About Deer Fern Farms / Policies



General Information/Background

Deer Fern Farms is owned and solely operated by Douglas E. Dix, Ph.D., and C. Kim Dix, M.S., both professional biologists (wildlife toxicologist and molecular biologist/geneticist respectively). Our facilities are located on 9 wooded acres in the Nature Coast region of west central Florida, about an hour west of Orlando. Doug has been working professionally with reptiles, invertebrates, and wildlife in general for over 35 years and consults professionally on wildlife issues.  We belong to several wildlife conservation groups including the  "Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group (TTPG),   

We are avid supporters of captive propagation efforts and sincerely believe that many reptile species will be lost to future herpetoculturalists if we don't establish viable domestic populations in reputable breeding programs as soon as  possible.  In order to manage sustainable groups, we only work with a few select species that are of particular interest to us. We have been in herpetoculture long enough to be friends with most the reputable breeders with similar interests and work with several to obtain the best stock for our own in-house work and for our customers. These tend to be a little more expensive than wild collected or jobbered specimens, but if we don't support these efforts, the day will come when most of these species will be unavailable to future hobbyist and pet lovers.

We specialize in providing superior captive bred (CB) specimens but as we are still actively seeking unrelated foundation stock, we occasionally purchase hand selected groups of wild-collected (WC) specimens for under-represented species.  A few of these are made available to our customers as well, and when possible, we do special orders for species hard to obtain as CB (please see below to read how we handle our for-sale specimens). Thus if your goals are similar to ours - wanting the best available specimens with the best potential to thrive for you, please consider some of our stock for your breeders or companion animals.


How We Handle Our For-Sale Specimens

We have long standing relationships with many Uromastyx and tortoise breeders as well as several major importers in the United States. We discuss upcoming clutches with other breeders and routinely buy stock from each other.  We only buy well started hatchlings on up and hold them until well settled in and ready for shipping before offering them to our customers.  For wild collected stock, when possible we select our specimens in person or from detailed photographs. We hold all individuals for at least several weeks (most for several months) while we acclimate them and monitor their food intake and weight gains. We don't release anyone until they have demonstrated a consecutive two week weight gain and to all outward appearances are acclimated and well adjusted.


Parasite Management

We routinely examine all stock for parasites, but we do not advocate the total elimination of common nematodes/pinworms in herbivorous reptiles.  Reptiles can not chew their food and do not have rumens. Thus they are relatively inefficient at digesting plant matter. They rely on intestinal bacteria and protozoa for the proper enzymes, and since they don't chew their food,  the surface to volume ration of their ingested food is relatively poor. The action of nematodes helps break up the food mass into pieces with more surface area allowing enzymes more active sites to work upon for more efficient digestion. Thus in theory the total elimination of nematodes is actually disadvantageous. We ourselves have seen this in poorer growth rates in nematode-free Mali juveniles verses those with low levels of nematodes.  But it's not a free lunch.  Excess nematodes or any of the non-mutualistic parasites such as tapeworms hoard too many nutrients for themselves resulting in weight loss and poor overall condition in your Uromastyx or tortoise. Therefore we monitor nematode levels in our animals and periodically apply Panacur (fenbendazole) or Albendazole.  Once acclimated, we worm all wild collected stock, but again, we use dosages intended to limit but not totally eliminate nematodes. At your request, we can re-worm any for-sale specimens if you have a strong wish for us to do so, but we advise against this. Please note reptiles pick up parasite eggs from leafy vegetables (yes, even those from the store) and from insects. So even if you initially have a parasite-free specimen, it will likely still need  periodic worming (we worm all our breeding stock annually prior to brumation weather  captive born or  field collected  individuals).


Our Guarantee

When possible, for adult specimens we'll e-mail you high resolution photographs of  the exact specimens you'd receive so you can verify that they meet your expectations. This is the exact animal you will receive. For hatchlings/ juveniles, please look at our website for photos of representative specimens for that species as they don't vary enough at those ages to justify the extra time needed to take individual photos for them.  If you request a specific sex, we will do our best to accommodate you for Uromastyx, Tegus and iguanids, but can not guarantee sexing.  It is essentially impossible to sex  juvenile tortoises or Blue Tongue skinks with any real accuracy short of expensive radiographs etc.  We guarantee live delivery of what to the best of our ability to tell is a healthy, acclimated specimenThe only exception is if the shipper (FedEx/ UPS/ etc.) fails to deliver the box on schedule (misses the delivery date) or if you fail to be home (or at the office if shipped there) to receive the shipment on it's pre-arranged arrival date set up with you by e-mail or phone.  None of the shipping companies guarantees live arrival even if they are at fault and we can't be held responsible for their errors.  We will replace any specimens lost in this manner at a reduced cost to the buyer (essentially at cost or wholesale plus shipping).  We may need the deceased animals frozen and returned by priority mail or a good photo of it for verification, at our discretion.  Note this it is extremely rare for us to lose an animal in shipping as we pack taking into consideration all that could  go wrong.

Most animals need about a week or so to settle into a new home and we send complete acclimation instructions along with your new arrivals. We offer phone and e-mail support for any questions or concerns you may have at any time. We do insist you read our care sheets  (ex: Care Sheet for the Genus Uromastyx)  prior to making your purchase and you must have their housing setup prior to our shipping to you.  If you'll follow these guidelines and contact us immediately if you think there may be a problem with your new arrival, we'll guarantee your satisfaction for a week from the time of purchase. If at any point during that time you are unsatisfied with your animal, you may return it that week (in the same manner it was shipped to you, normally FedEx Express) for a refund of the purchase price minus shipping costs. The only exceptions are for specimens which have been injured by the new owner, either by improper housing, physical abuse from other pets, being dropped, burns, bites from cage mates, or crushing injuries from poorly supported rocks or similar cage furnishings. Additionally, if a specimen isn't eating after the first few days, you must contact us immediately so we can assess what's wrong and instruct you on how to proceed (it's almost always a temperature/housing problem that we can fix over the phone with a discussion with you on what to change).  We can't help you if you don't let us know there may be a problem. We don't cover Veterinary examinations or other bills you may chose to incur in working with your animal.  We give you our time for free - please use it if needed.  Please, even if you are an experienced reptile keeper, read our care sheets.  Most species we sell to the public are hardy, easy keepers if you'll just follow our guidelines.  Feel free to vary from them as you deem best once your animal is fully acclimated, but follow our advise during the acclimation period as those are the conditions to which  they are accustomed.


Contacting Us

Please note we are not a "Pet Shop" or "dealer", but private breeders. We do not have hired help, thus all aspects of our breeding work and daily husbandry as well as the business (sales, shipping, customer service) are run primarily by just one individual (Doug). When you contact us, you're talking directly with Doug, not a hired helper. So the information is coming  straight from the horses mouth! On the down side though, that limits how quickly we can get to everyone who is asking for our time.  In the interest of helping the most people as efficiently as possible, please read  the appropriate care sheet for your animal (ex:  Care Sheet for the Genus Uromastyx  (http://www.deerfernfarms.com/Uromastyx_Care.htm) or Care Sheet for Chuckwallas (http://www.deerfernfarms.com/Chuckwalla.htm) or Care Sheet for Tortoises (http://www.deerfernfarms.com/Tortoise_Care.htm)  first before calling to ask for advise.  Most answers are already there. 

Likewise, we are willing to help anyone regardless of where you bought the animals but PLEASE contact the person who supplied them to you first. They took your money so they should be responsable for helping to resolve any issues with your purchase. Please use e-mail when asking for help with a specimen you purchased from someone else. We simply physically don't have time to answer phone calls from people with problem animals purchased elsewhere (emergencies are obviously an exception but in most cases, if you feel it's an emergency, you should be contacting your local Vet). We strongly recommend  your finding a local Vet you trust (one experienced in reptile care) as soon as possible - ideally before you purchase a pet.   


For e-mails: Our e-mail address is at the bottom of every page on our website.  Please put the word "Uromastyx" or "Tortoises" or whatever you purchased from us in the subject line to help our Spam filter save your e-mail. We receive a large volume of phone calls and e-mails each day so we can't always get back to everyone quickly and still do our normal husbandry chores. Please be patient and try again if you don't hear back from us. Odds are your e-mail got lost in the sea of Spam we have to wade through each day!  E-mails without subjects or simply - "please reply"  or similar cryptic subject lines are eaten by our filter and lost. We get too many of these per day to open each one looking for the stray legitimate e-mail.  I try to check e-mails twice daily (mornings and evenings).

For Phone calls:  Note we are on Eastern Standard Time.  Our number is (352-593-5172 ).  When you call us, you are calling our home, so please no calls before 8 AM EST or after 7 PM EST.  The best time to catch a living being (Doug, verses the answering machine) is between 3 PM and 5PM.  Before and after that I'm out preparing shipments or doing husbandry chores and generally can't get to the phone. Our outside buildings are heavily insulated, blocking portable phone transmission, so the answering machine answers most calls during the rest of day. Leave a BRIEF message with your Name and Phone number FIRST  in the message and please say the number slowly and clearly!  It also helps if you tell us where you're calling from so I know how late I can call you back. 


To place an order with us, please go to our Ordering and Pricing page then call us  [ new number to be determined after the move ]  so we can best help you with your needs. 



Payment Options

 We accept Cashiers checks or Postal money orders, and are set up to accept Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover and e-checks through Paypal (click on the "Buy Now" button below the Paypal banner). If  mailing a  Postal Money Order, please send it  to:

Deer Fern Farms,
25079 Fadette Drive,
Brooksville, FL. 34601



Our Essential Supplies page is setup as a shopping cart so you can order directly off the website as needed without having to call us first. We try to ship all supplies orders the next business day by FedEx Home Delivery after receiving payment. You MUST contact us directly (by e-mail or phone) before we will ship a live animal to you. You can then pay for your animal purchases by clicking on the Paypal  "BuyNow" button above. This  button is NOT a shopping cart so you must add up what you want and put in the total  (animals + shipping) in yourself.  Then list what you're ordering in the memo section of the next page in the form. We do it this way in part to insure you contact us first before making an animal purchase. Once we've received your payment and verified you have their habitat ready, we will make arrangements with you to ship to your home or office via FedEx Overnight service.  For most Uromastyx and rare lizard shipments, this runs $45 to $55. We need you to be home (or at the office if delivered there) to accept delivery of your new companion. We use insulated boxes designed specifically for live animal shipping and add heat and/or cold packs as needed. Each specimen is bagged with sufficient padding to insure a safe trip. We need you to be home (or at the office if delivered there) to accept delivery of your new companion.  

Note: Our shipping rates are sometimes slightly higher than the import houses/jobbers/ general animal dealers on the internet. This is primarily due to our only using guaranteed Overnight services such as FedEX that have accurate real-time tracking. The US Post Office USPS Express does not actually track the packages in route regardless of what they tell you at the Post Office. They also have a terrible track record for on-time delivery. We will not use them for live animal shipments so please don't ask. Secondly, we are meticulous in our packing, so you can be assured they will arrive in good condition. We use specialty manufactured boxes with  Styrofoam insulation and 60 hour extended run heat packs.  We have probably the best live arrival rate in the business, in part due to shipping less stressed animals but also because we ship under less stressful conditions relative to many others in the reptile trade. We pack assuming everything will go wrong,  thus helping to insure your new arrival will travel in comfort even if somehow delayed (very rare w/ FedEx).  We ship at cost (we make no profit off the shipping fees).  Our normal fee for FedEx  just barely covers our side expenses (shipping boxes and  heat or cold packs).   


PLEASE NOTE: Some of these species are rare and/or not advisable for beginners. We reserve the right to assess your ability to properly maintain these species prior to purchase and to refuse to sell specific animals to what we feel are inappropriate homes or circumstances.  Please review our care sheets posted for each species. You MUST have their enclosures setup prior to purchase. We guarantee your satisfaction with most our animals for 2 weeks after purchase as long as you follow the above guidelines. We supply extensive after-purchase aid and are available at any time to help with maintenance/breeding concerns etc. We strongly believe helping others to succeed benefits us all as herpetoculturalists and we don't believe in "trade secrets"!


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Email: douglasdix@deerfernfarms.com

Copyright 1992-2018 by  Douglas Dix. All rights reserved for all photos and text