stool. How frequently should my pet reptile go to the bathroom? Lizards will evacuate more frequently than snakes. Because snake metabolisms are pretty slow, they really only need to eat a meal once a week or so. Therefore, they poop less frequently since they eat less frequently. Lizards with big appetites, such as bearded dragons, should be eliminating at least once per week, if not a bit more frequently. Fun fact: bearded dragons are notorious for pooping in their water dishes…particularly right after their owner changes the water! In general, it’s also good to know that babies eliminate more frequently than adults. There is no set schedule for when or how often your reptile should eliminate. The main thing you want to consider is what is normal for your pet. Your pet is likely healthy and fine unless you notice that it suddenly isn’t pooping and/or eating in its normal manner. bearded dragon poop What if my pet reptile isn’t pooping? If your reptile appears constipated, it could be a tell tale sign of dehydration. The solution? Lots of water of course. You can start in the obvious place by making sure your pet has a bowl filled with fresh drinking water every day. You should also mist or spray water inside the enclosure so that your reptile can drink water off of leaves and other cage furniture. Another really great option is to soak or bathe your reptile for 10-15 minutes in room temperature water daily until it poops. The baths will not only help hydrate your pet, they can also stimulate the digestive system. Many reptiles will poop in their water source or during baths. Actually, we’ve found that bathing can be an effective way to help keep your pet’s enclosure cleaner. It’s almost akin to toilet training! Impaction could be another possible reason why your reptile isn’t using the bathroom. This is when your pet has accidentally ingested something that blocks its digestive tract, typically substrate. For this reason, we do often advise that owners feed their pets outside of their usual enclosure. Finally, if you still can’t get your pet to poop after lots of baths, you can try administering a natural laxative. For reptiles, this could mean anything from a few drops of olive oil, some juice/water mixture with no added sugar, or even pureed squash. There are lots of options that are easy on the digestive system and natural too. How do I clean up reptile waste? Most reptile owners choose to spot clean their pet’s enclosure as needed. You can scoop out dirty substrate and change out water dishes as needed. We recommend wearing gloves to handle reptile waste. Depending upon the type of substrate your pet has, you can buy special poop scoopers to accommodate and make clean up easy. Eventually, you will need to clean your pet’s entire enclosure. That is an entirely different blog article topic though! But just know that it’s always a good idea to clean at least monthly to combat bacteria and keep your pet reptile in peak health. Arboreal reptiles such as chameleons will tend to poop on the plants and perches within their enclosure. This can make spot cleaning a pain in the rear end, but it is still necessary to keep your animal healthy. We’d also like to note that this article discusses terrestrial reptile elimination. Aquatic turtle poop is a completely different topic, mainly because the clean up process is much different due to water filters, pH levels and aquatic environments. chameleon poop Conclusion While it might seem like a strange thing to pay close attention to your herp’s stool, in truth, it’s a very good indicator of your pet’s health. We recommend noting how often your pet uses the bathroom and checking to make sure that whatever waste you do clean up appears normal according to the guidelines in the article above. If you notice anything strange or your reptile’s pooping habits are suddenly different, it could be a sign that there is a problem. You might need to adjust temperatures, humidity levels, feeding habits or all of the above. Have reptile poop questions? Ask us in the comments! You can also email our knowledgable customer service team at We’re happy to help. Is It Safe to Dress My Reptile Up for Halloween? OCTOBER 18, 2021 Part of the fun of Halloween involves dressing up all family members, pets included. But is it safe to dress up your herp for this holiday? While it’s highly appealing to dress your reptile, amphibian or even tarantula in a cute costume for Halloween, it might not be the best idea to do so. Whether or not your pet is suited for playing dress up depends upon your pet’s species, individual personality, and consistent level of human interaction. It’s ultimately a matter of personal discretion and judgement. What species are good to dress up for Halloween? There are some species that will tolerate wearing a Halloween costume better than others. These are typically lizards and snakes that are used to being taken out of their cage and have been captive bred. Bearded dragons, leopard geckos, Savannah monitors and iguanas that have been socialized are all usually agreeable when it comes to getting dressed up. Ball pythons, corn snakes and boa constrictors are usually bred in captivity and therefore tend to be used to human care and handling. This means that they are good pet reptiles to wear simple costumes for Halloween. What species are not good to dress up for Halloween? Backwater Reptiles sells many varieties of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. We sell them because we think the they make great pets for different types of people who are looking for different things in their exotic pet. However, that does not mean that all of the animals we sell are good fits for Halloween costumes. Because frogs, salamanders, newts and other amphibian species have very sensitive skin, we would not recommend dressing them up. A costume with sleeves or a lot of coverage on their body could unintentionally throw off their skin’s balance by removing moisture and causing respiratory distress. Any type of clothing item on your amphibian’s body or torso area is highly ill-advised. We would say that the same is true for all of the invertebrate species we sell. It’s simply not practical to try to dress up an arachnid with eight fragile limbs, nor does it make much sense to try to clothe a feisty scorpion with a dangerous stinger. We hope that this is common sense to most invertebrate owners. What types of Halloween costumes are safe for my pet? Because pet reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are delicate and should not wear full-blown clothing items as costumes, no matter how festive the holiday, we recommend only simple Halloween costumes. For example, tiny hats are safe for most animals, provided it does not cause the animal undue stress to have something as unnatural as a hat on its head. There are plenty of adorable images on the Internet of snakes, lizards, frogs and even spiders wearing lightweight, simple and very easily removable hats with no adverse effects. Lizards can also wear cute little cloaks or “dresses” that are worn essentially like a blanket would be. Because these types of costumes basically only sit on top of the animal and do not impede its movement or functioning in any way, these are acceptable. Again, we highly advise that you take into consideration your pet’s individual temperament and attitude towards interaction with people when playing dress up for Halloween. If you are concerned about a costume or your pet’s ability to wear a costume, we recommend that you purchase some themed props instead. It might not be safe to clothe your pet, but you can set up a backdrop and some items for it to interact with and encounter little to no issues. Conclusion In the end, there is no hard and fast rule for safety when it comes to dressing up your herp for Halloween. We recommend that you utilize common sense and monitor the emotional state of your pet as you try on any type of simple costume. We strongly advise that you never dress up your pet in a costume that causes it clear distress, impedes its movement or function or could cause physical injury. It’s simply not worth risking your pet’s health and wellbeing for a cute Halloween photo. The Top 5 Most Unique Pet Reptiles and Amphibians AUGUST 22, 2021 What are the most unique pet reptiles and amphibians? Reptiles and amphibians are considered somewhat unconventional pets on their own. But because there are so many different species to choose from, we wanted to take the time to outline our top five most unique species. In our estimation, Budgett’s Frogs, Red-Eye Crocodile Skinks, Western Hognose Snakes, Sirens, and Surinam Toads are the most unique reptiles and amphibians that are commonly kept as pets. What makes Budgett’s Frogs (Lepidobatrachus laevis) unique? Budgett’s frogs take the cake when it comes to uniqueness. They have an unmistakable appearance plus they certainly know how to speak their mind, which is quite an interesting talent for a frog to possess. When you first see a Budgett’s frog, we wouldn’t be surprised if you thought the frog was rather blob-like. They are primarily aquatic and their body shape and design reflects this. They have small but very protruding eyes, super long fingers and also tend to be quite flat when not fully submerged. The overall effect is quite comical. In addition to their funny appearance, Budgett’s frogs can have attitude. If you upset or stress a Budgett’s frog, they will certainly let you know. They rear up on their hind legs and inflate as large as they can. They open their mouths wide and emit a loud scream to make them seem far more threatening than they truly are. While we don’t recommend annoying your frog enough to make it display this behavior, if it ever happens, it truly is a sight to behold. Backwater Reptiles sells healthy, captive bred Budgett’s frogs with Frog Ranch genetics. You can learn more here. What makes Red-Eye Crocodile Skinks (Tribolonotus gracilis) unique? In general, we find skinks to be quirky and original lizards. They tend to be long and slinky with shorter arms which means their locomotion is fun to watch. But, in our estimation, the most unique skink is the Red-Eye Crocodile Skink. Red-Eye Croc Skinks look like little dragons and this is initially what attracts so many owners to this adorable lizard. Their scale formation coupled with their boldly orange or red rimmed eyes is reminiscent of the mythical creature that so many of us envision in our imaginations. Similar to opossums, Red-Eye Croc Skinks will play dead if they feel overly stressed or threatened. They simply become unresponsive and it can be quite scary and shocking to experience as an owner if you have never witnessed it before. Luckily, once your skink has had time to calm down and feels secure once more, it will spring back to life magically and its normal patterns of behavior will resume. You can purchase your own Red-Eye Crocodile Skink here. What makes Western Hognose Snakes (Heterodon nasicus) unique? We are huge fans of the variety of morphs of Hognose Snakes that you can find these days. They range in coloration and pattern and are quite beautiful to behold. However, our favorite physical trait of this unique snake species has got to be its adorable little turned-up nose! This trait is what this snake is known for and we feel that it is very aptly named. Another little known fact about Western Hognose Snakes is that they are rear-fanged venomous. There is heated debate amongst herp keepers and enthusiasts as to whether or not this species should actually be considered venomous. Truthfully, their venom or modified saliva, depending upon who you talk to, is only dangerous to their prey. Because hognose snakes are rear-fanged, they don’t have a typical venom delivery system like rattlesnakes, cobras or other well-known venomous snakes do. A hognose would have to bite you and chew or gnaw in order for their saliva to get into the wound and cause any type of reaction in a human. Because these snakes would rather play dead than gnaw on a human, we’ll head right on into our next point about why we think Western Hognose Snakes are so unique. In simple terms, hognose snakes have developed a playing dead behavior in order to get potential predators to leave them alone. When a hognose feels threatened, it will roll over and display its belly scales, open its mouth wide and let its tongue loll out of its mouth. They even go so far as to emit a stinky smell that mimics death and rotting. What a unique and fascinating trick! You can purchase your own Western Hognose Snake from Backwater Reptiles by clicking here. What makes Sirens unique? We didn’t specify a species when discussing sirens simply because they are all similar and they all possess very similar unique traits as well. In case you are unfamiliar with sirens, it’s helpful to know that they are salamanders that possess neotenic traits. In other words, they possess larval traits of salamanders, namely gill tufts that remain with them throughout their entire life, not just their larval stage. So although sirens are amphibians and should technically undergo a two-stage life cycle, they do remain fully aquatic their entire life. They grow quite large and ultimately do resemble the salamanders that so many of us know and love, but they don’t really emerge from the water. While there are several species and varieties of siren that can be kept as pets, Backwater Reptiles sells Lesser Sirens. While sirens are cool and unique pets, we do only recommend them for experienced herp owners. Their aquatic lifestyle and habitat requirements coupled with their large size at maturity can make them a challenge to successfully keep in captivity. What makes Surinam Toads (Pipa pipa) unique? Surinam Toads are so ugly you can’t help but think they are cute! Not only do they have flat bodies, they also have triangular-shaped heads. Their beady little black eyes also contribute to their bizarre physical appearance. Probably the most unique characteristic of this species is the manner in which they reproduce. Males produce a strange underwater clicking noise and a female then releases eggs into the water. The male proceeds to fertilize the eggs and push them onto the female’s back where they stick to her skin. Eventually, the skin grows up around the eggs forming a network of pockets or pouches of protection. When the toadlets are ready to emerge, they stick their snouts out of her back skin which makes for quite a strange view. In part due to their nontraditional body shape and lifestyle, this amphibian is primarily aquatic. Once again, we do only advise that experienced herp keepers invest in Surinam toads as they do have specific care requirements. Conclusion There are many wonderful kinds of reptiles and amphibians out there that we feel make excellent pets for different kinds of people. If you are interested in a species that is unique for one reason or another, we hope you found our list helpful! If you are in the market for a reptile, amphibian or invertebrate with particular characteristics that we did not discuss in this article, please feel free to reach out to our talented customer service team. They would be happy to make recommendations and can be reached by emailing Misters Versus Foggers JUNE 17, 2021 Do I need a mister or a fogger for my pet reptile or amphibian? If you have a pet reptile or amphibian, then you probably understand that some species require more humidity than others. In order to maintain proper humidity levels, many owners rely on misters or foggers. So, which machine is better suited for your pet? What is the difference between a mister and a fogger? Both misters and foggers operate by using water. They each disperse water through different methods with the end goal of raising the humidity level within your pet’s enclosure. A mister is a machine that essentially creates rain. Machines have one or more hoses with a nozzle on the end that create a water spray. It’s similar to what you might create by using a water spritzing bottle manually. As its name implies, a fogger uses water to create a smoke-like fog within your pet’s enclosure. It tends to keep moisture in the air rather than allowing it to collect on objects within the enclosure in droplets. Which animals need misters? Animals that enjoy humid, wet environments benefit from using misters. Many reptiles that drink water that collects on leaves in the wild enjoy misters. Chameleons, geckos and tropical lizard species are great examples of herps that often have misters used in their enclosures. Although they won’t necessarily drink water from the mister, a lot of arboreal snake species benefit from misters too. Ball pythons, tree pythons and some boas have misters within their enclosures and this can help avoid shedding problems from lack of humidity. Owners of amphibians including salamanders, frogs and toads will also often use misters to keep substrate and the immediate environment wet. Which animals need foggers? Foggers are great options for reptiles and amphibians that are used to high humidity tropical climates. Many species that are native to rain forests thrive when a fogger is used. Dart frogs, tree frogs and tropical geckos benefit from foggers. Sometimes, herp owners will even use both a mister and a fogger alternating in order to replicate natural environments to the best of their ability. dart frogs need foggers How do I know if the mister or fogger is doing its job? The easiest way to tell if your machine is doing its intended job is to be keenly aware of the health of your pet. If shedding is going well, the animal is eating regularly and eliminating waste normally, then odds are your machine is functioning properly. We do typically recommend that owners invest in a hygrometer to measure humidity within the enclosure. Even if everything seems to be going well, it is always good to have hard data to back up your observations. Typically, humidity should be within a specific range of values for any given species and a hygrometer is certainly a useful tool to help you ensure that your enclosure is within those important measurements. How do I buy a mister or fogger? There are a few factors to take into consideration when purchasing either a fogger or a mister. First, you will need to consider the size of your enclosure. Small enclosures will require less powerful machines with fewer outputs. Large enclosures for bigger animals such as monitor lizards, full-grown iguanas and large snakes will probably need a machine with multiple hose output capabilities. Another feature that is important for many owners is programmability. Usually, it’s safe to assume that you’re buying a mister or fogger to automatically mist or fog on a schedule. Therefore, many owners want a machine that includes a timer and the ability to turn on without having to manually press a button. Most models come equipped with a timer function, but some of the fancier ones can sync up with your hygrometer and turn on when the reading falls below a certain level. It’s quite handy for herps that require very specific environments. These days, you can buy both types of machine online very easily. You can also find basic models at large retail pet store chains too. Even vendors at reptile expos have been known to carry these types of supplies. fogger Conclusion Both misters and foggers are excellent options for maintaining proper humidity levels within your pet’s enclosure. Whether or not you need a mister, a fogger, or even both types of machines will depend upon which animal(s) you own, what type of environment they require and how much maintenance you can personally perform. In the end, we recommend that you research the individual needs of your particular animal and choose a mister or a fogger accordingly. What Are the Most Colorful Pet Tarantulas? APRIL 4, 2021 Spiders come in all shapes and sizes. This might get you wondering – what are the most colorful pet tarantulas? There are many species of tarantula available that are safe to keep as pets. Some are larger than others, some are more docile than others and – you guessed it – some are more colorful than others. In this article, we’ll discuss the most colorful species of tarantula commonly kept as pets and give some useful care tips for each kind. Greenbottle Blue Tarantula (Chromatopelma cyaneopubescens) One of the main things that gets us excited about keeping this beautiful spider is that they are typically a safe bet for beginners. Maintaining a terrarium that suits them is simple enough given that they prefer dry substrate and moderate temperatures. Although they are skittish, fast and kind of considered “scaredy cats,” they are lovely to look at once you get past the spiderling phase. After a few molts, their gorgeous colors will begin to appear and you can watch the magic continue to unfold as you raise your tarantula. If you are interested in a tarantula with blue or teal-colored legs and a bold, rusty-orange red abdomen, then Backwater Reptiles has got you covered! Keep in mind that we typically only sell spiderlings of this species, so you will be able to enjoy watching your tiny little one grow. Mexican Fireleg Tarantula (Brachypelma boehmei) This terrestrial species is known for being very docile and grows to have a leg span between 5 to 6 inches at maturity. When fully grown, they display red and black/very dark brown coloration with their legs being particularly bright. Here’s a fun fact about this species: females can live around 25 years in captivity, whereas males are known to live around six or seven. Although Mexican Firelegs are best kept by intermediate level hobbyists, many consider them to be one of the more docile species of tarantula. In our experience, this can vary as some can be prone to flick urticating hairs while others are calm around people. It all depends upon the individual spider and the attention that the handler pays to the spider’s body language. This is a popular display species because they actually do spend quite a bit of time outside of their burrow. This means that you can usually watch them eat, drink and molt without them feeling distress. If you are interested in a Mexican Fireleg taratula, Backwater Reptiles can help you out. We sell a range of sizes of this particular spider, so you can choose a baby and watch it grow or an adult that is already sexed and displaying lovely colors. Gooty Sapphire Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria metallica) The Gooty Sapphire is probably the most sought after tarantula species. As its name suggests, the gooty is a dazzling blue spider with yellow accents. It is also called the peacock parachute spider for its ability to catch prey mid-flight. Although this is en exceedingly beautiful spider, it is recommended for advanced arachnid keepers. Because of its heftier price point, rarity and supply and demand, we advise that you do a lot of research and prepare your habitat accordingly. The basic things to note when obtaining a Gooty Sapphire are: This is an arboreal species and should therefore have an arboreal set up. This means your enclosure needs to be taller rather than longer. Height is important. This species grows fast! If you acquire a spiderling, be prepared for it to eat, molt and mature quickly. This is considered an ornamental and display species. It is best left to its own devices and they typically don’t enjoy being held. If you are interested in buying a gooty sapphire sling, you can visit Backwater Reptiles to do so. Purple Pink Toe Tarantula (Avicularia purpurea) As you might be able to surmise, the Purple Pink Toe Tarantula is know for its purple sheen. When you see the semi-iridescent nature of the purple, you will understand why this spider is on our list of the most colorful pet tarantulas. Purple pink toes, while colorful, are known to be on the smaller side. They usually don’t exceed legspans of 4-5 inches. Females have been known to live 12 years or so in captivity, while males typically reach around 5-6 years old. This is an arboreal species. We’d also like to mention that they are excellent climbers and as such, they are excellent escape artists. If you are planning on buying this species, make sure you have an enclosure with a secure top! Spiderlings are especially notorious for “going missing.” We recommend this species for intermediate-level tarantula owners. It’s propensity for escaping and its speed make it a spider that requires at least a modicum of experience. Purchase your own gorgeous purple pink toe tarantula sling here. Please note that baby spiders of this species do not typically possess the shiny purple sheen that their adult counterparts do. It can take several molt cycles for this coloring to appear. Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula (Avicularia versicolor) This species of spider actually has several different common names including the Martinique Pink toe and the Martinique Red Tree Spider. It hails from the Caribbean, Martinique and Lesser Antilles. When it is mature, it has a pink or red abdomen and legs with a greenish blue head. It is quite a strong contender in the most colorful pet spider competition. It should be noted that this arboreal species needs very good ventilation in its enclosure in order to thrive. While humidity is important to its health, it cannot live in conditions that are overly wet or misty. Make sure that proper airflow can be achieved. The good news is that this is a “room temperature” spider, meaning that if you are comfortable with the temperature, your spider should be too. A word of caution: this is not an overly timid, shy or fearful species of colorful tarantula. While they make excellent display pets, they are very prone to jumping. If you open the spider’s enclosure to mist or feed, be aware of where your spider is at all times. They have been known to jump out onto owners unexpectedly which can be startling and potentially harmful to all parties involved if the response is panic. Conclusion While there are many species of colorful tarantulas, we’ve covered the most popular ones in this article. All of the spiders we discussed tend to display colors other than brown, black or grey and are highly sought after by hobbyists for display pets. One thing that is important to keep in mind when buying a spiderling tarantula of any species is that baby spiders do not look like their adult counterparts. As we’ve mentioned, it takes many molts and some time to mature before the brilliant colors are displayed. If you are interested in purchasing any of the tarantulas listed above, Backwater Reptiles has got you covered! Check out our list of spiders for sale and discover the tarantula that speaks to you. What Do White’s Tree Frogs Eat? FEBRUARY 7, 2021 Are you considering getting a White’s tree frog for a pet, but you’re unsure what to feed it? White’s tree frogs eat insects. In captivity, this means they will eat a wide variety of feeder insects including crickets, roaches, worms and other bugs. Ultimately, the insects you choose to feed your White’s tree frog is up to you. what do whites tree frogs eat What type of insects should I feed my White’s tree frog? White’s tree frogs, AKA Dumpy tree frogs, are insectivores. They only eat living insects. This means that you as an owner are free to choose from a variety of feeder insects to fulfill your frog’s dietary needs. The most commonly available feeder insect is crickets. You can find feeder crickets at commercial pet stores, feed stores and through online vendors. The main thing to take into consideration when feeding your White’s tree frog crickets is the size of the crickets. A baby frog cannot eat a full grown cricket and likewise adult frogs should not be eating baby or pinhead crickets as their primary food source. You want to get a cricket that your frog can comfortably eat that will satisfy its appetite. While crickets do make great staple food for White’s tree frogs, we also recommend Dubia roaches if you have a good supplier. These roaches are very high in nutrients and pack quite the punch when it comes to keeping your frog fed and happy. Again, since roaches are available in many sizes, the only thing we’d mention that you need to be aware of is the size of the roach you will be giving to your frog. Other great options for White’s tree frogs are reptiworms, wax worms, hornworms and mealworms. All of these insects will squirm or move about in a manner that triggers your frog’s feeding response. We recommend that if you want a real show you hand feed using tongs. It can be quite entertaining since Dumpy frogs have large appetites. feeder roaches Should I feed my White’s tree frog vitamin supplements? In short, the answer is yes! Most reptiles and amphibians that are kept in captivity do require some amount of additional calcium and vitamin supplements in their diet. White’s tree frogs are no exception. In our experience, metabolic bone disease and other associated disorders from poor nutrition are less common in pet amphibians than they are in reptiles. However, that does not mean that you should be lax in administering the proper vitamins and nutrients your frog needs. We recommend dusting your feeder insects with Sticky Tongue Farms’ indoor supplement at least once weekly, if not more. Younger frogs should be given dusted insects every feeding, but as your frogs mature, you can dust less frequently. supplements for whites tree frogs How often should I feed my pet White’s tree frog? Baby frogs should be fed at least once daily. Since most owners will likely be feeding crickets, we do advise that you either tong feed them or place a very limited number of crickets in the cage at any given time. You do not want the cage overrun with crickets as they can actually injure the frog. If you find your frog hasn’t eaten, we advise trying again in the evening when the frog will be most active. Juvenile to adult frogs don’t need to be offered food as frequently as babies do. We still usually feed them every day until they are considered subadults. At this life stage, we typically feed them three times per week or about every other day. The key to health when it comes to frequency of feedings is to note your frog’s weight. Dumpy frogs can easily become overweight if you allow them to. Watch closely to see how bulgy your frog’s tummy is and how much padding it seems to have on its face and leg areas. Obesity is not healthy, but obviously neither is being too thin. dumpy frog food Where can I find insects for my White’s tree frog to eat? Most commercial pet stores will have a few sizes of crickets on hand for reptiles. They often also have live mealworms. However, don’t buy prepackaged dead insects such as flies or crickets for your White’s tree frog. Your frog will simply not eat dead bugs. If you want to conveniently obtain a variety of feeder insects for your frog, we do recommend ordering feeder insects online. Backwater Reptiles sells a wide variety of feeder insects in bulk quantities to last longer. Our feeders include a variety of sizes of crickets, roaches, reptiworms, fruit flies, hornworms, mealworms and wax worms to name a few. Conclusion White’s tree frogs like to eat and will accept a broad range of insects at mealtime. Crickets are the most commonly used feeder insect for this species of frog, but we highly encourage owners to branch out and utilize other types of feeder insects for different nutritional value. No matter what type of insect you feed your White’s tree frog, make sure that you have an appropriate vitamin supplement on hand to dust them with. It’s essential for your frog’s best health. If you ever have any questions about what type of insect or what size feeder insect you should buy for your pet White’s tree frog, you can reach out to our friendly customer service team by emailing Common Reptile Husbandry Mistakes JANUARY 7, 2021 What mistakes do people commonly make when it comes to reptile husbandry? Reptiles are considered exotic pets and as such they do have specific and special care requirements. Although most pet owners do want to take the best care possible of their reptile, there are many common mistakes that are made when trying to do so. This article will touch upon the most common mistakes we see at Backwater Reptiles and what you should be doing instead. common reptile husbandry mistakes Temperature and Humidity Did you know that temperature and humidity are one of the toughest environmental factors to get right when it comes to captive conditions? Different reptile species originate from different environments and therefore have varying preferences when it comes to ideal temperature and humidity. Keep one thing in mind when adjusting temperature and humidity levels – search engines are your friend! If you are unsure what a good range is for your particular pet, we advise that you do a simple search. There are many breeders, pet stores and hobbyists with websites and articles to help you find out what your pet needs. It’s also relatively easy to know if your reptile needs adjustments made. Reptiles who don’t have enough humidity in their environment will have issues shedding. For instance, snakes will not shed in a complete tube or will retain their eye caps. Lizards will seem to be in a constant state of shed. There are other warning signs as well including dullness or lack of color. Utilize misters, thermometers and heat elements such as lamps in order to create the proper equilibrium for your particular animal. Handling and Human Interaction Pet reptiles are not domesticated. We repeat – pet reptiles ARE NOT domesticated animals. This means that many of them do not enjoy being removed from their enclosure to be “played with.” It will only stress them out unnecessarily. There are quite a few species of reptile that do just fine interacting with people including: bearded dragons, ball pythons, most tortoises, leopard geckos, corn snakes, savannah monitors and crested geckos. However, there are many species that people acquire that we personally feel are best left as ornamental pets. While it is true that many reptiles can be worked with to become accustomed to people, we do advise that you read your pet’s body language closely before you handle it constantly. Bottom line: Not all reptiles like being petted, held or touched. use discretion when handling reptiles Diet and Providing Supplements Truthfully, most pet reptiles require supplements in order to stay at peak health in captivity. The only exception to this is snakes which receive total nutrition from their prey. Most people might not even be aware that reptiles need vitamins. Calcium and vitamin D are extremely important, particularly when it comes to bone health and growth. We advise that you dust your feeder insects accordingly with an appropriate supplement depending on whether your pet is indoor or outdoor. You should also keep in mind dietary requirements when preparing your reptile’s meals. For instance, most reptiles commonly kept as pets are insectivores, but some are vegetarians and some are omnivores and need a mixture of vegetation and animal protein in their diet. Don’t make the mistake of giving too much protein to an omnivore – this can be disastrous on their liver. We also advise that you mix up the type of insects you feed your pet. Crickets and roaches are great staples, but there are advantages to other feeder insects. Depending upon the species, sometimes rodents or eggs are a good addition as well. Variety is key and all too often we see people trying to feed their reptile the same food over and over to the point where the animal wants something else and goes on a hunger strike. UV Lighting Requirements Did you know that some reptiles absolutely require full-spectrum UV lighting in order to be healthy? Other species do not necessarily require it. Over the years, we’ve learned that many people make the mistake of not providing proper UV rays. This can result in metabolic bone disease among other health issues. In order to avoid making this mistake, we always suggest that you research the pet you want before you purchase. Take note of whether or not it needs UV rays, heat lamps or both. In general, most lizards, tortoises and turtles require full-spectrum lighting. There are of course exceptions and this is where knowledge and research come into play. Most snakes don’t require UV lighting, but this is not a hard and fast rule. For instance, some people choose to provide UV lighting for corn snakes, but other breeders swear it’s not necessary. If there is debate as to whether or not your particular pet should have UV lighting, our recommendation is to provide it for the sake of safety. In other words, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to this common mistake. The Correct Type of Enclosure Another very common mistake we often see is people buying the wrong kind of tank, vivarium or enclosure for their reptile. Size, orientation, and lifestyle are all elements that need to be taken into consideration when choosing an enclosure. For example, chameleons require a very specific type of cage that allows for air flow and ventilation while maintaining adequate humidity and moisture levels. This is why we always recommend mesh enclosures for chameleons of all species, excluding pygmy chameleons. Another factor that owners often fail to take into account is the lifestyle of their pet. For example, you wouldn’t want to provide an aquatic or even semi-aquatic environment for a desert lizard such as a uromastyx. Furthermore, animals with arboreal lifestyles need climbing room and accessories, so their cages need to be vertically oriented. It’s a very common mistake to think in terms of human comforts and give an arboreal animal a cage with lots of floor space but little upward mobility room. Substrate is also a very important housing element that many people get incorrect. We’ll chalk this mistake up to the seemingly endless options for substrate and the debate amongst owners as to what works best for their animals in their own homes. Keep in mind that most substrates are recommended, leaving lots of room for error. One substrate mistake we see over and over is ingestion by the animal. If your substrate is too small or you are feeding your pet within its enclosure, there is always the opportunity for accidental ingestion. Over time, this can cause health problems such as impaction. Ultimately, when it comes to substrate, we recommend simple, easy to clean and practical options. Choose something that will allow your pet to perform its natural activities (i.e. burrowing) but also make sure that it won’t get in the way. Finally, some owners make the mistake of over decorating their reptile’s enclosure. In truth, barer is better when it comes to reptile husbandry. Unless you are dedicating an entire room or creating a special bioenclosure with lots of bells and whistles, most reptiles need the bare minimum to stay happy and healthy. For example, since your reptile’s enclosure should have a hot, basking side and a cooler, ambient temp side, we do advise that you provide two hide spots. If your reptile is arboreal, some items to climb on are necessary. A water dish is another cage furniture item that is necessary for most reptiles too. But other than these mentioned items, cage decor and furniture should be minimal, lightweight and easy to clean. This is for the safety of the animal. Too much decor could crush your pet or injure it accidentally. reptile cage decor Cleanliness It might seem like common sense, but reptile homes need cleaning just like human homes. While it’s not a necessity to clean water spots off of glass tanks, it is necessary to remove fecal matter and shed skin. You wouldn’t want to live in your own waste, so why would your pet? It’s a very common mistake to think that reptile cages don’t need cleaning simply because reptiles are typically low maintenance pets. You don’t need to scrub and disinfect your pet’s cage every week, but spot cleaning is essential and full tank cleaning should be done as needed. specialty cages for baby chameleons Conclusion Now that we’ve outlined and discussed some of the biggest mistakes we see new reptile owners make, we hope it might help you avoid making the same errors. Luckily, if something does need to be corrected, your reptile’s behavior will typically let you know. And most of these common husbandry mistakes are very simple to rectify if you catch them in a reasonable amount of time. What Gender is My Tarantula? NOVEMBER 10, 2020 How do I know what gender my pet tarantula is? It’s very easy to determine the gender of a cat, dog or other mammal commonly kept as a pet. However, arachnids don’t have discernible external markers that clearly determine their gender. It takes a bit more detective work to find out what the sex of your tarantula is. Here’s a hint: you’ll need to keep your spider’s molted exoskeleton! what gender is my tarantula What traits can I use to help identify the gender of my tarantula? While it’s really only useful to very experienced tarantula keepers, it is possible to examine the underside of a tarantula’s abdomen to help assess gender. However, this requires very good eyesight, a lot of experience and a calm spider that will allow you to turn it over without stress or retaliation. It’s also necessary to have a spider with a leg span of at least two inches. We do not advise using this method to determine spider gender for those reasons. If you have a fully mature tarantula, you can also use identifying traits that only males possess to help determine gender. For instance, most male tarantulas develop what are known as “boxing gloves” and tibial hooks on their legs. They will also be longer and lankier-looking in appearance than females. Again, we’d like to mention that these traits take time and experience to recognize and are not usually a good method of determine gender for most owners. Size is another trait that can be used when you are looking at a mature tarantula. Females tend to be larger and they also live much longer than males. This makes them quite prized in the hobbyist community. However, this trait is not helpful when you are dealing with juvenile spiders that have not undergone many molts. juvenile tarantula How do I use my tarantula’s molted exoskeleton to determine its gender? Be aware that in tact molts can be a little hard to acquire. As soon as your spider has finished molting, you will want to secure the molt while it is still semi-pliable. If you allow the molt to dry out for too long, it can crumble when you try to look more closely at it. Once you have your molt handy, you need to look between the first set of book lungs or respiratory organs. Female spiders will have a spermathecae, which is a special organ where the female stores sperm until she is ready to lay eggs. Males lack this organ and the molt will appear smooth in this area. Not all spermathecae look the same in different spider species. For most species, it looks like a flap or small protrusions. Again, you will know you have a male spider if it is flat and smooth in the area between the book lungs. Be mindful that examining a tarantula’s molt is the only tried and true method to determine gender accurately and without fail. You can most certainly use other indicators to make educated guesses, however molts are the best way to know whether or not you have a male or female spider. mature mexican fireleg tarantula When is my tarantula old enough to find out its gender? There is currently no known and reliable method to determine the gender of a baby tarantula or spiderling. Not only are they very hard to keep still, they are even tougher to visually examine closely enough to make any type of assessment. Spiderlings have also not fully developed their sex organs yet, so more molts are necessary before you can examine either the spider itself or its exoskeletons for traits to determine gender. Usually, you can begin to determine the gender of the spider when you notice that it is large enough to leave behind a fully intact molt. In order to accurately find out if your spider is male or female, you will need to look at and handle the molt very closely. So the larger the molt, in theory, the easier you can determine gender. tarantula molting Conclusion Unfortunately, you can’t find out the gender of your pet tarantula by turning it upside down and examining its abdomen. Spiders that are commonly kept as pets simply don’t possess traits that would easily identify them as male or female the way that most mammals do. In order to find out whether your tarantula is a boy or a girl, you will need to wait until the spider has matured a bit. You will also need to keep a shed exoskeleton so that you can examine it closely. So, unless you already know the gender of your spider, we highly recommend giving it a gender neutral name! What Do Snakes Eat? SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 What do snakes eat? Do they all eat the same thing? What should I feed my own pet snake? Unlike other reptiles, snakes as a whole tend to eat the same types of things – other living creatures. No snake species is vegetarian. The types of food that snakes eat varies but primarily includes: rodents, fish, small reptiles and amphibians, and insects. what do snakes eat What do constrictors eat? The group of snakes dubbed constrictors are the species that squeeze their prey to death before eating. The snake first wraps its coils around its prey and then each time the prey exhales, it tightens its grip, causing its prey to eventually suffocate. Snakes that constrict include but are not necessarily limited to boas, pythons, anacondas and many colubrid species. In captivity, most constrictors eat rodents. In fact, there are entire refrigerators full of frozen mice and rats in pet stores that are just for reptiles like snakes. Some pickier snakes will only eat live rodents, although we always recommend using frozen rodents if possible. It’s simply safer, more sanitary and less hassle for both owner and snake. In the wild, constrictors will capture and eat mice, rats, shrews, voles, squirrels and other small mammals. The tropical and arboreal constrictor species tend to eat whatever they can catch including birds, mammals and other reptiles. constrictors eat mice This boa is eating a mouse. What do aquatic snakes eat? When we speak of aquatic snakes, we are really only referring to a select few species such as elephant trunk snakes, sea snakes and water snakes. Sea snakes are highly venomous and not kept in captivity, however they eat fish, fish eggs and eels. Other aquatic species eat aquatic or semi-aquatic fare. Feeder frogs, feeder fish and crayfish are all options when keeping aquatic snakes as pets. Be advised that aquatic snakes should not eat rodents and we do not recommend trying to feed these kinds of snakes mice or rats. aquatic snake diet Water snakes like the one pictured eat primarily feeder fish and frogs when kept as pets. What do very small snake species eat? Some species of snake are very small and all the previous prey items mentioned are simply too large for them to eat. Small snake species that are commonly kept as pets include Bimini blind snakes, ringneck snakes, baby Dekay’s snakes and baby ribbon snakes. Tiny snakes eat tiny food. In captivity, tiny food is typically invertebrates of some sort. Crickets, nightcrawlers, roaches and mealworms at their smallest life cycle phase are definitely all commonly used food items. small snake diet Tiny snakes like the one pictured typically eat small insects and worms. What should I feed my own pet snake? In general, if you are buying a pet snake and wondering what it eats, the answer is very likely to be mice. Most snakes will thrive on a diet of frozen/thawed rodents of the appropriate size. For instance, at the Backwater Reptiles facility, we feed our ball pythons, boa constrictors, king snakes, corn snakes, milk snakes and rat snakes mice…and that’s just naming broad categories! There are a few other snake species that commonly eat food other than rodents. For instance, ribbon snakes and garter snakes both eat prey such as frogs, insects, lizards and fish. Hognose snakes will often eat mice in captivity, but if they prove to be a picky eater, it’s because they typically eat toads and frogs in the wild. One wacky tip that actually works if you have a picky hognose snake is to “scent” mice by rubbing them with a toad or frog. You can also try soaking a thawed rodent in tuna water. Another popular snake species is the green snake. These snakes are primarily insectivores in the wild and make great pets for people who want a snake that doesn’t eat rodents. You can feed your green snake the same diet they’d eat in the wild – grasshoppers, crickets, worms, caterpillars, snails, small frogs and feeder lizards. Very large snakes are another specialty feeder. All of the snakes that grow to enormous sizes are constrictors. Anacondas, Burmese pythons and reticulated pythons that are mature will all require larger prey. Usually they eat rabbits, but some owners have found the giving them multiple feeder rats in a single feeding session also works. anaconda diet Snakes that grow very large like the yellow anaconda pictured will eventually need to eat larger prey items such s rabbits. Finally, we feel that egg-eating snakes deserve a mention on this list. Their common name actually gives away what their food of choice is – eggs! However, please keep in mind that egg-eating snakes usually eat small bird eggs like quail or finch eggs. An egg out of your refrigerator won’t cut it. ribbon snake diet Ribbon snakes eat night crawlers, insects and frogs when they grow larger. Conclusion Most pet snakes eat rodents. Most will also thrive on a diet of frozen/thawed rodents. However, if you are going to own a pet snake that is known to eat mice, we do advise that you be prepared to feed it living rodents in the event that it is a picky eater. There are other species of pet snakes that don’t eat mice. These include water snakes, egg-eating snakes and other specialty species. Ultimately, no matter what your pet snake eats, it doesn’t need to eat every day the way that mammals do. Snakes have much slower metabolisms and therefore usually only need to be fed once a week or so. We always advise that you research your pet of interest before purchasing to be sure that you are prepared to care for its needs, including its diet. hognose snake diet Hognose snakes can be picky eaters and sometimes need to be tricked or trained to eat rodents in captivity. What is the Proper Temperature and Humidity for your Reptile? AUGUST 17, 2020 What temperature should your pet reptile’s cage be? How much humidity should their enclosure contain? Two key elements of proper herp husbandry involve maintaining appropriate temperatures and humidity levels. These levels obviously vary widely between species, so in this article we will discuss how to know what the proper levels for your pet should be and how to make changes to these variables if necessary. proper temperature and humidity levels Pictured are custom cages made for baby Parson’s Chameleons. Chameleons are advanced when it comes to temperature and humidity requirements. We typically do not recommend them to beginners. How do I know what the proper temperature for my reptile is? We’re going to answer this question simply by saying that the right temperature is different for every species. The correct temperature range for a Kenyan Sand Boa is most likely not going to be the exact same for a Red Eye Tree Frog. The most important thing to know here is that you must look up what temperature range your pet will be most comfortable with and go from there. Research, research, research! The good news is that there are a lot of specific and detailed care sheets available online for most species. How do I know what the proper humidity range for my reptile is? Again, humidity levels are going to be variable from species to species. As much as we’d love to provide a set of data that is universal for all herps, this just isn’t the case. Please do research on how moist your pet’s environment should be and make sure you can provide that before you adopt. Keep in mind that desert animals such as bearded dragons, leopard geckos and many species of tortoise are not going to require too much humidity. Amphibians and other species that thrive in tropical environments – i.e. frogs, salamanders, many species of jungle snakes and chameleons – are going to require habitats with higher humidity levels and much more moisture in their immediate surroundings. jungle snake species Snakes species such as this Borneo Blood Python will require more humidity in their environment than desert species. How do I control temperature and humidity levels within my reptile’s enclosure? You will need two main tools to measure temperature and humidity. We recommend that you invest in a thermometer that provides accurate readings. The bare minimum you should use is a temperature gauge that sticks to the wall of the enclosure, although for more complicated set ups, we advise investing in something more accurate. There are many types of digital thermometers that work great for measuring the temperature within a tank. Some simply provide a reading while others are portable and can use a probe to measure various areas within the enclosure. Another great option is to get a temperature gun. These are not necessarily labelled as thermometers, but they are as simple as point and shoot to obtain a temperature reading anywhere you wish. Personally, when it comes to obtaining temperature information, we always like to recommend something portable because it allows for multiple measurements within the same enclosure at different points of interest. For instance, you don’t want a uniform temperature throughout the entire enclosure. You should always have a hotter side with the basking lamps and a cooler side to allow your pet to properly thermoregulate. A portable thermometer allows you to measure each side of the enclosure separately. Your second absolutely necessary tool is a hygrometer. These are used to measure moisture and humidity levels. If you so choose, you can even invest in a thermometer/hygrometer combo tool. These are actually fairly common since herpetology has become more of a mainstream hobby. Once you have tools that will provide you with data on your herp’s home, then you can make adjustments accordingly. As temperatures outside and within your home fluctuate, you might have to make adjustments to your reptile’s enclosure as well. Sometimes this can mean misting the enclosure more or less frequently, buying a more powerful heat bulb, or investing in an alternate source of heat such as a heat pad for underneath the tank. Ultimately, you will get used to adjusting temperature and humidity the longer you own and care for your pet. It will be bit more challenging at first, but once you have a system down, it will not require much maintenance at all. amphibian humidity levels Amphibians like this Mole Salamander will require a lot of moisture and humidity in their environment. What are the signs that I might need to make adjustments to the temperature and/or humidity levels within my reptile’s cage? One of the first indicators that something is not right with your pet’s environment is a lack of appetite. For instance, if you notice that your pet is suddenly sluggish and avoiding food, it could be a humidity or heat issue. For certain species, there are telltale signs of dehydration. Even if you provide your pet with a water dish, many herps actually get moisture from their environment and rarely drink water at all. For instance, chameleons won’t recognize a water dish as a source of moisture at all. You will notice their coloration becomes rather dull and their eyes will become sunken if they don’t get enough water. Eventually, they will perish from dehydration before they notice a water dish in their enclosure. When you own a chameleon, you actually have to provide a constant source of dripping or moving water or do lots of misting of the cage so that your pet doesn’t get dehydrated. For other species, you might notice issues with shedding. If your snake’s substrate doesn’t contain enough moisture, it will shed in pieces rather than one long tube, which is the healthy way. Other animals might have issues with perpetual shed or their scales and coloration might appear dull constantly. Other signs that you might need to make adjustments include lethargy, secretiveness in the form of burrowing or never emerging from hiding, or lack of waste elimination. The best way to avoid issues with temperature and humidity are to simply check and adjust frequently. What are the pet reptiles that have the simplest and easiest temperature and humidity requirements? Many pet herps have been bred in captivity for generations. They are therefore very forgiving when it comes to temperature and humidity ranges. Below are a few species that we often recommend for beginners: Bearded dragons Leopard geckos Corn snakes Ball pythons Crested geckos Hognose snakes King snakes Blue Tongue Skinks Conclusion Reptiles come from all different types of climates and subclimates. This means that they all have different needs when it comes to temperature and humidity ranges. Desert animals should not have the same humidity levels as a tropical animal. The single most important piece of advice we want reptile owners to know is that they need to do research and be prepared! There is not a “catch all” temperature or humidity range that works for all pets. Before you acquire any reptile, make sure that you invest in the proper equipment to maintain its habitat requirements. You can check out any of our care sheets or blog articles for reference or you can simply Google the species you are interested in and find information specific to the pet you wish to own. And don’t forget – you can always email our customer service experts at

2 thoughts on “Is My Reptile’s Poop Normal?

  1. michiganstopsmart meters says:

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