Animal Diaries Archive
29 September 2006
I know this may sound like a boring subject, and I hope I haven’t scared too many people away. But the proper equipment makes a world of difference in the safe keeping of the reptile and the reptile handler.
Hooks come in many different weights and sizes and it is vitally important to choose the right one. Longer, heavier snakes require longer, sturdier hooks. When handling smaller species or younger snakes a small, lightweight hook may be used. It is important that the handler is completely comfortable with the weight, length and grip on the handle. Being comfortable with the equipment allows the handler to concentrate on more important things.
Holding containers also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When cleaning enclosures I like to use plastic bins with air holes (easily made with a soldering iron), as the reptile is easily accessible to the keeper, lids lock shut, the bin lid actually doubles as a shield, and they are easily sterilised between animals.
Bags are also readily used, however sometimes it can be difficult to get some animals into the bag safely, remembering bites can occur through the material of the bag. However, animals in bags do take up a lot less space when being transported on long journeys.When catching wild animals, a hoop bag is a very handy piece of equipment as some animals can be secured inside without even having to touch them, and if handling is required it is usually for a short period of time.
Feeding tongs also come in many shapes and sizes, and again it is important for the handler to feel comfortable, with consideration to strike ranges of different animals and the weight of the food item being offered. There would be no point trying to hold a large food item with a small plastic pair of tweezers - the food item could be dropped at a crucial point in the feed session, resulting in a bite or disturbing the animal, possibly putting it off feeding all together. Again, the less the handler has to worry about, the more he or she can concentrate on more important things.
Many things need to be recorded, even if only a few reptiles are kept, such as feeding, faeces, when a snake is opaque, when it sheds, weights and medications... these are all important things that need recording so if a problem does unfortunately arise, the record card can be viewed easily and the problem hopefully rectified.
Disinfectants are used to sterilise hands, bins, bags, hooks and enclosures stop the spreading of any nasties to other animals in the collection. F10 disinfectant is great for enclosures and holding bins, whilst Hanisize is specially designed for disinfecting hands and arms between handling different animals.
Pressure bandages are a must when handling venomous snakes and large lizards, and should be the most well-maintained piece of equipment, and always easily accessible to all keepers around these types of animals, whether the keepers are handling them or not.
There are many other pieces of equipment that are also important, such as lubricant and probes for sex determination, holding tubes for vet checks, heat lights, UV lights, heat matts, thermostats just to name a few and when all of this equipment is kept in good working order, handling becomes safer for us and the animal being handled.