Archive

Monthly Archives: October 2019

Why Does the Armadillo Girdled Lizard Bite its Tail?

If you have stumbled across the Armadillo girdled lizard before, you have probably heard people talking about it biting its own tail, while they scratch their head with confusion. But why does this happen?

Why does the Armadillo girdled lizard bite its own tail? It bites its own tail as a clever defensive technique. It rolls itself into a tight ball, grabs its tail in its mouth and in the process creates a very effective defensive shield.

The great thing is, any predators that are considering attacking the Armadillo Lizard at this point will probably think twice. The reality is when they are wrapped up in this way, they are very hard to attack and most Predators will give up a move onto easier prey. Keep reading, because I will reveal what other tricks they have and more…

What is the Armadillo girdled lizard?

lizard that bites its tail

You may be wondering what exactly is the Armadillo girdled lizard. For that reason, in this section, I’m going to explain exactly what they are,  other nicknames that they have and more…

You may notice by the picture it looks similar to the Armadillo, with its protective shell and skin. Hence the reason why it is named this.

According to Wikipedia, It is also known as:

  • Ouroborus cataphractus (Scientific name)
  • Armadillo Lizard
  • Golden-armadillo lizard
  • or armadillo spiny-tailed lizard

Formerly it was part of the Cordylidae genus. However since 2011, it has been moved to its own genus.

What do these lizards look like & how big are they?

Now that you know a little bit more about them you may be wondering what they look like, how big they are, etc. For that reason, in this section, I will give you a brief description of what they look like.

Coloration and Size

They are typically a brownish color that helps them in their natural habitat. As for size, they usually are anything from 3.5 inches ranging up to 5 inches in length.

At a glance, they look like little dragons or a spitting image of an armadillo.

Do people keep them at Pets?

Yes, they are kept as pets. However, they are illegal in certain countries such as South Africa. This is mainly due to the fact that back in 1996 they were endangered and classed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN.  Since then they have recovered slightly and then now moved to a “Least Concern” status.

The endangered status back in 1996 was rumored to be due to illegal trafficking, which still happens to this day.

They are attractive to lizard keepers because they are relatively easy to look after. And, getting food for them is not usually a problem.

Also, they are easily captured in the wild because they roam around in large groups and are very slow-moving lizards.

Another reason for their demand is cosmetically speaking they look quite attractive and some people compare them to little Dragons.

Other rumors blame their food source (termites) being linked to their reduction in population. Due to environmental issues that impacted the termite numbers.

What other defensive tricks does the Armadillo Griddled Lizard have?

Earlier we talked about them biting their own tail and rolling up into a ball as a clever technique to protect themselves. However, I’m now going to reveal another trick that they have up their sleeves which also helps them to get away from their ensuing predators.

One Of their tricks is dropping their tail. This is common across a number of different lizard species (How Many Times Can A Lizard Regrow Its Tail? Click here to see) and a great trick which they have in their Arsenal as well.

Their Tail dropping trick

If they feel that they are under attack their tail will drop. During this time the tail will continue to wiggle aggressively which helps them in two ways.

Firstly, it draws attention to the wriggling tail, which will hopefully give them enough time to escape from the pursuing predator. Also, this wriggling tale is now a potential meal for the Predator to keep them satisfied.

Alpha male tactics!

Like a lot of lizards, the male species of the Armadillo girdled lizard is particularly aggressive and territorial.

You may also notice, especially during mating season, they are likely to increase their aggressiveness. This is mandatory for them to win and mate successfully during this time.

Weird living conditions.

You may be wondering where these lizards actually live and what is their preferred living environment. This is one of the things I love about this particular lizard species. They are known to be social lizards.

If you have studied lizards in any capacity you will agree with me that this is quite a weird, or shall I say rare commodity.

These griddled Armadillo lizards typically roam around in large groups of up to 60 lizards. They move around quite slowly and shared their living space, which is typically crevices in rocks in their natural habitat.

Rival Groups

You may also be assuming that this group is segregated and may even cause arguments or fighting with other passing rival groups…

However, in reality, this is not the case. You will find that group members interchangeably move from one group to another without any hassle or fighting. In fact, it is quite the norm.

Are these lizards dangerous?

No. These lizards are not dangerous. In fact, they are quite slow-moving and would typically prefer to run away rather than confronting potential predators or even a passing animal.

Do they lay eggs?

You may be wondering about their breeding habits, and in particular, if they lay eggs or not. For this reason, in this section, I’m going to explain their breeding behaviors.

The Armadillo girdled lizard is quite a rare lizard. I mean in the fact that she actually births live young. It doesn’t lay eggs.

The expected number of offspring

For each clutch, you can expect to see anywhere from 2 to 4 live lizards born at a time. If you have studied lizards before you will probably expect the lizard to give birth to these babies and walk away and leave them to fend for themselves, right?

Wrong!…

The Armadillo girdled lizard is different in this department as well. In fact, females are often seen feeding their young similar to a human mother. Which is quite unusual but refreshing to see.

Related questions:

In this section I will answer some questions related to the Armidilo Gridled Lizard, if you have additional questions please feel free to drop a comment below.

Q: Why do lizards bite each other’s tails?

This is usually a show of dominance. Earlier I talked about the griddled lizard having a unique defensive style by rolling up into a ball and biting it’s tail, right?

However, other lizards have weird behavior such as biting each other’s tails. This is usually due to the fact that the male lizards are quite territorial. And, will always want to claim dominance in an enclosure.

This is even more prevalent in the domesticated market because they are restricted to a very small enclosure. This intensifies their need to prove who is the dominant one. Especially if they are females in the enclosure as well.

Q: Do lizards eat their tails?

Earlier I discussed how lizards have a defensive technique where they drop their tails. This is also connected to this question. Why?

Because in the event that they drop their tail and a Predator decides not to eat it. The lizard will return back to the spot and rather than trying to keep the tail it will actually devour it.

This may seem weird to you but this is expected behavior in the lizard’s world.

Q: How is a Lizard’s tail so special?

The Lizard’s tail is special because it has two key things that it does for it. Firstly it improves their mobility and stability as they move around.

And by now you probably understand the importance of their tail as a defensive mechanism for them. Especially with lizards like the Armadillo girdled lizard who will happily drop their tail and run for the hills if needed.

Or, failing that roll up into a tight ball and use their tail as a protective shield.

Are Calci Worms Good for Bearded Dragons? (w/ Pics)

If you have a Bearded Dragon and looking for an ideal meal for them, then no doubt you have heard of Calci worms. But, are they a good option for you or not? Let me explain…

Are Calci worms good for bearded dragons? Yes, they are good for them. They have great nutritional benefits. Such as ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio and Lauric Acid. In fact, 53% of their body fat is this nutritional lauric acid.

Now that you know that they are a great option for your beardy, let me go on to explain the benefits of these worms, exactly what they are, how long they will last, whether or not it is a good idea to refrigerate them and more.

What is a Calci worm?

black soldier fly

You may be wondering what exactly is a Calci worm, right?  For that reason, I’m going to explain, in this section, exactly what it is. The Calci worm is the larvae (maggot) of the black soldier fly.

It is often called a number of different names, which can cause confusion. It is known as:

  • Phoenix worm.
  • Repti worm.
  • Calci Worm.

Even though they have very different sounding names they are all one of the same thing. One of the reasons why these Calci worms are so sought-after is the simple fact that they store a lot of fat and calcium in the pupation stage of their life cycle.

What does this mean for your lizard? It means that they are a great nutritional meal for your bearded dragon. And, they find them delicious as well.

Benefits of Calci worms

You may be thinking, what is so great about these Calci worms to even make you consider buying them, right? In this section, I’m going to explain some of the benefits of these worms for your benefit.

Easy to maintain

Firstly, one of the benefits is you really do not have to do much work to keep these worms happy. You can keep them at room temperature without having to refrigerate them, which is a great benefit on its own.

In addition to this, you do not necessarily have to feed them, they can literally be kept in the same pot that you purchased them in and they can last a few weeks until your lizard is ready to consume them.

These are some of the reasons why lizard keepers think they are a good option.

Should these Calci worms be their staple diet?

You may be wondering with all this talk about high calcium and great nutritional facts. Should they not just be the staple diet for your Bearded Dragon?

Should you just focus solely on these worms and not beat around the bush? These are all good questions and what I plan to cover within this section.

Firstly yes we did discuss that the calcium has great nutritional benefits and the great fat they have. But as far as treating it as the staple diet for your bearded dragon goes, especially about thinking of it as potentially the only food for your bearded dragon, I wouldn’t advise this. But, let me explain…

Too much fat

The fact that they have a high-fat content makes me suggest that you need to be careful with this. Not that they are dangerous in any way mind you, but you want to avoid your beardy becoming overweight/obese, are you with me?

Therefore, you will better off offering them as treats and combining them with other insects. The variety is good too.

To be perfectly honest with you, beardies like variation anyway. They will easily get bored with the same thing day in day out.

Do Calci worms turn into flies?

There are many people that forget that these worms are just flies in the making. To cut a long story short, yes calci worms will eventually turn into flies.

However, the fact that you have purchased these for feeding your bearded dragon, the chances of you seeing them turning into a flight is quite low.

However, it is definitely possible. Especially if, for some reason, your bearded dragon stopped eating. Or maybe you’ve bought too many of them.

In the event that they do you turn into flies. They only really live for a few days before reproducing and the cycle continues. Obviously you don’t want a whole load of black soldier flies in your house, so this is not best practice.

The reality is they are quite harmless flies because they do not regurgitate and cause issues that normal other flies do (more on this later).

How do you store Calci worms?

You may be wondering after you purchase these Calci worms how are you going to store them in your house, right?

If you’re new to this, it may be a concern or cause some slight anxiety for you. Therefore, I will explain exactly how you go about this in this section.

The reality is, Calci worms need very little thought when it comes to storage. Do not worry about filling up your refrigerator with these worms. It is really not required, in fact, you can keep them in the same pot that you purchase them in and keep them at room temperature.

The reality is they can tolerate high temperatures. That does not mean that you should keep them at sky-high temperatures though.

In the event that it is a hot summer day, you should keep them in the vicinity of an AC unit so that they are not too overly exposed.

Conversely, on a ridiculously cold day, they have been known to survive small stints in the freezing cold conditions, but this is not necessarily the ideal situation for them.

You may be wondering what is the ideal temperature for them? In this case, you need to aim for 50 to 60 degrees to keep them at their optimal temperature.

Related question:

In this section, I’m going to answer some questions related to Calci worms and Bearded dragons. If you have any additional questions that you feel have not been covered here please leave a comment below.

Q: How long do Calci worms live?

In reality, Calci worms are pretty good. They can last a few weeks left at room temperature. I mentioned this earlier as one of their main benefits in fact.

Beyond these few weeks, they are likely to pupate and turn into flies so you want you do not want to go further than this.

However, in my opinion, this is ample time for your beardy to consume these worms. Unless you have over-purchased.

Q: Can Calci worms climb?

Yes, they can. You may be wondering if you keep them in a pot what are the chances of them escaping and trying to climb out of it.

The reality is, they do climb. But, if you are concerned about this, there is a simple way to avoid this happening.

If you apply water to the dish then this will give them the ability to climb out. Therefore, it is advisable to have a dry dish with the worms altogether. This will actually reduce the chances of them coming out.

Q: Do Calci worms like to wriggle?

Yes. They do like to wriggle. This is one of the reasons why they are ideal for bearded dragons. Because their movement actually excites them and makes them inclined to eat them.

Q: Do you need to dust Phoenix (Calci) worms?

Yes, but, not with calcium. In fact, if you attempt to dust them with calcium it will actually be dangerous because they already have high calcium content already. Instead, you should consider dusting them with a vitamin supplement to optimize their nutritional benefits.

Are soldier flies dangerous? No. In fact, they are one of the good ones. Why? Because they do not have mouthparts and they do not fly around all day hoovering up waste, then regurgitating it, as most flies do. Also, they do not bite and are not known for passing on diseases. All in all, a great fly.

Do Blue Tongue Skinks Have Teeth? (Will it Bite?)

If you have some concerns, or just curious, you may be wondering if Blue tongued skinks have teeth and if they pose a real threat. Well, I am going to give you the facts you need right now.

Do blue tongue skinks have teeth? Yes, blue tongue skinks do have teeth. However, their teeth are nothing really to be worried about. They are quite small and non-threatening. They do not offer any real threat. Also, they are not poisonous so that is not a concern either.

Now that you know that they do have teeth, and they are not much of a threat. By the way, in the unlikely event that they do bite you, the chances of them drawing blood is very minimal.

Let me go on now to explain if they are generally aggressive if they make good pets. Also, I will reveal one particular species that you may want to avoid. Keep reading…

What is the blue tongue skink?

what is a blue tongued skink

The blue tongue skink has a number of different names. It is known as:

  • Eastern blue-tongued skink.
  • Blue Tongued lizard
  • or even nicknamed “Bluey”

It is a member of the Scincidae family and part of the Tiliqua genus. In fact, the Blue-tongued skink is one of the largest members of the skink family.

They are most commonly known for their very vividly bright blue tongue. They are natives to the desert and rainforests of Australia and New guinea.

Do blue tongue skinks bite?

Earlier we discussed if blue tongue skinks have teeth. We established that they do. But, you may be wondering what happens if they do bite you? Is it anything to be worried about? And, what is the likelihood of this ever happening? Let me attempt to tackle these questions.

The reality is they are very unlikely to bite you. The blue tongue skink uses biting as a very much last resort. Are you with me?

The Tongue Flicker!

It prefers to call the bluff of his preditors by flicking its elegant blue tongue. This tongue usually scares off most predators and allows them to get away unscathed (most of the time).

In the unlikely event that the predator is not scared by their blue-tongue. Then, if they are backed into a corner, and that is the only option, only then will they consider biting.

And with that being said, the bite really is not that effective. So, the chances are it won’t be enough to get rid of a persistent predator.

Are the blue tongue skinks aggressive?

As we have been talking about the blue tongue skinks ability to bite or if they have teeth. You may be wondering if they’re general temperament is aggressive or not. For that reason in this section I’m going to discuss their temperament and if they pose much of a risk.

Generally speaking, the blue tongue skink is not really aggressive. They are quite docile and good pets.

However, I have to warn you that there is a particular type of blue-tongue skin known as the Tanimbar Island Blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua scincoides chimaera) which is aggressive.

This blue tongue skink sub-species is not advisable for families, and therefore you should not consider this as a potential pet.

Why do blue tongue lizards hiss?

If you have ever been around blue tongue lizards you will notice that hissing is one of their best choices when it comes to self-defence. You may be wondering why they do this?

For that reason, in the section, I’m going to explain some of the reasons for this and explain the psychology of this behaviour.

Limited Defensive Tricks

Look at it from their perspective, he has really short legs and not really much to defend himself with. With his short legs and lack of climbing ability means if he is chased, he is going to struggle. So, in summary, he doesn’t really have many options to play with.

Therefore he is likely to hiss to try and frighten off any potential predators. Think of it as their bluff, hoping that the predator will get scared.

So if you ever notice that your sink is hissing at you this is a clear indication that he sees you as a threat and you need to give him some space.

Are they easy to take care of?

So far we have learned that they are generally well behaved and not much of a real threat. But are they easy to look after, as a pet? Well, let me explain.

Generally speaking, yes these skins are easy to take care of. I say “generally speaking” because, if you remember, I mentioned earlier there is a specific sub-species of called the Tanimbar. And, if you remember, he is quite aggressive and definitely not an easy pet to take care of.

And following on from what I said earlier, this is a particular species that you want to stay clear off as a domesticated pet.

How do they communicate?

You may be wondering how do these lizards communicate with other lizards or animals, right? In general, their mode of communication is body language, like most lizards to be fair.

Simple things like flashing their tongue, how they look at other lizards, running away, etc. These are all subtle parts of body language that they use to communicate. Are you with me? In a way, this similar to human nature as well.

Are they affectionate?

In general yes they are affectionate and good pets to have. However, they do not mix well with other lizards.

Issues with deciding their Sex

Another complication with these lizards is it’s difficult to tell which sex they are. You may be wondering why this is an issue or why it’s relevant.

The problem with this is, if you mix two males together it is a big recipe for disaster. Why? Because they are likely to fight like cats and dogs, are you with me?

Also, with this confusion about their sex you could also run into problems with unexpected breeding. This can happen if you accidentally have a male and a female grouped together.

For these reasons, it is always recommended to house them alone to save yourself the headache.

Do they keep snakes away?

You may be wondering if blue tongue skinks could be helpful and scare snakes away.  This may be because you have a snake problem or just general curiosity. For this reason, I’m going to address this question.

Firstly it is possible for a blue tongue lizard to eat or attack a snake. However, it is also known for snakes to attack and even kill them as well. This all comes down to size. Effectively, whoever is the biggest and strongest wins.

Related questions:

In this section, I am going to answer some questions related to Blue-tongued skinks (Click here to see if Blue Tongue Skink can Live in a 40 Gallon Tank. If you have some questions that you feel have not been answered, feel free to drop a comment below.

Can blue tongue skinks eat dog food? Yes, they can be dog food, according to this site. Also, many keepers feed them dog food. In addition to this, they swear by mixing dog food with vegetables to make a nutritious meal.

However, if you consider doing this, make sure that you choose can dog food instead of dried kibble. Also, make sure that you look for dog food which does not have artificial colors, sweeteners or anything that will cause issues with your lizard.

I’m not saying that this is the ideal diet by the way. But, based on the fact that other people have done this successfully, it is possible.

Do blue tongues lay eggs? No. This is quite an interesting question because most people would assume that they do. Why? Because most lizards do. And, it is usually a safe assumption to make.

However, this lizard is an exception. After mating successfully, the female skink will give live birth to two or three babies.

How often do blue tongues shed? The adults will typically shed every month or two. But, this depends on the weather and other environmental factors, such as, have you hydrated him correctly? As for the babies, they are likely to shed more frequently than this. So, be prepared for that.

How Long do Feeder Mice Live? (Maximise their life)

If you are keen on feeding your lizard with live feeder mice (Click here to see the price on Amazon), you may be keen to understand exactly how long they can last, so you can plan on how much you will need at a time, etc. Keep reading and let me explain.

how long do feeder mice live? They can live up to three years if treated as a pet but typically consumed within weeks or months. Because, they are purchased for the sole purpose to feed to lizards (or other retiles, e.g. Snakes.)

Now that you know how long feeder mice can live for. Let me explain more. More specifically, what exactly they are (the difference between, wild, or fancy mice), which lizards eat them, different types, pros, and cons of having them. Keep reading.

What are feeder mice?

You may be wondering what the difference is between a normal pet mouse (fancy mouse, more on this later), a wild mouse and an actual feeder mouse. Well, in this section I will explain just that now.

The reality is, there is no real difference. They are the same mouse but just treated differently. Feeder mice a bred specifically for food. Meaning, they are not cared for as well as a pet mouse. And, there is no real effort put into extending their life.

With that being said, although they have the same capabilities at birth, to your conventional pet mouse, their lifespan is likely to be much shorter. Either through being eaten (by lizards, snakes, etc) or neglect by their breeders/owners.

What lizards eat feeder mice?

what lizards eat feeder mice

With all this talk about feeder mice, you may be keen to understand what type of lizard will actually consume them, right? Well, that’s good news! Why? Well, I will be sharing some information on this now in this section.

The following lizards are known to consume feeder mice:

  • Skinks.
  • Monitor Lizards.
  • Basilick Lizards.
  • Water Dragons.
  • Geckos.

Understand this, some of the lizards above are a part of a large group, with many sub-species, e.g. Geckos. Therefore, not all of them will consume feeder mice. But, I am saying there are at least some that are known to eat them, are you with me?

Also, just because they are known to eat them. This does not mean that feeder mice are their staple diet. This just means that they are an option, make sense?

What Types of Feeders are there?

Feeder mice come in a range of sizes. This is great because there is a wide range of lizards, of differing sizes as well. In this section, I will explain the different types of feeders and which type of lizards typically consume them.

Pinkie Mice

Pinkie mice are great for younger lizards, such as juvenile or hatchlings, depending on the species. Basically, they are small mice, typically less than 5 days old. They are so young in fact that they are completely hairless (no fur). They can be purchased live or even frozen.

Fuzzy Mice

These mice are bigger than pinkie mice, but not substantially. They are called “Fuzzy” because of the small layer of fur that they have grown by this time. You need to be careful that they are the correct sizing for your lizard. As a general rule, you shouldn’t feed them anything bigger than the distance between each of their eyes.

Adult Mice

As you can imagine. These are the largest type of feeder mice. They are usually separated into two or three smaller sub-groups (small, medium & Large). Which is good to help with your lizard’s ideal sizing.

Typically the small or medium feeders are less than 20 grams. Whereas, the large ones can be 20 – 50 grams.

What’s a “Fancy Mouse”?

Earlier you heard me mention the term “Fancy mouse”. You may be wondering what I was on about. Well, in this section I will explain exactly what they are and some more related facts.

A fancy mouse is basically a mouse that has been bred as a pet or even for an exhibition. They usually are directly caught from the wild or originated from a wild mouse somewhere in their previous generations. Since then, they have become domesticated and docile.

Availability

These fancy mice are freely available in many pet shops. According to this site,  they are not advocates of using feeder mice as pets. But the reality is a lot of the fancy mice sold in pet shops come from breeders that have large scale feeder setups.

Mice & Diseases

You may have heard many people look down on mice and label them as “dirty”. But are they though? This may seem like an obvious answer. But, in this section, I will explore this with you.

Parasites

According to this site, they say that mice are generally clean and healthy. However, they are still vulnerable to pick up parasites. These parasites include:

  • Mites.
  • Pinworms.

Mites are pretty bad. They cause some serious itchy and sore skin for the mice which leads to other issues. And pinworms, they are just as bad, causing serious bouts of diarrhea, etc.

Incisor Issues

Another problem that mice face is with their incisors. They grow at a fast rate and need to be managed. Basically they need to be gnawed down to stop them overgrowing.

If they are not gnawed down they stand the risk of overgrowing and causing knock-on problems such as weight loss, malnutrition, etc. Why? Because it affects their eating.

Benefits of Feeder Mice

You may be wondering what is so good about feeder mice. What are the main reasons why they are quite popular amongst reptile owners? Well, in this section I am going to explain exactly why this is the case.

In all honesty, the biggest benefit is their cost and availability. You can find them in many outlets. That is in person in a shop or even purchased online (frozen or live, but more on that later).

Also, they don’t require much maintenance because most owners understand they are literally purchased for food. Put it this way, would you treat your farm chicken the same way as your pet cat? (Similar concept).

The “Hassle” of Live Feeders

We have spoken a lot about feeder mice so far, but we have not discussed the fact that they can be purchased live as well as frozen. In this section, I will explain some of the issues with the live feeder mice.

Dangerous Fangs!

Many inexperienced lizard owners think of feeder mice as some docile, pushovers that just can’t wait to be eaten. However, in reality, this is really not the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

These feeders, in some cases, have dangerous fangs. They will use them to defend themselves (which is reasonable, in my opinion). When they are eventually sent into your lizard’s enclosure, don’t think they will be rolling over and waiting for their attack. No! They will fight for their lives.

You may be thinking, so what’s that got to do with my lizard? Well, think about it. These fangs are sharp as hell. Your lizard can sustain some injuries from this. So its an issue I have to highlight with these live feeders.

Re-stocking Issues

Another issue with these live feeders is the fact that you can’t buy them in bulk. Because they are live food, you need to keep just enough in stock, until your lizard is close to finishing the stock. The downfall of this is, it becomes expensive this way.

Benefits of Frozen Feeder Mice

Earlier we talked about the issues with live feeder mice. These problems are quite the opposite of frozen feeders. So in this section, I will explain their benefits.

So, the first clear benefit is the fact that you buy these mice in bulk, and store them ahead of time. No more need to wait until you are just about to run out. This helps to keep the cost down for you. And also, the suppliers are able to reduce their costs too.

Also, this saves a lot of your time, because you do not have to go back and forth from the shops getting live food as much.