“My Reptile Won’t Eat!” and Other Issues Found When it’s Cold!



There are a lot of comments and posts about ornery snakes that just won’t eat, bearded dragons that do nothing but sleep sleep sleep and some critters that go through a completely catatonic state!

Most of this is due to WINTER! Some animals will go through a month (sometimes up to 6 months) of downtime this time of year. It can be prevented (with most species) with proper habitat maintenance. Some keepers induce this state for breeding purposes. This is called Brumation.

Before we get down and dirty with the facts of brumation and reptile hibernation… lets do a basic rundown of reptiles!

Reptiles are Ectothermic… this means that they are cold-blooded. They don’t make their own heat. Reptiles have to use a heat source (lights and UTH in captivity, basking in the sun for wild) to gather warmth. The warmth acts as one of the fuels that keeps their body working properly. (water and food being the other fuels)

When the weather turns frigid and less than satisfactory for a critter that relies on the warmth to regulate their temperature, reptiles turn to brumation in order to adapt to their surroundings and survive.

Now onto Brumation and your reptile at home!

What is Brumation?
It’s similar to a mammal’s hibernation. Reptiles will go into a dormant/slowed state for survival during the colder months. It can still be dangerous for most reptiles, even in a controlled environment if the habitat isn’t kept properly.

This is time of year that your home becomes cooler than normal due to the winter months. Unless you keep your home in the 80s at all times (or have a room with it’s own temperature control!) your pets will usually slow down with the change in temperature.

Snakes will stay in their hides. They’ll have less of a feeding reaction or none at all.
Bearded Dragons will sleep sleep sleep. They are found in their hides, ignoring the ‘day’ light settings. Their normal, spunky attitude when food is presented is more like your teenagers “meh” attitude to your constant nag about their chores.

There are some very important things you need to follow when it comes to making sure your critter remains healthy during this time.

Some people weren’t prepared for their critter to go into this cycle of dormancy. Your pet most likely ate before this cycle. When the cycle starts, the body slows down to a crawl. Any food that was still going through the digestion process is now left sitting in the critters bowels, fermenting. This can cause an infection in the intestines if it’s not taken care of.
Dehydration can also be a big problem since they don’t move much. Both of these items together can leave a big impact on your pet’s system.
Respiratory Infections are another risk factor to cooling your reptiles, whether done purposefully or due to the winter months.

You want to continue to keep fresh water and your usual day/night warmth for the pet. Bearded Dragons can be soaked since they obviously won’t be up and about as much to drink. They can absorb water through their cloaca (that place where they poop from…and also where their genitals are housed). They can be stressed during this time so you want to make sure you’re not bothering them too much.

Some people insist your reptiles need to brumate to stay healthy. Others will argue stating it’s a danger.

In the end, it’s all about research! Never fail to use your resources and ALWAYS check multiple resources. Some sites are biased where others (like forums and .gov/.edu sites) contain a wealth of knowledge from all areas of the spectrum!

Sometimes the dormant or slowed state can also be a sign of illness in your reptile. Never hesitate to see a professional if you’re unsure. In a previous post, we left information on local exotic vets. We are never to be used in place of a veterinarian! Tips and hints, but never a substitute!

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Feeders! What to Feed and to Who!

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Dubia Cockroach 2

Dubia Cockroach

What does my pet eat?!
How much?
How often?
Where do I get these?

I’ve heard it all when it comes to pets and their diets. Even crazy questions like “I’m a vegetarian. Does my snake HAVE to eat animals?” (Yes… It is a born and bred carnivore and your snake will die a slow and painful death without meat. No matter what ANYONE ELSE tells you…)

Today we’re gonna go over some popular food items for your more ‘exotic’ pets.

You all noticed the image at the beginning of this post. Most of you probably cringed or scrolled past very quickly. That lovely specimen is called a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. They’re popular beginner pets and feeders for your larger insectivore or carnivore diets.
They’re one of the largest of the feeder insects.

Normally found in…*insert drum roll*…
They live in and around rotted logs and other such debris. They feed on plants, fruits and rotted leaf litter on the ground. They’re kind of like a herbivorous clean up crew! They’re rather harmless, using only a hissing noise to deter anything being a little too nosey. This noise is created by pushing air out of small orifices just behind their thorax…giving them their nickname “Hissers”.

Keeping them as pets is easier than just about anything else you can own and is the LEAST committed pet. They need a clean environment with access to food (your old veggie drawer that’s starting to get stinky and that old celery that’s finally rubbery… they love that) You can water then by misting their enclosure daily. Keep them warm, but don’t bake them!
-Treat them just the same as feeders too! the healthier your feeder roaches, the healthier your pet you’re feeding them to!

There are a few other roach buddies, just a wee bit smaller than the Hisser!
Dubias, Discoids and lobsters are the other main feeder roaches!

Insects of all shapes and sizes are common among the reptile world! (some mammals, like sugar gliders, love a juicy insect too!)
-Crickets: pinheads, small, medium and large are available!
-Mealworms: small, crunchy and a favorite among leopard geckos.
-Superworms: Like a larger, juicier Mealworm. Wiggly and full of yummy protein and fats, these can be given to just about any reptile (sugar gliders love these guys) that eats insects. They’re not to be a staple diet choice though! both mealworms AND superworms contain keratin and could cause impaction!
-Black Soldier Fly Larvae: also known as Phoenix worms, Calciworms or REPTIWORMS (we sell these) are an amazing staple diet feeder! They contain a natural amount of calcium your reptiles NEED and have NO keratin! They’re even low in fat! (compared to just about every other live feeder)

There are some substitutes available if live feeding creeps you out too much. Some people just can’t get over the idea of keeping bugs in the home. This is not always the healthiest choice for your pet however. It’s the difference between feeding your kids TV dinners every night or actually cooking food.

Finally, there are the furrier feeders like mice and rats. These guys are for pets like snakes, large monitors, large frogs/toads and even some of the larger geckos! They come in a variety of sizes and in both live and frozen (labeled F/T or f/t for ‘frozen/thawed’)

Because the feeders can get pretty cute, some people often ask if they can toss the rat or mouse in the tank and walk away. You never want to leave your pet unattended with ANY live feeder. Even large crickets have been known to leave gaping wounds in large lizards like Bearded Dragons. Imagine the damage inflicted with a Jumbo Rat!

Come check out our always growing selection of feeders and the pets that eat them! We’re always available to answer questions, comments or concerns! Feel free to leave us a message here or on our Facebook page!

We’re now on Instagram! @Animal_Ark_Kingwood 

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Repticon is Nearing Quickly!

Everyone hates seeing something they can’t have… especially those in the exotics and reptile business! What better place to go and drool over things than Repticon for the best reptile browsing in the Houston area! December 6th and 7th we’ll be there with our Animal Ark family, bringing you our own assortment! Our staff will be more than happy to help you with any pet supplies, question and answer or even just for your viewing pleasure!

We’ve got our usual inventory seen at our home site on Brookdale Drive in Kingwood, just miniaturized for travel!

Come on out and see our selection!

All your exotic and reptile supplies under one roof! Repticon!

Pasadena Convention Center and Fairgrounds
7902 Fairmont Pkwy
Pasadena, TX 77507

Tickets are available online or at the door!

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Sulcata Tortoise Care!

The Sulcata Tortoise is a favorite among many of our customers because they are absolutely adorable as hatchlings. They’re only an inch or so across (sometimes not much bigger than a pingpong ball!) and love to eat!

The biggest issue with those people who find them irresistible is the lack of research. A Sulcata becomes a lifetime investment and commitment. They’ll be a living heirloom for your children and even grandchildren to pass down. They’ve been known to live up to 150 years (or more!) and grow almost 200lbs! These are NOT a beginner pet.

This guy was a rescue

This guy was a rescue.

Down to care and handling!

Habitat: As hatchlings, you can keep them in a 10 gallon tank. They must have heat and a water source always available. We use rabbit pellets for substrate because it’s digestible and absorbs their liquid waste. It’s also very affordable if you buy it in bulk.
Temperatures range from 60-80 degrees fahrenheit. You don’t want anything lower than 60 during the winter months. A UTH (Under Tank Heater) can be used while they’re small enough for enclosures, however, heat lamps can also be used to gain the proper amount of heat needed. Allow room for them to escape from the heat and remember that lamps can drain the humidity from the air in your enclosure.

Despite these guys originating from the Sahara Desert and areas like the Sahel, the Sulcata still needs a good amount of humidity. In the wild they’ll burrow as deep as 10′ to hide from the hot days and find the needed humidity. You can supply this with a water bowl sufficient for soaking, soaking them daily or semi daily or even misting lightly every day. The water bowl is the best suggestion because it allows them to gain moisture as they feel needed.

The enclosure should grow with the Sulcata. These guys get HUGE and will eventually take up residence in your back yard. They burrow so you’ll need to prepare your yard for the potential escapee…

Diet: All you Vegetarians will love these guys because they can eat the same as you do! They’re Herbivores. These guys are on a grass based diet. Line their enclosure with Hay and grass based foods (remember the rabbit pellets as bedding? That’s hay!) Too much wet food like melon, or very moist vegetables can cause issues with their digestion. A reptile with the runs can make for a very expensive vet visit.
Hay, and other dry grasses should be the MAIN part of their diet. Treats like dried fruit can be tasty, but again, too much of a good thing can and will be a bad thing.

Be aware of the items in your yard. Some plants can be deadly for your Sulcata. Azalea, Buttercup, Daffodils and Elephant Ears are common garden plants that can pose a deadly risk to your pet. Research your plants before planting if you know you’re Sulcata will be outside.
While doing my own research on these plants, I found a nifty site that had a very good list of deadly plants for most tortoises.
African Tortoise Deadly Plants

Research is key to owning a healthy Tortoise… or any animal for that matter! If only children came with a manual like some of our pets!

Feel free to contact our store for further questions, comments or concerns. If you have a sulcata you fear may be ill, or may have ingested some of the above listed plants, seek an exotic vet immediately.

Exotic Vets in Houston area:
Bay Glen Veterinary Clinic
Sunset Blvd Animal Clinic (open 24/7/365)
Banfield Veterinary Clinic

There are quite a few other clinics in the area. These are just a few that say “Reptile” care.

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The Tortoise and the Hare

Animal Ark is know to have its wide variety of choices when it comes to pets and how to care for them. Today, I’ll be talking about Tortoises and the difference between a Turtle and a Tortoise.

Currently, we have Red-Foot Tortoises, Sulcatas and Russian Tortoises.

They all require specific care, lighting and diets.

Our first critter is the Red-Foot Tortoise.

Red Foot Tortoise Red Foot Tortoise
Food: They are opportunistic grazers. The diet consists mainly of plant material like leafy greens (Collard greens, kale, red and green leafy lettuce, escarole), over-ripe fruits (melons, mango, papaya, cactus leaf) and on occasion have been known to eat carrion and small insects in the wild. As a captive Red-Foot… this is only suggested to be done once or twice a month for a basic protein source. You can use super worms, crickets (though they’ll be a bit fast) or small pinky mice.
Heat/Climate: You should give your tortoise a hot side and a cold side. The hot side should be in or around the mid 90s. The cold side shouldn’t be below 70F. They need humidity. Keep a large water bowl. Something they can wade into and soak if needed. Also, if your home is a dryer area, misting daily is helpful to keep them comfy. (when misting, watch for mold in any of the bedding used. Moisture and heat becomes a prime breeding ground for fungus and mold. Keeping a clean habitat will prevent these issues)
Size and Habitat: The Red-Foot will grow to be about 12″ across. Some have been known to reach about 14″, but it’s rare. A habitat to meet the size requirements is a must for a happy and healthy tortoise. There are a lot of options for enclosures for both indoor and outdoor. Indoor, they have 75gal tanks specifically made for small tortoises, wooden table top enclosures for young tortoises or smaller adults as well as DIY projects for your home.

Differences between a turtle and a tortoise?

There are a few tell-tale differences between the turtle and the tortoise.
Turtles are usually aquatic or semi aquatic, webbed feet and carnivorous/omnivorous. Red-eared sliders, Yellow Belly Cooters, Soft shell turtles and many others fit in this category.
Tortoise are primarily land based animals. Their diets usually stick primarily to plants and fruits. Rarely do they eat meat besides the occasional insect that happens across their path.
Even their ages differ drastically! The oldest known Turtle was about 86 where the oldest known Tortoise was 326!!

Red-Eared Slider
Red Ear Slider

This guy was a rescue

Sulcata Tortoise This guy was a rescue

Keep up with the website and our Facebook for more information on our other Tortoises and the rest of our Animal Ark family!


Also… here’s a cute bunny (because I did say hare)


Posted in Amphibian, Animal Ark, Aquarium Supplies, Assassin Snail, Bearded Dragon, Cat Food, Cat Supplies, Cats, Chinchilla, Crested Gecko, Decor, Discus, Dog Food, Dog Supplies, Feeders, Ferret, Fire-belly Toad, Fish, Gecko, Gerbil, Golden Gecko, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Hedge Hog, Kingsnake, Kingwood, Kitten, Lizards, Marine Fish, Pixie Frog, Rabbit, Red-eyed Tree Frog, Red-Foot Tortoise, Reptiworms, Snake, Toys, Tropical Fish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Animal Ark has Returned!!

Sorry for the absence on our website! We’ve been SUPER busy trying to bring you the best at our store! Here are some of our updates, new and old news!

We’ve got some new faces to our Animal Ark family! If you’ve kept up with our Facebook page, you’ve seen these newbies. Give them a warm welcome!

Some of our associates, new and old!

Some of our associates, new and old!

We’ve also added some new critters to our line-up! Some of these guys we’ve had before, others are new to our store!

Meet Big Red! This here is our Red Iguana. It’s a bit feisty and was brought to us to find a new home for. Once Red is outta the cage, it calms a bit. It needs some TLC from someone who has had Iguanas before.
They’re HERBIVORES. This means they eat plants… only plants. Their digestive systems aren’t made for protein and thus can cause issues if you’re feeding them insects. Your iggy won’t die if it eats something that happened to get into the cage, but some people will insist theirs loves crickets and roaches. It is NOT recommended.

Give them heat and UV. Temps no lower than 80 degrees and as high as the mid 90’s is required. Give them a basking spot they can climb to with a good UVB bulb near their heat. This allows them to cool down if they need to and gather light as they please.

Iguanas like to climb! Give them a good sized cage and some branches. It’ll make them feel right at home!
Handling your iggy is important too. They can be aggressive by nature and, like most animals, take some time to warm up to your handling. 2-3 times a day is the best. Gentle, slow and steady. Stroke their back and neck. Give them enough time to settle in your hands before putting them back.

They do show defensive postures if they’re scared. Be aware of these postures so you know when you just need to leave them alone. Like us, they’ll have their bad days. I know I’m pretty grumpy if I haven’t had enough to eat.
-Mouth open when approaching. This is an “imma bite chu” stance. Give him a second to calm and try approaching again.
-Neck flap spread and puffing up. This is the iggy’s way of saying “I’m trying to appear bigger. This is my space!
-Whipping. They’ll whip with their tails. While they’re small, it’s just a bit annoying. Once they hit their full adult size of 4-5 feet, It can become painful.
All of these can be avoided with proper handling and a good setup!

Red Iguana with an attitude.

Red Iguana with an attitude.

Big Red 3

New posts to come soon so stay tuned!!

Posted in Albino, Amphibian, Animal Ark, Aquarium Supplies, Assassin Snail, Ball Morph, Bearded Dragon, Blood, Boa, Cat Food, Cat Supplies, Cats, Chinchilla, Corn Snake, Crested Gecko, Decor, Discus, Dog Food, Dog Supplies, Feeders, Ferret, Fire-belly Toad, Fish, Gecko, Gerbil, Golden Gecko, Green Iguana, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Hedge Hog, Kingsnake, Kingwood, Kitten, Lizards, Marine Fish, Peacock Spider, Pixie Frog, Polyps, Prairie Dog, Prarie Dog, Rabbit, Red Iguana, Red-eyed Tree Frog, Reptiworms, Salt Water/Marine, Snake, Spider, Spiney Crevice Lizard, Sugar Glider, Sugar Gliders, Toys, Tropical Fish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rabbits! You want ‘em!? We have ‘em!


This little guy (who’s not so little) is a rescue. He came in today(5/14/14) and is in need of a forever home.

He’s very sweet and holdable. He’ll make a great addition to the family with or without children!


We’ve also got babies and juvenile rabbits!

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Prairie Dog Pups!


Prairie Dogs make fantastic pets. They bond with their owner and become a fantastic addition to your family. They’re very social critters, making your family into their new colony.

Their diet consists of hay and hay based pellets. dried fruit can be added as a treat and fresh veggies. Too much of either though can give your pup the runs.


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kitten5 kitten4 kitten3 kitten2

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Store-front Sale!

It’s yard sale day every day at Animal Ark! We have new and gently used items out front of our store, from hutches to kennels. We even get large tanks with stands from time to time.

We carry the used items to help those that really want the pets they’ve always wanted without the outrageous costs of their habitats.

Check out these large kennels we’ve received!

kennel3 kennel2 kennel1(the young lady here is about 5’2″)

Posted in Amphibian, Animal Ark, Aquarium Supplies, Cat Supplies, Cats, Chinchilla, Dog Supplies, Feeders, Ferret, Fish, Gecko, Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Hedge Hog, Kingsnake, Kingwood, Kitten, Lizards, Prairie Dog, Prarie Dog, Rabbit, Salt Water/Marine, Snake, Spider, Sugar Glider, Sugar Gliders | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment