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Re: Baby HL help

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Posted by Les4toads on September 29, 2002 at 17:19:33:

In Reply to: Re: Baby HL help posted by Mark Berger on September 29, 2002 at 14:17:10:

:Do you want them to hibernate in captivity, or does it matter? What is best for the HL?

:I have been researching this very subject... As my pair of HLs are quite small, and I strongly feel a hibernation this season would certainly kill them.

:My first instict tells me hibernation is more vital for breeding than for the well-being of the HLs. Just as in most other reptiles, the hibernation or cooling is needed to get them jump started into breeding season. With corn snakes, significantly lower fertility rates have been seen in females that have not been hibernated. But back to the HLs...

:I have seen several statements regarding hibernation vs longevity. It has been theorized that not hibernating your lizards may lead to a shorter life, due to the several extra months per year of activity. I have no supporting evidence for this theory, although it makes sense to me.

:In another study I have looked at, the following is claimed: Adult HLs will enter hibernation regardless of what we do. In the fall, they will stop eating, and if not allowed to hibernate, will starve to death. Some babies may stay active through the winter months, and this may help them achieve earlier sexual maturity. In some babies it seems vital for them to stay alert through the winter because they have not built up the fat stores adults already carry.

:Hope this sheds a little light, and I hope some other people here can help me out too!!




:::Hello, I have a baby HL that I would like to care for properly. He's prob an inch long from head to tail base. Body is about dime to nickel size. I have tried to read as many postings on this site as possible. I currently have him in a 2 gal. plastic tank with inch of "Desert Blend" sand (prob. too coarse) and some of his native West Texas sand/dirt. I attract backyard ants into a small cup baited with peanut butter, which he seems to eat with no problem (the ants, not the peanut butter). I have a 50watt "basking spot lamp" (small) on him, which I leave on for about 7 hours during the day. He seems active during the day and he buries himself in the sand at night. He also has a capful of spring water. Any advice would be appreciated. My questions at this point are: How old is he (or she)? Should I get a bigger tank now, even tho he is so small? Will he hibernate in captivity? How would you know if he's hibernating? How many ants should i supply for a baby? When will he be old enough for the mail order ants? Do you ever clean out the tank, or just remove droppings? My son brought him home after a trip with his grandfather. I know he wasn't supposed to. We own the land where he came from (which, by the way, is a great habitat for these guys, over 50 acres with no cattle and no farming, and no people!) so we will be taking him back next trip, which will be in two or 3 months. From pictures he looks like a "round tail"? Thanks for any help, Lisa


:Hibernation with HLs serves several purposes. It does provide a hormone build up for reproductive age HLs. Does it advance reproductive maturity? No. Reproductive maturity depends on several factors. One factor is the species of HL. Other factors are habitat stress and prey richness. In drought seasons, reproductive maturity and reproductive success decline significantly. Prey richness also declines and has significant effects. Winter months reduce prey richness and stress habitats. Energy spent searching for food items during winter months is not replaced.

Hibernation for HLs is beneficial because in the wild, prey items (ants) also go into hibernation. If HLs remain active in the winter, they would be in jeopardy because of the lack of prey richness (the more variety, the better health benefits). Even though you can provide ants to the HLs in captivity during the winter, the other benefical factors for hibernation are not provided. If you could provide more than just one ant species, other than mail order and upwards of at least 8 different ant genus/species as food items, you might have some success. Hibernation also is one of those things that occurs because the temperatures during the winter months do not provide the temperatures needed by HLs to function. Metabolic rates are not reached due to the lower temperatures.

HLs will hibernate in captivity, even if they do not receive the "signals" they would receive in the wild. It may not be a "full" hibernation, but it is a hibernation cycle. I have found time and again HLs that hibernate are much healthier and do have a longer life span than those that do not hibernate. Lester G. Milroy III

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