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RE: New To Horned Lizards

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Posted by: Mark_Brock at Wed Jul 30 09:22:42 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Mark_Brock ]  

"I also highly doubt there is any significant difference between nematodes found here and found elsewhere in harvester ants in other parts of the southwest. The scientific information I recall, indicated that they are the same species which infest Pogos and HLs in examples from across the SW."

I agree that the nematodes are probably the same or very similar, but this may not be the only factor. As you mentioned, bacteria and other components may come into play.

"Nematodes are part of the natural cycle outside of captivity where HLs roam in a much larger home range, are not subject to captive stress on sometimes a daily basis in smaller quarters like aquariums or even outdoor pens, and are not subjected to feeding close quarters all the time in the same area they and others have been defecating in. Captive HLs reside in close proximity to their own feces, even in outdoor enclosures, which increases the chance many fold that they will reinfect themselves or infect others."

I disagree on this point to some extent. I have had the opportunity to observe natural solare habitat including the lizards behaviors and the ants they consume. It is very typical here to find groupings of scat within 15 feet of an ant nest, and these usually within a few feet of each other. So it would appear the lizard is sleeping nearby and will more or less follow the same feeding/defecating routine for several days. As you know they will lick at objects nearby. So they are in close proximity to their own feces on a regular basis. This also puts the feces and thereby the expelled worms well within the foraging patterns of the nearby ant nest. The loop is very tight. One could make an argument that a well maintained indoor enclosure might actually be cleaner than this wild scenario.

"Captive HLs are subjected to more stresses which increase cortisol production, which then desensitizes the cellular response to it over time, which then results in a depressed immune state, *and this results in parasite bloom well above and beyond what is found in nature in wild HLs. It really has nothing to do with the difference in regional harvester ants in my opinion."

I would say there is a difference between CB and Wild captives in stress levels. CBs have never known anything different. *Is this an anecdotal conclusion or is there literature? It would be interesting to understand the controls used.

A healthy HL living in the wild may not be significantly impacted by nematodes, I think is what should be said. In captivity however, it is well known by other long time herps keepers, not just with HLs, that captive stresses often result in increased parasite infestations. This is true of snakes and many other lizards.

Again, it hasn't been my experience that there is increased infestation. I have had wild caught and captives both expel worms at various times, and I usually do not treat them. I do not tend to see a prolonged and repeated issue in either case.

I can see that your mind is set on the issue and that seems to be working for you. It's good then. I may do some further testing with this on my animals. I find it curious that I am reluctant to test this on any of my favorite animals. I guess I am not convinced just yet.
All of this boils down to anecdotal observation, but it all has value in this particular community and it's good that differing views can be considered. Thanks for posting your views.


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