Archive for July 2014

Skinny Fire Salamander

This is my skinny Fire Salamander. He came to me a month or two ago, pretty skinny, but with a great appetite. He came with his whole tank set up and, since it was nice, I left it as it came. After weeks of feeding him all the crickets he could possibly eat, he still hadn’t fattened up. I hadn’t actually seen him eat; I just poured the crickets in, and they disappeared.

After weeks of insects disappearing and no change in his weight, I decided to hand feed him some worms from my garden. He readily took them from my hand, further confusing me. How could such a voracious salamander not be gaining any weight? Especially after dumping dozens and dozens of insects in his enclosure, and all of them disappearing quickly.

As I was hand feeding him another worm, this second Fire Salamander… a fat second salamander… waddled out of the foliage in the cage, as if to say “Hey, where are my worms?”

I was floored. I’m pretty sure I made a weird noise in my excitement. I somehow scared the cat, anyhow.

The fat salamander cleared up the mystery pretty quickly. The fatter one is also bigger all around, making it easier for her to eat all the food. So that’s why the little guy is in a jelly jar with worms. In addition to their regular feedings, I also take the little guy out and give him a little extra so he can gain some weight. It’s already helping. Soon they’ll both be fat little Fire Salamanders. Hopefully he’ll be able to compete better for food once he’s back to the correct weight, but I’ll probably have to continue giving him a little extra for a while.

Although it’s not the clearest picture of the smaller Fire Salamander, I couldn’t pass this last one up. Here’s the little guy with a mouth full of worms. Look at that little chin bulging.

fire salamander with a mouthful of earth worms

40 Gallon Viv July Update

The 40 gallon vivarium has continued to do well. The plants are filling in nicey

This tiny Microgramma fern is growing above the waterfall, just to the right. It’s done pretty well, even with the soggy substrate.


I added a bit of Christmas Moss in the space next to the Microgramma. Christmas Moss is typically grown in aquariums, but it can adapt to terrestrial growth as well. I’m not sure exactly what the moss around it is. That moss was sold as an unknown “tropical moss”. Most of the original “tropical moss” has died off and what’s there now is new growth. It’s not too bad, but I’m hoping the Christmas Moss will look a bit better.


The Peacock Spikemoss remains one of my favorites in this tank.


Ficus villosa and Rhaphidophora cryptantha are happily growing side by side. They’re both about to hit the top though


The Solanum vine has really taken off! I’ve had to trim it twice, and that causes the mother vine to shoot out multiple new vines. It’s definitely doing its best to take over the back wall. 


Closeup of the Azureus! They don’t often hold still long enough to get a close up.


The Azureus is hunting among the oak leaf fig and the Peperomia prostrata.


The little begonia grew from a bit of broken leaf.


The sphagnum moss doesn’t seem to like this spot very well. I added a bit of Christmas Moss to help fill it in. I may end up moving the sphagnum instead. Since the Christmas Moss is aquatic, it should be pretty happy in this location.


I didn’t even realize it was putting out new buds until I looked at the pictures, but the little Lepanthes calodictyon seems to like its new home now. I can hardly wait for it to bloom!


I moved the Marcgravia rectiflora up higher in the tank a few weeks ago. I suspect it wasn’t getting enough light down below. It hasn’t done much in its new location yet, but it also hasn’t lost another leaf.


And a bonus shot of one of the Matecho.


If you like the plant and frog pictures, I update Instagram almost daily. There are lots of pictures of dogs mixed in, but also a lot of herpetiles and plants.

Giant Texas Katydid Laying Eggs

I found this video in my internet wanderings. This is the kinda bug I would find as a kid during trips to see relatives, and I always got super excited. Honestly, I’d still be super excited! We don’t get anything quite like this in the NorthWest.

This is Neobarrettia spinosa, or the Giant Texas Katydid or Greater Arid-Land Predaceous Katydid. I found this video over here. They have a bunch of other photos and info about their katydids on that page, including photos of the eggs.

These “little” beasts are predatory, and not only eat other insects, but will consume small reptiles as well.


If you take a close look at their jaws, you won’t be surprised that Neobarrettia spinosa can draw blood if it bites you. They aren’t aggressive, however, so if you leave it alone, you’ll be fine.

Neobarrettia spinosa katydid jaws

Of course, finding these pictures led to some more searching and some other fantastic katydids.

Central American Pit Bull katydid or Liromoetopum coronatum:

This fantastic photo by Piotr Naskerecki over at makes me grin. Some bugs are pretty cute.

Central American Pit Bull katydid, Liromoetopum coronatum

From – I love that site’s name!


Small Leaf Katydid:

Lichen Mimic Katydid:

Lichen Mimic Katydid

A beetle mimic katydid from Madagascar. If anyone can help ID this, let me know!