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Posted by loren on July 13, 2002 at 18:40:57:

In Reply to: Re: ants may not be needed posted by Rust on June 28, 2002 at 08:11:02:

OK, lets start at the beginning; you said

: Chuck is on the right path. You have to keep in mind, in the realm of evolution, HLs have developed the ability to tolerate formic acid, not a need for it.

It seems to me that building-up a tolerance for something almost always results in some need for that 'something'. In this case, formic acid also provides the rare and much needed water most HLs require as a result of their arid habitat. Formic acid may well provide HLs with numerous subtle elements we are not aware of.
Also, how do you know exactly how HLs evolved into eating ants as a staple? As far as i know, nobody really knows this?
And this last bit here; you said..

: Just a quick field observation too. High elevation (9K+) short horneds have very little access to ants in some of the areas I have observed them. Are they buying the spray?

Ignoring your smartass comment, i would first say that you might want to do so more careful observing at high altitudes. The ants are still up there. They are smaller and less frequent, but the mtn. short horns eat em'. Studies have shown that mtn. short-horns at the real high altitudes eat less ants for certain, but that ants still make-up AT LEAST 50% of the diet in the speciemens collected. Shorthorns as a species(there are six sub-species as far as i know) have been certainly been overgeneralized as result of their large range(Canada to Mexico). A generalization for the species, based on numerous observations from numerous locales, is that ants comprise 80-85% of their diet. Interestingly enough, in Canada (where their are less ants than most high-altitude habitats for mtn short-horns), ants make-up 76% of the diet. In contrast, the short-horn subspecies in northern Mexico (where ants are comparitively abundant)the lowest ratio (of any HL studies i've seen) recorded was 42%.

My point is that even for the subspecies of short-horns that eat the least ants, the largest dietary item is STILL ants(ants 42%, acridid grasshoppers 18%, caradid beetles 11%, by volume). This is a lower ratio than any mtn short horn ever collected, even at altitudes of 10k! Certainly there will be individual mtn short-horns, or any HL for that matter, that might have a preference for less ants than others. Or, there might be dietary variations based on prey population phenology and competition. Or, it comes to be that a captive HL succeeds (where so many other haven't) by adjusting to a diet without ants. There's no absolutes that can be drawn from human knowledge about HL diet. However, there are time tested experiences and scientific observations that generalize things as well as any HL keeper needs: HLs live naturally (which, IMO, is the healthiest way to be) by eating ants for majority of their diet.

Once again, HLs do not eat ants simply because there is nothing else to eat. They evolved to eat ants and they evolved around ants at the same time. There is tolerance and need.

To split hairs even further, Chuck was talkin' about coronatums. You're talkin' about mtn. short horns. But both of these species are protected in their natural range as far as i know. People purchasing HLs legally acquired and sold in the pet market are relegated to modestums from Texas, desert short-horns from Nevada and Platyrhinos platyrhinos from Nevada. All of these species choose ants as their dietary staple.

What good then is your post and your experiences for the people who are learning to care for their HL? Or for the more knowledgeable HL enthusiast?
"HLs don't need ants, they need sunshine." What are you people thinking? They need ants AND sunshine! Different ones can tolerate a lack of either and that is just dependent on the individual and their history, the particular species/subspecies and the environment. But it is safe to say that they need ants to live naturally.

UV(A&B), luminens, heat and all that stuff dictate whether success can happen indoors but i can tell you from extensive experience(success & failures) that HLs CAN be housed indoors permanently and be successful.

Overall, your post was basically pointless as it falls well short from, IMO, an accurate assessment of what captive HLs need to be healthy and happy.


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