Category Archives: Pocket Pets

Pocket pets include crabs, amphibians, reptiles etc.

Care and Breeding YellowFoot Tortoises – Geochelone

In the Fall of 1997 I decided to start a breeding project to propagate Geochelone denticulata, the Yellowfoot Tortoise from South America. I start with a male specimen I got in Atlanta, a tortoise in captivity for twelve years with no other yellowfoot company.
Named “Elmo”, this large male geochelone denticulata is a voracious eater and a prodigious breeder. He even makes the gutteral “calls” to which I was first exposed on the CTTC Site. I bought two adult females from a place in Florida, these have been in the U.S. for thirteen or more years. They have laid eggs for the man in Florida, but without a male, he had none fertile.
Feeding time is a bustling event. These tortoises eat a prodigious amount, every day.
Look at how the female attacks the food!
Their diet is as follows:

  • Day one: Escarole & Squash
  • Day two: Turnip greens & Yams
  • Day three: Fasting
  • Day four: Romaine, Squash and Yams
  • Day five: Apples & Squash
  • Day six: Fasting
  • Day seven: Canned low fat dogfood.

Their outdoor facility is a nice, chainlink enclosure. It’s deficiency is that it’s not a dirt floor for egg-laying. I provide a box of peat for them to dig in if they desire.
I also keep water turtles, indoors overwinter. Their facility is pictured at left. The lighting is a metal halide pendant light and the filtration is a Bubble Bead Filter.
I am accumulating alot of information specific to Yellowfeet.

See a post below, I got from one of the greats.

“Denticulata for some reason are not kept as captive animals nearly as much as are carbonaria. They are a lot larger! Also a gorgeous animal……

They require even higher humidity that do Carbonaria…..because they strictly inhabit tropical forest areas in South America.

Temperature must also be kept at a very stable level, variations can and do cause severe illness. They MUST have constant access to drinking and “wading” water to sit in, which needs to be cleaned and replaced on a daily basis. A cement pond set to ground surface often works well. A drip irrigation system on timers installed to simulate rainfall is recommended. They love it!

You must keep the temp between 25 to 27 degrees C……and they need A LOT of room, they love to roam and get lots of exercise.

The diet is “basically” the same as Carbonaria, but a bit more fruit is required. Occasional animal protein as well, they love low fat canned dog food, offer every one or two weeks.

You can also soak monkey chow bisquits, some will eat them….do not offer more than once per week.


Wood Turtles Clemmys insculpta

Name: Wood Turtles

Scientific Name: Clemmys insculpta

Country of Origin: The wood turtle ranges from Nova Scotia south to northern Virginia and west through southern Ontario and New York to northeastern Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, and northeastern Iowa.

What I like best about Wood Turtles is their intelligence. They’re pretty unafraid of people and I like that their eyes will move in their sockets, but they also turn their heads to “regard” things. They’re active and easy eaters. Pretty colors, too.

Introduction: Next to the Box Turtles(Terrapene) and the tortoises (Gopherus), this is the most terrestrial North American turtle. It can be found in most habitats within its range. They have been observed in deciduous woods, woodland bogs, and marshy fields (in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and New York)

Worth as a Pet: The Wood Turtle is perhaps the best turtle pet one could obtain. You should be cautious about obtaining adult specimens as many of these are wild-caught, and while they make fine pets, they are endangered over most of their range. Soon, they may only exist in captive bred populations. The Wood is a bright, intelligent and curious turtle which can solve problems and shows amazing agility.

Morphology: This medium sized turtle (to 10″) has a sculptured carapace which is broad, relatively flat, and deeply ringed. Each scute supports an irregular pyramid formed by a series of concentric growth rings and grooves. The carapace is gray to brown in color. The yellow plastron has a pattern of oblong dark blotches on each scute. The blackish head is largest of the Clemmys, but is still rather moderate in size. It has a nonprojecting snout and a notched upper jaw. Other skin is dark brown, usually having orange or red pigment on the neck and forelegs. It also has a rather long tail. The male has a long, thick tail, with the vent posterior to the carapacial rim; a concave plastron with a deep end notch; and prominent scales on the anterior surface of the forelimbs.

Feeding and Behavior: After spring downpours, it is often seen searching for worms in freshly plowed fields. it also likes slugs, insects, tadpoles, and wild fruits. Housing: They are as at home in water as they are on land. One specimen I have been aware of is reared in a completely aquatic environment with nothing but a log for landfall and basking. Landfall and basking in full spectrum sunlight is very important. Others are maintained in apartments and live only on the carpet. Still others, probably the happiest in captivity’ have a large leaf-litter peat/sphagnum moss landfall [pen] and an equally large, properly filtrated body of water to swim in. Lifespan: One lived 58 years in captivity.

Notes: An excellent climber, it can climb 6-foot (1.8 m) chain-link fences. The Wood Turtle was once taken for food and now suffers from over-collection and habitiat loss. It is currently protected in most states. They are easy to breed in captivity and the CB after getting started are worth no less than $400 each.

White’s Tree Frog

Scientists and long-time hobbyists the world over are messaging that this system is inaccurate to the White’s natural biology. They are correct. However, it is immensely successful and has been used by many people since it’s presentation. The advantages are that it is easier to heat water than air. It stays clean due to the filtration of the water. I am a veterinary clinician and treat White’s Tree Frogs every month, usually for fulminating Aeromonas boils caused by filthy water bowls, and dirty terraria. This is foreign to hard core collectors. However, the average hobbyist is not as dedicated and will do better with this effective and easy to maintain design.

Keeping reptiles and amphibians over an aquatic substrate drastically improves cleanliness. 

The scientific community questions this design because it is [correctly noted] foreign to the natural history of these frogs. However, it was once said that you couldn’t grow healthy tomatoes in water, too! <grin> I will upload the pics of the frogs below, as they are today. I doubt anyone would have a problem with their health.



I am keeping my White’s in a 30 gallon tall aquarium. The tank is 3/5ths full of water, heated to 85 degrees F. I filter the water with a simple sponge filter and the frogs live hanging happily on the glass and on a log floating in the middle.

Common Name: White’s Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
Family: Pelodryadidae, a sub family of Hylidae (Tree Frogs)
Order: Anuran ( aka Salientia ) Class: Amphibia

Introduction: Amphibians are cold blooded, relying on the temperature of their surroundings to regulate their body temperatures. They usually have porous skin through which they are able to absorb water and oxygen, some aquatic varieties retaining gills into adulthood.
Most modern amphibians have four toed hands, and five toed feet ( often webbed).
Anurans is the proper name for both Frogs and Toads, the latter being a subset of Frogs. Frogs are generally tailless as adults, have compact bodies, and have longer more developed hind limbs than forelimbs. There are approximately 3800 different species of Anurans identified, ranging in adult size from about 1.5cm (3/8″) to 40 cm (16″) snout to vent.
Frogs are fascinating creatures due to the incredible diversity of colour, size, reproductive, predation, and survival strategies they employ.

Range: White’s tree frogs are members of family of Hylidae (Tree Frogs) and although classed under one species their is regional variation. They can be found in Northern and Eastern Australia, islands of the Torres Straits, New Guinea and parts of Indonesia. The specimens at the Valley Zoo are of the Indonesian variety and tend to be larger than the Australian variety.

Morphology: White’s tree frogs can grow up to 14cm (5.5″) for a large female, males are smaller. White’s tend to be quite plump and when healthy will have smooth body contours. White’s have the ability to change colour from a dark brown to light green, the Australian variety often tend to a bluer tone ( turquoise) and are stouter in form. White’s are covered in a thin film (coating ) which helps them retain water.

Habitat: Diverse, generally found in forested areas near a water source ( where breeding takes place). From moist tropical rain forests (New Guinea) to much dryer temperate forests in Australia. Probably due to access to water and abundance of insects are often found near human habitation.

Behaviour and Diet: White’s tend to be arboreal (live in Trees), although not exclusively. They are well adapted to tree life with long limbs, and large unwebbed hands and feet. Their fingers and toes are equipped with large suction cups for a firm hold and can climb smooth surfaces such as glass.

Being nocturnal White’s usually hide soon after sun up in a cool shaded place and become active again soon after sun down. Using the relative safety of darkness and their cryptic colouration they forage all night feeding on insects, grubs, worms, small rodents etc., eating virtually anything they can catch and fit in their mouths. They have large appetites and are usually voracious feeders.

Longevity: Known to live up to 21 years in captivity, 15 not uncommon. Life span in the wild generally much shorter due to heavy predation.

Relation to Humans: White’s are gentle and docile (except around their food) showing little fear of people. White’s have now been successfully captive bred and are available as pets. However because they require very large enclosures, special lighting, and a fair degree of up keep they are only suitable to experienced hobbyists.

Ecology: In their native lands although not yet considered endangered, the rapid decline of suitable habitat due to human encroachment, development and pollution is causing decline in wild numbers. Conservation measures worldwide for amphibians need to be supported if we want to be able to continue to enjoy these fascinating creatures.

I am keeping my White’s in a 30 gallon tall aquarium. The tank is 3/5ths full of water, heated to 85 degrees F. I filter the water with a simple sponge filter and the frogs live hanging happily on the glass and on a log floating in the middle. Algae is controlled by a small plecostomus. The filter only has to cope with a few frog fecs and the wastes of the Pleco. There is full spectrum lighting in the form of a Coralife fluorescent bulb overhead, and the admitted light from the window. The frogs get Superworms [Petsmart/Armstrong’s worm farm $2.99 per 25 worms] and Crickets every day. They eat a prodigious amount. A fat frog is an expensive production.

Spotted Turtles – Scientific Name: Clemmys guttata

Country of Origin: In the Northeastern United States, spotted turtles might be found in larger vernal pools, particularly those close to other wetland systems. Spotted turtles move about in search of feeding resources and are apt to feed upon salamander eggs in vernal pools. The spotted turtle is yet another species in decline in North America and should be protected whenever found. They are legally protected in a number of states. They range from southern Ontario and Maine southward along the Atlantic Coastal Plain to Northern Florida, and westward through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, central Ohio, northern Indiana, and Michigan to Northeastern Illinios.

Introduction: The first turtle appeared on the Earth about 200 million years ago, long before the dinosaur [Jurassic period 130 Million years ago] was even a thought. Today, these popular and easily recognized creatures are found in almost every environment. There are 86 different genera in all, and there are 20 genera in North America.

Worth as a Pet: Spotted turtles are extremely adaptable to a variety of conditions except protracted chilling and dryness. They can be happy in moist peat, leaf litter, or sphagnum moss which is kept moist and [preferably] warm. They are just as ‘at home’ in water-turtle environments, swimming all the time with Red Ears and such. They do need a landfall for basking and sunning. For breeding, they will need a suitable landfall with soils of a variety of types so they can choose what they prefer. When eggs are discovered, they may be removed and incubated. Do not roll or invert the eggs. Usually, their small eggs go unnoticed and hatch the following year.

Morphology: This small (to 5 1/2″), black turtle has round yellow spots on its smooth carapace. Only the youngest turtles will have rings in their shells. The round yellow spots are transparent areas in the scutes, overlying patches of yellow pigment which may fade away with age. Some older individuals are completely spotless. The plastron [underside] is yellow to orange in color and has black blotches along the edge onto the bridge. Yellow spots are usually present on its head. Other skin color is gray to black, and occasional yellow spots occur on the neck and limbs. Males have tan chins; brown eyes; long, thick tails with the vent near the tip; and a slightly concave plastron. Females have yellow chins, orange eyes, and a flat or convex plastron.

Feeding and Behavior: Spots eat best in the water. They will take any form of insect except hard bodied beetles. They prefer prepared foods in captivity; they’re perfectly happy to take prepared Koi and Goldfish foods from the water’s surface, and do very well on this. They will eat worms, tadpoles, crickets, and PetsMart’s SuperWorms if thrown in the water. They have been observed to eat Wisteria plant in the abscence of regular feedings.

Housing: My turtles have been at home in warm bog settings; on moss, leaf litter and topsoil. They do well in humid environments even on AstroTurf. Over the summer, after egg laying is long past, they are moved to the swimming pool, where they swim and bask and put on weight eating koi pellets.

Lighting: If the hobbyist cannot provide natural sunlight unfiltered by glass [which removes 65% of valuable ltraviolet] then full spectrum lighting is paramount. Perhaps the best fluorescent tube at this writing is the CoralLife TriChromatic fluorescent available in a variety of lengths. Full spectrum lighting biologically activates certain vitamins in the skin (D&E) which catalyze/facilitate Calcium metabolism.

Notes: This is a protected species which is on the decline in their natural territory. Please ttry to obtain captive born specimens before accepting a wild caught one.

Hatching Geochelone Denticulata Breeding Yellow Foot Tortoises

Hatching Geochelone Denticulata (S.A. Yellowfoot Tortoise)

This is a pan-shot of the 15 gallon aquarium I modified into an incubator. A thermometer over the water bath shows 82-87 degrees. The eggs are on fluorrescent “egg crate” about two and a half inches above the water’s surface. The water bath is 90 degrees. The airspace the eggs are in is 82-87 degrees.

 The top of the incubator is a piece of insulating sheathing. I figured since it is fish safe, it is also probably tortoise safe. There are two gaps in the top which I could adjust to have more humidity, more heat, or less of either.

The filter is a simple sponge filter powered by a 600/L/Hr pump. I used this very same type of system to keep some Sulcata hatchlings warm last winter and it worked great, but the water fouls if not filtered. The heater is reliable and runs the water at 90-92 giving me a 82-88 degree airspace.

Now, here is my point of worry, and I need your advice. There’s water condensing on the sides of the airspace. This would suggest almost 100% humidity. However, the eggs (since they are inside and isothermic with the air around them) have no condensation on them at all. Given the high humidty, will they still dehydrate? No forced air is used. –> (The eggs hatched fine with the condensation on the glass)

Detail of two of the six eggs I got 9/7/98 midnight. They were laid by the female in sphagnum peat moss which was bone dry, but I found them AS THEY WERE LAID. I took them out of the nest so they would not get broken. They are very large. I rinsed them by running them under poured, distilled water. They were never submerged or sprayed under pressure.

The tops of the eggs are marked with X’s in plain pencil and they are stable and will not be turned.


* Should I spray them daily with distilled water?
(I did)

* Do they (as with some snake eggs) need to be kept in the dark, or is lamp light okay to monitor them by?
(Mine were kept in indirect lamp light from the room)

* Will the tanks’ humidity avoid dehydration or should they be on a papertowel to hold moisture? How moist is “too moist” which causes rot?

(These eggs were on egg-crate and not on any porous surface)

* Does anyone know the true incubation period (variables notwithstanding) of the Yellowfoot tortoise?

Care and Feeding – Crawdads (Crayfish) as pets

Crayfish should be cared for exactly as you would tropical fish, however, you do not need an aquarium heater. In fact, cooler water is preferable for their survival.

They prefer their tank to have fish in it, so they can apprehend and eat them. This is included on the one hand to make your more successful with the crayfish, but also to warn you that with crayfish in the tank, you shan’t be successful with the fish.

Crayfish prefer to eat fish meat, canned shrimp, frozen blood worms, any kid of convenient and relatively “clean” meat. An example of an inappropriate food source would be fatty roast beef, even though it’s meat. We kept ours alive for their natural adult lifespan with little more than Sanfransico Bay brands’ “Prime Reef” served in chunks.

The ideal crayfish tank would have an inch of gravel on the bottom, some plastic and live plants such as Aponegeton bulbs, a daylength of 16 hours, using full spectrum lighting. The best bulb for full spectrum lighting is the CoraLife Trichromatic bulb. These are available for all the commercially available fluorescent fixtures.

An airstone would ideally be applied to the tank even if it has a good filtration system. The ideal filtration system for a crayfish tank would be a formidably sized sponge filter, perhaps the Tetra brand Bili(tm) or the Brilliant. Lustar V is also a good sponge filter.

Crayfish will hunt and eat by day, and night.

I set up my crayfish with caves to climb into but which permit me to see them sitting inside the cave. Simple slate pieces can be organized into a nice cave.

Crayfish of radically disparate sizes will fight and the smaller crayfish will be the loser. Even in matched sizes, as they mature, you may find a lost claw or other appendage due to skirmishes in the tank. Providing multiple caves and hideouts can be of assistance.

Good luck with the crayfish.

Care and Housing Bunnies As Pets 

Found one? You can save baby rabbits if they are provided with a HUMID warm box. (See this article, too)

When you find a baby bunny, especially one that’s been apprehended by a predator like your cat – it’s in a bad way. Stress levels are insane. Odds of survival, low. However, add to this, a puncture, broken bone, lung bruise, etc. Really low.

Then, they get a low blood sugar which a lot of caregivers don’t anticipate. They think the bunny is “slipping away” while its sugar declines. That should be sustained. Heat. Some fluids for volume support, but they should be warmed fluids.

Heat. And more heat. An incubator is nice because overheating isn’t.

Bunnies are an increasingly common pet in the United States. They are hardy, easy to care for, and can be left without hazard when the owners leave for a vacation. Dogs cannot afford us this kind of autonomy.

Rabbits have peculiarities you should be aware of, however.

Rabbits need good ventilation to do well. Cages make better homes than aquariums, even if the top of the aquarium is screened. The wastes of rabbits are high in nitrogen, and they can burn the sinuses if free flow of air is impeded.

It is best if the selected cage has a wire bottom to hold the rabbit up off the litter. Any litter will do in this type of facility, including cedar shavings, green kitty litters, and clay litters. The stool and urine of the rabbit simply drops through the cage bottom into the absorbent litter, and odor is only rarely a problem.

Water delivery is far better via water bottle than by bowl. Water bottles keep the water clean and fresh, and a dark green water bottle will actually discourage the growth of algae in the water. Water bottles cannot be turned over and so they limit spoilage of the litter.

Rabbit feeds are varied. There are poor diets based on seed that should be avoided. For best results, a pellet is selected, or for optimal results, a block food is selected called “Lab Blocks”. These are the type of feed given to lab animals, they are balanced with plant fiber and protein, as well as providing rich calcium supplies and other essential minerals. The blocks are so hard, they hone the teeth nicely. The diet can be supplemented with fresh dark greens, apples and carrots. Lettuce and light green veggies are hazardous to rabbits as they can cause gas formation and discomfort.

Rabbits are tolerant of cold weather as long as their facilities are dry and shielded from drafts.

Illness’ of rabbits are few. They can carry worms, and so a fecal examination is a good idea, particularly when rabbits are new. After the initial checks, carriage of worms is uncommon due to limited exposure.

Rabbits can and do form hairballs. Regular brushing, especially in the Spring, is one way to avoid this. Vegetable roughage in the diet also helps, and finally, petrolatum laxatives along with limited use of Pineapple juice are also effective, (despite recent reports that they do not).

It is not uncommon for hairballs to form that require surgical intervention. Recognizing this and getting them to surgery in time, is essential.

If a dog can get under a rabbit’s hutch – even a good dog, will necessarily yank the rabbits toes down through the hutch grate. Do NOT create a hutch that can permit predators to get under the hutch.

Rabbits have no vaccination requirements.

What to Do With A Domestic Bunny In Your Yard?

Found Bunnies, Domestic or Wild Babies or Adults

“This guy showed up this morning in our yard off Twin Branch…. Anyone missing a white pet bunny?”

“I saw a news report the other day about people disposing of pet bunnies. I imagine some think its nice to give your child a pet bunny for Easter but then they realize its not so easy to care for it so they just drop them off in the woods. Such a sad world.”

“House Rabbit Rescue might be able to take him, if they aren’t full.”

“Please contact the Georgia House Rabbit Society Rescue on Shallowford Road (located near Lassiter HS). This sweet fuzzy baby is not meant to be living outside (domesticated rabbit). Please try to catch him/her. Unfortunately, many people think it’s ok to let rabbits out into the wild when they’re tired of them…it’s not. We adopted a rabbit from this wonderful rescue. Our sweet boy has physical scars from being dumped and left to fend for himself. He is now happy and loved. He is one of the lucky ones.”

Ask for Jen at the Georgia House Rabbit Society Rescue on Shallowford Road (located near Lassiter HS) or Philip. They have a heart for domestic bunnies that have been “turned out” into the wild- 678-653-7175

Monday 11am – 5pm
Tuesday 11am – 7pm
Wednesday 11am – 5pm
Thursday 11am – 5pm
Friday 11am – 5pm
Saturday 12pm – 5pm
Sunday – Closed

“We are the Georgia House Rabbit Society (GHRS), a volunteer-based nonprofit 501(c)3 rabbit rescue organization serving the metro Atlanta area and beyond. Since our formation in 1996, we have rescued over 3500 domesticated rabbits in need.

​In 2010 we opened our Rabbit Shelter in Marietta, Georgia.

Our rescue is the only rabbit specific shelter in Georgia and there are only a few like it in the country.

​Our stand alone facility serves multiple purposes. In addition to providing housing for our rescued rabbits, the shelter also serves as a learning center, a boarding facility, and a source for quality rabbit supplies.”

I downloaded a useful article on Orphaned Baby Bunnies_ Wild and Domestic

Please contact a Wildlife Rehabber or rabbit vetimmediately. Other rehabbers:  Wildlife Rehabbers US States A- M, and Wildlife Rehabbers US States N-Z and International Rehabbers.

Common Parasites in Reptiles (Illustrated)

I am not the author of the following resource however the document is freely available on the internet and the authors are exhaustively identified throughout the publication.

Here’s the “book” which details the majority of reptile parasites. Many species of reptile are mentioned by name with the prevalence of the various infectious agents, but no treatments are given. I have that in another resource in this site.

Common Parasites in Reptiles PDF

Common Parasites of Reptiles With Deworming Details

Dr Johnson did not write nor does he own the following information which is here PRIMARILY for his library and personal use.

Dr Navarre provided this document to a Veterinary conference and it was also published by DVM360. Header and footer information is included to help readers find the original material.

There is considerable information about the specific treatments for these parasites.

This article dovetails nicely with the book on Parasites of Reptiles

Common parasitic diseases of reptiles & amphibians pdf