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record-keeping and cage cards

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Posted by Shanty on May 12, 2003 at 18:39:36:

In Reply to: Tips on record-keeping and cage cards (long, pix) posted by rtdunham on May 11, 2003 at 12:56:21:

Terry -- we should all pick up some record-keeping notions from this post. And I couldn't agree more that keeping good records is essential when following the genetics of a pattern or color I am intoducing into my colony.

Years ago we used to test all the Army officer students where I manage officer curriculum. We noted that 97% of the students scored a high score on a certain test (I won't name the test). It wasn't until we noted, and tracked, the bottom 3% of the scores that we noticed some important trends.

I carried that lesson over to my rcord keeping in my snake room. I no longer keep detailed records. I used to note shed, fed, refused to feed, etc. Now I have 3 X 5 cards with notations on them--BLUE, REGURGE, BRED, NF, etc. These I stick under the lip of the tray filled by the snake in question. I no longer tape these to the top--just stick them under the lip. I only keep about 25 adults these days, 20 juvies, and 30 neonates; no longer have 50 adult rosy boas. So this simple system works for me. When I have BRED a female to a male, I place the card annotated BRED under the female's tray. I write the male's ID number at the bottom of the card. When I see the breeding take place, I place an X above the male's ID number. I have some gravid females right now that I have NEVER witnessed locked up with the male so their cards have no big Xs on them. If I breed her to a second male, and I've done that with two females this season, the card is annotated with the second male's ID number as well. I can walk into my snake room and see those cards with the BIG letters, and I know which trays contain females that have been PLACED with a male. When a female is in the blue, she gets a card with BLUE on it placed under the lip of her tray.

I use the same card system for last year's juvies and neonates of the year. But I don't note good feeders; I note only the PROBLEM feeders. It's easier to pick out the four or six PROBLEM feeders from the 35 to 40 good feeders because they have a big NF for non-feeder annotated on the 3 X 5 card.

If a snake reguritates a meal, I place a 3 X 5 card under that tray with REGURG on it. Again, same rationale. I can pick out the one or two occasional regurgitation problems. I use no heat tapes in my collection composed largely of montane Colubrids that require, and thrive with, lower temps, so I might detect a problem section of the racks if I walk in and have three cards with REGURG on them clustered in a bottom left corner rack near the floor. I'd move those three snakes higher in the rack.

So my approach is minimalist to say the least.

I do have a 3-ring binder that I annote dates when a female is introduced to a male's cage. When I see a mating, I annotate that as well. When she has her first or second shed, I make note of those events. The rest of the year I monitor my snakes without all the record keeping. Lazy? Probably. But I keep adequate records without becoming too anal about them. Others would say I am not anal enough.

Thanks for sharing your detailed record keeping; it is NOT a complicated system. And it is much better than mine.

Shannon Hiatt
Quality Reptiles, Texas

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