Quality control is an essential, yet often ignored integral part of herpetoculture and business. With the opening of a small business, many new owners are usually inclined to spend a few extra dollars initially to ensure their business has the greatest potential to succeed in the future. I find this to be especially important regarding the breeding of livestock, specifically investment quality animals. Quite often however, the ‘little things’ are often ignored and compromised for the sake of cost savings. The animals in my facility thrive in the best possible environment I can provide them regardless of cost. Each animal I raise is placed in the best and most ideal conditions I can provide. Here is a listing of a few extracurricular steps I take to protect my own animals and consequently, your investment neonates;
Humidifiers and Air Purification
Humidity is always a concern for reptiles, so during the winter months a humidifier may be necessary to ensure each animal is shedding properly and thriving. I personally use a Holmes brand console humidifier to attain the desired humidity level in the room. Oreck brand air purification systems are utilized throughout my personal home, facility, and mice breeding room. I find this system to work incredibly well, especially in my rodent breeding room.
Quarantine Room and Segregation
As mentioned previously, I only do business with breeders I know and have their own standards of excellence. However, just because I do business with these breeders does not mean animals should not be quarantined. In my home, rooms are specifically dedicated for specific reasons. I have a Boa Room, Quarantine Room, Rodent Room, Incubation and Supply Room, and a Cleaning Room. Each serves a specific purpose, and each room is strategically placed to ensure my animals are always safe and healthy. Perhaps I overextend myself with my practices, but certainly it’s no coincidence that I never had mites in my new home, nor have I contracted IDB or other reptile diseases. I remember when I was 14 and growing up in New York, I went to a reptile show and unfortunately came back with mites. I was in a panic to eradicate the little buggers. I vowed never again to have that problem, and I never had them since.
Frozen rodents are usually from my stock, and freshness sealed to prevent freezer burn and air entry. Occasionally, I will source my rodents from Feeder Pro Pets (240) 755-5289 or firstname.lastname@example.org who upholds the same standards I hold my own rodents to in nutrition and freshness. They use a similar rodent diet formula to the LabDiet brand, so animals are never subjected to huge variances in nutrients. Another wonderful source is Cold Blooded Café - those guys have their act together as well.
For substrate, I use bedding such as 99% dust free aspen chips to prevent respiratory problems and health issues from generic products. Pine shavings for horses and livestock purchased from feed warehouses mostly do not meet my standard of 99% dust free. Quite often, the products resemble a dusty, saw-dust like substance that immediately goes airborne when handled. These products are strictly avoided at my facility, and quality is not compromised over cost. Occasionally I will switch to non-printed newspaper for substrate on specific animals due to changes in humidity levels, as well as quarantining new animals in the quarantine room.
All of my feeders are kept in ARS Caging rodent racks with the automatic drip system. These rodent racks have proven time and time again to be the most superior on the market.
Husbandry and Sanitation
Proper husbandry and sanitation is of the utmost importance when keeping reptiles, therefore the safest and best products must be used to ensure the animals thrive. I use plastic disposable deli cups with accompanied water holders to ensure the animals have the cleanest water possible. Water filtration is done at the tap to ensure impurities are taken away. I use only the best reptile cleaning products like Virosan/Nolvasan cleaning solution to ensure the animals have a clean, sanitized environment. Reptile cages and rodent cages are strictly checked and cleaned bi-weekly as I have no tolerance for poor husbandry.