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"Terrarium Keeping Today"

Frog-princess, fairy snakes, etc., etc., etc…

    On Saturday, February, 13, a meeting of terrarium keepers, took place in the building of Library-culture complex, Leninsky avenue, 114. The Workshop "Terrarium Keeping Today" was arranged by Internet-portal "VitaWater.ru", and sponsored by "AgiDis" company, an official distributor of Namiba Terra in Russia, and by a Scientific-production company "BENTOS", a manufacturer of live and frozen food for inhabitants of aquariums and terrariums. This first meeting of terrarium keepers in the Northern capital fell on a Pancake week, yet, in spite of the Russian saying "the first pancake is always lumpy", the meeting was a success, and appeared to be useful and interesting both for specialists and beginners.

Science as it is

    The workshop started with a presentation of Dr. Nikolay Orlov, a senior scientist from the Herpetology Department of the Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Science, an honorable professor of Goteborg University (Sweden) and Haikou University (China), "Amphibians and Reptiles of Tropical Asia". The report was based on the field trips carried out within recent 15 years in different areas of South and South-East Asia. This research was dedicated to exploration of biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles in the Oriental zoogeographic area.

the presentation of Nikolay Orlov

    The presentation completely dispelled the delusion that everything in nature had been examined long ago, and all biologic organisms were inventoried. In reality, every day brings a revelation of new organisms, and they are not only the invertebrates, but fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even mammals. This is especially true for tropics of equatorial Africa, South America and Asia, the richest areas from the point of biodiversity. According to the speaker, who has been studying amphibians and reptiles for many years, the composition of herpetofauna in Tropical Asia can be doubled even without applying biochemical and cytogenetic methods accepted in modern systematics. The audience got assured that that was the case. In the comments to wonderful slides that illustrated the presentation, one could hear over and over again: "This species is not described yet" or "This species was described by me less than one year ago"... The number of new species is really astonishing. But Nikolay mentioned also the frightening fact that tropical species rapidly go extinct, and the everyday list of go-to-extinction species of tropical biota leaves behind the number of new species described daily. This fact makes us to look at holding amphibians and reptiles in terrariums quite differently. Who knows, maybe fan terrarium keepers will become the keepers of rare or even extinct species of amphibians and reptiles?

Amolops splendissimus

    One of The Nikolay's spectacular photos. A frog of a true frog family Amolops splendissimus (in Latin means splendiferous cascade frog) – black and green beauty that inhabits hilly waterfalls in North West Vietnam; it was described by Nikolay Orlov in the year 2007.

    Nikolay Orlov's presentation became a real tuning fork of the event: it contained both a scientific severity and staginess, he was warmly encountered by all the participants, he was listened to with a great interest, and afterwards he aroused discussions in forums that can also be considered as a sort of an index of "hitting the mark".

All you need and a shade more!

    The second speaker was Alexey Iogansen – customers' adviser in a store chain "AgiDis" with the presentation "Terrarium Equipment and Accessories of the Company Namiba Terra". Leaping ahead it's worth saying that this presentation raised more questions than any other. And this is not a surprise: the experts know well that the major illnesses of terrarium inhabitants are due to their incorrect keeping. That is why a question of wisely chosen equipment is one of the most important.

the presentation of Alexey Iogansen

    The speaker made an extra stress on a variety of goods for terrarium keepers at Namiba Terra: among them are lamps for night lighting, ultraviolet lamps, the lamps for large and small terrariums; equipment to keep up temperature, air moisturizers, thermometers, moisture sensors, ventilation equipment, substrates, decoration, etc.

Reptile is the thing it eats!

    Safe food is pledge of health. This motto became a keynote of the two next reports. A manager of an insectarium in a Scientific-production company "BENTOS", Sergey Alekseenko, made a presentation "Insect Crop for Terrarium Animals".
    SPC "Bentos" has been breeding insects for animals-entomophages in an industrial scale for two years and a half already, but it has not reached its full power yet. That's a pity! Live food is in deficit in Saint Petersburg. Let's say, 35-40 thousands of crickets supplied by the company per month are far from enough (pets of one of the workshop participants eat 6-8 thousands of these insects per month).

the presentation of Sergey Alekseenko

    Alekseenko's presentation was loaded with statistics: it contained information about nutritional value of food, microelements ratio, etc. It is clear that the company is seriously engaged in its products, and not only breeds insects but also packs and transports them: for example, crickets can be comfortably held in shipping boxes for 5-6 days, which allows to ship them into any region of the country. The insects are supplied with quality certificates and vet information. By the way, the internet-shop VitaWater has recently started selling live insect food of the company Bentos.

the presentation of Andrey Gromov

    The same topic was covered in the presentation of a key worker of the terrarium department of the Internet-portal "VitaWater.ru" Andrey Gromov "Livefood invertebrates: Conventional and Nonconventional". He was talking about invertebrates used as live food, that can be raised at home. Some of them can be initially found in nature, for example, earthworms. The others are cultured by a few Russian terrarium keepers. Some feed insects can be bought in West European countries or in USA. Andrey also told us about the "food for food:" or how to feed the insects that are going to be fed to terrarium inhabitants. The audience admired a good slide show and a smart language of the speaker. Though most of terrarium keepers were interested in the subject mainly theoretically, several enthusiasts expressed interest in raising the described feed insects at home.

Week component

    Naturally there appeared the question: where can one cure exotic animals? There is no veterinary clinic in Saint Petersburg with a specialist who cures snakes or frogs. At the most one can rely on turtle rachitis diagnostics.

the presentation of Oleg Yunchis

    The interest towards the presentation of Oleg Yunchis, an ichthyologist of Petersburg Seaquarium, "Various Diseases of Tailed Amphibians" definitely proved that these animals can be cured nowhere. The information about sores common for axolotls and newts, accompanied by photos, severe in their naturalism, was listened to with great interest, though there were not many fanciers of tailed amphibians at the meeting. It is evident that the presentation about diseases of geckos, snakes and frogs would induce even a greater feedback. And the workshop organizers should think about it.

    The workshop ended with a film of Eugene Rybaltovsky (the company ZOOCOM) '"A Trip to Surinam" – he brought in a little greenery and summer into Russian winter.

workshop participants

    It is pleasant that this workshop gathered such a big number of participants. It is wonderful that no one leaved the event till its very end. And, it is surely great that an idea to create Terrarium Keepers' Club was publicly apprehended. It is important that this positive idea would be developed in future and fanciers of terrarium exotics could meet more often to exchange experience.

Nikolay Orlov
    Nikolay Orlov, a key speaker, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Senior Research Scientist, Herpetology Department, Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science:
    "I'm glad the workshop took place. Amateur herpetologists and terrarium keepers lack such events; it was evident from their interest at the workshop. I would like the workshops and conferences in this field are held regularly in future. And the Terrarium Keepers' Club could be a good continuation. I cannot say how it should look like – it can be a club with membership fees, or it's worth looking for sponsors. Anyway, it is too bad there is no such club so far".

Alexey Iogansen
    Alexey Iogansen, a key speaker, terrariumistics adviser in a store chain "AgiDis":
    "I liked the seminar. An authentic interest can be seen from everyone who came. Based on a number of questions it is clear that many people do not know about the variety of products presented at the market today. In our store chain about 7-8% of the goods are offered for the needs of terrarium keepers. One can purchase almost everything he needs in one of our 4 shops around the city. One can consult either a shop assistant or me: I arrange regular meetings with terrarium keepers once a week at each shop".

Vladimir Cherlin
    Vladimir Cherlin, Candidate of Biological Sciences, worked in the field of terrarium keeping in 1970-1990s.
    "It is wonderful that everybody managed to come and to speak. The most important thing is certainly communication. As for the further development of such workshops, to my opinion, they should be put on more scientific rails. It is worth paying more attention to biological base of keeping animals in terrariums. It makes sense to arrange these events to cover different topics: faunistics and systematic, biological basis of terrarium keeping, private positive experience in keeping and breeding, technology and equipment, etc. Today mainly exotic species are kept, and it is much simpler to provide suitable conditions for them. And some decades ago we used to keep mainly reptiles from our country, mostly from Central Asia, Trans-Caucasus, Far East, etc. These areas are characterized by sudden temperature drops within a day and a year. Such conditions are difficult to reproduce in captivity; the adaptations to these conditions are unique, that is why keeping those animals is really hard. And we did not have enough knowledge, literature, experience, equipment. We got all the experience ourselves, we made timers and other devices. And young people who keep terrariums nowadays should know the history. In particular, it would be interesting to listen to the specialists who worked in terrariums in Leningrad, Tashkent or Moscow zoos during their prosperity days. This experience is of great value."

Igor Tarasov
    Igor Tarasov, keeps 30 gecko species, around 15 amphibian species and around 60 tropical spider species:
    "The workshop was at a good level. Unfortunately, I could not go to Moscow where not so long ago the meeting of terrarium keepers took place, but those who attended it say that the event in Petersburg was more interesting. Informative presentations, many participants; people came from different cities – from Tula, Moscow, Minsk. The next time it would be nice to leave more time for the discussions on practical questions of keeping, in addition to invited presentations.

Sergey Myznikov (Gigas)
    Sergey Myznikov (Gigas), an active member of an Internet-association of terrarium keepers, he keeps more than one hundred lizards and snakes
    "And I think it does not make sense to give time for presentations of terrarium keepers. There are so many animals, different conditions, etc. That would lead to the same number of practices, each experience is unique. I think, people can discuss practical questions informally, in future, maybe, at club meetings. The workshop is just the ticket. I am interested a lot in a report made by Nikolay Orlov, some of the described animals made an indelible impression.
    A report made by Alexey Iogansen about equipment was also interesting. Of course, we cannot say that the whole spectrum of goods for terrarium keepers can be found in Russia, in Saint Petersburg in particular. Certainly, the spectrum is wide enough today, and it is great that "AgiDis" will soon offer quality incubators that were impossible to get in Russia one year ago. But, to my mind, the problem is that the demand is not enough yet, and it will not appear soon! That is why we do not see a whole assortment. For example, the canned food for terrarium dwellers of European manufacturers is very common worldwide. Unfortunately it is not shipped to Russia at all, though the canned food could be a good solution taking in mind our constant problems with insect live food. And there are several such examples.
    It would be interesting to listen to a veterinarian, because vet help question is almost not solved. There is Dmitry Vasilyev in Moscow, and there are people trained by him, but to be honest, even our universities and colleges do not teach reptile and amphibian veterinary: there are no methods, no research, no experience… And if the case is serious, for example if it is necessary to operate, the owner has to go to Moscow. And this is a problem".

Oleg Pechersky (bambr)
    Oleg Pechersky (bambr), a great frog fancier, he keeps and breeds several species of poison dart frogs.
    "I liked the event very much, especially because such events do not happen often; and in Saint Petersburg this is the first meeting of the kind. It was interesting to meet and to make acquaintance with the people with whom I chatted in the Internet only. I do not think it makes sense for terrarium keepers to make presentations at the events like this: a good terrarium keeper does not mean a good speaker. Probably, that would be more correct to listen to a veterinarian – something similar to the report about amphibian diseases. Tailed amphibians are rarely kept, unfortunately. But something like this but related to frogs, snakes and geckos would be relevant".

Julia Sokolova
    Julia Sokolova, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Senior Research Scientist, Institute of Cytology Institute RAS.
    "It is great that such a workshop took place, it was exciting! I had a chance to participate in many scientific meeting, and I can say, yours was arranged at a really good international level! Everything (including food!) was superb! To my taste, presentations could be moderated better time wise. More important, that I saw a remarkable world of enthusiastic people, exchanging their experience and ideas. The field of my research interests is intracellular parasites of invertebrates, some of which infect also insects used as a live diet for reptiles and amphibians; those parasites occasionally cause troubles for terrarium keepers. I hope that participants remember my request: in case of mass mortality of insects, please, contact me (89215525600; yysokolova@gmail.com), and we arrange how to bring insects to our lab to be examined for parasites".

Natalya Ivanova, photo credited by: Nikolay Orlov, Daniil Melnikov and Oleg Labutov.

    The Workshop organizer:
VitaWater.ru – fresh water and marine aquariums, terrariums, and backyard ornamental ponds

Internet-portal "VitaWater.ru"
Fresh water and marine aquariums, terrariums, and backyard ornamental ponds

    Workshop sponsors:


Company "AgiDis", an official distributor of Namiba Terra in Russia.


Scientific-production company "BENTOS", a manufacturer of live and frozen food for aquarium and terrarium inhabitants.

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