Reptile Care

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House Gecko: Facts, Characteristics, Habitat and More
Hi Ed — Do you only feed chicken or beef to your pets? He really needs to drop some weight. April 27, at Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 27 4 , Try feeding your Great Dane the chicken and rice dog food recipe.

They live on plant nectar when not producing eggs

Control and Management of Turtles

People communicate their nervousness to the reptile: These behaviors are picked up by the snake with the result that they will usually grip their shaky branches - the person's arms or body - all the more tightly to make sure they don't fall. This sets up a sort of negative feedback loop, with the tightening scaring the person, making them more nervous, which in turn makes the snake more nervous. Sometimes, just explaining that the reason why the snake is gripping tighter is because it is worried about falling, the person can force themselves to act more calmly, which usually helps them feel more calm, setting up a positive feed-back loop instead.

Lizards Approach the lizard low and from the side. Overhead and from the back may scare them by making them think a predator is swooping down on them. If the lizard has a long body, be sure to support that body with your hand or arm when holding it or passing it to someone. Make sure they do the same. If the lizard has a tail that can hurt if it whips, take care to keep it away from the faces of small children.

Use your free hand to gently guide it away from the small kids. Most lizards have claws and, while they may be small enough to not break the skin, many children, including teenagers, are scared or upset when they feel the claws.

Claws can be regularly trimmed on many species without affecting their ability to climb. But even trimmed claws can elicit a "throw" response - the child throws it down or across the room out of fear, anger, or even surprise at the unexpected sensation. Watch and talk to children holding clawed lizards to assure they are not bothered by the claws. Sometimes, talking to the child about the claws, telling them that the lizard really isn't trying to hurt them, helps the child accept it.

Just as touching a cold reptile may initially feel like it is slimy or wet, so too can the initial prick of little claws feel more like it hurts than what it really feels like: Many lizards will try to climb on top of the person's head.

This indicates that they are nervous or, as in the case of many iguanas, trying to get control of a person by climbing to the dominant position. If the child is closely surrounded by others, have the others back off. Do not let lizards stay on top of heads. They cannot be easily or safely controlled when up there.

Carefully remove them from the head, taking care to disentangle the claws from the strands of hair, and place the lizard safely in hand again. When lizards, especially large ones such as monitors and iguanas, try to climb or get settled on someone's chest or shoulder, they may reach a leg up high enough to inadvertently scratch the person's face--and eye. When transferring such a lizard to a person, especially a child, be sure to have your hand over the foot that is most likely to reach up towards the face.

Tell the person what you are doing so she won't try to back away from your hand, thus exposing her face to the claws. If the lizard starts to thrash and roll, do not restrain it by holding it tighter.

Let it roll around in your hands, holding it slightly away from your body about chest high, and keep it away from other people's faces. Hold it straight up in the air, if necessary, until it calms down. If a lizard is thrashing around in someone else's hands, you can take the lizard from them and calm it down. Sometimes, just holding a lizard face-to-face but keeping it out of biting distance! After a minute or so, you can then carefully hand the lizard back to the person who was holding it.

Turtles and Tortoises When they must be picked up, turtles should be supported with both hands, with fingers both on top of the carapace and underneath the plastron to support.

They should be held more like a thick sandwich rather than a piece of dirty tissue. Chelonians need to feel something under their feet - even if it is just your fingers or palm. As much as children may profess to love turtles and tortoises, many are actually nervous when allowed to hold them. It is quite common to see a child try to hold a turtle or tortoise with two fingers on the edges of the shell.

One wriggle by the chelonian, or a push by a classmate, and the chelonian drops like a stone to the floor. Unfortunately, unlike a stone, such a fall, even from apparently "safe" heights, can be enough to severely injure, even kill, the animal. Explain the proper way to hold them. If the child cannot or will not do it, they should not be allowed to hold it. With very young children, it may be best to have them sit in a circle on the floor, with the chelonian placed in the middle of the circle so that the children may pet it, and watch it walk around, but not pick it up.

General Handling Guidelines Reptiles should be stroked "petted" in the direction of the scales - from head to tail, not tail to head. With some species, the scales of may be lifted, causing injury to the scales and underlying skin, when they are stroked backwards. Species who have sharply keeled or spiky scales may actually scratch through the person's skin when rubbed the wrong way.

If people start wriggling their fingers like they are trying to get a carnivorous or omnivorous snake's or lizard's attention, ask them what they think their fingers might look like to the animal correct answer: If that doesn't stop them from doing it, ask them to stop.

If someone is nervous, making several quick attempts to reach out and touch, resulting in many rapid, forward-and-backward movements, explain that they are communicating their nervousness to the snake or lizard. The reptile may become nervous in turn, ultimately making the reptile more afraid of the person than the person is of the reptile.

Explain and demonstrate how to touch, demonstrating the smooth approach that does not frighten the reptile. It often helps to offer a less intimidating part of the animal to pet first body, tail, leg.

If someone is phobic about reptiles or certain types of reptiles, ask them, in a conversational tone, why they are afraid. Quite often, it is because someone shoved a reptile in their face or down their shirt when they were young, or had a parent who was terrified and instilled their fear into the child. Try to get the person to focus on one particular feature: This helps them see the horrible, scary, dangerous reptile as an individual work of art, of nature or, at the very least, something not quite as generically strange as they first thought.

At this point the person should be breathing easier and ready to look at the animal as a whole, even to reach out and touch. Including assuming that, when a child doesn't want to hold an animal any longer, he or she will give it back to you. Many children, including teenage children who should know better, when tired of holding a snake, lizard, turtle or tortoise, will just drop it and walk away, or just put it down anywhere - under the table, on the ground in the middle of a crowd of people - then walk away.

If working with a large group of children, appoint some who are comfortable handling the reptiles to be spotters. Let the other students know that they should give the reptile to the spotters or ask the spotters to take the reptiles when the person holding them no longer wants to do so. Holding and touching reptiles is a privilege. It should be done with respect, both to the reptile and to other people in the area. Set ground rules for touching, handling, and behavior before allowing such activities to begin.

Make it clear that anyone observed holding a reptile up to another person's face in an attempt to scare them will immediately looses touching and holding privileges. Too many people are made afraid of reptiles through such negative encounters and remain afraid for the rest of their lives. Being allowed to touch or hold the reptiles is a privilege that should be granted only to those who do so properly and with the proper respect for the reptiles and people.

Explain the necessity for keeping noise levels down. Lizards and chelonians have ears, and even snakes can pick up and react to air- and surface-borne sound waves.

Lots of noise and commotion can make even a tame reptile nervous. If the temperatures get too warm and anything over can be too warm for most of the reptiles, including the desert animals who, after all, spend the hottest parts of the day underground , spray them regularly with water, and make sure each enclosure has a cool retreat area. Make sure all animals are handed back to you or the spotters, or, if appropriate, allow the child to place the animal back in the enclosure. After cleaning, touching, and handling sessions, always do a head count to make sure that the right animals have been put back in their own enclosures, that all animals are accounted for, and that all enclosures are securely closed and locked.

Low density suburban development, areas peripheral to core urban areas, and small towns. A field guide to Florida reptiles and amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas.

Observations on the biology of the lizard Agama agama in Ghana. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London Bionomics of the rainbow lizard Agama agama L. Journal of Arid Environments 4: Distribution and ecology of the introduced African rainbow lizard, Agama agama africana Sauria: Agamidae , in Florida. The life of the rainbow lizard. Behavior-microclimate relationships in the African rainbow lizard, Agama agama.

New county records of amphibians and reptiles from Florida. Most of these owners also find that their iguana isn't really as tame as they thought it was. Common Feeding Problems Failure of a reptile to feed may be due to one or more of several possible reasons. To get the reptile to start eating, the underlying cause for the failure to feed must be identified and corrected: Simply forcing feeding an animal will not correct the problem situation; it will just give the animal energy to survive, not thrive.

Reasons for not eating include: If possible, it is always best to get the reptile to start self-feeding rather than resort to long-term forcing feeding or tube feeding. Once you have assured that the reptile is healthy and in a properly established environment, certain tricks may be employed if the reptile is still not self-feeding: Changes in Temperatures and Humidity The humidity and temperatures in an enclosure will vary through the year as the ambient room air temperatures and humidity rise and fall.

You may need to boost the humidity artificially more during the winter and winter months than during the Fall, for example. Hygrometers can be used to measure humidity and may be used as a guide to alert you when you need to boost the humidity or back off.

Unfortunately, more is known about the temperature requirements of species kept in captivity than is known about their humidity needs. In the absence of specific humidity data, you will have to learn how to judge the adequacy of humidity based on the above points. During the the winter, the fall in outside temperatures results in a lowering of the temperatures inside our homes. This drop in ambient room air temperature often results in a lowering of the temperatures inside the reptile enclosures.

Always monitor the temperatures with several thermometers placed inside the enclosure. You may find that during the colder months you many not only have to boost humidity inside the room or enclosure, but you may have to add stronger or additional heating equipment just to be able to maintain the proper temperatures. One final factor that must be mentioned is the human tendency to demand that animals share the human's time schedule. Many people work during the day, coming home tired at night, often with an hour or more of chores to be done before they can settle down to relax.

At that time, they may want to feed their reptile, or take it out for some together time. The problem is that if their reptile is a diurnal active during the day species, it needs to sleep at night. Constant disruption of the sleep cycle, as well as being forced to eat at night rather than during the day, results in long term low levels of stress. The same is true for people who work or otherwise stay up all night and sleep throughout most of the day.

While this life style may be okay for nocturnal reptiles other than the fact that nocturnal species do still require darkness at night to function normally , it is stressful for the diurnal and even for many crepuscular species. When we keep animals, we must accommodate their needs; they should not be forced to accommodate our schedules. So, what does all of this have to do with my reptile's health?

Stresses, little and big, as well as the direct effects of environmental problems cage size, orientation, heating, lighting, feeding, humidity, etc. Stress itself can suppress immune function, making the body unable to naturally fight off infection or keep internal parasites under control.

The more stress, or the longer that it is allowed to continue, the weaker the animal becomes and the less tolerant it is to continued stresses and other problems in its environment. Reptiles take a long time to die. Because of their ectothermy, their cold-bloodedness, they are able to conserve energy to maintain basic body functions for a long time, long after a mammal or bird would have succumbed or have deteriorated to the point where the owner would notice. Reptiles do not die "suddenly.

Those animals most adept at suppressing signs of ill-health or injury are those that will have a chance to recover before being eaten. In the wild as in captivity, reduced activity and increased hiding are behaviors associated with attempts at conserving energy the less one moves, the fewer calories burned, a common reaction to slow starvation and to giving the body more calories to put into healing, for example and trying to hide to avoid predation when the animal is too weak or too cold to effectively defend itself.

Behavioral Changes Changes in behavior can be a sign of an underlying physical problem. We tend to think of health problems as causing lethargy and loss of appetite, but animals may also become snappy, cranky, and may react abnormally to accustomed interaction and stimuli.

Some iguanas may get aggressive. When the aggression occurs in green iguanas, known for their breeding season and territorial aggression, such behavioral changes are often dismissed as "just" being related to "typical" male aggression. As an increasing number of iguana keepers are finding, abnormal aggression may also caused by huge bladder stones, tumors, abscessed organs, and other as yet undefined, pain, disorders and pathologies.

When investigating the possible causes of abnormally aggressive behavior, do not discount a primary physiological cause until you and your vet have thoroughly checked it out. Behavioral assessment of welfare. Scientists Center for Animal Welfare. The science of animal well-being. Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, 4 1 , The psychological well-being of reptiles. Humane Innovations and Alternatives , Evaluating pain and stress in reptiles.

The use of behavioral management techniques to reduce or eliminate abnormal behavior. Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, 4 , , Saunders Company, Philadelphia, PA. Biological response to stress: Key to assessment of animal well-being? Society for the Study of Reptiles and Amphibians. Captive management and conservation of amphibians and reptiles.

Murphy, Kraig Adler, Joseph T. Reptilian ethology in captivity: Observations of some problems and an evaluation of their aetiology.

Appl Anim Behav Sci, 26 , Important ethological and other considerations of the study and maintenance of reptiles in captivity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 27 4 , Observations on disease-associated preferred body temperatures in reptiles. Applied animal behavior science, 28 4 , Health and welfare of captive reptiles. An introductory biology of amphibians and reptiles.

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