New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

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ellbanger
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New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby ellbanger » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:49 am

Somehow managed to post this in the breeders/classifieds subforum, let's try that again shall we! :doh:

I'm a newbie owner (never owned a reptile in my life!) and I just wanted to say hi, and double-check that I'm doing the right thing by my new buddy - Basil, a five month old NSW Eastern BTS who I picked up yesterday!

I've got him (or her - but I'm calling him a boy for now!) in a 900Lx450Wx600H glass enclosure with mesh lid. Substrate is Critter's Crumble, it's the fine grade but I'm wanting to swap him over onto the coarse grade as I worry this stuff is a bit too fine and I worry about him eating/inhaling it and experiencing complications from that. He's got a basking spot at 35C, and the cooler end of his tank is low-mid 20s. He also has a 13W 10.0 UVB globe. Both the heat and the UVB are on a thermostat, they're on a 12 hour cycle (10am-10pm - I would have gone for a more "normal" 7am-7pm cycle but as I'm out of the house from 6am-8pm during the week, I needed to make sure that he'd still get a few hours of heat after I feed him of an evening). Once the heat goes off at night, the room he's in is kept at a constant 20C overnight. Humidity is 65%. Does all of that sound okay? Is there anything I should change?

The enclosure, heat lamp, UVB, thermostat, and substrate came together as a kind of "package deal" along with one log-style hide - so of course poor Basil spent most of yesterday burrowed deep down in the substrate, I figured because he didn't feel like he had enough "options" for hiding places. So today I went and purchased another hide (which has a big flat surface on the top, perfect for basking) and far, far more artificial plants than were strictly necessary :lol: Since adding them to the enclosure, Basil has been much more active and confident!

As for diet...after reading every single piece of information (and opinion) I could find, and almost having a nervous breakdown as a result, I've settled on a premium grain-free wet cat food (brands are Ziwipeak and FelineNatural - but not the flavours that have fish in them), mixed with veg (at the moment using endive, rocket, and butternut squash - I have printed the diet chart from this website so will be following that when choosing fruits and veg to add to his diet). I haven't tried any fruits yet but definitely plan to! I found conflicting advice/opinions regarding whether to add veg to the diet at all in the first year, it seems there are many people out there who like to keep them on as high-protein a diet as possible for the first year, should I be doing the same? Or am I okay adding veg? I also have a calcium/vitamin/mineral dust to add to his meals once every couple of feeds. In terms of insects, I have some canned silkworm pupae and de-shelled snails at the moment, and my local pet store has live snails/silkworms/earthworms which I can use as well to keep the variety up. I'm planning to avoid crickets and mealworms though, as I hear they're not really very nutritious! Once he's a little older, I plan to move him over to a premium grain-free wet dog food (same brands as I'm using for the cat food - Ziwipeak and K9Natural) in place of the cat food.

One question I have re diet is this: since the cat food/veg is so soft, is it okay to add a few pieces of crushed-up dry dog food (same premium brands as above) to add a bit of crunch? I'm obviously not an expert but I just feel like too soft a diet might be bad for his teeth somehow? Can anybody advise on this? Please note though, that I'm not here to have the cat/dog-food debate. I know there are some users here who feel strongly against including those foods in the BTS diet, and I respect that people have the right to hold those opinions, but I've done plenty of reading/learning and I'm fairly confident with my choice on that subject.

And finally...for anybody who made it this far...meet Basil! I don't know how to get the first two pics to display the right way up - but if you click on them, they should come good?
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kingofnobbys
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby kingofnobbys » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:13 am

I'd add some live insects , especially since he's a juvenile , he needs the protein and he'll likely enjoy chasing and catching them.

if you want good sources to buy online from send me a PM.

He'll really enjoy silkworms , large BSFL , all slow moving and very rich in calcium , snails are a good feeder to offer too.

My easterns love a silkworm a day (10 year olds). I farm by own silkworms so always have some that my bts and bearded dragons get 1 or 2 each of each day.

I'm not a fan of giving cat or dog food to bluetongue skinks as a staple protein source.

if you want something he'll enjoy that he'll have to chew , woodies or crickets are good choice as are raw veg and greens.

(Bits of raw carrot , bell peppers (red or green) , thawed chopped green beans, thawed chopped peas will give some chewing exercise.)

You can also mix some VetaFarm Lizard Pellets and RepCal Juvenile Bearded Dragon Pellets in with soft doggy food & veg mix. These will help add some crunch (even if they soften up a little before he gets to eat the mix) and will add some vitamins and minerals.

My BTs as babies wouldn't touch these pellets by themselves , but liked them mixed with my veg mix.

My veg mix (given to me by my reptile vet) that I make in bulk and freeze in ice-cube moulds :
2 whole buk or puk choi ( broken up and washed , THE WHOLE PLANT = white and green part)
1 C frozen green beans
1 C frozen peas
2 or 3 large carrots washed and grated
1/2 large sweet potato grated
this all goes into food processor for chopping , then I spoon the chopped veg into ice cube making molds , I get 24 - 36 per batch and I simply pop out a cube as needed each day for each lizard , and add some pellets (above) and some torn up fresh greens (choi usually).
Last edited by kingofnobbys on Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
ellbanger
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby ellbanger » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:40 am

kingofnobbys wrote:Add some live insects , especially since he's a juvenile , he needs the protein.


Do you know where I can buy some live silkworms? I see them in pet stores sometimes, but not regularly/consistently - are they a seasonal thing? I'll grab some live snails this week too.

I know you're not a fan of dog/cat food for BTS, but since I've chosen to go that route, let me ask you - do you think it would be okay for me to feed slightly less of the cat food per feed, and add a live insect or two per feed? I just don't want to over-feed him by doing a standard "serving size" as well as the live insects, if that makes sense!
kingofnobbys
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby kingofnobbys » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:57 am

oops
Last edited by kingofnobbys on Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
kingofnobbys
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby kingofnobbys » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:59 am

ellbanger wrote:
kingofnobbys wrote:Add some live insects , especially since he's a juvenile , he needs the protein.


Do you know where I can buy some live silkworms? I see them in pet stores sometimes, but not regularly/consistently - are they a seasonal thing? I'll grab some live snails this week too.

I know you're not a fan of dog/cat food for BTS, but since I've chosen to go that route, let me ask you - do you think it would be okay for me to feed slightly less of the cat food per feed, and add a live insect or two per feed? I just don't want to over-feed him by doing a standard "serving size" as well as the live insects, if that makes sense!


Silkworms :
http://www.livefoods.com.au/live-insects/Silkworms
they are very good , they have 3 sizes , small, medium and large. I suggest the small to medium size as they'll stay as worms for a few weeks and you'll be able to give him a couple per day at the start and then one per day when they get bigger.
I suggest asking these be shipped in tub rather than in a calico bag - they will be better protected in the post. You can specify the length range of the silkworms you want , or get one of their handy packs.
You might be able still get some fresh mulberry leaves from Paul on Gumtree .

Silkworms are a seasonal thing , but you can always source silkworm eggs - list of local suppliers of silkworm eggs and silkworm chow :

http://www.aussiefaunasilkworms.com/ … not sure if they are still in business.
https://everythingsilkworms.com.au/
https://www.peacefulsilkworms.com.au/?page_id=374 … she's a very helpful and knowledgeable lady.
Biosupplies also carry Chow and silkworms sometimes.

The silkworms you'll see in pet shops are from either Biosupplies or Piscus and are a $$pricey$$ option.

In season a good place to find live silkworms is GUMTREE, local schools and hobbyists and kids who have a mulberry tree grow them by the thousand and set up little summer cottage industries.

Yes - I'd give your juvenile a feed of protein each day and include some live insects In this.
ellbanger
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby ellbanger » Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:39 pm

Awesome, thanks so much for those links and info, I really appreciate your help :thumbs: I’ll definitely be ordering some silkworms - you’re not wrong about the pet shop ones being a pricey option!
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby mb606587 » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:05 am

No such thing as too soft a diet. I've never fed dry dog food. Adding vegetables is not an issue, even at that age. Obviously live insects, especially silkworms are an excellent source of protein, but so is canned cat food through the first year. Don't feel like you have to solely feed one over the other.
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby StaceyLeigh » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:31 pm

The diet chart on here is great! I would add some chopped veggies and skip the dry dog food. At this age the protein from the canned cat food, and dog food is a great staple. I breed and that is what I feed all my babies, and then add more and more veggies as they get older. I also have a pair of NSW Easterns that I bred this year and got 11 babies from. I love the NSW Easterns, they are so beautiful! Congrats on your new guy :ohyes:
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby ellbanger » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:12 pm

mb606587 wrote:No such thing as too soft a diet. I've never fed dry dog food. Adding vegetables is not an issue, even at that age. Obviously live insects, especially silkworms are an excellent source of protein, but so is canned cat food through the first year. Don't feel like you have to solely feed one over the other.


Thanks for the advice re: soft diet, clearly my concerns about "crunch" were a case of me anthropomorphising! You're totally right that I don't need to solely feed one over the other - with all the debate over the pros and cons of cat/dog food, I think I got sucked into thinking it was a black and white issue and forgot to remember that variety is key!

StaceyLeigh wrote:The diet chart on here is great! I would add some chopped veggies and skip the dry dog food. At this age the protein from the canned cat food, and dog food is a great staple. I breed and that is what I feed all my babies, and then add more and more veggies as they get older. I also have a pair of NSW Easterns that I bred this year and got 11 babies from. I love the NSW Easterns, they are so beautiful! Congrats on your new guy :ohyes:


Thanks for your input :) The diet chart is so amazingly helpful, especially for a newbie like me who was worried about which veg/fruits are and aren't okay to feed regularly/occasionally/never. I've printed it out and it lives on top of my fridge now so I always have it on hand! Congrats on your Eastern babies, that must have been exciting! I gather they're not super common over in the US, seems Northerns and the Indos are the most common BTS there? I personally have no intentions to breed in the future, since the Easterns are so common here (you can pick them up from breeders for $10-$40 in my area). If I got into any of the "fancier" or less common types (blotchies, or some of the colour variations such as hypos or hypers) I might consider it...but at the moment I'm just enjoying Basil. That said, I'm already fantasising about adding a shingleback to the family :lol:
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby kingofnobbys » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:29 am

ellbanger wrote:
mb606587 wrote:No such thing as too soft a diet. I've never fed dry dog food. Adding vegetables is not an issue, even at that age. Obviously live insects, especially silkworms are an excellent source of protein, but so is canned cat food through the first year. Don't feel like you have to solely feed one over the other.


Thanks for the advice re: soft diet, clearly my concerns about "crunch" were a case of me anthropomorphising! You're totally right that I don't need to solely feed one over the other - with all the debate over the pros and cons of cat/dog food, I think I got sucked into thinking it was a black and white issue and forgot to remember that variety is key!

StaceyLeigh wrote:The diet chart on here is great! I would add some chopped veggies and skip the dry dog food. At this age the protein from the canned cat food, and dog food is a great staple. I breed and that is what I feed all my babies, and then add more and more veggies as they get older. I also have a pair of NSW Easterns that I bred this year and got 11 babies from. I love the NSW Easterns, they are so beautiful! Congrats on your new guy :ohyes:


Thanks for your input :) The diet chart is so amazingly helpful, especially for a newbie like me who was worried about which veg/fruits are and aren't okay to feed regularly/occasionally/never. I've printed it out and it lives on top of my fridge now so I always have it on hand! Congrats on your Eastern babies, that must have been exciting! I gather they're not super common over in the US, seems Northerns and the Indos are the most common BTS there? I personally have no intentions to breed in the future, since the Easterns are so common here (you can pick them up from breeders for $10-$40 in my area). If I got into any of the "fancier" or less common types (blotchies, or some of the colour variations such as hypos or hypers) I might consider it...but at the moment I'm just enjoying Basil. That said, I'm already fantasising about adding a shingleback to the family :lol:


Shinglebacks are on my to get list , they are a species I'd love to get breeding pair of. As is a male eastern water skink (I'd love to breed these little guys).

At the moment my two old easterns BTs (George & Mildred) , and my eastern water skink (Fluffy) , and my two hatchling central bearded dragons (5 months old = Caesar & Cleopatra) , a new addition (a hatchling gecko ( a G.dubia ) that's only 40mm long !!! ) that my wife discovered on our kitchen benchtop and was apparently living in the banana bag or the roach bait (in the corner) that I've caring for to see what it looks like when it gets a bit bigger ( will likely release it in a few months) are keeping me busy.
I also have the superworms & mealworms (I breed these) for the wild skinks outside , my silkworms that I breed (for my dragons and bluetongues) , and the woodies and crickets that need feeding every few days (I buy in in lots of 1000) , and the BSFL that kinda just look after themselves are enough to keep me busy.
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby ellbanger » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:01 am

kingofnobbys wrote:
Shinglebacks are on my to get list , they are a species I'd love to get breeding pair of. As is a male eastern water skink (I'd love to breed these little guys).

At the moment my two old easterns BTs (George & Mildred) , and my eastern water skink (Fluffy) , and my two hatchling central bearded dragons (5 months old = Caesar & Cleopatra) , a new addition (a hatchling gecko ( a G.dubia ) that's only 40mm long !!! ) that my wife discovered on our kitchen benchtop and was apparently living in the banana bag or the roach bait (in the corner) that I've caring for to see what it looks like when it gets a bit bigger ( will likely release it in a few months) are keeping me busy.
I also have the superworms & mealworms (I breed these) for the wild skinks outside , my silkworms that I breed (for my dragons and bluetongues) , and the woodies and crickets that need feeding every few days (I buy in in lots of 1000) , and the BSFL that kinda just look after themselves are enough to keep me busy.


What's owning the eastern water skink like? Are you able to handle Fluffy (great name by the way!) or is it more a hands-off critter? As a kid I used to collect common garden skinks, I had one called Tanya who I had for almost 3 years. She was very tame considering she was snatched from the backyard by a child!

I'd love to have an eastern water dragon, personally. We "have" one at my workplace - she's wild and lives out near the fishpond but scratches at the door when she wants to come in, lurks under the dining table at meal times, crawls up onto the couch to watch tv, and chases the office dog (a big German shepherd) away from his bowl so she can have first dibs on his food. She's also reproduced three times, we think - earlier in the year we could look out the window and see 10-15 water dragons ranging in size from 15cm to fully grown, though they've all gone into hiding now it's winter. Hopefully one day I'll have the space and knowledge to own one!
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Re: New BTS Owner - Basil the NSW Eastern!

Postby kingofnobbys » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:56 am

ellbanger wrote:
kingofnobbys wrote:
Shinglebacks are on my to get list , they are a species I'd love to get breeding pair of. As is a male eastern water skink (I'd love to breed these little guys).

At the moment my two old easterns BTs (George & Mildred) , and my eastern water skink (Fluffy) , and my two hatchling central bearded dragons (5 months old = Caesar & Cleopatra) , a new addition (a hatchling gecko ( a G.dubia ) that's only 40mm long !!! ) that my wife discovered on our kitchen benchtop and was apparently living in the banana bag or the roach bait (in the corner) that I've caring for to see what it looks like when it gets a bit bigger ( will likely release it in a few months) are keeping me busy.
I also have the superworms & mealworms (I breed these) for the wild skinks outside , my silkworms that I breed (for my dragons and bluetongues) , and the woodies and crickets that need feeding every few days (I buy in in lots of 1000) , and the BSFL that kinda just look after themselves are enough to keep me busy.


What's owning the eastern water skink like? Are you able to handle Fluffy (great name by the way!) or is it more a hands-off critter? As a kid I used to collect common garden skinks, I had one called Tanya who I had for almost 3 years. She was very tame considering she was snatched from the backyard by a child!

I'd love to have an eastern water dragon, personally. We "have" one at my workplace - she's wild and lives out near the fishpond but scratches at the door when she wants to come in, lurks under the dining table at meal times, crawls up onto the couch to watch tv, and chases the office dog (a big German shepherd) away from his bowl so she can have first dibs on his food. She's also reproduced three times, we think - earlier in the year we could look out the window and see 10-15 water dragons ranging in size from 15cm to fully grown, though they've all gone into hiding now it's winter. Hopefully one day I'll have the space and knowledge to own one!


Image
Says it all.

She's a megatame and loves being out to play with her pet human , crawls all over my arms, in and out of my shirt , all over my tummy and chest ( knows to come back if she goes over the top of my shoulder and to a place on my back I can't see or reach her , come back when I call her ).
When she wants to have some daddy QT she'll go to the closest corner of her 120L converted tub and stand on her back legs and scratch away with her hands while looking straight at me , as soon as I take the lid off she moves to her small hubbahut to wait for my hand to arrive and crawls straight on , and often proceeds to crawl up my arm.
She's very assertive.
Loves to explore the laptop and the coffee table and to wonder about on the chair next me , lets me know when she want me get her out for some QT , and when she's ready to go back in.
Prefers to eat when she's ready from her food dish , and loves to luxuriate in her water dish (for ages) , wont say no to occasionally getting given treats by hand ( BSFL , mealworm pupae , or crickets ) .
Loves a nice snuggle in my hand , under my hand on my tummy , and the nook of my elbow on my tummy . She's not the least bit skittish with my wife and me , but a bit suss of visitors (comes out of her hide to observe them though).

She's my third pet water skink as an adult , yep as a kid I brought home lots of frogs, skinks , dragons and even pythons that I found in the local area of bush.
All my water skinks have been great pets.

She's a great pet and super interactive and even bosses the bluetongues and bearded dragons about , they all seem to regard her as boss lizard.

Got a bunch of friendly water skinks who live under my house and around my yard who all take insects from my fingers. Also a wild BT and big male eastern water dragon who comes by looking for free food occasionally.
He's a very impressive and large dragon and very cheaky , doesn't mind taking a superworm from my fingers.

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