Ants only for Desert Horned Lizards?

Discussion in 'General Lizards' started by Tink, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. jo_edwards

    jo_edwards Embryo

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    i did think about getting nettles to feed to the crickets. don't fancy going to pick them though!

    i am trying to find if it says anywhere the concentration of the formic acid found in the ants but no success yet

    i will try picking some nettles over the weekend and see if the crix will eat them and let you folks know what happens
     
  2. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  3. Ravnos

    Ravnos New Member

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    The Desert Horned Lizard is actually one of the Horned Lizard species which has been found to have only about 50% of its diet to be ants, which probably explains why they seem to do ok on other things. Ants really should be supplied on occassion though. They don't eat just any old ants though, as has been mentioned. There are ant suppliers online, I've ordered harvesters several times from Life Studies and just keep them in a large, steep sided bin, with a layer of sand at the bottom to give them something to dig in. They provide a care sheet for them, and they stay alive for months without much problem. Main issue is to remember not to get bit. Its kind of scary, but the LD50 for harvester ant venom is on par with something like the Russell's viper. They pack a punch for their small size. While not really dangerous, the potential for an allergic reaction is a definite concern.

    Rav
     
  4. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  5. jo_edwards

    jo_edwards Embryo

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    thanks for the info - really helpful

    i have looked into buying them. they are really expensive - here anyway. but i will definately get some occasionally
     
  6. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  7. Crazy_Fool1

    Crazy_Fool1 Embryo

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    um.. sumone mentioned the effects of formic acid is also a diuretic... i dont know if this is why but a breeeder i know feeds his short horned lizards crickets and wax worms... now wax worms i know ar diuretics as well... could the formic acid be needed only for digestive aid that could be substituted with another? Or does that sounds totally crazy? Just thought id throw that out there...
     
  8. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  9. Ravnos

    Ravnos New Member

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    It doesn't sound totally crazy at all. In fact it sounds quite logical, and does fit with my observations in what happens to horned lizard species that need ants but get only crickets. They slow down, become almost anorexic as they stop eating, and pooping altogether. I suppose it could be possible that they're blocked up, or urine production is even ceased - which in the end would serve to poison their system because no waste is being removed. Without more research, I guess its hard to say for certain though.

    Rav
     
  10. JEFFREH

    JEFFREH Administrator

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  11. Crazy_Fool1

    Crazy_Fool1 Embryo

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    ya, now when u say slowed down... what do you mean? not eating? Because i understand the species isn't very active at the best of times... i only ask because im going to look at thsi breeders 5 that he has and i want to know what to look for if they are in not so healthy condition...
     
  12. rnapier

    rnapier Embryo

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    Something else to consider before supporting the captivity of HTL, I've heard they are a threatened species. If enough people can care for them properly and succesfully bread them, maybe it would be possible to actually release some into the wild for a change. I heard the same as everyone else, ants are nessicary for formic acid, which is why I never attempted to breed them. They are cute little buggers though, when they aren't shooting blood from their eyes.
     
  13. Crazy_Fool1

    Crazy_Fool1 Embryo

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    ya, that would definitly be a sight to see... I agree, why doesn't the american government spend sum of its billions (Canada has no money lol and you know Mexico isn't gonna do anything about it) on a lil research to get the lil guys a substitute instead of ants or to develop formic acid supplementation to aid in the breeding of the lil guys and get them back on track in the wild... they are definitly worth having around as long as possible because they are probably one of the oldest species alive from the looks of it... just a thought...
     
  14. jarrell

    jarrell Embryo

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    why dont anybody want to keep ants as feeders. it would be super easy. ant farms are easly found. you can order alot of cheap ants. and dig up a queen. i dont know how pesticides work but if they dont go from parent to kid. you can feed them a constant supply. how much crix do you feed. i heard horn lizards can eat up to a hundred ants a day. still ants are pretty easy to breed.
     
  15. Crazy_Fool1

    Crazy_Fool1 Embryo

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    hey my new horned lizards are loving small super worms... just love em
     
  16. Cable

    Cable Embryo

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  17. cantudallas

    cantudallas Embryo

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    RE: Horned lizards

    That's a really interesting site. I've always found the dhl's to be fascinating and absolutely adorable, but got the impression they were a no-no because of endangerment issues and also due to the difficulty involved in helping them to thrive in captivity. They are completely adorable, but everything I'd read about them led me to believe they were not the sort of animal you casually pick up at the pet store to add to your collection. But I also had no idea you could order ants on line or that they ate crickets. I'd love to see more pics of your little guys! Good luck with them!
     
  18. Cable

    Cable Embryo

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    RE: Horned lizards

    They will eat crickets, meal worms, wax worms, some bees, grasshoppers and other insects, but they really do need ants as a percentage of their diet. They will live a while without them, perhaps even a few years, but they will be much healthier if you include ants. Humans can probably live quite a while on pretzels and beer, but it isn't the best way to go. Horned lizards have evoled as ant specific eaters and their body chemistry and digestive mechanisms are geared to ants. Not feeding them ants does not do them justice.

    We are in the midst of a serious web makeover for phrynosoma.com so we hope to have more photos and possible some additional movies available over the next two months or so. Thanks for visiting.
     
  19. jo_edwards

    jo_edwards Embryo

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    RE: Horned lizards

    Mine won't eat crickets! She loves freshly molted mealworms (but won't eat them unless they are white the fussy girl!) and she eats waxworms and small hoppers, and occasionally beetles. I hope I can set up an ant farm so I always have a near constant supply for her.
    There aren't many formic acid producing ant species in the north of england so I will hopefully order some soon.
    Another thing I have heard is that there are certain things that wild caught ones can't digest properly that captive bred are fine to eat. Anyone know anything about this?
     
  20. Cable

    Cable Embryo

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    RE: Horned lizards

    I have heard the fireflies and cicadas can cause problems or even death in horned lizards but I have never heard there is a difference between captive vs wild bred animals. I have both and have not observed a serious deviation in diet preference between groups.
    If you don't mind my asking, what kind of horned lizard do you keep?
     
  21. willywonka

    willywonka Embryo

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    Even though this post is old, I came across this below article that was posted on another forum about someone asking the same question.

    http://www.phrynosoma.com/Caresheets/HLFood.htm

    Ants and more Ants . . .
    Ants are a REQUIREMENT! They are not optional if you intend to have your lizards healthy for any length of time.

    Different species of HL's have differing percentage requirements for ants. The short horns will eat as few as 30% in their diet while the solare will eat well over 90%. Most horned lizards will eat plenty of other insects if offered and can do quite well on a good varied diet. Ant's should make up no less than 50% of the diet at a bare minimum for all but the short horns and some of the Mexican varieties. It is highly recommended that they make up 50 to 80 % of the diet for many desert species.

    Some of the other insects that are readily taken are bees, moths, spiders, termites, grasshoppers, meal worms, roaches and crickets. Be careful not to feed your lizards any insects that might have been sprayed with insecticides or other harmful things. There are a few insects known to be harmful to HL's. These include cicadas and fireflies. Be sure to use wild caught insects that have not been exposed to pesticides. Wild insects are highly recommended as they will have had a more natural diet and will provide your lizards with a better quality of food than crickets or meal worms.



    Feeding time

    Although HL's love ants, they also have an earned respect for them. Ants can do your lizards harm if too many are provided at one time. Start by offering two or three at once and progress from there. Some HL's will handle more than others without becoming panicked. Solare typical will not stress unless completely overwhelmed, where the more fragile modestum or cornutum will begin to retreat at the sight of more than five or ten ants. They will either try to bury themselves or claw at the glass looking for escape. Over time you will get a feel for the amount of ants your HL will eat comfortably at once. Young horned lizards must be watched even more closely. It is best to refrigerate the ants for at least 15 minutes prior to feeding as this will slow them down and make them less likely to swarm or attack.

    It is usually best to begin feeding after your HL's have had time to warm up in the morning. An hour of basking is usually sufficient time to let them wake up and get their metabolism stabilized. Horned lizards typically eat the most in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Ants are best offered at these times. Other insects should be offered only after some ants have been consumed. During the mid day hours you will probably find that they will nibble at the ants at most, but there are always exceptions.

    The bottom line is that you should become familiar with your HL's feeding habits and work accordingly.

    Supplements
    The food items you offer your horned lizard also offer a unique opportunity to provide them with water, vitamins and minerals. Ants will drink and in fact must drink or they will die in short order. They can get much of their fluid intake from food you provide. Ants typically will eat apple slices, watermelon, fruits and vegetables, and depending on species even honey. They will also take in water directly. This can be offered as a sprayed mist directly one them or can be places in a shallow lid, such as a butter dish lid, in their container. Hydrated ants are much better for your HL's than dried out starving ants. Horned lizards are designed to take up much of their water through their food. At times you may certainly want to supplement your lizards diet with vitamins and minerals from the pet store. These come in powder form and are used to "dust" the crickets before feeding. Reptivite, Rep-Cal's Herptivite and Rep-Cal's vitamin D3/calcium supplement are some that should be considered.

    Ant Care
    Ants can be kept in a five gallon bucket from home depot for the most part. Make sure your species can not climb the sides. Most of the ants that horned lizards eat will sting and can cause you problems if you have allergies to their venom. Ants can be kept in the refrigerator in small prescription sized bottles for up to ten days or so, as long as they can breath. Drilling very small holes in the bottle is enough to provide them air during their sleep. Place them in a bucket a day or two before feeding them to your horned lizard to give them a chance to eat and/or drink.

    When feeding ants to your lizards you will not only get a feel for how many they will eat, but how they prefer to be fed. Some of the more timid species will eat better if the ants are place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This slows the ants down and allows the lizard an advantage. This is a very good idea to implement with juvenile horned lizards.



    Below is a table showing the percentage of ants in the diet by species. This info was compiled from the sources listed below.



    Example of the Percentage of Ants in the Diet for Each Species of Horned Lizard

    Montanucci, R.R. , The relationship of morphology to diet in the horned lizard genus Phrynosoma - Herpetologica 45(2): 208-216
    Montanucci, R.R. ,Breeding, captive care and longevity of the short-horned lizard Phrynosoma douglassi - Int. Zoo Yb. 23: 148-156
    Pianka, E.R. & Parker, W.S. (1975): Ecology of horned lizards: a review with special reference to Phrynosoma platyrhinos - Copeia 1975(1): 141-162
     
  22. toroca

    toroca Embryo

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    Re: RE: Horned lizards

    I don't know about cicadas, but from what I've read, fireflies are toxic to almost any species of lizard, not to mention snakes and other animals that eat insects. The chemical reaction they use to produce bioluminescence is generally not the sort of thing you want your pets consuming, and the smaller the animal, the more likely it is to be dangerously toxic to them.
     
  23. demonliez

    demonliez Embryo

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    16
    these guys are awsome they shoot blood out of their eyes when in danger as a defense mechanism.. we had these at my work(petland) easily handible and we just gave them crickets but you should feed ants, if we ever get them again id deffinitly consider picking one up for myself
     
  24. mihail

    mihail Embryo

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    23
    Dont no much about horned lizards but somehow a few years ago a queen ant or something got in my desk. I was little then so desk was full of sweets and there was litterly a large colony in my desk. I was freaked out cause my bed is like 4 inches from my desk. We tried pesticides and all kinds of things but nothing worked. Finally after a few months they were gone. Probably ran out of food. It was a nastly experience so i would be careful to make shure if u get a queen, that she doesnt get out somehow.

    opps srry for bumping up such an old post
     

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