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Posted by: fireside3 at Wed Jul 30 17:03:27 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by fireside3 ]  

"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.

FS3: I was speculating as to fungal or other possible plant based component as a possible difference, to explain Reptoman's previous concerns about different microflora between Pogos in different regions. I never agreed that there was a problem or that any difference was significant. It seems he theorizes there may be a problem with his local Pogos, or with the soil, and I am offering to explain how that might be so, but I have had no such troubles or suspicions of troubles with Pogos in this area, the soil, nor with nematodes. With few exceptions, usually during times to be expected anyway ( such as hibernation ), my HLs pretty well stay healthy all year round.

I have seen no repeatedly high incidences of nematode infestation to cause me alarm, and I am very protective and watchful for issues with my HLs. In other words, I do not think that local harvester ants are a problem as you suggested, at least in my case.

Of course, a significant enough microflora disturbance could lead to lowered immune response, allowing for proliferation of parasites above safe levels, but the microflora difference being significant enough to cause that disturbance is conjecture at this point; and also being a Texas native, I cannot concur at this time on the theory that any difference in microflora in the soil or on Pogos where I am, is significant as to adversely affect HLs that are native to other areas. I have nothing to corroborate that suspicion yet.

It may be the case in Reptoman's situation with solare. His region is a little more green and I think a little more humid on average than where I am. It was 110F here yesterday, and I praised it for feeling so much better that my recent weekend in Houston.

These microflora theories nevertheless have nothing to do with the efficacy and safety of Panacur in HLs for nematodes. It is still conjecture at this point that microflora differences between Pogos are even significant, much less jump to the conclusion that they might be responsible for nematode troubles.

Others have raised the question though about microflora, and I used it as an example to illustrate that if there is question about same species of Pogos from different areas, then perhaps using a completely different genus of ant from somewhere completely foreign to HLs might not be a good idea.


"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.

FS3: My observations are that the scat tends to be deposited some distance away from the immediate area where HLs eat, and 15 ft is a good distance. Even 2-3ft. is significant to this question. It may only be a hop and a jump for us, but that distance is highly relative to the HL.

I find scat tends to be on the periphery of the colony, in an area that may be safe for the HL to divert its attention from the ants long enough to do his business without fear of being attacked. It seems they do their business most often while coming or going to and from the colony location. They also do not defecate routinely on the foraging trails that they use to hunt on in the wild. This makes a difference too, as in the aquarium or the outdoor pen there is no foraging trail. HLs defecate anywhere, and Pogos roam everywhere too without a trail to follow.

HLs in the wild also roam between different colonies and may not visit the same one for some time, giving nature time to do it's cleaning.

The HL density is almost always greater in captivity. No matter how large the enclosure is, the fact remains that in the wild they would have more room per animal. You can try to keep your pen clean, and it may very well be quite clean for an enclosure; but it is still an 8x8 area or whatever, and in the wild they would have much more space, and thus much less dirty area to worry about traipsing over continually.

What might be the effects of repeated deposits of HL waste in the same 8x8 ( example ) area over a matter of years in that outdoor pen?

Even if you sifted and tried to keep the soil clean. At least in an aquarium, the substrate can be discarded and the tank disinfected regularly. You cannot do that very well in a pen. I would have to disagree that you could keep a pen cleaner than the wild. I grew up around ranches and farms, and I have never seen a case of a outdoor pen of any sort that was cleaner than the free range. Unless you have modified it such as to remove a few inches of soil and replace occasionally and disinfect.

I'm not knocking outdoor enclosures. I think for the most part if you have a good climate for it, then that's the way to go. But, unless you have done some fancy modifications to it to provide for substrate changes, I have to dispute the argument that you can keep it cleaner than an equivalent space in the wild! C'mon. That's just ridiculous. It defies logic.

Even if an equivalent space in the wild happened to be dirtier, HLs don't reside in that 8x8 space 24-7 in the wild. They come and go. They don't have the option to get that far away from everyone's crap in an enclosed space.

And even if they ingested fecal matter in the wild...even regularly...the fact remains that the captive stresses are not there, which is often the key to parasite proliferation getting out of hand to begin with. They may ingest fecal matter left and right, and it not be a problem what-so-ever for the wild HL...but it can and does become a problem for the captive one.


"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.

FS3: Not necessarily true. They are still wild animals, and they are still reptiles, probably the most basically instinctual animal that is commonly kept as a pet. You can't breed that out of them in a few short years. It takes longer to set breed traits in dogs, which are highly intelligent and much better understood.

It took decades or centuries in some cases to domesticate animals. People and household animals are still routinely attacked by wolf hybrids that snap, even though people have been captive breeding wolfs to domestic dogs for many many years. Now, you're talking reptiles, which is a whole new ball game. I assure you, you haven't bred the stress out of them yet. The effects may be marginally different in some HL species, and more in others, but you are dealing with an animal that is going to be adversely stressed by captivity, even if it was captive bred. At least for the foreseeable future.

Though a CB HL ( for a given species ) may be relatively less stressed than a WC one, they are still stressed, and that stress still has an impact on them. In the case of the CB cornutum, he is actually more skittish than even some of the wild cornutum. Certainly more skittish than the other species wild or not. Yet, all he has known all his life is being given food by people and people being around. On the other hand, I have wild solare and hernandesi that will come take the food from your hand.


"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.

FS3: Sorry, but that is where I have to call trump on experience. Your experience would be contrary to the experience of most who have kept anything WC, or CB residing with something WC without being treated and quarantined. I have been handling everything from turtles, to lizards, to snakes since about the mid 80s. It is common knowledge about wild reptiles, and when you have CB residing outdoors and with other wild animals, they become exposed to wild things. Captive stress unquestionably has a depressive effect on immune function, and that can and does often allow for parasites to get out of control with an animal that is stressed enough. That is science that I can back with literature.

There may be a beneficial offset to reducing stress with outdoor enclosures vs. indoor terrariums, but the net result of captivity is usually more parasites and illness if you don't treat for anything, ever. There is also the offset that in indoor setups you have the benefit of spotting things you might not in an outdoor setup.


>>I have had wild caught and captives both expel worms at various times, and I usually do not treat them.

FS3: I am all for the least intervention with medicine as possible in most cases, but in the case of visible infestation with worms, which attach to the intestinal walls and steal nutrients from the lizard, almost anyone is going to treat their animal rather than let them suffer with a worm infestation. Panacur is done as accepted and safe practice for everything from livestock to cats and dogs, and also reptiles. Turtles, tortoises, Bearded Dragons, snakes of all types routinely get treated for parasites at the vet with Panacur.


>>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.

FS3: If I thought there were a greater risk of treating with Panacur that letting them go with nematodes, then I would not administer or support a treatment that is questionable or potentially harmful to HLs.


>>All of this boils down to anecdotal observation..."

FS3: In this case it is a bit more than anecdotal or even observation. I can back up the safety and efficacy of Panacur with veterinary journals and clinical studies, as well as offer testimony now for several years that I have been using it, and other experienced herp keepers have used it.

I encourage anyone to do their own research if they question it's safety. I did, and I came to my independent conclusions that given that nematodes are known intermediate hosts of Pogos, it was better to be marginally invasive a couple of times a year and deworm HLs with a known safe dewormer, than not treat them and risk a parasite bloom which might cause them anemia and kill them.
Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue
Harvester Ants


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