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Ashleecobug   JackAsp  
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 Im new to this

i just get my lizard the day before christmas and i do not kno that much on them so if someone would like to help me out that would be every nice.

12/27/09  03:21pm


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  Message To: Ashleecobug   In reference to Message Id: 2108374

 Im new to this

Big cages. An adult should have at least three feet of cage length. Some individuals may need four. At least a foot of width and at least a foot of height, usually more. The 40 gallon breeder is the most popular tank for them, although some people prefer the 55, which has fewer square inches of floor space but an extra foot of length.

They need a regular day/night cycle, so plug the lights into a timer.

Ground temperature during the day should be at least 86. Some will prefer a little bit warmer. At night, room temperature is fine unless you’tr one of those loonies that keep their house 50 or 60 degrees.

Playsand makes a good substrate. They’re one of the few lizards which that’s true of, actually. If they’re warm and healthy they eat and poop constantly, often two or three poops a day, and sand is easier to spot-clean than ripping apart the whole setup and changing paper constantly. I’ve seen all kinds of skimming toold sold for that erxact purpose, but believe it or not the thing that actually works best is one of those aquarium-skimming nets like you’d use to remove a dead goldfish.

They like a few caves to hide in/under, and thye like rocks and thick branches. You’ve got a lot of flexibility on shape and type of rocks, but try to avoid very course surfaces because they’re a pain to clean poop off of. Branches should be clean, prferably stripped of bark, and should either be horizontal or distinctly diagonal. Vertical ones will be climbed occasionally, but generally not often enough to justify wasting cage space on. Also, branches should be thick enough to run on. They don’t like to have to really hang on.

There are at least two schools of thought on basking temperature. One is that the basking spot(s) should be 105 degrees, maybe a little bit warmer. The other is that the hottest basking spot should be at least 135, but there should also be options to bask at the traditional 105 AND at asomething intermediate, like 120 or so. Don’t panic if this sounds too complicated. A big 105-spot with a smaller brick on top of it that gets hotter still counts as multiple basking spots. There are all kinds of ways like that to cheat. One thing I’ve noticed is that when they first wake up they tend to seek outt he super-super-hot temperatures, and as the day goes on they start re-warming themselves in the more moderate spots. So a lizard that prefers 135 at 7AM will usually be shunning anything over 105 by about 5PM. Young ones that are growing rapidly and females at certain points of their reproductive cycle are more prone to opt for the hotter temps later in the day than others are, but they still tend to start drifting toward the milder spots as the day gets later. (The daytime period should be at least 12 hours. Giving them a few extra, so it’s liek summertime, doesn’t hurt.)

Heavy rocks, by which I mean anything that could hurt your lizard, need to be securely positioned against the bottom of the tank, and then "filled in" with surrounding sand. Collards like to scratch around, and if there’s an angle from which only sand is keeping it stable. they WILL eventually move that sand and make it go off-balance. Injury and even death, even from people who knew better and thought it was stable enough, are more common than you might think. (I’ve screwed up too. Never actually had one get hurt, but one of my girls got wedged in for a day!)

A few things about thermodynamics that make it easier to set them up are:
Strong lights that are further away are good for heating the whole cage. Closer-down lights are better for gettig the hot spot(s) just right.

Large rocks/bricks, or dense piles thereof, are very resistant to heating. Smaller ones, or thinner ones such as tiles, get hotter hot-spots. Something the size of a cinder block is almost impossible to get temps higher than about 110 on, but a hollow ceramic cave on top of it will get very warm very easily. Diagonal tiles give a nice blend of temperatures, ranging from floor temperature all the way up. You can also do all kinds of Stonehenge-type arrangements out of bricks, or position a fat piece of driftwood horizintally on top of two rocks so it doesn’t interfere with ground-running space. Just be careful that the ground stays well-lit. The ground should be uncluttered and bright. Lack of running space makes them stressed, and too much shade makes them lethargic.

If your room temperature really makes it really hard to warm the ground without completely frying the upper levels, you can cheat a little bit by using an undertank heater, with dimmer switch. Most people do not find them necessary. But if it’s needed for yours, plug it into the same timer as the lamps, so in the mornig the lizard gets warm enough to come out of its cave, after which it will finish the job by basking, and then at night the cave will still be cool enough to sleep in. By the way, ground-level is preferred for caves. Those low ceramic ones sunk into the sand are good (light ones can go right on top of the sand, medium-heavy ones haveto braced against the bottom.) You can also use those log-type ones, buried under the sand so that the ends are slightly exposed. THis means the ground aboveis still bright and unobstructed, plus it’s easier to scoop off the sand above it than to clean the bark itself!

The rules about exact system of lighting aren’t written in stone. They need UVB, but what kind of bulbs are best depends on the rest of your setup. If you use regular hardware-store bulbs for heat and striplights for UVB, look for bulbs with a rating of 10.0. And make sure the incadescents are good, clear, natural-looking light. If, on the other hand, you want your heat and UVB all in one, I suggest Mercury Vapor UVB bulbs such as the Mega-Ray. The thing is, I can’t specifically suggest a best lighting system, because there is so much paper/scissors/rock involved. Always take into account the distance a UV bulb has to be from the animal, too. The strip ones have maximum distances, often less than a foot. The mercury Vapor ones have minimum distances, but after that still send UVB out for feet, or in some cases yards, so once that minimum safety distance is established how far you position them will depend on your thermal needs.

You, like me, will no doubt change what you’re doing several times a year, just to compensate for seasonal variations. One thing I did to make trouble-shooting easier was I put a closet bar (one of those long hollow adjustable-length ones) right above the cage, so in addition to varying bulb wattages and basking rock heights I can also easily change how high the lamps are hung.

The best tool you can get, for high-temperature lizards and in fact for many other herps as well, is an infrared temp gun. They usually cost under 30 dollars, and you just point it, pull the trigger, and it hits the spot you’re testing with a laser and flashes how hot it is. So you can check any surface in the cage you want, without even lifting the screen up. A strip-therm stuck the glass is fairly useless.

They like shallow water dishes, but they also like to bury them, so you’ll either want something with a rim or you’ll want to elevate it, perhaps by burying a brick or two under it. They usually eat every day, and of normal pet shop insects the best option is crickets. Mealworms and superworms can be included, but should not be the bulk of the diet and should be dusted in calcium powder. Keep offering salads, especially ones based on dark leafy greens, but insects will be the bulk of the diet. I buy enoug crickets at a time to last me a while ans while they’re on Death Row I feed them zuchini and collard greens, so they’re always full of healthy vegies. I also use those things for the mealworms and supers, instead of less lizard-friendly moisture sources such as carrots or potatoes. Don’t go cricket-carz and throw a whole swarm in there, because most of the will hide and them nibble and scratch at the lizard all night. Drop one at a time watching the lizard eat, and if a few hide it’s okay. Try to keep the total cricket population of the tank down to like half a dozen, and each morning lift up the waer dish to give the lizard a chance to catch the old ones before you bother adding more. Mealworms and superworms can do more biting damage than crickets, don’t don’t leave those unattended. Offer by hand, or toss in and remove promptly if uneaten, or use a dish. Stories about them eating their way out of the lizard can be ignored (when the lizard crunches them up, they stay dead!) but they can, for example, crawl underneath and chew from that angle.) Incidentally, if basking temps are high enough these lizards are usually VORACIOUS within half an hour of waking up. Somtimes that passes, and if you’re alte they aren’t hungry until the next morning. Usually they stay hungry until fed, but earlier is still better because they have more time to bask and speed their digestive process.

Most of it is environment with these guys, and it’ll take you some trial and error to get that right. Anything I forgot, or just wasn’t clear on, just ask and I or someone else will clarify. Different people will have different systems, opinions, and tricks. let us know what you’re doing currently for your start-up cage, and any changes that you’re considering in the short-run, and it’s easier for folk to jump in with ideas.

And... I really, really should have asked this before I typed all that, but... this IS a North American collared we’re talking about, right? Because the Guyana ones are a completely different lizard...

01/03/10  01:08am

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