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But have we???

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Collared Lizard Forum ]

Posted by kev on May 10, 2003 at 09:30:59:

In Reply to: Glad we got all that settled... posted by DC on May 10, 2003 at 00:14:51:

:1. Color indicates *happiness* in reptiles
:2. *Unhappy colors* are correctable by increasing housing area
:3. Releasing pets to the wild makes them *happier*
:4. Posting here is a waste of electrons

I got out of this conversation long before if started going down the wrong street. But just to add my thoughts. I think my original post makes a great deal of sense (otherwise I would not have posted anything) both from a scientific point and a parenting point of housing and caring for reptiles, but maybe we using the wrong terms.

However, it seems *happiness* is not the right word. The correct term would be 'stress', or lack of it. Or maybe no term at all, maybe it just a matter of providing an optimum environment.

My experiences and observations include:

Housing does indeed play a role in colour, or stress (or whatever your want to call it, but for sake of argument let’s call it stress). You put a reptile in a small area that they’re not comfortable in, be it 20 gallons or 100 gallons, they’re going to be stressed. Not having the correct temperatures in the cage will also create stress. Not providing light can create stress. Not feeding the lizard will create stress. Taking a stick and poking the lizard, well, that creates stress as well.

Creating an evironment which seemed to produce the least amount of stress in my collareds has always directly impacted their colours.

How do we try to eliminate stress? We put the lizard in an optimum size cage (each species will have different requirements). For collareds I’ve found that a 50 gallon plus tank works best, anything smaller and the collareds were definitely stressed based on their behaviour and their colour. We provide optimum heating and lighting. The temperatures need to be comparable to natural surroundings – 70 to 95 degrees with a 110 to 115 degree basking area. Using the wrong temperatures also created stress with my lizards visible by the lizards remaining in hide spots and not eating, which also had a direct impact on their colours.

Are my findings ‘scientific’? Sure, I’ve experimented with different size cages, different heating and lighting (UV or not), cage furniture, substrates and I’ve found that providing the conditions mentioned above provide the best, least stressed, environment for my collareds (I have different recommendations for my other reptiles, amphibians, and of course my dog – although my dog never seems to change colour…).

If this doesn’t make scientific, or even common sense, then I suggest we all put ourselves in a 4 x 4 room with a single window for 6 months with no heat and see how we feel. Although we won't change colour, we're definitely going to be stressed. One thing that many reptiles have the ability to do is change colours for many different factors.

For this arena, the word happiness seemed appropriate, but it is obvious that the term is incorrect. So from this day forward I would like to ban the word ‘happiness’ from this forum and we must now all use the term ‘not-stressed’ to describe our collareds. Or as mentioned before maybe no word at all, maybe stress and happiness don’t mean anything. Maybe we only need to provide our collareds with a home that is as close to their natural habitat that we can get.

Of course, this all being said, if your collared lizard doesn’t have natural ‘vibrant’ colours to begin with, it doesn’t matter what you do, they will only be as intense as mother nature has provided and you’ll have to look at other indications that your collared is ‘stressed’.

But there’s always spray paint…

That being said:

:1. Good color can indicate a reptile is in an optimum surrounding
:2. Color can change based on housing area and temperature (lighting)
:3. Releasing pets to the wild relieves *stress* (This is one item I left alone because releasing a captive reptile back into nature can cause more stress especially if the captivity was for a significant length of time)
:4. Posting here is a waste of electrons only if the fun is taken out of owning a reptile which definitely seemed to happen with this thread.

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