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 #2269904


SalvatorREX
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 Monitor intelligence/training

well after teaching them that my hand wasnt food, i just started doing a few "training" exercises with my monitors, or as i should rather call it "taunting" exercises. and the reason i say that is because im associating words with food. as in calling them by there name. and when they come , they recieve a superworm. which is going great with my sav. he can be borrowed in hes hide . which is underneath the substrate, and i can call his name and a few seconds later he’s pokeing his head out to see where i am, and then he comes strait to me, but on the other hand my water monitor is stubborn and really dosnt care about the whole thing..lol, and im also practicing target feeding, and the sav is picking up very nicely and knows where to go when its time to be fed. vice versa with the water on that one too.lol. so i know alot of people dont do things like that with their monitors , but i just do it to pick at their brain’s and i enjoy seeing how much they can actually remember. and it also gives them something else to do besides digging up evrything in the cage. .. so does anyone else try any kind of practices with their monitors? it doesnt have to be names, or target feeding, but anything that you’re trying to , teach your monitor..?



06/13/12  04:34pm

 #2269907


Aragarnn
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2269904


 Monitor intelligence/training

I actually received 300 free pinkies from a professor who I won’t name that i filmed my sav doing this from start to success. Took two week for it to be "target trained". Also taught it by snapping and it would come out of it’s burrow as well.

To be honest though I don’t know about all this and how well it’s remembered to them due to the chance it may be just habit.
I say that because now tongs are it’s target and depending on how often I’m in the reptile room some weeks it associates me with food due to me usually being in there to solely feed.

I do believe it’s all dependent upon being fed as the goal, and nothing more, probably more amusing to us than them.



06/13/12  04:44pm

 #2269934


SalvatorREX
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  Message To: Aragarnn   In reference to Message Id: 2269907


 Monitor intelligence/training

wow 300 of em ..lol , and yea i know for them its all about the food. and they associate what ever it is that they’re used to seeing during feeding time, with food. which that "thing" could be a person, gloves,tongs, or sound. . is there any specific species of monitor. that is considered most intellignt. of the varanus family?



06/13/12  07:03pm

 #2269936


Varanus_odom
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2269934


 Monitor intelligence/training

Varanus intelligensis



06/13/12  07:41pm

 #2269939


Crocdoc
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2269934


 Monitor intelligence/training

I’ve trained my lace monitors to do a number of different things over the years.

For a while I had my male trained to come to his name (and/or a hand clap) so that I could put him back in the enclosure to be fed. There had to be a long delay between my signals and the reward (ie food), otherwise he’d just come running over biting, so it was important that he knew he had to go back into the enclosure to be fed. In the end this, too, became dangerous for when I would go to lift him into the enclosure he’d already have food on his mind and I had to be careful not to trigger a feeding response. Lace monitors can be insane when it comes to food. Here’s an old video I did when we still had that feeding routine:








(the video link doesn’t seem to be working in the preview, so remove the space from this URL and paste it in your browser: http://www.you tube.com/watch?v=7NIOeF2ICmo&feature=plcp)

Another routine I’ve taught my monitors is a particular process for being let out of the enclosure for a wander around. They have to wait quietly at the right hand side of the enclosure (no glass scratching) and then, when I reach in with my hand, they put their left forearm into my hand, between my thumb and forefinger, so I can lift them out. I made a video when I first started training them to do this a few years ago but will put together another video in a couple of months or so showing their progress. They’re amazing at it, now, and will often wait for me with their arms already raised. Here’s the older video:








(the video link doesn’t seem to be working in the preview, so remove the space from this URL and paste it in your browser: http://www.you tube.com/watch?v=PxeB8kYPP0A&feature=plcp)



06/13/12  07:56pm

 #2269991


Aragarnn
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2269939


 Monitor intelligence/training

I’ve seen them David.
Your guys are quite remarkable.

Cody



06/14/12  01:06pm

 #2270035


SalvatorREX
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2269939


 Monitor intelligence/training

wow see, thats awesome. i like how he took off towards the enclosure as soon as you clappd . nice work and beautiful laces.. how are the leaces doing now?



06/14/12  07:12pm

 #2270048


Crocdoc
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2270035


 Monitor intelligence/training

The pair are still doing really well. At the moment they’re in winter mode, so not doing much, but in another few months it’ll be the start of breeding season again and then it’ll be on for young and old.

They’re 12 years old this coming (southern) spring.



06/14/12  07:49pm

 #2270082


Daryl-
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2270048


 Monitor intelligence/training

Dave, may I ask how you approached the task of making them stay there calmly and wait? I understand Argus are notorious for being destructive, however with my old one, as soon as I came in the room it attacked the cage window for food.

Like I said, I know they are different, but would still be interested.

Cheers
Daryl



06/15/12  05:32am

 #2270128


Krusty
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  Message To: Daryl-   In reference to Message Id: 2270082


 Monitor intelligence/training

David has Lace Monitors, Varanus varius. Argus, V. panoptes horni, are from the equator in Papua New Guinea and are not conditioned naturally to go dormant and be cooled like a temperate Lace Monitor from Sydney. Argus are from stinky hot year-round places that really have more of a wet and a dry season, not a winter that they go dormant during as Lace do.

You certainly can somewhat cool Argus down for a few days and they’ll probably just go underground vs fight it and keep moving about. I have mine sort of get cooler (basking drops to 100°F) and a few Florida winter nights without much heat. But if you attempt to drop them to 50-60’s (°F) temperatures for months on end as what Lace naturally will "winter" during and go dormant/relaxed, I am not sure Argus are built to survive that as they behaviorally just never stop. Lace will inherently brumate or whatever you want to call it. The Argus like to go go go and never stop. Other species designed/adapted to cool do better - even desert species like Sandies (V. g. flavirufus) know to dig down and rest during cold snaps here with my captives. V. griseus are reported to have prolonged brumation/hibernation periods as well and they are desert and more northern distributed Monitors in the whole range of Monitors as well. The Argus are kind of "dumb" about that and just attempt to keep moving around miserably during cold weather. So I’d be cautious about forcing them to hibernate and relax......



06/15/12  04:58pm

 #2270130


Daryl-
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  Message To: Krusty   In reference to Message Id: 2270128


 Monitor intelligence/training

I’m sorry, I’m not sure I fully understand? Are you saying that it is easier to teach them this stuff when the monitor is exposed to a ’cold’ time of the year?

Thanks for that bit of information, but I don’t fully get how it links?

Cheers



06/15/12  05:12pm

 #2270134


SalvatorREX
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2270048


 Monitor intelligence/training

thats great, 12 years is amazing. im sure its been a rollercoaster ride of fun,sweat,and pride. raising them for 12 years, but thanks for shareing your vids. doc



06/15/12  05:25pm

 #2270135


Krusty
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  Message To: Daryl-   In reference to Message Id: 2270130


 Monitor intelligence/training

Wait - are you responding to his video links that didn’t work about training to feed them and all that? LOL I thought you were asking about the fact his are "wintering" and not moving around much right now and that you wanted to winter your Argus (Dave’s last post in the thread). I think I misunderstood what you were initially replying to.

If it’s about feeding and getting an Argus to stop dive-bombing at food so aggressively......good luck with that one. LOL That’s the only downside to the species really. Super aggro for food and no way to stop it. Try his feeding tricks that they have to respond to to get fed, but I’m not so optimistic that you can get Argus to follow that one.......



06/15/12  05:25pm

 #2270143


Daryl-
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  Message To: Krusty   In reference to Message Id: 2270135


 Monitor intelligence/training

I was asking the process in which he got that response from his monitors, the ’wintering’ knowledge was nice, but confused the hell out of me! Glad it wasn’t just me being stupid!



06/15/12  06:11pm

 #2270147


Krusty
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  Message To: Daryl-   In reference to Message Id: 2270143


 Monitor intelligence/training

No, that was my stupidity there! Woops....



06/15/12  06:33pm

 #2270179


Mdf
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2269904


 Monitor intelligence/training

personally i think situations/experiences that give your monitor a challenge to work out is good for the lizard & the keeper, i think the more experiences they are allowed to experience the smarter they become! allowing for their brain size etc



06/16/12  01:28am

 #2270371


Crocdoc
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  Message To: Mdf   In reference to Message Id: 2270179


 Monitor intelligence/training

Daryl, getting the monitors to sit still wasn’t overly difficult once we started the routine of them being let out.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that the reward isn’t food, but being let out. Lace monitors have the same maniacal feeding response as argus, so teaching them to sit still for food would be really difficult. The ’getting let out’ reward starts as soon as I walk towards the enclosure, because they know what comes next. All I had to do was ignore them when they were acting up but respond immediately when they were sitting quietly, on the correct side of the enclosure, by walking up and letting them out. It only took a few days and they were sitting at the one spot, very quietly. Every now and then they’ll still act up, but when they me suddenly stop walking toward the enclosure, turn away and go do something else they know exactly what to do. It’s an amazing thing to watch them look at me, look around and then head to the correct corner and sit there waiting.



06/18/12  12:05am

 #2270411


Daryl-
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2270371


 Monitor intelligence/training

Thank you for the reply.

I never thought of the reward stimulus being the ability to be let out of the cage, i always thought regarding monitors, the reward would always be food... apparently not!

I know i should not be comparing the two, however, is ’training’ a monitor like a dog? In the way that once older they pick up more habits thus it being a struggle to ’teach’ new things, or are monitors bright enough to be able to get out of habits and learn with age?

Thanks
Daryl



06/18/12  12:12pm

 #2270447


Crocdoc
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  Message To: Daryl-   In reference to Message Id: 2270411


 Monitor intelligence/training

Teaching monitors to do things is surprisingly easy. Teaching them to not do things is difficult and tricky unless withdrawal of the reward is obvious (for example, me turning away rather than walking toward the enclosure to let them out).

Using food as a reward will get you the quickest learning curves, but is fraught with danger with lace monitors because of their strong feeding response. Whenever I’ve taught them to do something, particularly the male, using food as a reward I’ve had to put in a series of intermediate steps between stimulus and reward so he didn’t start biting as he carried out the task. For example, when I taught the male to come to a hand clap or his name being called, I’d never feed him immediately. First I’d put him in the enclosure, then I’d go to get the food (I left it in the kitchen so that there was an extra delay) and then come back to feed him. Consequently, when I called him over to the enclosure he’d first look at the enclosure and try to get in there, because he knew that was the next step. If I fed him immediately after he responded to the hand clap he’d be likely to come running over and bite the clapping hands. It’s how their brain works. Even with the delayed process as I had it he started to shortcut and would start getting edgy as I reached down to pick him up to put him in the enclosure, associating that step with food, so I had to pick him up a certain way to avoid triggering a feeding response.



06/18/12  07:04pm

 #2270501


Dillonh24
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2270447


 Monitor intelligence/training

I watched those videos and they are simply awesome. I have a few questions though...

1. How did you get them so used to being handled and training them to let you pick them up to put them back into the enclosure?
2. From the video it seems that you let them roam a bit outside the enclosure but how did you get them past being defensive when let out of the enclosure? Because as soon as my Savannah got out of her enclosure she turned extremely defensive and that was the first time she had ever hissed at me she was also arched up as to prepare for a tailwhip.



06/19/12  01:49am

 #2270579


Crocdoc
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  Message To: Dillonh24   In reference to Message Id: 2270501


 Monitor intelligence/training

To answer your questions:

I never handle babies. Both of the monitors in these videos arrived at hatchling size (they were older than hatchlings at the time as they’d been held back through underfeeding, but were still very tiny) so I waited until they were a bit bigger, and reasonably bold, before I started any interaction. To start with, interaction consisted of me standing near the open end of the enclosure and putting a gloved hand in for them to approach, smell and, eventually, climb on to out of curiosity. Sometimes, if they were holding still, I’d stroke their chin and then leave them alone. It took a long while. When the male started to climb onto my arm I’d let him out for a short wander and then put him back into the enclosure before things got out of hand. New places/smells can be overwhelming at first and it takes them a while to get used to exploring outside of their known comfort zone. However, once they get used to exploring you’d be amazed at how much of a reward being let out for an exploratory walk can become and they’ll put up with anything just to be able to do that, even being handled. It wasn’t long before they had figured out that being handled to be put back into the enclosure wasn’t a bad thing, for it gave them access to basking heat and food (they only get fed in the enclosure) and they’d get let out again, anyway.

Although I said ’they’ in the above paragraph, most of that applied to the male only, who started to become bold between 8 months and a year of age but wasn’t fully calm for a while after that. The female, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with me for the first four years. The only thing that overcame her fear in the end was hormones - one day, in the middle of a reproductive cycle, she saw the male wandering around on the floor and wanted to be let out to be with him (during the week or so at the peak of a reproductive cycle, the pair mates almost incessantly and can’t stand to be apart). I opened the enclosure and put out my hand, whereby she spent a good few minutes trying to figure out how to get under, over or past my hand to get out and onto the floor with the male. Eventually she looked at my hand and walked onto it and was immediately put onto the floor, where she approached the male and they started mating. The next day when I let the male out she walked onto my hand almost immediately, for she knew the reward would be to be put on the floor with him. As I said, they learn quickly and neither has looked back since.

At 12 years of age they’ve both had enough time doing these routines that almost nothing frightens them or makes them defensive any more, as long as it’s associated with me. I’ve even gone into that enclosure with a power drill to make repairs and it didn’t disturb them in the least.



06/19/12  06:57pm

 #2270588


SalvatorREX
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  Message To: Crocdoc   In reference to Message Id: 2270579


 Monitor intelligence/training

doing the same thing with the sav. letting him know my hand is the entrance and exit of the enclosure. he doesnt run or his any more when i reach in. he will let me stroke him, and when he knows im trying to pick him up. he will try to walk away rather than run like he used to do.
im also doing the left/ right side of the enclosure training. which is. when i open up the left side of the enclosure he gets hyper. and is ready to be fed . because he knows thats the only spot he is fed.
the right side of the enclosure is the ONLY side i will let him out of the enclosure! AND in combination with the left side of the enclosure i associated his name (max) with feeding. so he is fed after hearing," come here max", and that trick works with the right side of the enclosure as well , i will say ,"come here max," and he comes expecting food. but when i reach in with a closed fist. he realizes this isnt the side of the cage he gets fed on. and that my fist isnt his feeding tongs. so now he’s calm . and i tricked him into comeing when i called his name.. and since the routine has only just began. he still gets confused as to whats happening but eventually he will know whats going on. depending on what side of the cage i approach..,



06/19/12  08:19pm

 #2270604


Dillonh24
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  Message To: SalvatorREX   In reference to Message Id: 2270588


 Monitor intelligence/training

Awesome story guys! They are extremely helpful! My savannah is like almost a year now and she is getting pretty bold. I will see about trying to use your method of training on how to get them to understand that being picked up gives her the reward of coming out. Like SalvatorRex said about feeding. I will start to impliment that in as well, because right now she already knows i only feed her on the right side so I could use the left as a means of coming out of the enclosure.



06/19/12  10:54pm


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