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Re: Picky Eaters!

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Horned Lizard Forum ]

Posted by Les4toads on September 26, 2002 at 09:43:59:

In Reply to: Re: Picky Eaters! posted by WYOtoads on September 25, 2002 at 22:02:38:

:::::I have gotten some great information from Christy on getting ants but having looked at these sites I don't think that is going to work! My babies do not like harvester ants. I have been feeding them small black/red ants from my driveway everyday and they really like them. If I give them the harvester ants they will not eat. I have not tried crickets yet but I was reading that horned lizards need a supplement of ants for their nutrtional value, but they will not eat those ansty ants-what can I do? I was thinking perhaps I could collect some of the ants I feed now and make sure I have a couple Queens and raise my own. Any suggestions? I live in Wyoming so winter is quickly approaching! Thanks in advance!

:::::The ants you are feeding the baby HLs are probably Harvester Ants. Harvester ants do just that, they harvest seed from plants for food. There are many different genus/species of harvester ants: Pogonomyrmex, Messor, and Solenopsis are just 3 genera of Harvester Ants. If the babies eat them, feed them that ant. If you are thinking about starting an ant colony for food supplies for the HLs, you need to do some major and serious research. Entomologists and Myrmycologists have tried to start ant colonies and continue to fail (In the lab and in the wild). Queen Ants are very perculiar about where to start their nests and cannot be coaxed to do so. They decide. You may collect what you think are Queen ants but are really drones, or male ants, and of course we know that males do not lay eggs or start nests. HLs need a majority of their diet to be ants (at least 85 - 90 %). Other insect prey are the snacks. Lester G. Milroy III
:::Okay so these tiny little ants (1/2 cm or less) may be harvester ants, but how can I get these same size ants for my babies? Can I request a certain type of ant from the ant alive place or are they going to send those big red ants? The ants I feed now are in the gravel of my driveway with very small holes. Geez I never thought that I would be researching ants like this. If I were to only be able to get the larger ants what is the best way to introduce them to my babies? I found a site offering pinhead crickets as well and was thinking of supplmenting them as you say a snack. Thanks again for the info!

:::This is one issue that many people do not understand about HLs. In the wild, the female will build a nest and lay eggs in an area where the food supplies are pleantiful. There are many ant genera/species that HLs eat and baby HLs cannot eat the larger ants that adults can eat. It is no different than, say humans. Human babies, once born, do not immediately begin by eating steak, or potatos, or corn on the cob, etc. They gradually work their way up as they develop. Baby HLs are no different. This may be one of the problems with mortality rates in HL babies in the wild too. If the smaller ant genera/species are not available, due to habitat quality, habitat stress (drought, etc), the baby HLs will have a high mortality. You will have to do some searching for ants in your area and experiment. Pinhead crickets are okay as supplements for baby HLs, but you will have to find an ant resource. If you were within the range of the Desert Horned Lizard, it would probably be easy to find such resources. If you are not within their range, you have to experiment. In 3 - 4 months after hatching, the babies may be upto size to eat the larger ant genera/species of ants. Lester G. Milroy III

:Okay one more question! What kind of HL's do I have if they were not hatched from eggs but instead were live birth? I have looked on several sites and I kind of run into contradictions. I know that they were live birth because the mother was caught in the wild and popped out seventeen of the hummers two days later. They are the size of half dollars legs and all to this date. They were born the 4th of August. Also you said that I need to find an ant resource in my area, is Utah close enough? That is where ants alive is out of. Unfornately in cases like this when I need something, living in BFE is not the greatest. Thanks in advance!

:The horned lizards you have are the Shorthorned Lizard, Phrynosoma hernandezi (douglassi). It is the only live bearing (viviparous) horned lizard in the United States. The Shorthorned Lizard is a high "elevation" species and the ants that Life Studies ( provides are not necessarily in that ecotome. The ants are compatible with all horned lizard species though. If you know the locality where the mother was taken from, go back to that area and find ant samples for ID, at a local University or the like, and attempt to provide that ant type. Other wise, take the HLs back to where the mother was found and release them back into the wild. The choice is yours, and the HLs lives are in your hands. Lester G. Milroy III

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