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Posted by Les4toads on September 29, 2002 at 16:28:22:
In Reply to: Progress has been made... posted by Mark Berger on September 29, 2002 at 14:34:41:
:Well, I had been pretty worried about one of our baby HLs ever since I got back from California on Wednesday. Aimee did a great job caring for the little buggers while I was gone, but I was a little concerned about one right when I got back, since it is nowhere near as active as the other, and quite a bit smaller. It's stomach always looks a little on the empty side, and it does not eat as much as the other one.
:Well - For whatever reason, it learned how to drink water off the walls of the aquarium today :-) I have read a lot about the reason HLs need ants, and it is stated that Formic acid turns into water when it hits stomach acid. Therefore... The ant diet could be considered primarily a water necessity. So... I spent two days trying to figure out how to get more water into this little guy when suddenly he started doing it on his own!
:I have a newfound hope for this one... Wish us luck!
:Mark, you are partially right in your assumption. The issue of formic acid is multi-fold. It does break down into water and other items. Most people assume that HLs do not need water because they are "desert" dwellers. That is a false assumtion. Not all HLs are from the desert, for one item. HLs are from several ecotomes/habitats. HLs require water just like all other animals. Water is acquired from the food items and it is also acquired from rain fall, mist and fog. HLs are very efficient at reclaiming water from waste products. You will never see a HL urinate. This is one reason to always be aware of HLs that are regurgitating food items, such as too many crickets or mealworms, and bouts with diarrhea from an improper diet. The balance of water retention is critical. HLs lap water formed by dew on plants and drink water from small pools of water after rains. HLs also gain water from ground moisture where they burrow. The HL enclosure should have some form of moisture at all times (a shallow water dish, periodic misting, and substrate moisture). Dehydration is one of the main causes for HL mortality in captivity. Stress and diet are the other reasons. Formic acid content in ants is just part of the reason for the diet specialization. There are many other enzymes, proteins, etc., that ants provide to HLs that nothing else does. Lester G. Milroy III