Monday, 12 April 2010

'' There's A Lizard On The Garage Wall ''

So there i was sitting on the patio chatting to the other half, when she looks over my shoulder and says '' theres a lizard on the garage wall! '' I knew April Fools Day was long gone so on looking around there was indeed a Podarcis muralis giving me the stare. We caught her using nets, she showed no fear and am sure ....... recognised me.
On checking the viv i found a corner where the original sealing had broken down or possibly been chewed through by a mouse. Luckily only one lizard had worked its way down through all the logs and dried leaves to find an the way out. This was a wake up call to keep checking vivs for repair and to look for possible escape routes. It was in some sense a lucky break, as two Darevskia unisexularis were due to go in shortly. Had i not found the hole they surely would have been lost.

Below the recaptured Podarcis

Parthenogenetic Rock Lizard Darevskia unisexularis

Making Ready Juvenile Turtle Pond

Had a good clean out of the pond i use to keep juvenile turtles , the dimensions are 2.5m x .75m x . 3m deep. Although this pool is shallow and in full sun, there is no filter, by heavily planting with oxygenator (Elodea sp.), it keeps crystal clear.It is also the home to shrimps, snails, damsel nymphs and tadpoles, which all help to maintain a healthy environment for the turtles. The surface has some shade with duckweed and the leaves of a tiny water lily.

Turtles hibernate in here every winter, so to stop it freezing up, it is covered with a double layer of thick bubble wrap. In persistant cold such as last winter, i will use a pond heater occasionally.
This pool is covered in 50mm square strong mesh to keep predators out, especially a visiting heron. The mesh is bent, so as to give some height over the two basking logs.

I set up three tubs for putting out the juveniles first, so they can 'harden off ' as they have been kept in a warm garage over the winter. Water temperatures in the tubs can reach 20 deg C during sunny days presently, but cool down rapidly at night.

Pondweed and a basking spot, was put in each tub and water to a depth of about 200mm. These will be covered in mesh and will get plenty of sunlight.

Finishing Touches

Finished off the interior of the 2m x 1m x 2m high terrarium, by mixing in a bag of play sand and placing some large stones around the entrance to the underground hibernacula.When piling stones up, make sure that non can slip and damage an animal, silicon sealant can be used to hold stones in place.

This area will soon become the home of hunting spiders and will warm up in the sun to become a spot for basking . A few heather and lavender plants were then added, plus another log in front of the mesh as another basking zone. A cat litter tray of water for drinking/bathing will be placed just inside the access door(easy to keep clean).

Also topped up my other viv/terrarium with plenty of sand and planted some heather and thyme.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Turtle Ramps

When this pond was first dug out, many years ago, it was designed to hold fish such as carp & orfe. The sides are quite steep, which is fine for fish, but not so
good for turtles.
In the summer this might not be a problem, but in the cooler months, it may cause some turtles to drown. Species such as the European Pond Turtle Emys orbicularis, which are not great swimmers, can struggle to reach the surface for air.

So to convert this pond for turtle use, i needed to fit in ramps leading from the shelves to the basking areas. Fencing mesh was used to make these, which is easily shaped to suit the application, the mesh was then covered in coir sheeting.

The coir offers good footing for the turtles to climb and is eco friendly. When cutting the mesh to size, a pocket can be added to take suitable stone(s) to hold the ramp to the pool floor.

The top can then be bent to suit and tucked under edging stones, giving turtles direct access to basking spots and possible nesting sites.

I will make another ramp or two which will go from the pool bottom to the shelving zones.
Hopefully the coir will not break down too quickly, otherwise a different covering will be sought out such as pond liner underlay.