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Re: *Question* 'handling your Heloderma'

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Posted by Rob Carmichael on January 16, 2003 at 16:17:20:

In Reply to: Re: *Question* 'handling your Heloderma' posted by Jackie Lapradd on January 16, 2003 at 00:05:00:

I re-read my post and it looks like I was having a bad scale day; I apologize for being snippy and defensive. When it comes to proper handling techniques we all must do what we feel is safest to both the animal and the keeper. In my case, at our wildlife center, we prefer a certain method as I feel it offers more handler control but you obviously have a method that works for you which is perfectly acceptable (and probably develops a higher level of trust between animal and keeper). Once again, I apologize.

Rob Carmichael, Director
The Wildlife Discovery Center - City of Lake Forest (IL)

:Whoa, Easy now Rob!
:I never said your technique was wrong nor did I say mine was the definitive way to handle Gilas. I merely answered someones question about how I handle my animals.
:I guess it boils down to how you feel comfortable handling the animal.
:There are exceptions to every rule but the majority of Gilas will be more than happy letting you lift there tail and slide your hand under(provided you go slowly).
:I think you misinterpreted my meaning behind them getting defensive when grabbed behind the head. What I was trying to relay was that the animals tend to develop defensive posture over time in ANTICIPATION of being snatched behind the head.
:Now lets examine a statement from your last post. You state that you very gently apply pressure behind the head. In my humble opinion that is more dangerous than using gloves and a slow handed technique from underneath. Gilas are powerful animals and if enough pressure is not used they can easily maneuver themselves into a position to bite.
:As far as being able to penetrate the gloves, I agree with you wholeheartedly but to assume that I put all my faith in the protection gloves offer is both arrogant and presumptius on your part. I personally feel that the gloves offer a measure of safety and could possibly be the difference between being envenomated or just having a few puncture wounds.
:The bottom line is there is always the possibility of being seriously injured when working with any venomous animal and you must use utmost caution whenever handling is concerned.
:Until next time
:Jackie Lapradd




::I don't grab the animal because as you said, it can get defensive, however, to assume that a gila will not bite simply because you are lifting the tail and gently running your hand up front could put you in a potentially dangerous situation. A gila having a bad scale day can very easily (and quickly) come around and nail you with astonishing speed. We simply use a semi-open hand to very gently put pressure behind the head and then use our other hand to secure the hind quarters. This is a very acceptable and responsible way to hold these animals and once in our hand, our gilas relax (so much so that they usually fall asleep). On a sidenote, I have seen gilas go right through Midwest and other similar gloves; they are great gloves (this isn't meant to knock them because we HIGHLY recommend their products) but a powerfully "jawed" animal like a gila can occasionally penetrate through so don't put all of your faith on gloves (even those specifically for reptiles).

:::I use heavy duty gloves also (Midwest) but I refrain from grabbing them behind the head. Most animals I have seen this done to end up being very defensive(I can't say that I blame them).
:::I usually SLOWLY approach the animal with one hand, gently lift its tail up with the other hand and slide my hand underneath. I haven't ever had one even try to bite when using this method.
:::Jackie Lapradd


::::We keep a pair of gilas at our wildlife center that are used for display and educational purposes. Although they are laid back, we NEVER take this for granted...they can be surprisingly fast in a sudden lunge. When we handle them (with gloves...most of the time) we always pin them gently behind the neck. Once securely in hand, they tend to settle down quickly but once again, we never let our guard down. A bite from a gila is extremely painful and dangerous; it only takes one split second of misjudgement to put your life in real danger.

:::::How do you keepers handle your gilas and beadeds? Are they that layed back in captivity that they dont even think about biting..or do you not free-handle them at all?





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