I've been thinking about the blog, really I have, but each time I've sat to write I've been too impatient to let an idea carry itself to fruition. I do have a post on veterinary ethics started, but it likely will not see the light of day for quite a while yet.
In a desperate attempt at keeping the blog going I'm going to delve into some of the projects I have in mind for the coming year, critter-wise. These range from simple to complex, and free to expensive. Some are dependent on time, others on cash-flow. In any case, I happen to think they're all quite neat and do bear some mention ahead of time, if for no other reason than to ensure that they keep my interest.
The first is to spend more effort on my feeder colonies of insects. My superworm, waxworm and silkworm cultures especially are never going to be self-sustaining until I spend a little more time on them. There's also the isopods (sowbugs, pillbugs, roli-polies, potato bugs, call them what you will) that are going to need some dedication; up to this point they've been kept with the snails, and it seems to have inhibited their production. Not surprising with the scale on which the snails dwarf them.
I'm also going to be looking into some new feeders in leopard slugs, Limax maximus. These little babies get up to 8 inches long, and are the stars of the following lovely video of hardcore slug pornography.
They are absolutely fantastic feeders for multiple types of fish, and any insectivorous lizards (especially the larger ones). Turtles and even tortoises are also reported to adore them. I'll be going on forays into the wilderness looking for these. They are a European slug, but we've done an awfully good job at disseminating them across most of the rest of the world.
There is the small matter of figuring out just how exactly to breed them in captivity, but my research shall continue! And if not I'll just use regular slugs. Whatevs.
On the topic of invertebrates, one of my summer projects is going to be getting my hands on some ant lions. These are the larval stage of Mermeleontidae spp, and have always fascinated me. For those unfamiliar, the larvae create divots like funnels in loose sand. When small bugs such as ants walk on the slope of these divots the sand gives way, and the prey insect falls to the bottom where the ant lion waits with its jaws open. The mandibles snap shut and the ant lion pulls the doomed bug beneath the surface of the sand to feed. How cool is that?
Keeping these in captivity is simple: a few inches of sand and a supply of small bugs (such as fruit flies or young roaches or crickets and the occasional captured ants). They stay in their larval stage for 2-3 years in the wild due to the uncertain supply of food, but in captivity I imagine it will take less time, perhaps a year? I'll be looking into actually culturing these, but as of yet I don't know what the adults require for food and mating space.
Getting away from the bugs, I'll be setting up a fish tank after moving. I'm intrigued by the ability of a tank to be maintained as a mostly closed system, and also by much of aquatic life. Diving assassin bugs, toe-biter bugs, and water striders are all pretty darned interesting. Oh, and aquatic scorpions and spiders. Dwarf African clawed frogs will probably be the amphibian of choice for the tank, as they are easily available and do well in small set-ups. Possibly salamanders, but we shall see.
I currently have everything I need. A 30 gallon tank, filter, heater, and a water testing kit. All I lack is the space. I've had this on my mind for months now, just waiting the move. As I get it set up I'll be posting updates.
And finally, to the actual lizard-goals of the near future.
I have a beautiful tank provided for me by my aunt and uncle, just dying to be set up as a natural vivarium. At this point the plan is to set it up with just some pothos and fern, and introduce some crocodile skinks to it. Croc. skinks are one of the neatest looking reptiles in my opinion, and are also a nice challenge as there's been only limited success breeding them in captivity. I have a line on where to get them, so this is one of the projects that is waiting only on finances. Stupid, stupid finances.
And that, Meine Freunde, concludes my-hobby related goals for the coming seasons. This, at least, is something I can get behind writing about.