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RE: New Guys

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Posted by: Bluemax1969 at Thu Aug 16 14:40:04 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Bluemax1969 ]  

It ain’t easy raising HLs. You gotta learn all this computer stuff too.

Until I suspected our two-year-old female of being pregnant, she and another one-year-old female and a one-year-old male had been kept in a 30” x 12” x 10” tank for about one year. I have raised them all from the time they were babies themselves. The new guys were born in this tank because “somebody” hadn’t finished the new, larger one. Now the 5 new guys reside in this tank and the 3 adults live in the new one.

The new tank for the adults is 48” x 18” x 12”. I really built it anticipating up to 48 new little SHLs. That’s what some of the books said! I was worried! Thankfully, we only got five. After witnessing this whole process, I don’t see how an adult could carry too many more. In between a couple of the births, she passed a total of 3 small, yellowish, translucent, spheres. My guess at the time was that they were unfertilized eggs. I don’t know and I forgot to mention this to the Vet.

I used to use their native soil for substrate. I ran out of clean reserve just as Zoo Med came out with their Excavator clay. Our daughter is doing graduate work in Geology. She tested it for us. It’s the real deal; real dirt; clay just like they say. The HLs seem to like it. I like it except it has too many white specks. Oh well, just keep ‘em hydrated and forget about it.

I keep the sand right under a 160w (100w for the smaller tank) mercury vapor bulb at 85 degrees. At the middle of the tank near the rear, it stays about 80 degrees under a fluorescent fixture. The cool end stays about 75 degrees. That’s where the water rock is. It is a piece of sandstone that I have ground a ¼” depression in. Any deeper and the ants and crickets drown. Although I don’t specifically wet down the substrate, the sandstone stays soaked. Also at the cool end is a bonsai Juniper in a well of crushed lava rock that holds moisture.

Lights go on at 7 am, off at 5 pm. Overnight the temps are allowed to go to whatever the overnight low in our garage gets to. We live in San Diego now so last night it was 70 degrees. In the winter it rarely got below 40 degrees. Most of the time the overnight low was 50 degrees. This became a problem at hibernation time. It seems to me that so much of what HLs do is temperature related.

Remember, our SHLs are Mountain lizards. The three adults came from geographically separate locations of southern Utah at elevations between 7,000 and 8,500 feet. They can handle the cold way better than me. I think they would do fine outside full time in San Diego.

That brings us back to cages. Our SHLs go outside for approx. 6 hours (weather permitting) every day. Why? They need real sun. Our Vet explained it to me this way: No matter how hard we try, we can’t quite replicate what our HLs get from the sun and lack of natural sunlight is the reason they have problems absorbing calcium properly. This could lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. I don’t have time for bone disease so our HLs go outside for 6 hours every day! We have 2 fully screened cages. I don’t worry about the temp. unless it gets to 100 degrees. Always make sure they have plenty of shade and fresh water. They go outdoors from 10 am to 4 pm.

We see more natural behavior when they are outside. Maybe owing more to their schedule than anything(?), we never observed mating except when they were outdoors. (By the way, I checked the temp. the first time I observed mating and it was 85 degrees.) And the larger the outdoor enclosure, the more behaviors we see. I bought a 25’ roll of plastic lawn edging and made about an 8’ circle for them to run around in. Only then did we see the two-year-old female race ahead of the one-year-old male, stop and lift her tail. Next I fenced off an 80 sq. ft. area for them. These days they pretty much just laze around in the cool shade but they like it out there. Of course, one of us has to stay outside with them; wouldn’t want a bird to get one! Have not let the babies out of their screened cage yet. Too small, too many, too hard to keep track of. What are you supposed to do with a herd of ‘em? I have plans for a larger outdoor cage, like they should have at the World Famous San Diego Zoo, Mr. Boyer!

Ants. They eat ants. That is about the only thing of value that I knew about them when I got the first one. I wish I knew more about ants, but I don’t. They’re Utah ants. Black. Hard to get. The first year I did this, it wasn’t too bad. The black ants were right outside the door and I only had one to feed. Now that we live in San Diego, I could write a whole chapter on trying to get them to eat California ants. We also supplement their diet with small crickets and worms; pinheads and an occasional very small worm for the babies. When we have ants, they are about 75 percent of their diet. We get our ants from Life Studies (Ants Alive) in Utah so there are times when they get only crickets and worms. I also catch an occasional bee or other tasty treat for the adults. We feed them twice a day. In the morning around 9 am after they get warmed up and in the afternoon, outside, we feed them around 2 or 3 pm. Sometimes we let them stay outside until 5 pm. Much after that and we have to dig them up.

I have not tried vegetation yet. With my computer skills, I tried desperately to locate the post where you gave a whole list of plants to try. Maybe you could tell me where it is.

One of the more important matters for me is hydration, especially now that they live in a dryer climate. You gotta keep your herd watered! So, I “wup ‘em”. Now I don’t mean wup ‘em as in wup their ass, but I hoot and holler and yell “wup, wup” just like Rowdy Yates. Every day at 1 pm, I come walkin’ around the corner of the house yellin’ “wup, wup”. Some of the young’ns will even head toward their water rock ‘cause they know what’s a commin’. (Them’s the smart ones!) That old sayin’, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t…” That don’t apply to HLs. I round ‘em up over to the water rock and pour on fresh water. Sometimes I gotta pour a little on their head ‘till they get the idea that they gotta drink! I once sent my brother a picture of the little guys all lined up in a row, straight as a arrow. He wrote back and asked how I got them to line up. I said, “I just yelled, “Fall in!” I said, “You can train HLs like you can train Army recruits. They’re both about as smart.” He knew what I meant.

Now I’m not going to lie and say that I get them all to drink all the time. Sometimes I can’t get even one. But my best is four! Four heads down at the water rock, drinkin’! Eat you heart out, Charlie Lovick!

I also don’t have time for water filtration/purification. Our SHLs only get bottled water and none of that phony stuff from New York City; it’s gotta say “Mountain Spring” or something similar. These are mountain lizards, after all.

Well, there it is. Maybe a little unorthodox, but hey…..I got me a starter herd. Couple more years and we’ll be talkin’ Horny Toad boots. (My wife said I have to add that I’m being facicious.)



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