Herpetoculture | Social Media | Punkrock | Head of International Relations Department Garda Pemuda NasDem | Political Science and Sociology | Socialist | Entrepreneur |

How To Get Twitter Followers

One of the things we get asked the most is how to get Twitter followers. Over the years we’ve researched a number of ways to promote twitter accounts, and we want to share some of these ideas with you. Many users first start out by trying to buy Twitter followers, not realizing that this is against twitter’s rules. Buying followers is a zero sum game, as many of the operators that try and sell followers use unethical means to add followers to your account.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to promote your twitter account safely and ethically. Some are easy to do, some are little more complex, and some even give you ways to get more twitter followers for free. We’ve broken them up into methods you can use online, things you can do on Twitter itself, and real-world methods too.

Things you can do online

Advertise on Twitter

One of the most effective ways to promote yourself is on twitter itself. They offer solutions for promoting your profile, promoting your tweets, or promoting trends. Each method gives you a slightly different way to get your message across. This form of promotion is really powerful when used in combination with one of the other methods listed below, such as running a contest. Promoting your profile will help you grow your following directly, while promoting tweets and trends will allow you to drive other initiatives used to get exposure for yourself.

Run a contest

Running a contest is a great way to attract new followers. Offer a good prize and make sure you clearly communicate the rules of entry. If your prize is related to your brand then it can also help find targeted followers who are interested in your area of expertise.

Be creative! Try giving away an experience, a vacation, a meeting with a celebrity (maybe you?) Contests draw attention! Offer multiple prizes, including a grand prize, 3-5 mid-level prizes, and as many small prizes as you feel like. Set a hashtag for your contest like #mycontestisawesome or #winmystuff, and include it in every tweet about your contest.

Launch your contest through Twitter and any other mediums you are using. Blogs are great at driving contest traffic, because they can explain the prizes and rules in greater detail. Then just tweet about your contest as often as you feel like until you reach your milestone, and award prizes!

Directories

There are dozens of directories of Twitter users online, including Twiends, WeFollow, and Twellow. Add yourself to as many directories as you can find under the proper categories, and you will begin to see some users following you from these sites. When someone follows you through one of these directories you will receive a notification email from Twitter – if you have these turned on. In these notifications you can see which directory they followed you through.

Guest Blogging

Even if you don’t have a blog of your own, you can easily gain notoriety by writing posts for other blogs. Running a blog is hard work, and most people and companies welcome well written posts to give them a break. If you do score an opportunity to guest post, link to your blog if you like, but be sure to link to your Twitter account as well. Some people will follow you if they liked the post.

This strategy works very well if you can give readers an incentive to follow you. Will they hear about more posts like the one you wrote? Is it the only way to find all of your guest posts? Do you tweet the location of buried treasure on International Talk like a Pirate Day?

Give them a reason to follow you, and you will be amazed at how effective this strategy can be.

Blog about your Twitter account

On the same note, if you do have a blog, write a post about your Twitter account. Post about how you like Twitter, how you hate Twitter, different types of Twitter people and posts you like or dislike, who you follow… Anything, really. Make sure to mention your Twitter account (and suggest that people follow you) at least once in the article.

You can also write a post about what you would say with more than 140 characters to certain Twitter celebrities. Do you wish you could tell Shaq about your “random act of Shaqness”? Want to get @NotTinaFey to read your latest comedy script? Social media is all about being unique – find something that is memorable, and gently remind people that your tweets are memorable, too!

Do podcasts

Podcasting is a great way to get attention, it showcases your expertise, and helps gather an audience. A podcast is much like a blog, but it is recorded audio instead of written words.

Creating your own podcast is simple. All you have to do is download a program such as Audacity (or, if you’re on a Mac, GarageBand works well.) Record your audio, edit out long pauses or background noise, add in any music you like for an intro or outro, and at the very end, mention that people can follow you on Twitter “for more podcasts like these!” Now create an account at a podcast hosting service like PodStrike! or PodBlaze, upload your content, configure your settings, and you are good to go!

You can create your own podcast, or be featured or interviewed on a popular podcast. Either way, make sure you mention your Twitter account at least twice during your podcast – once right at the end – to get the most followers on Twitter from this method.

Add a Twitter Widget

Did you know that you can add a Twitter widget on LinkedIn that will display your recent tweets? How about on your blog? There are many places online that will allow you to display a list of your latest tweets, and these widgets are a great source of new followers!

Few people integrate their Twitter account with LinkedIn, but if you are well networked on LinkedIn, it can help you encourage colleagues and friends to follow you. Placing a link to Twitter on your blog is obvious, but actually listing your tweets is an even more effective way to gain new followers. You can even get a customized widget from Twitter itself that works on any site, from static HTML sites to Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, and anywhere that will allow you to add custom code!

Webinars

Webinars are essentially online seminars, so the exposure is similar to an offline seminar. The advantage of webinars is that they are typically for mixed online/offline audiences, and in addition to online and/or telephone audio, you can also display on screen slideshows and links with the appropriate software or service. This is a perfect medium to get Twitter followers, since you can link directly to your Twitter account during and after the webinar for attendees. You can begin by creating a template for your slideshow that includes your Twitter information in the bottom right hand corner. Many attendees will automatically look in that corner of the presentation last, while listening to your information. It is the perfect place to put information that you would like them to act on, as they will be available to follow you during the presentation.

Encourage Twitter users to follow you throughout the presentation, offering more tips, tricks, reports, discounts, and offers via Twitter. Another seldom used strategy is to actually offer to interact with webinar goers via Twitter during the event. If you plan on hosting a Q&A session, rather than asking participants to submit their questions via email, tell them to follow you on Twitter and tweet their questions. Not only will this get you immediate followers from the participants, but their followers will see the questions being posed to you as well, and may follow if you can offer expert advice.

Do support through Twitter

Now, we’re not suggesting you throw away your helpdesk, but add Twitter as a support channel. You may find that users are already tweeting questions at you. Most good helpdesk software already offers Twitter integration.

Some people like posting support questions via Twitter, as they feel the public nature of it will lead to a faster response. Some prefer using private channels and may not use Twitter, but adding it will win you some new followers providing you offer good timely support through it.

Video tutorial

People love to watch video’s. For many it’s their preferred route for learning something new. Some people have difficulty learning from written guides, and prefer to learn from content that is easier to absorb. Creating video tutorials for your area of expertise is a great way to get ‘relevant’ exposure for yourself.

Place your Twitter username in various places in the video, including the end, and if people feel they have learnt something from you then they may be inclined to follow you. There are also plenty of places to upload your videos, including YouTube and other specialist tutorial sites.

Become a forum moderator

Consider becoming a forum moderator in a forum you’re knowledgeable about. You can usually include a link to your Twitter in your forum bio, and by being active in the forum you can position yourself as an expert in your field. By being helpful to others you can easily win over some loyal supporters.

Things you can do in the real world

Speaking at conferences

While most people already know that the exposure you can gain from speaking at conferences is great for business, few people bother promoting their social media accounts through these mediums. The next time you’re giving a presentation at a seminar or conference, mention your Twitter account. If you are using presentation software or an on-screen image during your speech, display your username on screen.

If your audience likes what you have to say, they may just follow you later! You can even host the conference yourself, including your Twitter information on conference tickets and tweet the events as they happen. When it comes to live events, the sky is the limit!

Hosting tweetups

Most of the time, offline strategies involve people finding you offline and connecting with you online afterwards. Tweetups are exactly the opposite – they allow you the opportunity to connect with Twitter users in person, even if you have never met before. Because the group of Twitter users that meet is often diverse (and often inviting their own followers and friends,) you will likely gain at least a few new followers from a tweetup.

You can start a tweetup simply by asking around your circle of twitter followers. Offer to host the event at a coffee shop, conference, restaurant, or even your offices. Create a dedicated web page or blog post for the event, a hash tag (for example, #mytweetup) so that users can follow the event, and encourage tweeters to share with their friends and followers as well. You can gain large amounts of exposure from something this simple!

Radio interviews

Much like speaking at conferences, radio interviews are a great way to get attention. Whether you’re through AM/FM, satellite, internet, or even Blog Talk Radio, the interviews can be used to gain some positive and wildly popular PR. To be interviewed on the radio, you need to make yourself available as an expert. Watch your local stations for requests (they often publish them via social media,) list yourself in expert directories, and even contact the station directly and ask if they have any upcoming opportunities for experts.

While you won’t have a visual medium to display your Twitter account, repeating your Twitter username a few times during your interview can help you gain new followers. You can also use your interview time to promote contests and upcoming events through your Twitter feed, which is sure to get you some new followers in no time at all!

Host a debate

In junior high, debate class was the space for aspiring politicians and others with a need for extra-curricular activities. In the adult world, debates are an essential forum for communication on key issues like the environment, finance, politics, and more. If you work in an industry with many insightful leaders and a “hot topic” worthy of debate, hosting a debate yourself can be very lucrative and offer high levels of exposure.

Aside from the attendees, debates often gain media exposure through both traditional outlets and trade publications. Quotes and footage from debates can even go viral through social media sites, gaining further attention.

Publicizing your Twitter account as you host the event and broadcasting the key points of the debate via Twitter for those who may not be present are both great ways to gain new followers. If you are lucky enough, some quotes from the event may go viral on Twitter, and yes – they will have your username attached to the “retweet”. Do not underestimate the power of offline events in the online world!

Newspaper interviews and articles

If you can somehow tie your business or industry to a current event, it can be easy to get an article in the traditional press that includes your information. You can distribute your own article via press release, or make yourself available for expert interviews through directories and by approaching the media directly.

If you have the resources, hiring a public relations firm can be a great help with this. They can get you expert interviews in many newspapers and national publications, and because of their existing relationship with the editor, you will often be allowed to include a bit more company information than the average submission.

If you don’t have the resources (or just prefer DIY methods), write a compelling press release that ties your business to a current event. Distribute it to the local media, and call to follow up. Create a media kit or press kit for distribution when someone asks for information about you and your business. Getting interviews in traditional press isn’t difficult for a small business owner, but it does take an investment of time and some persistence.

When you do gain some media exposure, while most companies are just now beginning to include links to their website in the article, you can include links to social media accounts like Twitter to get new followers and exposure for your expertise.

Networking events

If you run a business, you likely have a local networking event that you do or can attend. Publicizing your Twitter profile at events like these through your business cards, stickers, and stamps can gain you a large number of targeted Twitter followers very quickly! Be sure to offer an incentive for following you, such as free reports, discounts, or updates.

Write a book/eBook

Few things say “I’m an expert in my field” like being a published author. While print titles still have more clout with traditional audiences, eBooks like those for Kindle and other e-readers are gaining popularity. If you’re looking to establish yourself as an expert, traditional publishing houses may get you the most notoriety, but self-publishing with a good public relations agent can get you similar results today.

Being sure to include your social media links – including Twitter – is a great way to allow readers to connect with your expertise after reading your book. Start by offering your Twitter ID on the inside front cover, where many bookstore shoppers will look for your bio; then include your information on the back cover, in the introduction, and throughout the book.

If you are willing to think outside of the box, you can even include your Twitter ID in the footer of every page. Even if they don’t follow you immediately after reading the book, they will subconsciously recognize your account in the future and be more willing to follow you if they come across your name again.

Several prominent social media celebrities even use Twitter to launch subsequent titles, so don’t overlook the possibilities here. The opportunities are endless!

Research and publish a report

Reports and white papers are still an essential form of communication for industries and markets around the globe. If you have any data or research to share, or even just helpful ideas, publishing a report or whitepaper can successfully get you the attention of industry leaders, media, and yes – social media.

You can get your white papers and reports distributed by trade magazine distributors across North America, which will often give you the customers’ information. Offer the report or whitepaper on your own website, as well as on Twitter itself. You may find that the link to your report gets retweeted, getting you valuable exposure!

As with other forms of offline publishing, be sure to utilize your author’s bio and include links to Twitter and other profiles.


Tweeting and Retweeting

Tweet the “Right” Content

Take a look at what those in your market with the most followers are tweeting about. Do they consistently post a certain type of content? Do they discuss one particular topic a lot? Take notes. Obviously they have so many followers for a reason. Tweet as they tweet, but put across your own personality.

Some basic guidelines to follow include tweeting about the future – making predictions, talking about upcoming news, and other future-based topics make you more interesting than the Twitter user who only talks about things that happened last year. You should also tweet about anything that is a little bit unique, off beat, or relatively unheard of in your industry.

Tweets that apply current events to your industry are also engaging. For example, for someone in the financial services industry, a tweet that says “How will the upcoming summer affect your financial planning?” will start more conversations than “Come see me today for a report on your net savings allowance.” Be creative. Use Twitter as a medium to express your wit, personality, and let your fun side come out a little bit.

Use #Hashtags

Hashtags are more than just a trend; they are a unique way that Twitter allows users to track content. If someone wants to see everything happening on Twitter about the latest celebrity mishap, they’ll search for a hashtag like “#______rehab” or “#dui______”. The same holds true in your industry, and for your individual company. Tagging your posts with things like “#convention2011” or “#newproduct” can help people find and notice your tweets. Obviously you can be a bit more creative than the examples above, but they will get you started. Watch how the most popular users in your industry are using hashtags, and follow by their example.

Interact

This is something many new users miss on Twitter. To be perfectly clear, Twitter is not a medium to broadcast like television or radio – it is a medium to broadcast AND interact, like face to face meetings. You want to reply, retweet, comment, and mention others as much as you possibly can. When you start your account, spend most of your time replying, commenting, retweeting, and mentioning others. Even when you post content, recommend it to someone by including their username. Over time you can start including some broadcast style tweets, and eventually some sales messages. Just keep in mind that even if someone only has 50 followers, it only takes one to make a difference. Having your Twitter ID in front of their followers can make a big difference for you.

Retweet the right stuff

Industry leaders, celebrities, gurus, and others with large followings love getting retweets. Some of them will even occasionally thank you for your retweets by mentioning your name e.g. “Hey @awesomeco4444, thanks for the RT!”. The benefits, just like replying, are that your name gets out in front of everyone that follows them!

There are a few tricks to making this work for you. First, make sure to only retweet content that you feel would be interesting to your readers, as they may retweet as well (which sometimes broadcasts your name to their followers, too!) Second, avoid retweeting old content. Twitter is all about relevance and so the timeliness of your retweet is almost as important as the content.

Retweet important news

How many times have you seen news break on Twitter? How many times have you seen interesting stories related to your market being discussed via tweets? If you haven’t joined in yet, now is the time! Many people will follow the tweets of interesting news stories and articles, Tweets about current or upcoming events, or industry related gossip. Getting in your two cents could do more than just satisfy your inner need to be heard, it could get you some more Twitter followers!

For example, some Twitter users have gained followers by tweeting about space shuttle launches. Of course not everyone is interested in the content, but those who are were paying attention to anyone commenting about the final launch of the NASA program. In the weeks before the final launch, some users went from relative obscurity to thousands of followers just by piggybacking off of the popularity of the news they were tweeting about.

In Print

Print ads

Print ads are one of the more expensive forms of advertising available to small businesses today, so every time you invest in that type of advertising you need to maximize your return. A great way to do this is to include links to your social media accounts (like Twitter) in the ad.

Entice customers with offers of deals, discounts, and coupons via Twitter and they are sure to follow you. This allows you to get repeated contact with potential customers from just one investment in advertising, exponentially increasing the potential for return.

Magazine articles

Like newspaper articles, magazine articles can get you great attention from readers and potential customers. Unlike newspapers, however, they can be much longer in length, explain things in much more depth, and offer more opportunities for promotion.

Go to the website for your favorite industry magazine and look for a link to their publishing schedule. There, magazines will list topics that they are going to be covering in the coming months. If you feel you can contribute to one of these topics, contact the editor with a proposal for your article. Do not send the whole article! Editors need a quick glance to determine if your content will be worthy, before approving you to begin work.

The great thing about working with magazines is that in certain circumstances, you can even get paid for your submission. How many opportunities do you have that allow your advertising to pay you? Magazine editors will typically allow for a longer author’s bio, offer more opportunities for promotion, and may even extend offers for inexpensive advertising in exchange for your contribution.

Feature columns

Even more powerful than individual newspaper or magazine articles are feature columns. If you have the dedicated time, offering to write a feature column for a magazine or newspaper will not only assist the editor with their workload but give you more opportunities for promotion.

Often times, feature columnists will get their bio published with the column monthly as well as in the front of the magazine with the other staff writers. Including your Twitter link along with your other biographical information in the magazine can get you more followers while building expert status.

Book contributor

Even if you do not have a book “in you”, there are many ways to get your biographical information into print. One way is to contribute to a book that is being published in your field. Many times, when someone wishes to publish a book, they may not have the required expertise to complete the information by themselves. If you can contribute information to this book, your information (including your Twitter account) can be included as a contributor or co-author.

Look for authors in your industry, and watch what industry leaders are doing. See if there are any books currently on the market in your niche with multiple contributors, and follow up with the publisher or author. Perhaps you could even be the primary author of your own book, and allow others to contribute.

If there are multiple contributors you may not get as much attention as if you were the only author, but if the information you contribute is valuable, you can get a fair amount of new followers from just a small amount of information shared.

Other bits and pieces

Put Your Twitter Link Everywhere

This means online and offline, everywhere you can put it. Link to Twitter from Facebook, from your blog, from your guest posts, from your videos, in your email signature, and anywhere else you can think of. Include your Twitter ID on your offline materials as well, from business cards to brochures, signs, flyers, or even on your shirt. By putting an “@” sign in front of your username (like this – “@yourusername”), most people will understand that you are listing your Twitter name.

Use a Quick Response (QR) Code

There are several services online that allow you to create quick response or QR codes. These codes are simple square barcodes that are gaining massive popularity with smartphone users, as they can be used to direct any phone to a specific web address just by taking a picture.

Create a QR code that links to your Twitter profile, and put it up everywhere – on your website, on your business cards, on any signage outside of your office or store, or anywhere else you can think of that might attract enough attention to be worth a snapshot.

Add Twitter to your packaging

Do you ship products? Is your Twitter link or QR code on your packaging somewhere? If not, it should be! What better way to encourage people to follow and tweet about you than to announce your presence on Twitter right as they receive your product? For example, some companies have not only mentioned their own Twitter ID, but have printed a random tweet from a customer on the outside of their package. By leaving the “@ourcompany” in the tweet, they can gain new followers. By including a testimonial on the outside of the packaging, they are making a more memorable experience for their customers that will likely mean more purchases in the future. This strategy can help your business in more ways than one!

Address labels

Did you realize that your address label is an advertising and branding opportunity? While typical address labels will include the company name and address, and perhaps a logo, some emerging companies are beginning to include their URL as well. Be ahead of the pack, and include your Twitter information right on the outside of your packages and envelopes! When your customers or suppliers receive mail for you, they will look at the address label to see where the letter or parcel came from. You can also put your Twitter ID on the back of the envelope, on or just below the flap. This is a perfect opportunity to stay in touch, long after the final invoice is sent!

Company Cheques

Another often overlook branding opportunity is the company cheque. While most banks will limit the amount of information you can have printed, custom cheque companies and cheque printers will allow you to include more information – from your URL, to your phone number, address, and yes – even your Twitter account. When your suppliers receive a cheque from you, or your customers receive a referral bonus, they will look to see who has sent them a payment. What better way to say “I value our relationship and want to stay in touch” than to offer your social media information directly on the cheque?

Pens, notebooks, letter openers, etc. (aka swag)

Whether you call it promotional items, promos, gifts, or even swag, getting custom printed office supplies like pens and letter openers is no small investment. While it is important to include your logo, business name, phone number, and URL, if you have the space you should include your Twitter name as well. The point of these types of promotions is to have your contact information handy any time they use your item. Imagine seeing your Twitter ID every time they sign their receipt!

Company vehicles

Your logo, your company name, your phone number, and your website address. These are the typical things you may include on the decals for your company vehicles. Something you may not have considered was to include your social media information, like your Twitter account, right on your company vehicle. Imagine how many new followers you can gain by driving your Twitter username around town, arriving at clients’ homes with your social media information displayed clearly for all to see.

Phone book

While many companies are beginning to reduce the size, cost, reach, and frequency of their phone book advertising, it is still a large percentage of the advertising spend for small businesses. Stretch your dollar even further by including your Twitter account information right in the phone book ad. Directing potential customers to follow you on Twitter right in the phone book can be a powerful strategy. While most customers looking in the phone book will be seeking an immediate solution.

Stickers

A great alternative to the rubber stamp is the sticker. Stickers are fun, easy to use, inexpensive, and can be stuck virtually anywhere! Try getting your Twitter ID made into a sticker, and putting it on everything from the backs of chairs to cash registers, the bumpers on company vehicles, receipts, packaging, shopping bags, and more. Even more creatively, try giving the stickers out to customers with the backing still attached. Tell them to feel free to put it anywhere they like. Be sure not to stick them in places that will annoy people though..

Offer discounts and deals in store to followers

While many of these methods are about print advertising and getting in front of large amounts of people, never underestimate the power of your office or retail location if you have one. Especially for retail and food service businesses, your physical location is an ideal place to publicize your social media links. Imagine walking into a store, and seeing their Twitter ID posted on the counter? Or walking into a restaurant and seeing their Twitter ID or QR code on the menu?

You can’t simply post your Twitter account everywhere, however. You’re going to need to entice your customers with something. Offer daily deals, specials, coupons, or discounts to customers who follow you on Twitter. An inexpensive way to do this is to get a rubber stamp customized with your Twitter ID on it, and simply stamp your ID on everything. No new printing costs, no need to change the receipt printer – just stamp, stamp, stamp away!

As you can see, offline methods for finding Twitter followers are only limited by your imagination. Pubs and restaurants can publish their ID on coasters and napkins. Magnets with your Twitter ID are a great “leave behind” for moving companies, and custom Twitter signs inserted into baked goods are a great way for a local bakery to get their information in front of consumers. Don’t be shy with your Twitter account; if you really want to gain a large, targeted following, you have to go after it!

That should give you a good base of Twitter followers to begin with. Remember to tweet content more often than you try to sell, especially as a newer Twitter user. The longer you have been established and the better your relationship with your followers, the more you can promote, but never promote more than 50% of the time. Over-promoting can lead to a loss of Twitter followers and sabotage all of your hard work.

Remember that quality is more important than quantity. 1000 unengaged, irrelevant followers will be less useful to you than 10 followers that regularly talk with you, reply to and retweet your content, and encourage others to follow you.

(Source: thesocialmediaguide.com)

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Basic Tarantula Care

HOUSING

Herp HavenTarantulas should be housed in small enclosures that are safe and secure. Care should be exercised to ensure that the enclosure is safe from other pets such as dogs and cats and placed out of reach of children. Locate it in an area out of direct sunlight and drafts and where there is little disturbance from vibration such as heavy foot traffic and loud music. It is also important to remember that nicotine is a powerful insecticide and tarantulas are best kept far away from tobacco smoke.

New keepers often use too large of enclosures. Tarantulas naturally live in burrows or other small confined spaces and need the security of a small space. A small cage also allows you to easily monitor its feeding so you can promptly remove uneaten food. As a rule of thumb, an enclosure should be two or three times the legspan of the tarantula in both width and length. It is also highly recommended that the distance from the top of the substrate to the top of the cage be no more than the legspan for terrestrial [ground-dwelling] species. This is to prevent injury from a fall. In the unnatural situation of captivity, some heavy-bodied tarantulas that would normally not climb in the wild will explore the tops of their cages. This can be a dangerous situation that can easily be avoided by using shorter enclosures and deep substrate.

You can keep your tarantula in a very simple and inexpensive plastic container with numerous air holes in the sides and lid, or a more expensive glass terrarium container with a screen lid. Perhaps the most popular tarantula cage is the plastic Kritter Keeper™ or Herp Haven™. These small terrariums have a snap-on well-ventilated lid with an access door. They can be found at most pet shops and some superstores, and there are some new models that are shorter in height and excellent for terrestrial tarantulas. These low-profile models are marketed with names like “Lizard Lounge” or “Breeder Box”. Clear, plastic storage containers, which are sold as shoe boxes, sweater boxes, etc. and manufactured by companies like Rubbermaid™ and Sterilite™ are very popular with tarantula breeders and others housing large numbers of tarantulas. They don’t make for very attractive displays, but with the addition of ventilation holes drilled in the sides and top they make very functional tarantula enclosures.

Tarantulas do not require plants or decorations, but they can be used if you want to make your pet’s home more attractive. Silk or plastic plants are much more durable than live plants, and they eliminate the possibility of the substrate and cage becoming too wet due to watering. Of course, fake plants also do not require light and tarantulas prefer dark cages. Cork bark, hollow logs and driftwood are attractive items to decorate with and can provide your tarantula with a welcome hiding place. Avoid any items that have sharp edges or are excessively rough in texture. Also avoid any decor from outdoors that may harbor pest or carnivorous insects or may have been exposed to pesticides, fertilizers or other hazardous materials. When designing your enclosure remember that terrestrial (ground-dwelling) tarantulas like more ground space and a deeper substrate, whereas arboreal (tree-dwelling) tarantulas need taller enclosures with a piece of cork bark or similar item to climb and attach silk nests.

SUBSTRATE

Eco EarthAny sort of clean and natural dirt free of pesticides and fertilizers is good. Chemical-free top or potting soil, peat moss and coconut coir [popular as a reptile substrate and sold in compressed bricks as Eco-Earth™, Forest Bed™, Bed-A-Beast™, etc.] are excellent tarantula substrates. Horticultural vermiculite can also be used with great success, but it is unnatural in appearance, dusty and some products may contain asbestos-like substances. Do not use sand [except as a small part of a mixture containing mostly soil or peat], gravel, perlite or corn cob or any other type of small animal bedding, especially cedar shavings. The substrate should be as deep as the container allows, at least a couple of inches whenever possible. This will allow you to pour some water down the side and have the bottom depth damp while the surface in contact with the spider is dry. Ideally, it is good to have a slightly damp corner—usually where the water dish is—at one end while the other end of the tank is dry. Over time this water will evaporate and provide beneficial humidity. Replenish as needed taking care to not saturate the substrate.

DRINKING WATER

Although tarantulas acquire most of their water from their food, it is a good idea to provide a small, shallow dish of fresh water to adult tarantulas. The natural evaporation will also provide beneficial humidity. It is more difficult to provide a water dish to small tarantulas, but a spider with a legspan of a 50-cent piece or so is large enough for a simple tiny water receptacle such as a 2-liter soda bottle cap. Provide clean tap water—do not use “cricket gel” or sponges, which just get dirty and funky with bacteria and mold and do not provide sufficient moisture. Water can also be provided by lightly misting the substrate and/or sides of the enclosure. Never spray the spider directly and take care to not create overly damp conditions. Most pet tarantulas are grassland or desert species that should have a mostly dry cage, although having a small, damp area near the water dish can be helpful [see Substrate above]. Tropical species require elevated humidity. Research your pet’s needs and provide accordingly.

CLIMATE

Most tarantulas can be kept in the range of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, which is room temperature in a warm home. In other words, most tarantulas do not require supplemental heat in all but the coolest households. Some tropical species may require temperature in the upper 70s during the day, but no tarantula should be kept much above 80 for any extended periods of time. A fluctuating temperature is best, with nights cooler than days.

When kept cooler than optimum tarantulas will become inactive, but should be in no danger at temperatures comfortable to you. If heat is required it is best to use a very small reptile heat pad placed near the enclosure or on the side of a larger tank, but not beneath or in direct contact as you would use it for a reptile. The use of lights for heat should be avoided as tarantulas prefer dark conditions and radiant heat sources such as bulbs create overly dry conditions, but a black or red incandescent bulb placed several feet away from the cage can be an effective heat source if used carefully. Keep in mind that the warmer you keep your tarantula, the higher its metabolic rate will be. It will want to eat more often and will grow more quickly. It will also dehydrate quicker so you must be very observant of the environment and diligent with care. If your tarantula species requires moderate to high humidity, you can provide this by keeping the substrate partially or mostly moist. If you use a light for heat and display, be sure to monitor the humidity levels closely. Turn the light off at night unless it gets below 65 degrees in your house. It is advisable to let the temperature decrease as much as 10 degrees at night, especially for desert tarantulas.

FOOD

feedersTarantulas will eat crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, moths, beetle larvae (e.g., mealworms or superworms), houseflies and cockroaches. Some tropical tarantulas readily accept earthworms, and some larger tarantulas will accept live baby rodents, lizards, and snakes. When feeding, a good rule of thumb is to offer prey items that are about half the spider’s legspan or just slightly smaller than the length of its body. For example, a 2-inch legspan juvenile tarantula with a body length just under an inch can be offered a half to three-quarter-inch cricket [3-4 week-old]. However, some tarantulas are aggressive eaters and will eat prey as large as themselves. As a rule, live prey is required, however, some tarantulas will scavenge on dead animals. This is especially true of young tarantulas, and it is often possible to rear tiny spiderlings by cutting an adult cricket into two or three pieces and offering one section. For young tarantulas, one prey item of suitable size is appropriate. If you are feeding comparatively small prey to a large tarantula, such as adult crickets to an adult “Rose hair”, you can offer 4-6 at one time. The spider will attack them in succession and ball them up into one tidy meal. This ball of food and silk that a spider ingests over time is called a bolus.

How often you feed your tarantula is up to you. Some people want their spider to grow as fast as possible and will offer food almost every day. However, offering food every 4-7 days for young spiders and every 10-14 for larger specimens is a reasonable regimen. Do not feed freshly molted tarantulas for several days [young] to two weeks [adults]. Spiders, in general, will keep eating until they are full, approaching a molt, or ready to lay an egg sac. In a sense, you can’t really overfeed young tarantulas, but this isn’t the case with adults. An adult tarantula might only eat once a month or even as little as a few times a year in the wild. A tarantulas abdomen should not be overly large and impede its ability to move about with ease.

It is extremely important to remove any uneaten prey items whether live or dead within 24 hours or so. I recommend offering food late at night and removing it first thing in the morning if not accepted. Uneaten insects or other prey items can be stressful for the tarantula, and have been known to damage and even kill tarantulas if not eaten. Food remains like the bolus will attract pests and mold. It is advisable to remove the remains of any prey items from your tarantula’s enclosure so that they do not cause unhealthy conditions for your pet.

MOLTING

Tarantulas are invertebrate animals that need to shed their complete exoskeleton in order to grow. This is the time when the tarantula is its most vulnerable. Molting may occur as often as once a month in young “spiderlings” or only once every year or two in adults. As a molt approaches, the tarantula may refuse food, sometimes for several weeks or even months prior to the process. If your tarantula refuses several offered meals in a row it may be about to molt. Further evidence of an impending molt is reduced activity, increased use of silk as it creates a web”molting mat” and dull coloration. Species that flick urticating hairs and have a “bald spot” on their abdomens are easy to assess. The light bald spot will become increasingly dark until it is almost black. If you believe your tarantula will soon molt it is extra important to make sure you remove uneaten food [you should always be doing this!] and pay close attention to temperature and humidity levels. A slight increase in humidity is recommended [add water to substrate at one end of cage and keep water dish full]. Leave the tarantula undisturbed, certainly do not touch or handle.

When a terrestrial tarantula molts it will turn onto its “back” (arboreal tarantulas molt on their backs or sides, often in a silken retreat above the ground where they may be vertical). Don’t be alarmed. It is not dead. Dead tarantulas usually are ‘right side up’ and have their legs curled beneath their bodies. Pressure changes within the molting tarantula will cause its old exoskeleton to separate at the carapace and abdomen. It will pull its legs out of its old skin much like you pull your fingers out of a glove. The cast exoskeleton (or exuvium) looks much like a hollowed-out complete tarantula. Once the process is completed the pale-colored tarantula will rest for as much of a day and then spend the course of the next week or so with its legs outstretched as its short growing process occurs and its new exoskeleton hardens. Do not disturb or feed your tarantula for at least a week after molting. A young tarantulas may fully harden in three or four days, but an adult may require two weeks. It is extremely delicate at this time and can even be injured by attempting to flick urticating hairs off its soft abdomen. Leave it alone.

HANDLING

 Some species of tarantula are known for their docile nature and are handled by some keepers. Others have defensive dispositions and are quick to bite. We do not recommend handling any tarantulas, primarily for the safety of the spider. Tarantulas are extremely fragile creatures that can easily be injured from a fall or other mishap. In addition, all tarantulas are venomous and have the ability to bite. Their venom may not be life-threatening, but it can cause severe pain and several days of muscle spasms and cramps. Tarantulas are untamed animals and unpredictable. They are terrarium pets like tropical fish or frogs and are best enjoyed through observation and care, not interaction.

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Isn’t she pretty..? 

Isn’t she pretty..? 

18 notes

A beautiful anery stripe corn snake.. Love it..!

A beautiful anery stripe corn snake.. Love it..!

55 notes

[Peter Shankman] 7 Rules of Social Media and Creating Trust Around Your Brand

Peter Shankman — the skydiver and PR guy who gained fame by founding HARO (Help a Reporter Out) — spoke in Salt Lake City last week aboutsocial media marketing and building trust around a brand. The guy has great ideas that can help any business thrive. Thanks to OrangeSoda for bringing him to town. The highlights:

Content First - Viral Can’t be Forced

Some guarantee viral campaigns. Truth is, nobody can. When it comes to something going viral, you are not in control. Everyone else is.

“If it’s good content, people will read it,” Shankman said. “You cannot make anything go viral. You can make something good and by default it will go viral.”

Of course, information is everywhere trying to grab your attention. Articles, infographics, videos, advertisements, Tweets, status updates and e-mails hit you as soon as you wake up in the morning. How do you get your customers’ attention from millions of daily messages?

“Learn to write,” Shankman said. “Bad writing will destroy America.”

Shankman pays his employees to take writing classes. Bad writing makes you look like an idiot. To stand out, “you just have to be 1 percent smarter than everyone else,” he said.

Transparency

There is no privacy anymore – especially online. You can’t hide. Everything is out in the open; every mistake, every decision, every action, every response, every success. To establish trust around your brand, your company needs to be completely transparent.

“Trust has never been more important,” Shankman said.

Transparency will disarm negative news or discussions. It lets you get in front of any potential crisis or problem before it gets out of control. To establish trust further, “small businesses must push the leaders and the individual personalities of the company.” People trust individuals more than a corporate image.

Relevance

Whether it’s developing a product, creating content, or defining your message, it has to be relevant to your audience.

It’s about “giving exactly what the customer wants when they want it,” Shankman said. To find out what that is, “ask them how they like to get their information. You never control the direction of your company. Figure out where your customers want you to go.”

Often, businesses don’t ask their audience. It’s easy to do, and ensures more of your customers will get what they want when they want it. And it will help you become more relevant to your audience.

Brevity

Be brief.

Shankman said (paraphrasing): The average attention span in the ’80s was about 3.5 minutes, or the length of a MTV video (if you are older than 30, you might remember when MTV actually played music videos). The average attention span today is 140 characters, which relates to about 2.6 seconds.

People are bombarded with messages every day and their time is pulled in various directions. They don’t have much time for length. Keep it short and sweet.

Top of Mind

Shankman says marketing and PR today is about connection and developing real relationships. He uses social media to become top of mind to his customers, so they will think of him first when they need his service. He credits a lot of his consulting work just by connecting with people through social media.

Every morning he opens up Facebook, looks at his followers’ birthdays, and wishes them happy birthday. It’s a small thing but it keeps them thinking of him.

“Eighty-percent of everything you do should be about your audience,” Shankman said. “The only thing you should focus on about yourself is breathing and eating.”

Treat Customers One Level Above Crap

Most people expect to be treated poorly by companies. That gives an advantage to any business.

“Treat customers one level above crap and they will do the PR for you,” Shankman said.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Social Media Basket

Twitter and Facebook may be gone tomorrow. Each social site is just a tool to connect and share a message. That tool could change tomorrow, or be completely gone tomorrow, along with all your followers and fans. Sure there are a lot of people on social media, but social media doesn’t cover near the audience that we think it might. Shankman compared those who are active in social media to those who are text messaging.

“9/11 and American Idol defined the importance of text messaging,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent of people text message, while 4 percent of the country is on Twitter, and only 1 percent of those people are active on Twitter.”

Focus on building relationships and the principles of communication and public relations. Don’t focus entirely on a specific tool.

3 notes

The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. ~ Zig Ziglar

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Corn Snake Care Sheet

INTRODUCTION

Corn snake coiled on hideCorn snake coiled in vivariumGhost corn snake eatingCorn snake yawning

Common Name:  Corn Snake

Scientific Name: Elaphe guttata guttata

Herpetologists may also refer to the Corn Snake under the Latin name of Pantherophis Guttatus Guttatus, as there has recently been a discussion about the re-classification of the Corn Snake’s Scientific name.

 

DESCRIPTION

Description: Corns snakes are a relatively small snake from the Colubridae family. They come in a range of different morphs in a variety of colours, but normal (Carolina) corns are bright red to orange with black markings. 

Size:  120cm -190cm (4ft-6ft)

Life span: (Captive) Pet Corns have the potential to live for over 18 years; records exist of Corns over 22 years of age.

Origin: USA (Range found throughout Central and Eastern America)

Habitat: Pine forests, rocky outcrops, grasslands, hills and around farms and grain stores. They are often found within corn stores, feeding on the rodents that feed in the corn, hence the name Corn Snake. They are a terrestial species, spening the majority of their time on the ground, but they also appreciate the opportunity to climb.

 

CHOOSING YOUR CORN SNAKE

Always insist on handling your snake before you decide to buy. This will allow you to notice any health or temperament issues before you take your Corn Snake Home. A healthy Corn Snake will be alert, bright eyed and flicking it’s tongue regularly during handling. The skin should be smooth and firm and there should be no traces of retained shed anywhere along the snake’s body. If you are in any doubt about the Corn snake’s health and well-being then do not purchase it.

Corn Snakes can be transported home over short distances in either a RUB (Really useful box/plastic tub with lid) or a cotton bag tied at the top. Most reptile stockists would provide these, but private sellers may not.

Quarantining your new Corn Snake is good practice if you have other snakes in the household. 2-3 months should be a minimum quarantine period.

 

CAPTIVE CARE

Temperament: With the odd exception, Corn Snakes are calm, docile, placid snakes that are hardy and thrive very well in captivity. Due to their temperament Corn Snakes are a recommended first snake to keep as they are relatively easy to care for and they also do not outgrow their welcome in the way that some Boas and Pythons can.

Corn snakes do make a good choice for beginners since they are easy to handle and care for. However, they are also favorites with experienced keepers due to the vast array of beautiful colors and patterns selective breeding has produced.

Corn Snakes make great pets as they are highly unlikely to bite and have pleasant personalities. If threatened their first response is to hide, rather than strike and they will occasionally warn of predators with a little tail rattling. If your Corn Snake rattles it’s tail this is nothing to worry about, just take steps to ensure that your Corn Snake feels secure and continue with regular handling until they become used to you and know that you are not a threat to them.


Hatchling Corn Snake being Handled.

Handling: Corn Snakes are quite active snakes and will appreciate time outside the vivarium to exercise. Care should be taken to avoid dropping your Corn Snake whilst handling, so support your Corn Snake at all times. Approximately 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a week is a suitable amount of time for handling your Corn Snake, but this may vary depending on the particular snake. Some Corn Snakes will appreciate more time outside the vivarium, while others may shy away from regular handling.

It is important for hygiene reasons to wash your hands with a good anti-bacterial handwash before and after you handle your snake. This is especially important if you have multiple specimens, so has not to pass on any infections between your snakes. Anti-bacterial hand sanitisers are widely available and are useful to have close to your vivarium for quick and regular hand cleaning.

KEEPING NOTES

Record keeping is a good way of monitoring your Corn Snake as it grows and develops. It is advisable to keep a written record of when your snake feeds and sheds it’s skin, so that you have a resource to refer to if there becomes a problem. Regular weight and length checks are also useful as you can monitor the growth of your corn, which helps to ensure that your corn is healthy.

 

FEEDING

Ghost Corn Snake eatingCorn snake in feeding tubCorn snake constricting preyCorn snake eating a large mouse

Corn Snakes feed on mice appropriate to the size of their mouth. A prey item should be approximately the same width as one and a half times the size of the corn snakes head.

Hatchling Corn Snakes start on pink mice, one every 5-6 days and graduate up to an adult mouse every 7-14 days as they grow. Very large snakes may require 2 adult mice per feed. You may also feed your Corn Snake on chicks and fertilized quail eggs to provide a variation in diet, although these are not recommended as a staple diet as these will not contain all the beneficial nutrients and minerals that rodents have. Larger Corn Snakes will also take other small rodents such as gerbils, hamsters and young rats.

Do not feed your snake with live food, even a small mouse may bite or injure your snake. Shop brought frozen rodents are available from most pet shops or bought over the internet these can be thawed to room temperature and make an excellent all round food for your snake. Wild rodents carry parasites and should be avoided at all times.

Never handle your snake straight after a feed, as it will regurgitate its meal. It is advisable to wait 48 hours after a feed before handling your snake.

Feeding your Corn Snake outside the Vivarium is recommended to ensure that no substrate is ingested along with the prey item. If a Corn Snake ingests large amounts of it’s substrate then it can lead to your snake becoming impacted and ill.

If your snake is reluctant to feed, which is unlikely in a Corn Snake, then there are a few techniques you can try to encourage your snake to feed. One of these is ‘braining’ the mouse. Snakes are attracted to the scent of brain matter, so if you cut into the skull of the mouse to expose the brain tissue, then they are more likely to take the food item.

 

SHEDDING

Corn Snake shedding skin- the head section is worked freeCorn Snake Shed skin uncoilingCorn Snake Shedding it's skinShed skin on Corn Snake close up

Corn snakes, like all other snakes, shed their outer layer of skin periodically throughout their lives. Young snakes may shed more frequently than adult snakes, but in general the shedding process occurs several times a year. This is nothing to worry about as a keeper, but there are a few things you can do to help your snake through this process.

Preecdysis is the name given to the changes your snake will go through whilst preparing to shed it’s skin. This will include a dulling of your snake’s skin colour, general inactivity and their eyes will turn a bluish grey colour. At this time your Corn Snake may refuse a feed or shy away from being handled, but this depends on the individual snake and how they handle preecdysis. While your snake is ‘in blue’ it is advisable to handle with care as their vision is obscured by the membrane covering it’s eyes and they may feel more insecure than usual, therefore more likely to be defensive.

Most Corn snakes will handle a shed without any need for extra help, but if you want to assist your snake during this time you should try to raise the humidity in your Vivarium to help your snake loosen it’s skin. You can do this by placing a larger water bowl in the vivarium so that your snake has the opportunity to soak itself if desired. You can also lightly mist the tank with water to help raise the humidity. Another useful tactic is to place a humidity box in the Vivarium. This can be a sandwich box with a hole cut in the top filled with damp sphagnum moss. Your Corn snake should appreciate the extra humidity and it will make the next stage in the process easier for it.

Ecdysis is the act of shedding, which is usually started by your snake rubbing it’s head on rocks or decor to loosen the skin around it’s head. Once it has worked it’s head free it will continue to crawl its way out of the old skin by rolling it inside out has it moves. Once your snake has shed it’s skin it should be removed from the vivarium along with any faeces that usually accompanies Ecdysis. Check your snake to ensure that the shed skin has successfully been removed, taking particular notice that the eyecaps and tail end have not been retained. If necessary bathe your snake and remove any patches of skin that have not been shed with a warm towel or tweezers, to avoid infection or death of the tissue below it.

 

HOUSING

Vivarium set up for a yearling corn snake
Corn Snakes are not highly active and do not need huge enclosures. A medium sized vivarium (Even a fish tank with a tight fitting lid) will house your Corn Snake nicely. The vivarium should allow a minimum of 1 square foot of floor space to each foot of snake and be approximately a third of the snake’s length in height. Hatchlings should start out in an appropriately sized small vivarium as they can become stressed and stop feeding in an oversized vivarium.

Corn Snakes are excellent escape artists, so care must be taken when planning their housing. Make sure your vivarium or tank has a tight fitting lid, which can be clamped down. Corn snakes are very strong and can push a loose fitting lid from a vivarium.

Corn Snakes are relatively easy to care for, as they defecate rarely, so with regular spot cleaning a full vivarium clean out should only be necessary every 3-5 weeks. When you clean out the housing, disinfect the cage furniture and the inside of the vivarium with a weak disinfectant solution or a reptile safe product. In general, if a disinfectant is safe to use for disinfecting baby bottles, then it is weak enough to use with snakes. Completely dry the contents before replacing in the vivarium with fresh substrate. For hygiene reasons it is advised to use seperate towels and cleaning cloths for your snakes.

YOUR CORN SNAKE VIVARIUM SHOULD CONTAIN:

SUBSTRATE

Corn snake burrowing in aspen substrate

With corn snakes, there are a couple of different substrates that can be used:

Aspen Shavings: Aspen shavings may be used for Corn Snakes. The shavings cannot be cleaned and so have to be removed and replaced with fresh shavings when dirty.  If you use aspen shavings the urine and feaces can be scooped out with a cat litter scoop, and replaced with fresh shavings as needed. Be sure to remove soiled substrate as soon as possible; urine-soaked material will become a breeding ground for bacteria, which could harm your Corn Snake. If you use this type of substrate you will have to place your snake in a secure area to feed it; you do not want it to ingest any of the shavings.

At least once a month, all shavings should be removed and disposed of, and the entire enclosure cleaned and disinfected before new shavings are placed inside.

Do not use Cedar or Redwood Shavings these are toxic for all animals and should never be used in predator or prey enclosures. Cedar and redwood should not be used in constructing housing for any animal, nor in any furniture or paneling in a vivarium in which any animals are housed.

Newspaper: Layers of newspaper have been used for years in animal keeping. It is relatively absorbent when several layers are used, and inexpensive to replace. However, the inks used in printing are known to be harmful to animals. Unprinted sheets may be obtained at shops selling moving supplies, or roll ends may be obtained from some newspaper companies. As with printed newspaper, it is relatively absorbent when several sheets are used, especially when layered with paper towels. Unlike printed newspaper, the unprinted sheets and rolls are not impregnated with potentially harmful inks that could harm your Corn Snake.

Easily obtained and relatively inexpensive, paper towels make an excellent substrate for reptiles with belly injuries and those in the early stages of quarantine.

Coco/Orchid Bark: Some reptile shops may recommend the use of Coco or Orchid bark for Corn Snakes, but this substrate is more appropriate for snakes that require higher humidity levels. It is unadvisable to use this substrate for Corn Snakes as they are susceptible to respiratory infections (R.Is) if the humidity becomes too high.

Astroturf® / Artificial Grass: Astroturf® was the first artificial grass floor covering. Since then, carpet manufacturers have come out with many grades of artificial grass. Hardware shops usually have two or more grades. The least expensive is generally the best to use. It is more flexible, a key factor for thorough cleaning and disinfecting. Pieces can be washed and disinfected repeatedly before they require replacing. Astroturf® is cheap enough that several pieces can be cut for each enclosure and rotated each cleaning day. The pieces of artificial grass substrate sold in small, prepackaged pieces in many pet shops and mail order pet suppliers are the same as the product sold in builder supply shops.

WATER

All Corn Snakes need fresh water to drink daily. Water should be given in a reasonable sized bowl which is fairly heavy to stop your snake tipping it over.

Water can also help your snake during shedding at this time your snake may be found bathing in the water.

If the snake defecates in its water bowl, the bowl must be cleaned and disinfected immediately.

HEAT

Heating equipment for your corn snake

Corn Snakes are cold blooded and get heat from their surroundings. In the wild snakes bask in the sun to keep warm or move to a shady spot if they are too hot, this is called thermo-regulation. The ideal temperature for you snake’s vivarium is a temperature gradient of 21-30°C (70-86°F)

Heat should be provided using either a heat mat with thermostat or a bulb with a dimming stat on the roof of the vivarium surrounded by a bulb guard.

Heat mats should only cover between a third and a half of the floor space to allow your snake to thermo-regulate. This heat mat should be regulated by a thermostat to ensure that it does not overheat. Since a heat mat should provide sufficient heat to keep your corn snake happy, a basic mat stat, like the Microclimate Ministat 100 or the Habistat Mat Stat, should be appropriate. These thermostats are available from reptile shops and online, are relatively cheap, and will ensure the heat source is regulated at a safe level.

A popular alternative to the heat mat is a normal light bulb on the roof of the vivarium, attached to a dimming stat. It is important to ensure that the heat source is protected from direct contact with you snake by using a guard. Corn snakes do not feel heat in the same way that we do and do not always realise that something they are touching is burning them. A bulb guard will ensure that your Corn snake will stay a safe distance away from the heat of the bulb so burns will be avoided. The disadvantages of using a bulb as a heat source is that the bulb needs to be turned on constantly to keep the vivarium at the correct temperature. Your corn snake does not require light 24 hours a day and can suffer from stress if the light exposure is too long. It is recommended to keep your corn snake in a natural light pattern that mimics normal daytime, so a heat mat is a better choice between the two heat sources. If you do decide to use a heat mat, then a energy-saving bulb with guard can be added to the vivarium for decorative purposes to help you see your snake.

It’s useful when using either method to have a small thermometer on each end of the vivarium to check the temperature. Place the thermometers near the hides on top of the substrate as this is where your Corn snake will spend the majority of it’s time. One end should be around 30°C and the other around 21°C. Checking temperatures regularly is advised to ensure that your Corn Snake can thermo-regulate by moving around the tank

A HIDING PLACE

A range of hides that are suitable for use with your Corn Snake
All Corn Snakes need somewhere to hide and may become stressed if this is not provided. This could be a cardboard box, a toilet roll tube or a upturned plant pot that can be easily replaced if it becomes soiled.

Specialist reptile hides can be purchased from pet shops and over the Internet. These are usually quite expensive, but look good inside the vivarium and can be easily cleaned when you clean the rest of the vivarium..

Any hide should be just large enough for your Corn Snake to curl up in; if it is too large the snake will not feel as secure. It is advised to place at least two hides in your vivarium so that your Corn snake will have a place to hide in both the warm and cool end of the tank.

In general, it is wise to place two hides in your vivarium for your Corn snake to use, one in the warm side of the vivarium and one in the cooler side. This enables your snake to have adequate hiding places along the temperature gradient, which would allow your snake to adjust its body temperature. This is important, because for some Corn Snakes, the instinct to hide is often more insistent than the instinct to keep at the right temperature. If the snake does not control his body temperature it can lead to many problems, the least of which being digestive problems.

A PLACE TO CLIMB

Ghost Corn Snake climbing on a log
Branches, rocks, stones and plastic plants can be bought from pet shops and over the internet these provide a place for climbing and resting, they also aid the snake when shedding its skin.

Branches and rocks collected from the wild will need to be debugged by soaking first in chlorine/water solution, then rinsed thoroughly, soaked in clean water, then left to dry in the sun. Aternatively, baking your find in a oven for an hour at 100°C would also kill any parasites or bacteria living on it that could harm your snake.

Some live plants may be harmful to your Corn Snake, if in doubt don’t use them in your Vivarium.

 

A CHANGE OF SCENERY

Corn snakes are very inquisitive animals and like to explore new surroundings. Once in a while change the layout of the vivarium, as this will keep your Corn Snake from becoming bored. You will notice once you put your Corn Snake back in the tank it will start to re-explore its new surroundings.

 

HUMIDITY

Corn Snakes do not require a specific humidity level, but may appreciate a light misting of their vivarium to aid them during the shedding process.

Ensure that you do not allow the humidity to reach too high a level as this may cause your Corn Snake to develop an R.I (Respiratory Infection).

 

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

In the wild, Corn Snakes are individualists and in the main lead a solitary life. There is an ongoing debate as to whether captive Corn Snakes should be housed together. Some keepers can keep multiple specimens within one Vivarium with no problems, but others have found out the hard way not to keep Corn Snakes together as they become stressed. In general, some people would say that captive females can be kept together with no problems, but males have been known to harass each other particularly in the breeding season, so should be kept singly.

It is recommended that adult animals of opposite sex should be kept apart unless you want to breed from them.

If you do house your Corn Snakes together, make sure you check on them regularly so any problems can be sorted out immediately. They should also be fed separately outside the vivarium, to ensure they do not compete for food.

 

SEXING

There are many techniques you can use to sex your snake, including comparing tail lengths visually as males tend to have longer tails than females, but the only two accurate ways of determining corn snake sex are Popping and Probing. Popping is usually done on hatchling corns and Probing on older specimens. Both techniques should only be carried out by an experienced snake keeper or herptologist, as your Corn Snake can be hurt if the procedure is not done properly.

 

BREEDING

  Corn snakes copulating 

Corn Snakes breed so well in captivity that it is unusual to find any wild caught animals for sale. They come in an ever-growing range of colour and pattern mutations, which can lead to a very varied collection of just one species.

Corn snakes should be of a good age and weight before they are allowed to breed to avoid problems like egg binding. I would recommend that the minimum requirements for a female to breed would be at least 3 years of age, 3ft in length and 300 grams in weight.

Brumation
Brumation (cooling your snake down for winter) is advised to greater your chances of successful breeding. A good brumation period is about 8 to 10 weeks for the female Corn Snake. The temperature needs to be dropped gradually to around 7-18°C (45-65°F) and maintained until gradually raising it back up after the recommended brumation period. Your Corn snake should not be fed during this time, but fresh water should always be available.

Mating 
In the wild the Corn Snake mating season is usually around March, so this is a good time to introduce your female to the male’s vivarium for copulation. They can be left together for a few weeks. If the copulation is successful, the female will become gravid (pregnant).

Laying
Once your Corn snake has become gravid, they will need to fed more frequently to ensure they gain the vital nutrients needed for egg development. A nest box should be placed in the vivarium when it becomes obvious that the female is searching for a place to lay her eggs. A nest box can be made easily from a plastic tub. Simply cut a hole in the lid of the box that is big enough for your female to fit through and fill the tub with damp vermiculite. Once the eggs have been laid, remove the eggs. Your female will be hungry and exhausted, so continue feeding her more often than you normally would to increase your chances of a successful double clutch.

Incubation
Female Corn Snakes will lay between 10 and 20 eggs, which will need to be incubated for between 55 and 65 days (7 to 9 weeks). Try to keep the eggs at a constant temperature of 26-29°C (79-85°F). Vermiculite is a good substrate to have inside the incubator as it will help keep the humidity levels correct.

Hatchlings
If incubation is successful the hatchlings should break out of their eggs using an egg tooth. They will remain in the eggs to soak up the york for a few days before venturing out of the shell. You should watch them closely at this stage, but not force them to leave the egg before they are ready.

Once they are out of the egg, the hatchlings will all need to be housed separately. Small sandwich box type RUBS (Really Useful Boxes) are good for housing your hatchlings at this stage.

Hatchlings will require their first feed after their first shed, which should occur around a week after they hatch. If the hatchling is reluctant to eat it’s first pinky, try braining the pinky to encourage them to take it. If you are planning to sell on your hatchlings, it is important to ensure that the hatchlings are readily accepting food and are healthy before selling them.

 

COMMON COMPLAINTS

Snake mite hiding under scales.

Corn Snakes are a hardy snake that would rarely become ill with appropriate care, but here is a quick introduction to a few disorders that need to be looked out for.

Mites: Mites are little black parasites that live on your Corn Snake and feed on their blood. If your Corn Snake catches mites they can usually be found around the eyes, mouth and under scales. Your snake will seem lethargic and may go off it’s food during a mite infestation. If you discover mites on your corn snake, immediately bathe your snake in warm water and fully disinfect the entire tank and contents. Refill your vivarium with white kitchen roll and leave the cage furniture to a minimum. This helps stops the mites being able to breed as they need substrate to lay eggs and also allows you to see them more clearly while you monitor your snake. Repeated bathing and disinfecting of the vivarium helps, but it unlikely that you will remove a mite infestation without some sort of treatment. Reptile shops sell various treatments to help kill off the mites, but some vets may prescribe a weak dose of Frontline if they feel it is necessary.

Respiratory Infections (R.Is): R.Is are a bacterial infection that is usually caused by poor cage conditions, low temperatures or too much humidity, but can be passed from snake to snake too. Corn Snakes may sound wheezy with excessive saliva and nasal discharge. Their mouths may also gape open as your corn struggles to breathe. Very mild R.Is may go away themselves if the conditions that the snake are living in are corrected, but serious infections need to be seen to by a vet immediately to avoid Mouth Rot or even death of your Corn Snake. The vet may prescribe an anti-biotic called Baytril, which is safe enough to be given to your snake.

Regurgitation: When a snake regurgitates it’s meal, it may not necessarily be down to illness, but as regurgitation is a symptom of many digestive problems, illnesses and stress it is recommended that if your Corn Snake does regurgitate it’s meal that you monitor your snake very closely for further symptoms. Sometimes a Corn Snake may regurgitate it’s meal if it is handled too soon after a feeding or if it has been fed an item that is too large for it. In this case, you should leave the snake to settle back down for a week before trying to feed again. If your Corn Snake repeatedly regurgitates it’s meal, loses excessive weight or shows any other signs that are worrying you, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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Gorgeous Corn Snakes.. 

Gorgeous Corn Snakes.. 

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This “Stripe creamsicle corn snake” amazes me.. 

This “Stripe creamsicle corn snake” amazes me.. 

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10 New Ways you can use Twitter for Business

Twitter, as a social media tool plays multiple roles. The site has come a long way from being just a medium where people could share their updates about day-to-day activities and catch up with friends, to being a more professional tool that brands and companies use to achieve significant business goals. Tweeters still love tweeting their random ideas and chilling out on the site – but the site has grown to become much more than just an information sharing medium, now. Twitter users are constantly unleashing new features of the microbloggingsite, and discovering its hidden talents. So, apart from posting updates, sharing links and networking with friends, here are few other ways you can use Twitter.

Monitor your Brand

Twitter is a great tool to monitor your brand. By tracking tweets tagged with your brand name, you can get insight into what people are saying about your brand. This not only tells you how influential your brand is, in the social media space, but also gives you valuable information about your company’s performance in the real world. People prefer using social media to post complaints and provide feedback on services. Apart from using the basic Twitter keyword search tools, there are several advanced tools like Social Mention, that you can use for measuring brand sentiment and managing your brand reputation.

Identify Brand Influencers

The influential tweeters that are talking about your brand have the power to make or break your brand value, depending on whether their tweets are positive or negative. It’s also essential for businesses  to identify the people who are interested in their brand, and who would blog and tweet about their product launches and new services. To spread positive message about the brand and to reduce the impact of negative messages, brands have to get in touch with their influencers. P. R managers in companies are now turning to twitter, so they could tools like Twitter Counter and Klout to identify influential bloggers and journalists in the industry, and gain more visibility in the media.

Measure Marketing Efforts

Twitter plays a major role in the marketing of brands and products online. The tool can also be used in measuring your offline marketing efforts, whether it is marketing for an event or running an ad campaign. For instance, by studying the conversations that happen on Twitter after a sales event, you can understand whether you have managed to leave a positive impression about your brand, and how effective your marketing efforts have been.

Gain Real-time Knowledge

You can stay up-to-date with the industry news and events, by creating Twitter lists of the major publications and blogs dealing with the industry. Twitter is a great learning tool as well. For instance, if you are a newbie and looking for some expert advice and tips on running a business and marketing products effectively, then creating lists of the major business leaders and marketing experts in your industry, can provide you with some useful tips to achieve your goals and get ahead.

Live Tweet during Events

From royal weddings, international award shows, matches to local corporate events and parties, there has been much hype about live tweeting in the recent times and this has opened floodgates of opportunities for brands and marketers. Live tweeting an event can help brands capture the attention of their customers and encourage them to actively engage in online conversations. After the phenomenal success of live tweeting during Oscar awards and World Cup events, brands are now adopting special online tools to make it easy for the customers to connect with them and get regular updates on the events.

Get Business Leads

Twitter can generate leads and direct more traffic to your website. It’s not just about broadcasting information and selling your products. You need to first focus on building a community and helping others, in order to take gain maximum benefits from Twitter.

Personal Branding

For a freelancer, a business owner or anyone for that matter, maintaining a personal brand is indispensable for success. Social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Quora are great mediums where you can share your expertise, ideas and help others; thereby building your personal brand and letting more people know about your skills and talents.

Tweet about the Product Launches

Twitter is new medium for pushing industry news such as product launches and press releases out to the audience. Submitting news in press release sites is no longer effective, instead create a  separate Twitter feed where you can notify your customers and your brand followers about new products being released and also sustain their interest in your products by giving discount offers or running contests.

Twitter as a Customer Service tool

More and more people are approaching brands with feedback and complaints on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is turning out to be a beneficial customer service tool. It saves time and helps brands be more approachable to their customers and solve their issues without any unnecessary delay.

Twitter as a Recruitment tool

Twitter is gaining popularity with job seekers and recruiters both. It can be a powerful tool for companies to find potential candidates for jobs. You can tweet updates about job openings, but this can be effective only if you have a large following. If not, Twitter‘s advanced search options can be used to search for the potential candidates. There are also some tools like Jobvite and TweetMyJobs, that you can use to reach out to the right audience. Jobvite provides recruitment applications that can be used with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and TweetMyJobs is one of the the largest Twitter job boards, having job channels segmented by geography, job type, and industry, where employers can post info about  job openings.

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