Adventures in Biopod



Here at The Reptile Zoo we love our animals and are always looking for better ways to care for these amazing creatures. So when Biopod, which was born on Kickstarter then designed and developed over the past 3 years, invited us out to their headquarters we were immediately on board. On arrival, we met not only the awesome Biopod team but also fellow keepers and enthusiasts from both the US and Canada including (L-R) Dayyan of Reptiliatus, Keith of ReptilesRuS, and Paul of Vivariums in the Mist.




Entering the Calgary headquarters, I was immediately inspired by the variety of beautifully scaped Biopods. These incredible works of art looked so perfect I didn't think there was any way I could build something close, but the team assured me this was one of the great benefits of the Biopod design. I quickly learned the Biopod team has carefully considered every aspect of the design and maintenance of their micro-habitats to make it as user-friendly as possible. One area of the facility is dedicated to the original Kickstarter Biopods which have been functioning with little to no maintenance for over 2 years and are still thriving and as beautiful as ever.

 



Still I wasn't fully convinced with my minimal background in full vivarium design would be enough. Co-Founder Tom Lam and engineer Dr. Apple walked us through the mechanical design of the current iteration of the Biopod literally piece by piece showing where improvements have been during the last few years of development. The beauty of the Biopod is it's all-in-one capability. The system brings together state of the art misting, filtration, heating, lighting, aeration, irrigation, and ventilation everything needed to mimic the most naturalistic habitat possible. Not only do these aspects work in unison, but Biopod has taken precise control to the cloud allowing you to monitor and alter your environment from anywhere.

 




Armed with this knowledge, and a more than capable partner Keith, I was ready to take the plunge and start designing my first Biopod. Keith and I decided we would take an animal centric design approach starting first by selecting species, then designing the ideal Biopod to meet their needs. Immediately our thoughts went to our shared love of geckos, then inspired by the desert scape created by Biopod co-founder Jared Wolfe we settled in on the idea of designing our Terra, which is about equal in size to a 20gl tank, for a gecko in the Nephrurus species.

 



Now that we had a species and it's unique care requirements in mind we headed out to gather the substrate, accessories, and decor that would make up our final design. This had to be the most difficult aspect because there were just so many directions we could go. We ended up completely filling a cart with Zoo Med Excavator Sand, loose sand, several sizes and colors of pebbles, a few beautiful pieces of wood, cork bark, leaf litter, and hides we would later use to build up and add dimension.

 




Once back at headquarters we had the opportunity to shop in the Biopod nursery full of unique plants from around the globe and various climates. Again, faced with what seemed like limitless possibilities we grabbed a few of our favorites and started getting our hands dirty. Part of Biopod's incredible design is the ability to completely control every aspect of the cage environment which Keith and I took advantage of by coiling the modular heating element and assorted cables in our desired areas which would later be built up with basking and hiding spots. Next, we started on the irrigated living wall by tightly stuffing with sphagnum moss and laying our first level of gravel to allow for a water table at the base. It was at this moment I knew we were on track for something cool because these simple elements, when combined with the sleek design of the Biopod, was already developing into a beautiful display.

 




Encouraged and excited we started to bring the Biopod to life carefully placing and pinning a variety of climbing plants that will continue to fill and grow as time passes. Once complete we moved onto our most exciting layer of substrate, the Zoo Med excavator sand, first placing a layer of mesh to protect the water table level, then developing high and low spots as well as areas for our soon to be added plants. We had to work quickly and precisely building from the outsides to center which we would later layer with a smooth sand where the geckos could enjoy their natural burrowing. We built on and around wooden elements creating a layered look which doubled as hiding areas throughout the temperature gradients within the habitat. From the base, we then added mainly succulent varieties in our carefully tucked away pockets placed in areas that could easily enjoy the regularly scheduling misting. Just a few finishing pebbles for texture and visual variety and like that Team Terra had done it! It was such a rewarding experience to see our final piece complete and ready for a little critter to call it home.

 

 



The most amazing part of this experience was that while Keith and I were enjoying scaping what we coined The Red Planet; for a desert species Paul and Dayyan were building one of the most beautiful paludariums I've ever seen in the Aqua Biopod. Our designs couldn't have been more different, but that's the beauty of the Biopod. It is completely customizable for desert, tropical, aquatic, even for growing your own groceries with sizes available from the Eden to Grand.

 




After such an incredible experience, it was hard to leave our Terra behind, but even when I'm back in the sates my Biopod is never that far away. At any moment, I can check in on how our little scape is doing by logging into the Biopod app to check temperature, humidity, and even watch a live webcam!

 



With the US launch of Biopod slated for later this fall here at The Reptile Zoo our minds are spinning at the variety of habitats we can add on display for our guests. What species would you like to see in our Biopod? New amphibians, geckos, aquatics, an amazing arachnid exhibit? What would be your dream Biopod? In the not so distant future we’ll have a chance to make these dreams a reality and we're positively excited for the possibilities!

 

Wanna learn more? Check out this awesome video from our buddy Dayyan at Reptiliatus, go ahead and give him a sub while you're there you won't regret it!

 


Video Link

 

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Adventures in Biopod

 

Here at The Reptile Zoo we love our animals and are always looking for better ways to care for these amazing creatures. So when Biopod, which was born on Kickstarter then designed and developed over the past 3 years, invited us out to their headquarters we were immediately onboard. On arrival, we met not only the awesome Biopod team, but also fellow keepers and enthusiasts from both the US and Canada including (L-R) Dayyan Saylany of Reptaliatus, Keith Benjamin of ReptilesRuS, and Paulie Dema of Vivariums in the Mist.


 

Entering the Calgary headquarters, I was immediately inspired by the variety of beautifully scaped Biopods. These incredible works of art looked so perfect I didn’t think there was any way I could build something close, but the team assured me this was one of th e great benefits of the Biopod design. I quickly learned the Biopod team has carefully considered every aspect of the design and maintenance of their micro-habitats to make it as user friendly as possible. One area of the facility is dedicated to the original Kickstarter Biopods which have been functioning with little to no maintenance for over 2 years and are still thriving and as beautiful as ever.

 

Still I wasn’t fully convinced with my minimal background in full vivarium design would be enough. Co-Founder Tom Lam and engineer Dr. Apple walked us through the mechanical design of the current iteration of the Biopod literally piece by piece showing where improvements have been during the last few years of development. The beauty of the Biopod is it’s all in one capability. The system brings together state of the art misting, filtration, heating, lighting, aeration, irrigation, and ventilation everything needed to mimic the most naturalistic habitat possible. Not only do these aspects work in unison, but Biopod has taken precise control to the cloud allowing you to monitor and alter your environment from anywhere.


 

 

Armed with this knowledge, and a more than capable partner Keith, I was ready to take the plunge and start designing my first Biopod. Keith and I decided we would take an animal centric design approach starting first by selecting species, then designing the ideal Biopod to meet their needs. Immediately our thoughts went to our shared love of geckos, then inspired by the desert scape created by Biopod co-founder Jared Wolfe we settled in on the idea of designing our Terra, which is about equal in size to a 20gl tank, for a gecko in the Nephrurus species.

Now that we had a species and it’s unique care requirements in mind we headed out to gather the substrate, accessories, and décor that would make up our final design. This had to be the most difficult aspect, because there were just so many directions we could go. We ended up completely filling a cart with Zoo Med Excavator Sand, loose sand, several sizes and colors of pebbles, a few beautiful pieces of wood, cork bark, leaf litter, and hides we would later use to build up and add dimension.


Once back at headquarters we had the opportunity to shop in the Biopod nursery full of unique plants from around the globe and various climates. Again, faced with what seemed like limitless possibilities we grabbed a few of our favorites and started getting our hands dirty. Part of Biopod’s incredible design is the ability to completely control every aspect of the cage environment which Keith and I took advantage of by coiling the modular heating element and assorted cables in our desired areas which would later be built up with basking and hiding spots. Next, we started on the irrigated living wall by tightly stuffing with sphagnum moss and laying our first level of gravel to allow for a water table at the base. It was at this moment I knew we were on track for something cool, because these simple elements when combined with the sleek design of the Biopod was already developing into a beautiful display.


Encouraged and excited we started to bring the Biopod to life carefully placing and pinning a variety of climbing plants that will continue to fill and grow as time passes. Once complete we moved onto our most exciting layer of substrate the Zoo Med excavator sand, first placing a layer of mesh to protect the water table level, then developing high and low spots as well as areas for our soon to be added plants. We had to work quickly and precisely building from the outsides to center which we would later layer with a smooth sand where the geckos could enjoy their natural burrowing. We built on and around wooden elements creating a layered look which doubled as hiding areas throughout the temperature gradients within the habitat. From the base, we then added mainly succulent varieties in our carefully tucked away pockets placed in areas that could easily enjoy the regularly scheduling misting. Just a few finishing pebbles for texture and visual variety and like that Team Terra had done it! It was such a rewarding experience to see our final piece complete and ready for a little critter to call it home.


The most amazing part of this experience was that while Keith and I were enjoying scaping what we coined “The Red Planet” for a desert species Paulie and Dayyan were building one of the most beautiful paludariums I’ve ever seen in the Aqua Biopod. Our designs couldn’t have been more different, but that’s the beauty of the Biopod it’s completely customizable for desert, tropical, aquatic, even for growing your own groceries with sizes available from the Eden to Grand.


After such a fun experience, it was hard to leave our Terra behind, but even when I’m back in the sates it’s never that far away. At any moment, I can check in on how our little scape is doing by logging into the Biopod app to check temperature, humidity, and even watch a live webcam!

 

 

With the US launch of Biopod slated for later this fall here at The Reptile Zoo our minds are spinning at the variety of habitats we can add on display for our guests. What species would you like to see in our Biopod? New amphibians, geckos, aquatics, an amazing arachnid exhibit? What would be your dream Biopod? In the not so distant future we’ll have a chance to make these dreams a reality and we’re positively excited for the possibilities!

>

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Prehistoric Times in 2013

How could it already be a month into 2014?!? The year of the snake just slithered by so fast we barely had a chance to share some of the great experiences that came with it, but we're going to try to make it up to you with an extra long recap blog chocked full of photos & videos. So many we'll be highlighting details from some of our favorite stories over the next couple weeks as well.

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Come & Get It at The OC Fair with The Reptile Zoo

 

Spending your summer nights at the OC Fair? Make sure to stop by The Reptile Zoo hands-on display to meet Bob the 12ft Burmese Python! Then head back to Facebook to claim your complimentary photo download!
To find your complimentary photo download please visit the link below, here you will find an album for each day of the fair. To allow photo tagging and download just "LIKE" The Reptile Zoo fan page then share away!
www.facebook.com/thereptilezoo/photos_albums
If for some reason you are unable to locate your photos please email photobooth@prehistoricinc.com and we would be happy to assist you. Please allow 48 hours for upload.

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The Youth Expo Experience 2013

On April 12th-14th the annual Youth Expo was held at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The Youth Expo is a gathering of educational displays and non-profit organizations centered on a younger crowd. We have gotten to be a part of this wonderful event for about 10 years now and always enjoy participating. 

Our set up has a tortoise pin, cages with various reptiles, and our infamous T-Rex on display. Throughout the day two of our employees have out two different animals for the crowd to interact with, typically being a bearded dragon and a ball python. 

We tried out a new in-car TV technique this year in which we had a TV in the trunk of one of our party cars. It continually played episodes from The Reptile Zoo series and people could come and watch whenever they pleased. Not to mention it looked pretty cool. 

Our unique animals offer a unique experience for all ages. Who wouldn’t love getting up close and personal with these awesome animals?

 

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Introducing GRAIN!

 

In response to the countless pushes in legislation to ban or prohibit ownership of reptiles and other exotics, more based in fear and false accusations, we have joined up with other leaders in the reptile industry to create an educational resource to continue to promote fact based respect and care for these animals.

As our community continues to grow we are overwhelmed by the positive support we have received! Below are just a few of the great examples of GRAIN supporters from around the world sharing their love and knowledge about these amazing animals with their community.

My daughter with our tortoise, Donna. I bought Donna the same month I got pregnant. These two have always been with each other. Donna is 6 yrs old and my daughter is 5. :) -Mindi SueLee

 

You can see the passion in these childrens eyes! They arent born with a fear and hatred of these animals, its given to them by their guardians, and the media!!! Lets show them the truth! EDUCATION TRUMPS SPECULATION!!!!! SHOWING PEOPLE WHAT THESE ANIMALS ARE REALLY ABOUT!!!!! NOT THE BS THAT THE MAJORITY BELIEVE!!!!This is what its about!!! Teaching the next generation about these wonderful animals, and guiding them the RIGHT WAY!!!! -Jake Klotz

 

Here's a pic from when my educational program got the cover of the local paper last year. -John Sheerin

 

 

This was one of my favorite "reptile" discussions of all time! In between shows for the kids, this 80 year old lady came up to me and started asking me questions. She had never seen an alligator, let alone most any other reptile up close. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, and as her husband repeatedly told her that they had to go home... she didn't want to, and told him to "hush for a minute, We're talking". She walked in scared and confused, thinking that most reptiles were good for nothing, and left in love with a 6 foot alligator. -Loren Morales

 

 

Here is a little girl that wanted to hold Midnight our Black & White Tegu. This was a great show and everyone got involved! -Roaming Reptiles

 

 

Pythons are loved and kept Globally.! Country: Pakistan -Hamza Hussain Simjee

 

 

A group of Police officers we did a show for, for "National Night Out Against Crime" -Beanie Villerman

 

 

Reptiles + Education = Success -Beanie Villerman

 

My Reptiles are my Life. I wanted to share a side of reptiles that most luckily have not experienced. I have had reptiles my entire life, even as a child my parents would take me to the pet store week after week for me to purchase food with my allowance money for my animals. I would catch snakes and frogs when I was young until I was able to save enough money and gain enough knowledge to purchase more advanced animals from the pet stores. I always had the sense of responsibility for caring for my animals since the day I found my first one and I always had the support of my parents to back me up.

When I turned 13 I sadly lost my Father. Being an only child mean I had to step up and work harder at home and harder to support my reptile collection. I did everything I could from mowing lawns to washing cars in my neighborhood. When I 15 I got my workers permit and began working as much as I could while going though highschool. I was working full time by junior year. I lost my mother to a very short battle with cancer, she passed the day I graduated High school. I was forced into adult hood before I even started college. I was also now the only possible means of providing proper care for my reptiles. Losing your loved ones, especially your parents can do serious damage to an individual.

I am a fighter and I knew I had to support myself and my Reptiles, I choose to NEVER GIVE UP and continue to fight harder for what I wanted in life. I have a very strong connection with my reptiles and I was their only way to thrive. Working though college, being on my own, buying a house, and marrying my beautiful wife showed me that giving up in NEVER an option! Not for me, Not for my Dream, and NOT FOR MY REPTILES! My animals keep me moving forward in the worst times of my life. I have kept many species of reptiles and amphibians From my child hood until now. I proud to say am living my dream of breeding Reticulated pythons and supporting a large collection on my own. My reptiles have always been there for me and I have always been here for them. I wanted to share this short story because REPTILES CAN SAVE LIVES  -Shane Castello

 

 

Here is one of our shows that we did for a school here in town. We reached over 700 children and teachers. -Roaming Reptiles

 

If you have a story to share be sure to a become a fan of GRAIN on Facebook! Then share your story and share GRAIN with your friends! We are here to spread education and respect for all types of pets loved who we devote our time, resources, and lives to caring for.

 

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Big News for TWINKIE!

When we announced on Twitter and Facebook TWINKIE had big news our fans were quick to guess exactly what was up. TWINKIE has found LOVE and is PREGNANT... well technically gravid, but we couldn't be more excited for her.

We have always been hesitant to allow TWINKIE to breed in case there were any complications in childbirth, but over the past two years we have noticed a steady change in her personality, food cycle, and activity. We cautiously kept watch of these changes hoping she would be able to overcome them without intervention.

Although few would guess it on TWINKIE's normal diet she is offered a medium sized meal every other week, but during this period she has had little to no appetite. Eating a small meal once every couple months. We also noticed she was frequently going into a shedding cycle, which is uncommon for an animal who is not undergowing a large growth spurt. After 2 years of observing this combination, plus her lack of interest in her surroundings when knew it was time to step in. We tried minor changes in late 2012, but with no success. When February came around we knew what just might make all the difference in the world.

 

LOVE! TWINKIE was looking for love! She has always gotten plenty of attention from her adoring fans here at The Reptile Zoo, but as a mature lady she was ready to form a romantic relationship with someone just like her. Although she reached her sexual maturity many years earlier we had never provided an opportunity to breed. As such a unique specimen our staff was fearful the risks outweighed her natural desire to reproduce. But when we saw the negative impacts this decision caused both emotional and physical we carefully considered the best plan of action and began to find a suitable mate in early February.

After their first introduction we knew this was the right decision, because the two immediately started to breed. Just like humans this does not always guarantee offspring, but appropriately on Valentines Day our experts where able to determine that she is in fact GRAVID! Which means in about 3 months TWINKIE will be the proud mother of 40-70 baby Reticulated Pythons.

Want to meet dad, learn about his family, or even find out what special characteristics the new babies could have? I'm sure you have these questions and more, but we will have to wait to answer these in another blog. We'll be keeping you up to date on how TWINKIE is doing, what comes next, and any other questions you send us both here on The Reptile Zoo Blog and on TWINKIE's official fan page www.Facebook.com/WorldsLargestSnake

Until next time. Love is in the Air!

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BRAND NEW: The Reptile Zoo Calendar Club

 

We've made it to 2013 and we're looking to celebrate. What better way than with monthly photos of some of our favorite reptile inhabitants delivered right to your mailbox!  

Join us in the first ever Calendar Club for The Reptile Zoo!  As part of this club you will be the first to receive updates about happenings here at The Reptile Zoo plus special offers and of course your monthly calendar download! This month enjoy an exclusive coupon just for our calendar subscribers! Sign up today so you don't miss it!

We look forward to sharing 2013 with you and hope you enjoy our monthly gift. Feel free to forward this to a friend, or better yet sign them up for their own Free Subscription

If you have any suggestions on how we can make The Reptile Zoo Calendar Club even better you can simply respond to this email or reach us at feedback@thereptilezoo.com

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New Wall L Wall

It seems the improvements never stop here at The Reptile Zoo. There always seems to be someone working on a brand new upgrade for one of our many lucky reptile residents. Our team may get a little dirty, but they know how to get the job done. Even founder Jay takes the time to pitch in and get his hands (and everything else) sufficiently dirty.

But it's not just Jay working his heart out The Reptile Zoo is EXTREMELY lucky to have some of the best friends and volunteers around! Not only do our friends love visiting The Reptile Zoo they often devote much of their personal time to help make sure the doors stay open and we can keep up the hectic pace of always improving and expanding! Even while Jay is away in Europe or any of his international travels the team is here and ready to get the job done and enjoy doing it!

Our most recent project has been completely rennovating what we call the "L Wall" which houses many of our smaller species on exhibit. With these upgrades we are expanding cage sizes and rethinking the layout to provide a more diverse and interesting display that fits the unique needs of each animal. 

The "L Wall" is one of the last remaining original display areas from the beginnings of Prehistoric Pets, before we even thought to dream about the amazing transformation into The Reptile Zoo. Luckily over 20 years later we have learned to work smarter not harder which will benefit not only the current displays, but allow for easier improvements. 

We love our team and their smiling faces and bright attitudes that keep us coming back day after day to work on the never ending list of tasks. Thank you to everyone who has helped The Reptile Zoo not only on our current "L Wall" project but for the last 25 years! 

W

 

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HR511 Weekly Update December 3 : Representative John Fleming, M.D.

Just as we thought talks on further banning reptile ownership were complete HR511 has been picked up to add the final species to the Lacey Act banning a total of 9 snake species from interstate transport. Because these proceedings can often be complex and confusing we will be dedicating one blog post a week to the research, arguments, and ways you can get involved in HR511 and the protection of your freedoms.

We will start this series with the opening statement by the Honorable John Fleming, Chairman, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs at the Subcommittee Hearing on HR511: To Prohibit the Importation of Various Species of Constrictor Snakes on November 29,2012.

 

 

Good morning, today, we will hear testimony on H. R. 511, a bill introduced by the distinguished gentleman from Florida, Congressman Tom Rooney to list nine species of constrictor snakes under the Lacey Act.

 

Let me say at the outset that I compliment my colleagues from the Florida delegation for their tireless commitment to restoring the Florida Everglades. But I have concerns that H. R. 511 will end up destroying hundreds of small businesses without providing any real benefit to the Everglades.

 

By way of background, there are several key dates in this discussion. The first was on June 23, 2006, when the South Florida Water Management District petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to list Burmese pythons on the Lacey Act. The next important date was on January 20, 2010, when the Secretary of the Interior proposed to administratively list nine species of constrictor snakes.

 

Before announcing a decision, however, the State of Florida implemented a law as of July 1, 2010, prohibiting the importation and personal possession of seven species of snakes including Burmese pythons.

 

Finally, after an exhaustive analysis by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U. S. Small Business Administration of more than 56,000 comments, the Secretary of the Interior announced on January 17th of this year that four of the nine species – including the two species that have established populations in the Everglades – would be treated as ‘injurious wildlife.” It is now a violation of federal law to import and to move these four species in interstate commerce. Upon making the decision, Secretary Salazar noted that it was intended to “strike a balance” between economic and environmental concerns.

 

We are now being asked in H. R. 511 to go far beyond the recommendations of the South Florida Water Management District, the State of Florida and the Fish and Wildlife Service by listing all nine species of constrictor snakes.

 

It is important to remember that millions of Americans own and have legally acquired constrictor snakes. They weren’t smuggled into this country. While some of these Americans are simply content to have a Boa constrictor as a pet, many others have created small businesses which breed them, feed them, provide equipment for them, sell them at pet stores, promote them at trade shows, provide veterinary care for them and other activities which contribute millions to our economy.

 

According to an economic analysis undertaken by the Georgetown Economic Services, the Boa constrictor, which was not listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, “Accounts for 70 percent of all imports and 70 to 80 percent of all revenues generated by these nine species.” The Service estimated that the annual decrease in economic output of these snakes ranged from $42 million to $86.2 million. In addition, the House Committee on Oversight held a hearing on the proposed listing of the nine species and concluded in their report that “Over the first ten years, combined loss could be between $505 million and $1.2 billion”.

 

A witness at that hearing, Mr. David Barker of Texas, an internationally recognized authority on constrictor snakes stated that “This misguided regulations will destroy an entire industry, comprised almost exclusively of small and micro businesses. In short, if this rule goes into effect, it will destroy my life’s work and investments for no rational reason”.

 

During the course of this hearing, I hope to learn why the current Florida state law and recent Interior Department ruling seem, in some people’s minds, insufficient in addressing the Everglades problem. More specifically, does H. R. 511 protect current breeders, pet store owners and small businesses who trade these species in Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Washington State.

 

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