Reptiles Department

Hamilton's Big Al's Aquarium Supercenter is proud to present its newly renovated Reptile Department. We have opened up our Reptile section to give more space to the customers to look, and have divided the department into 4 distinct sections. We have also installed 2 stunning 300 Gallon showpiece display terrariums featuring some rarer species of reptiles and snakes. And of course, we still have the best selection of tarantulas and scorpions in the Hamilton area.

We have equipped our Rainforest section with a top of the line automatic misting system, and we turn out the lights early and pop on a kaleidoscope of nightlights in the early evening to give our customers a chance to see many nocturnal geckos and frogs that would not commonly be active during the day.

Our Snake section takes pride that 100% of our snakes are captive bred. We specialize in baby snakes and have a fantastic selection, usually 30-40 species at a time. This section takes painstaking measures to ensure that our snake environments are immaculate and feeding regimens are adhered to. All of our snakes are trained to feed on frozen thawed foods.

Our Turtle/Semi-Aquatics section boasts an innovative filter design and displays their animals in naturalistic environments complete with fish, shrimp and live plants. We have some not commonly seen turtles and are always on the lookout for new and exciting species.

And finally, some like it hot!!! Our Desert section terrariums look like tiny chunks of the desert wilderness. From the ever popular Leopard Gecko and Bearded Dragon, to various species of herbivorous Uromastyx, we're sure we can dazzle you with a wide variety of interesting and unique desert creatures.

We also have everything you need to keep your pet healthy. We have a great selection of live, healthy and well fed feeder items that are packed fresh to order and are never sitting stagnant in a pre-made package or box. Getting your live food order is one of the most important times we get to engage our customers in a discussion about their pets. It is at this point we get to know you and ask about your pets well-being and have the opportunity to give suggestions, answer questions, and educate you on new products and innovations in the marketplace. If you're grabbing your live food order from a pre-packaged container on a shelf, without so much as a "hello" from a staff member, then you simply are not getting the service you deserve! We carry all sizes of crickets, earthworms, mealworms and superworms. Silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, fruitfly cultures and more!

Our Hamilton store is a separate franchise and has the ability to purchase products, livestock and drygoods from a multitude of dealers. We endeavor to have the best selection of reptile supplies, terrariums, heating and lighting products compared to any other store. Our variety of foods, supplements, decorations and accessories is unsurpassed in Hamilton, if not southern Ontario.

But what makes our Reptile Department so successful is our dedicated and knowledgeable staff. Most of our staff members have been hobbyists for many years and are all experienced and professional breeders of not just easy to breed reptiles, but engage in projects of hard to find and difficult to keep species. They read everything they can get their hands on, travel the globe to see and study their passion and are even involved with endangered breeding and recovery programs worldwide. We can help you from simple start-ups to advanced questions on husbandry issues and are always delighted to compare notes and talk shop with other enthusiasts.

As dedicated hobbyists, we have been working hard to educate, influence and finalize new legislation in Hamilton pertaining to the city animal by-laws. It has been a long and uphill process, and although we may not get everything that we were fighting for, the outcome looks progressive and promising.

So come in and see what a pet store reptile department should be all about. We cannot wait to meet you!

FAQ

How Do I Get My Bulbs To Last Longer?
Answer

How do I care for my crickets?
Answer
Cricket care (pdf file)


How do I care for my hermit crabs?
Answer
Hermit crab care (pdf file)


How do I treat snakes for mites?
Answer

Is it better to buy a pet from a pet store or try and save money and buy from Kijiji?
Answer
Where do you buy your pet nowadays? The emergence of the worldwide web and free classifieds may be a great place to look for a super deal, but when it comes to buying livestock and equipment from anonymous private sellers, the only person who generally wins is the seller. Generally someone selling a “used” pet in the classifieds is doing so because the novelty of owning that particular pet has worn off. So what are you buying? A neglected, sick, or old animal at the end of its lifespan? Or a newly hatched baby that the seller has no idea how to head-start and is trying to blow it out before it dies, or before they have to spend too much on its upkeep? Most anonymous sellers will tell you anything you want to hear to get rid of an animal and make a quick buck, but keep in mind, once the sale is done, your seller skips town – they’re ghosts! Where is the ownership and liability?

Buying from a reputable pet store is still your #1 bet for quality and peace of mind. We have the knowledge, the products and are available to you at any time. We value your business, so it our job to give you pertinent and accurate information, quality products and healthy livestock. We are more experienced with all products and new innovations in the marketplace and can dispel most of the myths and misinformation given by internet sites and basement breeders. At the very least we can help educate you to make a safe and wise choice elsewhere.

Pet store employees work at pet stores because it is something they are passionate about, and we look forward to seeing you frequently and helping you at every stage of your pets’ life. If there are problems, we can help troubleshoot and solve them. We can return and exchange items you are not completely satisfied with. We can take the ownership that Kijiji and other classifieds simply cannot touch.


Do crested geckos need lights?
Answer
Looking for a handleable and easy to care for pet reptile? A crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) may just be the perfect place to start! Just over a decade ago this species was thought to be extinct, but a chance discovery after a tropical storm saw our little “eyelash geckos” put into captive breeding programs and lo and behold, they are now one of the most abundant captive bred species in the reptile hobby with many morphs and colour varieties to choose from!

“Buyer Beware”. One of the largest misconceptions about these beautiful creatures is that they only need to eat baby foods and they don’t require any lights. This is a huge marketing ploy to get an animal into a home that is queasy about live insects or spending more money on the proper set-up.

Now we will agree that the Crested Gecko is not as demanding with its diet and heating and lighting requirements, but it still originates from a tropical island where the weather is warm, but not extreme. And as much as it likes rotting fruit and its sweet nectars, it will relish the opportunity for the protein of live insects. Six calcium dusted, appropriate sized crickets every 7 to 10 days in conjunction with a powdered mix diet such as Repashy Superfoods will keep your gecko healthy and robust.

Let’s put it simply with a question. Does the sun rise and set in the world of the Crested Gecko? Absolutely! Just because it’s nocturnal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t benefit from the splashes of sunshine it gets during the day while lazily resting in its thickety, arboreal retreat.

Keeping a pet reptile isn’t about “What can I get away with?” As a responsible pet owner it is your duty to provide your pet with the best possible quality of life. So give your gecko a day and night cycle using a low wattage fluorescent bulb which will provide a warmer area near the top of your tank, benefit your live tropical plants and provide the necessary UVB that “yes”, even benefits nocturnal animals. Besides, who wants to look at a dark, gloomy tank all day?


Is it safe to use sand for leopard geckos?
Answer
One of the most commonly kept reptile species in the world is the Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius). Because of its small size, long lifespan, easy to handle nature and wide variety of colour variations this little gecko has become the “Koi” of the reptile hobby.

One of the most debated husbandry issues is whether or not to keep these little guys on sand. Let’s sum this up quickly and tell you that the answer is absolutely and unequivocally “YES!” And, that being said, let us tell you why.

Leopard Geckos originally reside in the hot, rocky, desert areas of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. In these areas you will not find leopard geckos living on paper towels, indoor/outdoor carpeting, ground walnut shells or bark chips.

The big debate in captivity being, “If I keep my gecko on sand, it will get impacted and eventually die!”

Now this statement depends totally on your geckos’ diet. In the wild leopard geckos (as well as many other reptiles) purposely swallow bits of sand or gravel – or even large stones in the case of saltwater crocodiles! These bits and pieces of earth help reptiles, with their primitive and specialized digestive systems to grind up and digest their meals. There is clear scientific evidence that sand and stones are eaten deliberately, and that the size of pieces eaten varies with body size. The sand provides grinding surfaces within the stomach that assist digestion and are called “gastroliths”. Much like pigeons and doves in your driveway picking up choice pieces of gravel.

The problem with impaction starts with the diet. It is well known that crickets (a leopard geckos’ staple diet in captivity) are high in phosphorus but low in calcium. It is up to the owner the feed the crickets a rich, varied diet and to “dust” the crickets in a calcium powder rich in vitamin D3. This balances out the diet. Owners that do not dust their crickets are depriving their geckos of essential nutrients. The geckos’ only recourse is to try to find these nutrients elsewhere. It therefore looks to the mineral content of the earth for nourishment. So the problem isn’t that the gecko eats sand, it’s that it is eating “too much” sand. And this is how gastrointestinal impactions are caused.

A customer should also be wary of the type of sand it puts in with its gecko. Under a microscope, an ideal sand substrate should be round, not too dusty and free of debris. Calcium sands were designed with leopard geckos in mind and are made of calcium carbonate and harmless food dyes for colour. These sands are safe and beneficial, but are not to be intended as a substitute for calcium and vitamin dusting. There are sands that could be trouble though! Any silica based sands, or black coloured reptile sand should be avoided! Silica sands and black sands look like glass shards under a microscope and can do horrors to a reptiles’ stomach and intestines almost as bad as ground walnut shells! Black sands are technically crushed volcanic rock or obsidian stones.

It is still an excellent idea to quarantine new animals or hatchlings for 30 days on newspaper or paper towel. But after this period, let’s make our pet feel at home! A well planned, naturalistic environment that mimics your pets’ ancestral abode will not only make for a stunning showpiece in your living space, but bring out all your geckos true nature and behavior.




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