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Posted by redgarter on March 31, 2003 at 00:22:53:
In Reply to: Acitivity levels posted by pulatus on March 30, 2003 at 21:15:35:
I couldn't agree more with you Joe. It's been quite a while that I've been convinced that the vast majority of egg binding cases occuring in cases other than when most of the eggs are infertile, are for the most part caused by lack of squelettal muscle tone and/or endurance in the females involved. It can't be just a coincidence that most of these cases occur in species that are relatively active in the wild, and conversely rarely if ever happens in species that are normaly much less active in their natural habitats, such a all the ambush predators like many pythons.
Most colubirds on the other hand are active hunters that (should) move around all day in search of prey, so they just can't be expected to keep their muscles in the same condition by doing laps around their cramped bins or terraria in captivity. So these "out-of-shape" females most probably have reduced muscle mass compared to their wild conterparts, so when comes time to push out their eggs (were they obviously depend mostly on the squelettal muscles, not just the smooth muscles of the oviduct's walls), they just plain poop out before the last one is passed, hence the typical scenario of just a few of the last eggs retained after most of them have been expelled.
I wouldn't be a bad idea to experiment on that concept by trying to give female colubrids more exercise by handling them much more often before and during the breeding season, in order to "buff them up". It seems right now the mainstream thinking is to leave females alone during the breeding cycle in order to "disturb" them as little as possible while they make their eggs, forgetting that they don't stop moving about in nature during that period of time just because they are gravid. Perhaps we should do the opposite!
Anyone out there ever heard of an ambush-type predatory snake species that ever retained a few eggs after passing most of them?