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one way to put color in your Collareds

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Posted by: 53kw at Mon Mar 8 15:30:57 2010  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by 53kw ]  
   

Collareds are among the most beautiful animals on Earth, with the most colorful strains as vivid as little parrots. However, sometimes bringing captive Collareds to full color takes a bit of doing.

Yellows in particular are challenging to keep vibrant in captive animals--birds, lizards and even fish. Food that contains some Beta-Carotene will keep yellows and reds bright. (Some yellows and reds are straight pigment, such as the colors of tri-colored Kingsnakes. These typically don't require or respond to Beta-Carotene in the diet. The yellows and reds that do respond are the "blush" colors, like yellow on the head and legs of a Collared Lizard or the pink of a Flamingo.)

Several years ago, my reptile vet told me that his Collareds sometimes pick at small bits of Dandelion leaves placed in their cage. Dandelion contains large amounts of Beta-Carotene and I was surprised to learn that Collared Lizards, Leopard Lizards and a few others will eat yellow flowers on rare occasion in the wild, and will eat small bits of Dandelion leaves in captivity. I tried it; my Baja Collared immediately colored up, and stayed vivid from then on.

Some of the most spectacular creatures on Earth and among the most colorful Collared Lizards are the so-called Aquaflames. These are Eastern Collared Lizards from a region in the south-central plains where the boulders are covered with orange lichens--I've been there and the orange lichens can't be overlooked. Insects chew on the lichens as well as eat the local plants and sequester Beta-Carotene in their bodies. That puts Beta-Carotene into the food chain and eventually into the lizards.

I don't know if larger than typical amounts of Beta-Carotene are in the insects of the region or if that would be solely resonsible for the intense colors of the local lizards. I do know that many Aquaflame Collareds in captivity fail to color up to the level of the wild ones, and when I've had animals like that, adding Beta-Carotene to their diet brought out their color.

I have some very nice young Aquaflames bred by Paul McIntosh. Paul breeds some of the nicest, healthiest Collareds available, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to occasionally get animals from him and the other outstanding breeders in the business. I dish-feed my Collareds and have developed a technique for getting a little extra Beta-Carotene in their diets.

I raise my own mealworms and crickets, so those provide a good balance of nutrients. I feed the crickets and mealworms carrots and Dandelion leaves and flowers, and put a few cuttings of Dandelion leaves into the dish in the Collared Lizard's cage for the bugs to eat while they are waiting to meet their fate. The Collareds also accidentally eat tiny scraps of Dandelion leaves as they feed on the bugs, as well as very rarely deliberately eating bits of leaf--a little salad with lunch.

Of course there are places where Collareds are more soberly dressed, as in this collarless female from central Arizona. She was photographed in the field, and she probably already has all the Beta-Carotene she needs--she's just a brown animal. A lot of the females from that area are. Farther south, in some desert mountains, the females are so colorful they can be mistaken for full-color males, so population has a lot to do with color. If the potential is there, extra Beta-Carotene may bring it out.





   

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>> Next Message:  RE: one way to put color in your Collareds - Eve, Mon Mar 8 15:37:18 2010
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>> Next Message:  Contact Paul McIntosh - jmpeniche, Wed Mar 17 20:32:33 2010