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RE: Taming Mangroves

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Posted by: crocdoc2 at Sat Nov 24 16:43:40 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by crocdoc2 ]  
   

Unfortunately, this statement:
"...or the very slow, gradual process of starting off hand-feeding him and working from there until he's tame. I went with the gradual one..."

...doesn't gel very well with this statement:
"I used to give him weekly soaks, but he was panicking the entire time and pooping on me as I carried him to and from the tub..."

Most young monitors are terrified of everything larger than themselves because in the wild they would be eaten by just about everything larger than themselves. Some species are worse than others and take longer to habituate to people. That forced handling you did to soak it simply rewarded its innate fear of predators. As far as it was concerned, that weekly soak was a weekly near-death experience that it managed to escape from. The big predator grabbed it but somehow it got away. Now it definitely knows that when it sees the big predator it had better hide.

At this stage, the best thing you can do to get your monitor to calm down is nothing. Step away from the enclosure for a while and leave it alone. Let it learn on its own that coming out of its hide spot does not mean you'll instantly run to the enclosure to try to grab it for a soak, hand feed it or even just stare at it. It doesn't know those things are benign - all it sees is a giant creature coming towards it that may want to eat it. If it sees you at the other end of the room and nothing happens when it sticks its head out of the hide, then down the track it may edge out a bit more and eventually it may remain out basking even when you are in the room. THEN you can try feeding it with forceps or tongs so that it associates you with something positive: food. From there you can start building its trust. Do not pull it out of its hide spot - it needs to know that it has a secure place to run to when it needs to or it'll never have the confidence to remain out basking when you are in the room.

The key is, don't set a timeline. Some animals habituate quickly, others take ages. The problem is, you have only one monitor so there's a lot of attention (and pressure) on it to change and that'll only make things worse. At any point in time I usually have several monitors of different ages around the place, but because I have a pair of adults that I can do absolutely anything with if I desperately feel the need to handle a monitor, the hatchlings and juveniles get ignored so they invariably habituate and become just like the 'tame' adults I have. I've raised several calm lacies, for people that do reptile shows, that way. When they are hatchlings and juveniles I am almost always in the room they're in, doing something that doesn't involve them, so when the time comes that I do start feeding them with forceps they have already learned that I am fairly benign. They'll still puff up for a while, or run to a hide as soon as I look the other way, but as they learn that I simply do not grab them, ever, I can eventually encourage them to crawl onto my hand and then the process slowly begins.


   

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