Here are some answers to some recently posed questions.
How often should my corn snake shed?
Snakes are ectotherms, meaning they are cold blooded. Their metabolism is based on the temperature of their environment. Most snakes shed about once every 4-6 weeks, but it can vary depending on environmental factors such as how often or how much the animal is fed and the size of the snake.
How can I train my Nile monitor not to bite my other animals?
A nile monitor is a predator. Their natural diet is mammals. Most of their behavior is on instinct. While some people have had success in target training, getting the animal to react to food, there is no way to keep a Nile monitor in a habitat with other mammals.
This seems more like a question about keeping a monitor without a cage in a home with cats or dogs. This is never a good idea.
Forget the fact that the monitor will chase the other animals. Nile monitors are an African species and should be kept in very warm conditions. No one wants to keep their home at temperatures between 80-85° F, which is when Nile monitors are most comfortable. A basking spot that is over 105° F is recommended as well.
Caging, especially large enclosures, can be extremely expensive. If keeping a Nile monitor in a cage is a financial problem, then this is not the right pet for you.
Can you suggest an intimidating name for my uromastyx?
There are so many uromastyx lizards named Spike or Rex (as in T-Rex). Looking for something more original is definitely encouraged. A good name might be one from mythology like Hermes, the Greek God of the underworld. Maybe an homage to a tough-guy sports figure like Tyson, Ripken or Suggs would be a good name.
Action words are another way to go. Words like Thunder or Cyclone can be creative names. A last suggestion is a character from a movie like Terminator, Quaritch or the Dark Knight.
Will my bearded dragon bond with me?
Anthropromorphism is when people treat their animals like people. Bearded dragons do not understand human emotions. They feel pain, hunger, fear, aggression and a few species protect their young. They do not love, adore or otherwise attach themselves to their owners.
That being said, bearded dragons are tolerant to handling and may enjoy being close to human skin because it is warm. It is the ectotherm in them that wants to be close. Certain species, especially larger animals, do learn that food comes at certain times of the day or from certain people. They may react to the food, giving the pet owner the impression that the animal has feelings for them.
Can I keep a tegu in a modified dog pen?
Tegu enclosures are much like the aforementioned Nile monitor caging. If you can get the temperature warm enough in a wire dog cage with heat lamps and pads, a tegu can live in that enclosure. Be absolutely sure that the animal cannot squeeze through the bars as they are often widely spaced. Many wire cages do not have bottoms. Those will not work at all.
Add some kind of lock to the door. Sometimes a fastener that is like the clip at the end of a dog leash can work to hold the door closed. Adding plastic cable ties to any wobbly spots will help to strengthen the cage and reduce the chances for escape. Tegus and monitors are clever escape artists. Assume the animal will attempt to escape. If it does escape, find a way to permanently close that escape route or they will try it again as soon as they are back in the cage.
Send questions about these or other exotics and more mailbag articles will follow.