Tag Archives: plants

Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens

8 Apr

Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens

Rafinesque originally described the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens and the Peninsula Newt Notophthalmus viridescens piaropicola in 1820.  Since that time, two other subspecies of the genus Notophthalmus have been described.  For the sake of completeness, they are the Central Newt Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis, which was originally described by Wolterstorff in 1914 and the Broken Stripe Newt Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis as described by Harlan in 1828[i].my purposes within this blog, however I am focusing on the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens.

Description

The Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens as you might imagine has reddish orange spots which number anywhere from three to eight and are located on the dorsum, and are encircled in black.  Most of the ones I have seen and cared for have an olive ground color.  This is also in itself covered in smaller black dots like someone literally peppered them with Black Pepper, which cover the dorsum and ventral areas as well as the limbs.  The babies or Efts as they are properly known are an amazing red color with the same reddish spots outlined in black.  Adults measure almost 4 ½” in total length.  They are found on the Eastern coast of the United States and Southeastern Canada.

Housing

The Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens is can be housed with others of its own kind.  There are other species which are combative and not suitable to live with one another.  We recommend no more than three adults in a 15-gallon fish tank measuring 20 ¼” by 10 ½ by 18 ¾”.  As with any enclosure that has an open top, we would highly recommend that you also purchase a screen top for the enclosure, which fits snugly and can be clipped in place.  The reason for using a fish tank rather than a reptile terrarium is that reptile products generally speaking are not designed to hold water.

Substrate

Red-spotted Newts Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens should be kept in anywhere from 6” to 12” inches of water.  As mentioned, earlier in the overview I highly recommend that you use reverse osmosis water instead of just de-chlorinated.  Natural colored aquarium gravel is an excellent substrate, which I have used when wanting a more natural tank.  Natural meaning I used live plants to enhance the enclosure, which will be, covered more in depth in the décor section for this species.  Red Efts or baby Red-spotted Newts should be kept on a forest floor type of bedding until they reach sexual maturity.  Red Efts are harder to take care of and therefore are not covered within this Blog.

Décor

When it comes to decorating the enclosure of the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens it really is more about the plants than anything else.  I have always placed at least one or two tethered pieces of cork bark with our enclosures.  You can do this or use floating turtle islands as well.  To tether pieces of cork bark we use a piece of monofilament fishing line tied or use aquarium silicone to attach it to the bark.  At the other end, we use a regular led weight typically meant for fishing and this keeps the bark from floating all over the tank.

Any kind of freshwater aquarium plants (see plant index for specifics) can be added to the gravel.  These will also help filter out toxins, which can build up.  Larger rocks and other pieces of aquarium safe driftwood can be used as well.  These would lead from the gravel up to and breaking the surface of the water.  These pieces would represent a more natural environment to the Newts.

Lighting

When attempting to light this species we use a tropical fish fluorescent bulb suited for plants.  This does not seem to disturb the Newts at all.  However, I must caution against using a high output incandescent light (see overview on Lighting) as this will heat the aquarium as well and may end up stressing out the Newts.  It is not known whether or not the Newts require exposure to UVB.  All that I have kept have shown no preference or ill health when not kept with UVB exposure so we would presume this is not a necessity to this species.

Heating

The water temperature for this particular species should be maintained anywhere between 60 to 74˚ F during the spring and summer months.  During the fall and winter months, however we generally reduce this to 40 or 50˚F.

Filtration

The type of filter that I recommend is a submersible type.  These are sold generally as a Turtle filter but have worked when keeping all types of aquatic amphibians.  With the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens I recommend that you turn the flow down or at least partially block the flow if it is not adjustable.  This will keep the Newts from being blown around the aquarium.  They seem to enjoy a smaller flow of water and exhibit a more natural behavior with this rather than a fast flow which would be more apt to other types of Newts and Salamanders.  Make sure to clean the filter itself about every week or two weeks.


[i] http://www.livingunderworld.org/caudata/database/salamandridae/notophthalmus/viridescens/index.shtml

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Frequently used Definitions & Terms

4 Apr

All right so here’s how this part of this Blog is going to work.  You’ve clicked on an unfamiliar word and now find yourself staring at this page.  Well that was what’s supposed to happen so far so good.  Now then, if everything is as Zen as possible you should be able to scroll down and find the word in its alphabetical place of order and read a dictionary definition and then my personal “English” definition. The best way to find a word here is to use ctrl+f which will bring up your browsers find function.

All of the Dictionary References are from http://dictionary.reference.com and are surrounded in “Quotes”.

The Herpetoculture Definition came from http://www.pingleton.com/whatis.htm

Aculeus:  “Also, acus. the modified ovipositor or sting of certain hymenopterous insects.”

The barb that actually penetrates your skin.

Albino: “an animal or plant with a marked deficiency in pigmentation”

An animal which has no dark pigmentation and pink eyes are true albino’s.

Ambient: “of the surrounding area or environment”

This typically refers to the surround air temperature within an enclosure.

Arachnid: “any wingless, carnivorous arthropod of the class Arachnida, including spiders, scorpions, mites, ticks, and daddy-longlegs, having a body divided into two parts, the cephalothorax and the abdomen, and having eight appendages and no antennae.  Compare insect

For my purposes this term refers to Scorpions and Spiders if your keeping mites and ticks as pets that your issue.

Arthropoda: “the phylum comprising the arthropods.”

The phylum that contains hard shelled critters like centipedes, millipedes, spiders, etc.

Axanthic: Since there is no such word in dictionaries I have searched I will go with the closest on to it.  Xanthic means basically pertaining to the color yellow.  Well take that away and you’ll get blue at least you do in tree frogs anyway.

Basking Spot: No dictionary terms for this either.  So Basking Spot refers to that place heated to optimal temperature to aid in the digestion process’ that are needed by most “non-warm blooded creatures”

Captive: “kept in confinement or restraint”

Any animal kept in an enclosure of any kind which restricts its movements to a certain are for the observation of humans.

Cedar Chips: These are chips of cedar wood used as bedding for pets usually mammals.  It’s said they can help with flea and mite control.  Problem is, the oils are toxic to snakes or so they say.  I had a friend for many years who swore he kept snakes on cedar chips to control odor and he said he never had an issue.  Me I am betting with the crowd on this one and don’t use cedar anything in any reptile enclosure.

Chela: “the pincerlike organ or claw terminating certain limbs of crustaceans and arachnids.”

These are the pincers on scorpions.

Chelicerae: “one member of the first pair of usually pincerlike appendages of spiders and other arachnids.”

These are the large bulbous appendages where the fangs enter the body in Tarantulas.

Coastal: “of, relating to, bordering on, or located near a coast”

The coast area of any continent.

Commensal Mites: The mites found on some millipedes especially those of the Giant species.

Cork Bark: Basically it’s a specific type of bark which is used as background and floats in Vivarium water features as well.  You may also see it used to support Orchids and other such plants.

Crepuscular: “appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects.”

Creatures which are active at dusk or dawn are considered Crepuscular.

Desert: “a region so arid because of little rainfall that it supports only sparse and widely spaced vegetation or no vegetation at all”

A specific type of environment.  A place in the world which is typically extremely hot during the day and extremely cold during the night which experiences little to no rainfall throughout the year.

Diplopoda: “An order of myriapods having two pairs of legs on each segment; the Chilognatha.”

Millipedes.

Distilled Water: “water from which impurities, as dissolved salts and colloidal particles, have been removed by one or more processes of distillation; chemically pure water.”

Mechanically and chemically filtered water usually involving reverse osmosis.

Dorsum: “the back, as of the body”

The back of the creature in question.

Enclosure: “something that encloses, as a fence or wall.”

Enclosure is basically a fancy word for cage, tank, or housing.

Environment: Ecology. the air, water, minerals, organisms, and all other external factors surrounding and affecting a given organism at any time.”

Basically the surroundings elements which make up the whole are where the creature lives in the wild as well as those elements used in a captive environment to make the housing more like a normal area in that they would experience in the wild.

Forest: “a large tract of land covered with trees and underbrush; woodland.”

A specific type of environment.

Ground Cover Bark: Basically this is a substrate obtained from most home improvement stores which consists of small bark chips usually less than an inch in size and about 1/8” to 1/2” in thickness.

Habitat: “the natural environment of an organism; place that is natural for the life and growth of an organism: a tropical habitat.”

The specific environment in which a creature is found to live.

Hardy: “capable of enduring fatigue, hardship, exposure, etc.; sturdy; strong: hardy explorers of northern Canada.”

A terms sometimes often used in books, magazines, and the overall reptile community to describe species which are more capable of handling a humans mistakes when it comes to environmental fluctuations or other such mistakes.

Herpetoculture: “The current definition of herpetoculture is the captive husbandry and propagation of amphibians and reptiles; in more popular terms, it is “the keeping and breeding of herps”…Herpetoculture is an interdisciplinary field which can involve knowledge of herpetology, botany, small-scale open-system design, nutrition, geography, climatology, physiology, veterinary medicine, landscaping, etc.  By the same token, herpetoculturists are a diverse lot of people from all walks of life and from a wide range of professions.  A small number of people are professional herpetoculturists, meaning that herpetoculture is their primary source of income.”  Philippe de Vosjoli, Herpetoculture In A Changing World, Vivarium Magazine.

Humidity: “humid condition; moistness; dampness”

Moisture content of the surrounding air within an enclosure.

Invertebrate: a. not vertebrate; without a backbone.  b. of or pertaining to creatures without a backbone.”

Any creature without a backbone such as Scorpions, Tarantulas, Millipede, Centipede, etc.

Lake: “a body of fresh or salt water of considerable size, surrounded by land.”

Any body of inland water surrounded on all sides by land.

Lamella: “a thin plate, scale, membrane, or layer, as of bone, tissue, or cell walls.”

A scale in the foot or toes of some lizard species especially geckos which allows them to cling to seemingly smooth surfaces.

Marsh: “a tract of low wet land, often treeless and periodically inundated, generally characterized by a growth of grasses, sedges, cattails, and rushes.”

An extremely specific environment similar to a swamp but without the trees.

Metasoma: Basically it’s the part of the Scorpion which would be called the tail but it doesn’t include the stinger.

Microhabitat: “an extremely localized, small-scale environment, as a tree stump or a dead animal.”

An extremely small or local environment such as a specific log or tree within a forest.

Moss: “any tiny, leafy-stemmed, flowerless plant of the class Musci, reproducing by spores and growing in tufts, sods, or mats on moist ground, tree trunks, rocks, etc.”

A specific species of plant sometimes used in reptile environments to enhance the look or increase humidity.

Nocturnal: “of or pertaining to the night (opposed to diurnal).”

Being active during the time when the sun is completely set or absent from the sky.

Operculum: Botany, Zoology.  a part or organ serving as a lid or cover, as a covering flap on a seed vessel.”

In scorpions the covering plate of the genitalia.

Ophidian: “belonging or pertaining to the suborder Ophidia (Serpentes), comprising the snakes.”

Latin for snakes.

Orchid Bark: Another term used to describe smaller bark chips used in gardening.  The same as ground cover bark.

Pectine: Comb like structures found on the ventral side of scorpions which are used for sensing ground vibrations as well as pheromones during breeding season.

Pedipalps: “(in arachnids) one member of the usually longer pair of appendages immediately behind the chelicerae.”

The first pair of appendages next to the mouth parts which are obviously longer than the mouth parts.

Phylum: Biology. the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan.”

Creatures which have the same body layout are classified into a Phylum such as Crabs, Spiders, Scorpions, etc.

Pincers: Zoology.  a grasping organ or pair of organs resembling this, as the claw of a lobster.”

The pair of finger like claws found in scorpions which are used to grasp food items and defend itself when threatened.

Pond: “a body of water smaller than a lake, sometimes artificially formed, as by damming a stream.”

A smaller body of inland water surrounded on all sides by land.

Posterior: “situated behind or at the rear of; hinder (opposed to anterior).”

An animals butt region.

Pulse Proportional Thermostat: A product produced by Big Apple Herpetological Supply which saves heaters and lights.

Python: “any of several Old World boa constrictors of the subfamily Pythoninae, often growing to a length of more than 20 ft. (6 m): the Indian python, Python molurus, is endangered.”

A common name used for reference to a family of snakes usually occurring in Old World continents such as Africa.

Repugnatorial Pores: Pores found on millipedes which exude a substance making them distasteful to predators.  But is harmless to humans.

Saurian: “belonging or pertaining to the Sauria, a group of reptiles originally including the lizards, crocodiles, and several extinct forms but now technically restricted to the lizards.”

The Class referring to Lizards.

Snout Rubbing: A behavior exhibited by some amphibians, lizards, and snakes kept in captivity in which they rub their snouts raw trying to escape.  There are theories that state that they can not perceive the clear enclosure walls and therefore continuously try to escape.  Another theory states that this is a stress observed in wild caught reptiles similar to the pacing in captive mammals that are kept in enclosures which are too small.

Species: “a class of individuals having some common characteristics or qualities; distinct sort or kind.”

The next designation after genus given to all things classified using binomial nomenclature.

Spermatophore: “a class of individuals having some common characteristics or qualities; distinct sort or kind.”

Sperm

Sphagnum: “any soft moss of the genus Sphagnum, occurring chiefly in bogs, used for potting and packing plants, for dressing wounds, etc.”

Moss typically used in vivariums to increase humidity as well as décor in Poison Frog vivariums.

Stool: “the fecal matter evacuated at each movement of the bowels.”

Poop

Substrate: “a substratum.”

The material in an enclosure that the animal walks on such as bark, sand, pine shavings, leaf litter, etc.

Tarsus: “the distal part of the leg of an insect, usually subdivided in the adult into two to five segments.”

Insect leg part

Telson: “the last segment, or an appendage of the last segment, of certain arthropods, as the middle flipper of a lobster’s tail.”

The tail of the scorpion between where it attaches to the body itself and the actual stinger itself.

Temperature: “a measure of the warmth or coldness of an object or substance with reference to some standard value.  The temperature of two systems is the same when the systems are in thermal equilibrium.”

The heat or cold within an enclosure.

Tropical: “pertaining to, characteristic of, occurring in, or inhabiting the tropics, esp. the humid tropics: tropical flowers.

Hot, usually humid area where some species of captive pets are found.

U.T.H.: Under Tank Heater.  A heating element used in the herpetological industry to heat an enclosure from outside the enclosure itself.  These usually only heat the ambient air to ten degrees above the ambient temperature.

Variegated: “varied in appearance or color; marked with patches or spots of different colors.”

Two colors on the same plant leaf.  Such as a dark green with spots or stripes of a lighter green on the same leaf.

Ventral: Anatomy, Zoology.  situated on or toward the lower, abdominal plane of the body; equivalent to the front, or anterior, in humans.”

The belly of an animal

Vesicle: Biology.  a small bladderlike cavity, esp. one filled with fluid.”

The actual stinger part of a scorpion where the venom is held.

Vivarium: “a place, such as a laboratory, where live animals or plants are kept under conditions simulating their natural environment, as for research.”

An enclosure constructed to mimic as closely as possible a captive animals natural habitat in the wild.