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Thinking of a new pet (rodent/lizard thread)

HevachHevach Registered User regular
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Ok, so first off, the incident that lead to my last H/A thread where the state treasury ganked me for $400+ has been resolved, and on top of the money I'm getting back, my lawyer fees are being paid and I'm getting a $200 gain to pocket after everybody's satisfied.

So, the thread's about what I want to do with the $200. I'm in a decent position on my pet budget - I recently trimmed down my fish tanks a bit more, so their operating costs are lower than they were last year, so I'm thinking of branching out into new types of pets.

I'm pretty experienced with freshwater/brackish fish, invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians, but almost no experience with terrestrial pets past my cat.

Anyway, I am looking to minimize up-front costs. I have a number of empty fish tanks (the biggest are 32 long x12 wide x24 high, and 48 long x12 wide x18 high). I'd like a bird, but I don't have the housing for one currently, and both birds and cages are fairly expensive. Ideally I'd like to use or modify one of my empty fish tanks.

So, any good beginner lizards or snakes I could look at, or would I be further ahead with rats or mice?

Anyway, relevant information:

The house is fairly cool in the winter, 65-68F. It's never a problem with aquatic pets, since water's easier to keep warm than air, but it's a limiting factor with a lot of cold blooded animals.

I prefer at least somewhat active animals (I've kept stonefish and found them supremely boring), but I know that any reptile is going to be fairly inactive for at least part of the day.
I'm also interested in something that can be kept in single-species or community groups, as with my aquariums I've always been most fascinated to watch interaction between fish, and I think I'd like something similar with other pets.

Hevach on

Posts

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Corn snakes are a great beginner snake. They don't grow too large (5' or so in length) and your largest aquarium could probably be modified to house one (you'd need plenty of ventilation and a way to have a heat-mat. Coolness of the house isn't a problem with a heat-mat.

    They're easy to care for, eat mice (easy to obtain frozen, easy to defrost, and great if you dislike insects) and their maintenance costs are low (I was actually advised to use paper towels as a substrate, which suits me fine as it's cheap!). My snake's now 13 years old, which is a good, average age for a corn snake, so he's obviously thriving.

    They're also very pretty!

    sharasugar_80.png sharanomsugar_80.png
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Would a 4 foot tank really be sufficient for a 5 foot snake? It might just be my fishkeeping mentality leaking through - it would be woefully insufficient for a 5 foot eel, but they are quite different animals.

    Anyway, bugs don't bother me. I've actually got quite a few crickets on hand, since a couple of my fish will take them.

    I'm really more interested in lizards than snakes, but a corn snake does sound like an excellent pick. Do they cohabit well, or would I there be dominance issues in the size tank I'm thinking of?

  • ToastitronToastitron Registered User
    edited August 2009
    I used to keep a pair of rats and would highly recommend them. They're very intelligent, I had mine trained to come and do obstacle courses made out of shoe strings and cheerios. Pretty inexpensive too, I'd be surprised if you used even half of your pet budget within the first year. I had a $15 bag of food pellets last for 6 months, and I forget how much substrate was, but you go through that very slowly once you get them trained to use a particular corner or bowl. Just be sure to avoid anything pine based, it gives them respiratory problems. D:

    Rats are definitely active, though I've heard males are less so. You should get at least two, because there is just no way you could spend enough time with one to keep it occupied. Hiding treats inside puzzles and hard to reach areas is also a good idea.

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I like rats too. Mine used to sit on my shoulder like a parrot.

  • Nova_CNova_C Social Justice Haruspex Beyond The WallRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Corn snakes are awesome! Meet Cerberus!

    Cerbinabox2008-07-0104.jpg
    (I pimp this photo any chance I get. It's about a year old now though.

    Cerberus2009-05-30Outside02.jpg
    More recent pic of him trying to be a cobra when I took him outside (Corn snakes flare like Cobras when they feel threatened or exposed, but they don't have near the same ability to do so).

    Really easy to care for and I have mine in a 3 foot tank. Corn snakes are actually fine their whole lives in a 20 gallon (2' tank), but I gave mine a bit extra. Have a look at www.cornsnakes.com for help if you decide to go the corn snake route.

    EDIT: Cohabbing snakes is a very bad idea, at least for corns. They're pretty much one per enclosure.

    My blog: www.jonathanirons.net
    My Twitter: IronBorealis
    Be advised, I'm not the best at keeping either updated. >.>
  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Is that a Type A anerythristic corn? It looks like one of the Type A males that I have hanging out in the other room, but from the pictures it also kind of looks like a charcoal corn (Type B anerythristic). At any rate, you have a pretty snake.

    I'll second (third, fourth, whatever) the corn snake recommendations. They're excellent beginner reptiles as they're very low maintenance for all of the reasons listed by the fine folks above.

    I'd also note that even the easiest lizards to take care of, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, etc... have been significantly more difficult to care for than my corn snakes. It's not to say that you can't do it, just that it will be more difficult. If your heart is set on a reptile with legs, you'll likely want to go for a bearded dragon.

    Edit: I don't see any yellow in the pictures above. I'm going with charcoal :)

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  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hevach wrote: »
    Would a 4 foot tank really be sufficient for a 5 foot snake? It might just be my fishkeeping mentality leaking through - it would be woefully insufficient for a 5 foot eel, but they are quite different animals.

    Anyway, bugs don't bother me. I've actually got quite a few crickets on hand, since a couple of my fish will take them.

    I'm really more interested in lizards than snakes, but a corn snake does sound like an excellent pick. Do they cohabit well, or would I there be dominance issues in the size tank I'm thinking of?

    Get crested geckos!
    I breed the little bastards and let me tell you, they are fantastic pets!
    They live at room temperature, do not need UV light (though breeding colonies benefit from it), they are attractive, social with each other and quite tolerant of handling.

    Obligatory picture

    CIMG0115.jpg


    They cast a shadow like a sundial in the morning light. It was half past 10.
  • Nova_CNova_C Social Justice Haruspex Beyond The WallRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Edit: I don't see any yellow in the pictures above. I'm going with charcoal :)

    If I breed him with a Blood Red their offspring will be Pewters, which is the morph I was originally looking for but never found.

    BTW, yeah, he's a Charcoal.

    My blog: www.jonathanirons.net
    My Twitter: IronBorealis
    Be advised, I'm not the best at keeping either updated. >.>
  • WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Rats would probably be fine in a fish tank - in labs they're generally kept in plastic containers with a metal bar roof. If you could somehow build a metal bar roof onto it it'd be perfect. Again, keep in pairs, avoid pine, etc.

  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    That gecko looks neat. I think I've seen crested geckos, but they were always stuck to the sides or top of their tank and never really paid attention to them - anoles and skinks always got my notice since they were laying out where they were always visible. Sound almost perfect for what I'm thinking, anyway.

    When you say room temperature, I'm assuming they'd still at least need a basking lamp or heat rock or the like? Would the lower room temperature I have in the winter pose any problem?

    I also do see a lot of bearded dragons in the stores around here, one store has a monster one, but there's always dozens of babies quite cheap. The information I found online for them was pretty contradictory, and I was mostly worried about temperature and humidity issues, between the cold winters and soggy summers.

  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hevach wrote: »
    That gecko looks neat. I think I've seen crested geckos, but they were always stuck to the sides or top of their tank and never really paid attention to them - anoles and skinks always got my notice since they were laying out where they were always visible. Sound almost perfect for what I'm thinking, anyway.

    When you say room temperature, I'm assuming they'd still at least need a basking lamp or heat rock or the like? Would the lower room temperature I have in the winter pose any problem?

    I also do see a lot of bearded dragons in the stores around here, one store has a monster one, but there's always dozens of babies quite cheap. The information I found online for them was pretty contradictory, and I was mostly worried about temperature and humidity issues, between the cold winters and soggy summers.

    Nope, no basking, no nothing. They don't like heat and shy away from it, if it gets too warm.
    If your place gets actually put-on-a-sweater cold in the winter put a heating pad on the bottom or side and plug it in when it gets cold. These geckos often chill on the sides of the tank or in foliage, but they are easy to pick up and play with, should the mood strike you.


    They cast a shadow like a sundial in the morning light. It was half past 10.
  • Captain VashCaptain Vash Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I had a little Chameleon once.

    His name was Clyde.

    I loved him very dearly.

    twitterforweb.Stuckens.1,1,500,f4f4f4,0,c4c4c4,000000.png
  • Capncrunch7Capncrunch7 Registered User
    edited August 2009
    I recommend a dwarf hamster!

    syrian-dwarf-hamster-0001.jpg

    Look how cute that little bastard is.

    I've kept these guys in the past. They prefer to be in wire cages so that they can climb up the bars (they're very acrobatic and can even get their Indiana Jones on if you hang a piece of twine in their cage), but they would be happy in a glass tank if you give them enough vertical play space.

    They are supposedly crepuscular, so they ought to be most active at sunrise and sunset. That's a load of crap from the ones I've raised, as they tended to spend the entire day alternating between an hour of being asleep and an hour of sprinting on the wheel, climbing on bars, hiding their favorite bits of food around the cage, etc.

    They tend to be very territorial, so if you start with one don't plan on adding a second later. I have heard that people are generally successful when they purchase two young dwarf hamsters together though. If you were to keep them in a fishtank 20L or larger though, I doubt you would run into much trouble. Also, those would be some damn happy hamsters. I remember when I upgraded my cage from a little 12x10 abomination to a girthy 24x12, she spent hours exploring the cage and depositing bits of food around the cage for late night snackin'.

    They are quite entertaining to watch. They run on wheels, climb string, take the most adorable baths ever, yawn all the time, and of course as hamsters they stuff their heads full of food until they look like the front half of their body should belong on a much bigger animal.

    Their temperament varies depending on the first few weeks of their lives. If they are used to hearing human sounds and seeing you by their cage, they will feel very comfortable around you and will happily wake up when they hear you coming and demand that you pay attention to them. They are a little nervous about being handled at first, but within a week or two they love nothing more than to run from one of your hands to the other, endlessly.

    And come on, they look like teddy bears. Stop resisting!

    XBLA: gogogadgetchris
  • jeddy leejeddy lee Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I would reccomend a bearded dragon or a rat. Both can be quite loving and have an amazing amount of personality. Be aware though, small pets seem to have higher maintnance costs than an adopted dog. Crickets week after week, and new sand and possible vet trips are not cheap.

    Backlog Challenge: 0%
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  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    It should also be noted that finding a good herp vet is way more difficult than finding a good vet to take care of cats and dogs.

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  • KillgrimageKillgrimage Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Western Hognose, I choose you!

    ?action=view&current=snake.jpg&newest=1

    This is my snake Sylvia. She has a tiny snout that looks just a little bit like a piggy's (thus, hognose) and it gives her a perpetual smile.

    Westerns are great if you want a snake that is small and going to stay that way. She'll never get bigger than a foot, if that.

    Their temperament is friendly and tolerant; they are an excellent starter snake. The costs for keeping her are very low (basically some aspen shavings and a couple of pinky mice a week). She also has a heating pad that covers one half of the bottom of her tank for when she is too cold (20$ one time purchase). She herself cost me a 100$ but she's an albino het, so that means if I mated her the albino progeny would be worth about 500$, so I don't think they usually go so high.

  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    It should also be noted that finding a good herp vet is way more difficult than finding a good vet to take care of cats and dogs.

    This is my biggest worry, honestly. I haven't been able to find a reputable one in the area, and the reputable reptile dealers both say my only options are a very long drive or DIY vet care. That bothers me, but as a fish keepers, that's been my only option for getting most of my pets treated. Of course I know nothing about reptiles, but I have everything from deworming to dental surgery on fish.

  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Bearded dragons, as has been suggested, are awesome reptiles. I believe the 48" long tank will work well for one, although you should research to be sure. It's been years since I've looked into them.

    A Uromastyx of some sort would also be good. They are very calm, don't grow very fast, and best of all (to me, after years of owning cricket and mouse/rat eating reptiles), they vegetarian.

  • Nova_CNova_C Social Justice Haruspex Beyond The WallRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hevach wrote: »
    It should also be noted that finding a good herp vet is way more difficult than finding a good vet to take care of cats and dogs.

    This is my biggest worry, honestly. I haven't been able to find a reputable one in the area, and the reputable reptile dealers both say my only options are a very long drive or DIY vet care. That bothers me, but as a fish keepers, that's been my only option for getting most of my pets treated. Of course I know nothing about reptiles, but I have everything from deworming to dental surgery on fish.

    I was looking around for a vet that will take snakes and there's about 1 good one in the entire city of Calgary. Good thing Cerberus has been healthy and easy to care for.

    My blog: www.jonathanirons.net
    My Twitter: IronBorealis
    Be advised, I'm not the best at keeping either updated. >.>
  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Jimmy King wrote: »
    Bearded dragons, as has been suggested, are awesome reptiles. I believe the 48" long tank will work well for one, although you should research to be sure. It's been years since I've looked into them.

    A Uromastyx of some sort would also be good. They are very calm, don't grow very fast, and best of all (to me, after years of owning cricket and mouse/rat eating reptiles), they vegetarian.

    Uromastyx are the ones with spiny tails, right? Ocean Odyssey has two of these in right now, they were in with bearded dragons and another reptile I don't recognize. A bit out of my price range right now. Pretty neat looking, though. Vegeterian would be a plus, though.

  • TayaTaya Happy ___ Day Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I would highly recommend rats (get two, not one). They are affectionate, smart, and cute. Rats are not expensive to care for after you buy the cage and initial costs. I actually made a homemade diet for them and it was pretty cheap.

    Rats can live in a (big) fish tank but most rat owners would recommend an actual cage. If you're going to use tanks, you need to clean them more often because there isn't as much air circulation and ammonia can build up.

    Rat pictures:
    Spoiler:

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  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hevach wrote: »
    Jimmy King wrote: »
    Bearded dragons, as has been suggested, are awesome reptiles. I believe the 48" long tank will work well for one, although you should research to be sure. It's been years since I've looked into them.

    A Uromastyx of some sort would also be good. They are very calm, don't grow very fast, and best of all (to me, after years of owning cricket and mouse/rat eating reptiles), they vegetarian.

    Uromastyx are the ones with spiny tails, right? Ocean Odyssey has two of these in right now, they were in with bearded dragons and another reptile I don't recognize. A bit out of my price range right now. Pretty neat looking, though. Vegeterian would be a plus, though.
    Yeah, they have spiny tails. Of course so do a lot of other lizards, but they probably are Uromastyx if they are in with the Bearded Dragons. The price on them is all over the place depending on exactly which breed of Uromastyx. They run anywhere from $50-$100 for a Mali Uromastyx up to the $250-$300 range for the fancier ones. Malis are the way to go since they're also one of the easiest to care for.

  • LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Nova_C wrote: »
    Hevach wrote: »
    It should also be noted that finding a good herp vet is way more difficult than finding a good vet to take care of cats and dogs.

    This is my biggest worry, honestly. I haven't been able to find a reputable one in the area, and the reputable reptile dealers both say my only options are a very long drive or DIY vet care. That bothers me, but as a fish keepers, that's been my only option for getting most of my pets treated. Of course I know nothing about reptiles, but I have everything from deworming to dental surgery on fish.

    I was looking around for a vet that will take snakes and there's about 1 good one in the entire city of Calgary. Good thing Cerberus has been healthy and easy to care for.

    The only thing I would be seriously concerned with in your area is keeping the temperature and humidity up. It was great when I lived in Florida because I didn't need any type of external heating as my house was always the right temperature. Just make sure you check their breathing every once in a while to be sure they're not developing a respiratory infection, which is one of the more common ailments corns seem to deal with. I've luckily not had any problems with the four corns that are slowly taking over my apartment.

    sig.gif
  • Nova_CNova_C Social Justice Haruspex Beyond The WallRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Nova_C wrote: »
    Hevach wrote: »
    It should also be noted that finding a good herp vet is way more difficult than finding a good vet to take care of cats and dogs.

    This is my biggest worry, honestly. I haven't been able to find a reputable one in the area, and the reputable reptile dealers both say my only options are a very long drive or DIY vet care. That bothers me, but as a fish keepers, that's been my only option for getting most of my pets treated. Of course I know nothing about reptiles, but I have everything from deworming to dental surgery on fish.

    I was looking around for a vet that will take snakes and there's about 1 good one in the entire city of Calgary. Good thing Cerberus has been healthy and easy to care for.

    The only thing I would be seriously concerned with in your area is keeping the temperature and humidity up. It was great when I lived in Florida because I didn't need any type of external heating as my house was always the right temperature. Just make sure you check their breathing every once in a while to be sure they're not developing a respiratory infection, which is one of the more common ailments corns seem to deal with. I've luckily not had any problems with the four corns that are slowly taking over my apartment.

    I have two heating pads under my tank, one set to 85 degrees, the other to 70 to make sure the temp stays comfy (Corns like a cold side at 75 and a warm side at 85). The temp on the cooler side is rarely that low that the pad actually clicks on (I have the pads plugged into thermostats with temp probes in the substrate of the viv), but that extra heating pad is basically insurance in case the basement I live in gets cold. Humidity has always been around 70% inside the viv. It never changes. So far I've never seen any signs of infection.

    My blog: www.jonathanirons.net
    My Twitter: IronBorealis
    Be advised, I'm not the best at keeping either updated. >.>
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