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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Traveling Zoo and Charity Too!

Hello dearest readers!

We had a heck of a weekend and I can’t wait to tell you about it! We decided the usual hordes of visitors coming to check out our awesome exhibits weren’t enough, and that we would bring the zoo to them! On Saturday, April 2nd, we brought our traveling zoo to the Summer Camp and Activities Fair presented by The OC Register and OC Family magazine.

Jurassic Parties’ awesome presentations are a yearly feature at many of Orange County’s summer camps, and we wanted to spread the love and let even more people know how awesome reptiles are. Laura helped kids get up close and personal with some ball pythons, and I helped Squash show the public just how gentle our giants can be!

We didn’t stop there though! On Sunday Laura and Savannah got up bright and early and headed north to take part in the Ronald McDonald Walk for Kids! Buttercup, our albino Burmese python got a lot of love from the kids that were there, and Spike the bearded dragon wore his participation sticker with pride! Our booth drew tons of visitors and we couldn’t have been happier to see them. The biggest and most important part of the Reptile Zoo is to educate the public on our favorite animals, and we couldn’t be happier that we can reach so many people.

We hope that the next time we travel with the zoo you all can come see us!

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Reptile Super Show 2k16!!!!!!

If you didn’t go to this year’s Reptile Super Show at the Pomona Fairplex, you missed out!!!! This was one of the best ones yet, with so much crazy fun stuff going on! Thousands of people from all over southern California came to see the vast amazing assortment of snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, salamanders, spiders, and all sorts of other fascinating exotics that our community so loves! It was also a great success in that the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) raised just over 40,000 dollars!!! That set a new record for the west coast shows. All that money will go towards protecting the animals and to hobbyists who love them.

Prehistoric Pets and The Reptile Zoo set up a booth to showcase some of our awesome animals. Aside from stunning multi-thousand dollar reticulated pythons, we also brought boas, tegus, our Rhinocerous Iguana, Beckham, and a lovely breeding pair of sulcata tortoises. Laura, Frank, Enrico, and Jay all worked their butts off selling retics, while I promoted The Reptile Zoo and even managed to sell an animal or two myself! Whoops!

While there was plenty of fun to be had at the show, the real fun kicked in for us afterwards! Prehistoric Pets has a history of throwing fantastic post-show parties, and this year was no exception. Tons of people showed up to see the zoo after hours and check out the expanded breeding facility!

Highlights of the evening included handling of many large reticulated pythons, an alligator feeding demonstration from Jay, and of course, what is a party without PIZZA?! All in all the weekend was a blast and we were so happy to share it with you all!!

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The Reptile Zoo Reaches Out

Inspiring the next generation of animal lovers has always been a big part of the Reptile Zoo’s mission, and even more so inspiring the next generation of reptile keepers! Jurassic Parties and the Reptile Zoo have run giveaways for class pets in the past, so when Giovanni, president of the Creature Club at Enochs High School reached out to us, we were happy to help.

“The club is based on education; my hopes for this club are for us to be able to expand our collection of animals and go out to reptile shows, middle schools, elementary schools, and have our own events in order to educate people on animals that are often misunderstood such as snakes and lizards. I was wondering if The Reptile Zoo could sponsor us that way we could continue on our goals. Fundraising has changed at my school (Enochs High School) so it is really hard to do our fundraisers now so I was hoping to get sponsors for my club. Reptiles have always truly amazed me and I'm hoping that my club can really help bring a new light to these magnificent creatures. Thanks so much for wanting to help us out!”

The Reptile Zoo was able to donate not only a baby ball python to the club, but a full setup so that it could also live in comfort and style as goes on to live as an educational animal. We wish luck to Giovanni and the rest of the Creature Club, and are happy to support their educational message!!

What Rough Beast This Hour Slouches Toward Fountain Valley To Be Born?

We’re back again with our countdown of creepy crawlers! This week, we’re taking a census of the scariest lizards that roam The Reptile Zoo! Our smallest contender so far makes up for his lack of size with another trick. The Reticulated Gila Monster is a fairly unassuming lizard, but possesses very potent venom. With its midnight black body and yellow warning stripes, the Gila Monster uses its patterned body to ward off potential predators.
While they are shy and retiring, these lizards are the reason you don’t want to overturn any rocks or stick your hand down any holes in the desert! Next up in our line-up is actually a cute lizard, our big Rhino Iguana, Mr. Spot. While he charms visitors with his cartoon- dragon eyes, he has a dark side that can’t be ignored.

He possesses one of the most powerful bites of any of the lizards here at The Reptile Zoo, and backs up that power with all 25lbs of his strong, thickly muscled body. While he’s sweet to those he likes, Mr. Spot earned a place in our countdown due to one of his scariest habits. If he doesn’t like the look of a certain person, he will attack and bite the glass of his enclosure, chasing the visitor from end to end until they are out of eyeshot. He has body slammed his glass so many times he actually started to knock the aluminum track holding his glass out of alignment. Thankfully that has been repaired, but for a while it was a big concern, as the last thing we need is a big, angry lizard chasing people around the zoo. Last of our scariest lizards is our Crocodile Monitor, Salk. He is the epitome of supreme killing machine. If his relative, the Komodo Dragon, was a T. Rex, Salk would be a raptor. Incredibly smart, insanely fast, and highly malicious, Salk has earned the distinction of being the only non-venomous animal at the zoo with not one, but TWO locks on his cage.

Crocodile monitors are not to be taken lightly. They have teeth that stay razor sharp that are the length of a penny, a 7 foot whip tail, and recirculating lungs like a bird so that they don’t have to stop and catch their breath when chasing you. Roll all that nightmare fuel into a lean green biting machine, and you’ve got our top scariest lizard. Join us next week for shells from hell, creepy crawlies, and the top voted scariest zoo animal of them all!!!
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Spooky Scary Slithery Scaley COUNTDOWN

Its officially October, and you know what that means! Halloween is just around the corner! So for the whole month of October, we will be counting down the scariest, spookiest, downright most terrifying animals at the zoo!! We’ll begin the countdown with our scariest snakes!

Each of our scariest snakes are scary in different ways! Be it by name, by venom, by size, or by bite, all of these competitors make visitors (and some of our handlers!) quiver in fear!

First off is our scariest named snake, the Black Blood Python. Conjuring up imagery of witchcraft, dark nights, and spooky bubbling potions, the black blood python isn’t a snake to take lightly either! They are thick bodied and powerful strikers, and while they only grow about six feet long, they can weigh up to 20 pounds!

The thing that strikes fear into the employees hearts though when it comes to the black blood is unusual. These snakes have a habit of retaining their waste for a long period of time, sometimes over 6 months. The resulting explosion when they finally do pass waste is enough to bring any prehistoric employee to their knees.

Our most scary venomous snake is also one of our most beautiful. The Mojave Green rattlesnake is the color of any self-respecting witch’s brew, but also packs the most powerful venomous punch of any of our rattlesnakes.

Its venom is a potent potion containing both neurotoxic and hemotoxic enzymes. The neurotoxins affect breathing and nerve function, while the hemotoxic venom causes severe bleeding. While he’s not our biggest, he’s certainly our baddest!

While we know them as our gentle giants, our big female reticulated pythons certainly scare some of our visitors! We’ve had people come to the zoo that couldn’t stand to look at them, let alone walk past them, due to some intense snake-phobia. Their size certainly does wow!

The power behind their strikes is nothing to ignore, and their teeth are triangle shaped and blade like on the backs, making a bite more like a slash from a scalpel rather than a few punctures. That being said, it takes more than that to scare Jay!

Last but not least, the snake here with the scariest teeth! While the rattlesnakes have their hollow fangs, most people at least know to steer clear! The emerald tree boa however is sneaky. While relatively unassuming, this snake packs the biggest teeth of any non-venomous snake.

Designed to snatch birds out of midair, their front fangs are generally around an inch long and capable of delivering some serious damage! Steer clear of this scaly green spook and you should be just fine.

Join us next week as we count down the scariest lizards here at the zoo!!!

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Take a Peek Into Prehistoric with Periscope!!

Here at the Reptile Zoo and Prehistoric Pets, we do have a fondness for animals that haven’t changed much since the age of the dinosaurs. The same doesn’t hold true for technology though! We’ve been working lately on updating all of our tech! We have swanky new computers and registers, we’ve upped our printer and camera game, but most of all we’re trying to get on board with all the latest apps and social media! Savannah, our intrepid social media savant, has taken our Instagram and Facebook pages to new heights, but we’re experimenting with and are very excited about our latest social media platform, Periscope!

For those of you unfamiliar with Periscope, it is an app developed by Twitter that allows us to live stream video content right here at the zoo! We’ve already used it to live stream videos of Jay cutting a brand new clutch of baby reticulated pythons, but as we gain a following on the app, we hope to branch out into filming our awesome animal’s behavior to share our zoo all over the world!

You can comment in real time to chat to us while we stream as well! The best part is, if you enjoyed a particular stream, it will be available to re-watch on our profile at any time. If you like a video or stream too, you can tap the screen on your phone or tablet to give us hearts, boosting our profile and increasing our audience.

If you prefer to kick it old-school and can’t figure out this new-fangled technology, we have an option for you as well! Prehistoric has been doing all kinds of meet ups lately. Just before the North American Reptile Breeder’s Conference (NARBC), we hosted all kinds of folks here for an informal, pre-convention get together, including star guests like Bryan Barczyk from SnakeBytes TV!

We aim to have at least one meetup a month. If you’re interested, follow us on facebook at The Reptile Zoo or Prehistoric Pets to find out when our next event will be. You never know what kind of crazy fun we’ll have next!

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Right From The Get Go- Lets Talk About Geckos!

Those of you who visit the Reptile Zoo often probably know of the cutest little lizard in existence, Charlie the Crested Gecko!

With his big, off kilter eyes, stubby little tail, and tiny toes that look like leaves, Charlie steals the hearts of hundreds of visitors a year, who will often coo “Can you have these as pets?!” Yes you can! Crested geckos like Charlie are becoming incredibly popular for their ease of care and sweet personalities.

Crested geckos are native to the southern parts of the island of New Caledonia, located between Fiji and Australia. They get their name from the eyelash-like projections over their eyes, which continue down the back, creating a “crest”. They are also referred to as eyelash geckos. These geckos are primarily nocturnal, and prefer to live up high and in trees, but may move lower to the ground to sleep. They are decent climbers, aided by their sticky feet, small claws, and prehensile tails.

Check out that prehensile tail and those sticky feet!

Their feet possess microscopic hairs that will bond (on a molecular level!) to whatever surface they stand on. If you observe one walking, you will actually see them peel their toes up backwards so they can simply take a step! These geckos are able to lose their tails as a defense mechanism, but unfortunately do not grow them back once they have dropped them. While this sounds traumatic, it actually isn’t such a huge deal. The blood vessels running to the tail seal off almost instantly, and will heal over completely in less than a month. It is highly uncommon to see an adult crested gecko in the wild that still has its tail. While most lizards with this ability grow their tails back, crested geckos only get the one tail. If they drop it, it’s gone for good.

Charlie is an example of a crested gecko without a tail.

Another fun thing about this species of gecko is that they are vocal! People usually don’t think of lizards as loud pets, but some geckos can be quite the talkers! Species like tokay geckos are loud and even sound like they’re yelling their name (TO-kay TO-kay is what it sounds like!). Crested geckos aren’t quite so noisy, and make anywhere from a low quiet growling noise to a surprisingly loud harsh bark. They’re known as “the devil in the trees” back in New Caledonia, as their barks can get quite unnerving when a loud chorus starts.

Adorable babies!

Crested geckos have several traits that make them desirable as pets. They do not require a huge amount of space, have fairly simple lighting and heating needs, and can be fed a prepackaged powdered diet and completely thrive on it. Hatchling and juvenile crested geckos do well in a 10 gallon aquarium, and adults can be kept in a 20 gallon tank. Since they are such avid climbers, height and plenty of foliage are more important than length. Reptile Supply companies have actually started to make specific setups just for crested geckos. Combine that ease of care with a gecko that tames very quickly, lives on average 15 years, and is known for its sweet nature, and you have one super awesome Prehistoric Pet!

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Be My WILD Valentine!

The day dedicated to love has come again and we’re feeling festive. Our endearment for reptiles is pretty strong so we love when we can emphasize it. I mean what is more romantic than a long stroll through The Reptile Zoo?



There’s a plethora of sweet ideas for a reptile filled Valentine’s Day on our official Pinterest!




Don't have a WILD valentine? We've got you covered with our February special where you save $150 on a pair of bright red cornsnakes. Cornsnakes make fantastic pets and this super sale includes everything you'll need for less than a fancy piece of jewelry! How festive! But better act fast this sale is only here for the month of love then it will be whisked away to make way for an equally green deal in March!



So whether you’re cuddling up to a significant other or a reptile this coming Valentine’s Day we hope it’s a good one!
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