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 Post subject: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 27th, 2015, 2:23 pm 
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Joined: May 18th, 2015, 4:35 pm
Posts: 33
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Picked one up yesterday, currently have it in a 55 g with a substrate of about 2 inches of play sand (bottom layer) and half an inch of calcium sand (top layer). Hot side is around 100 degrees f, cool side ambient. Small basking pool on warm side but will mist every morning. So far he has eaten 3 smallish crickets (undusted, the calcium/formic acid supplement should be here tomorrow). I've noticed that, instead of burrowing, he is attempting to climb up the sides of his cage. Why? And how can I get him to stop?
Also, if anyone has previously successfully kept/bred (I plan to in the future) P. cornutum I would be very appreciative of any advice.
Thanks!
P.S, his name is Texas Pete (like the hot sauce) if anyone was wondering!


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 27th, 2015, 5:14 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Location: San Francisco, California
He could be seeking to be within a gradient of light that is inaccessible or absent. Its not just heat or visible light but wavelengths of ultraviolet they have evolved in.

In nature they can lay flat and receive full rays, and with a wiggle sink out of sight at will. So aspect into favored values of light in a captive environment needs to be considered a priority with phrynosoma. Putting another 6+ inches of sand ie; to raise level, doesn't always work. They instead may bury deep out of shyness and don't surface. Sinking the lighting gear into a closer, better range is often a good strategy.

If I were you I would not use the calcium sand. Especially if it is Calci Sand.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 27th, 2015, 6:25 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 11:13 pm
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Location: Greater Houston TX Area
Is he wild-caught from the Carolinas? I think there's still a population hanging on out there.

If you aren't already checking out the Horned Lizard Conservation Society, you should--while their site doesn't have any care specifics, they can put you in touch with people who can share that sort of info. Look for Lou Hamby as he can point you in the right direction.

How hard was it to get him to eat crickets? I had some a LONG time ago and they only wanted red harvester ants. I also didn't have UV (early 1980s) and wasn't feeding them NEARLY enough, so they didn't last long. :(

I saw a guy up in Seattle in the late 1990s who owned a pet store there. He had a pair on display and said the secret was to hang the UV lights about 6 inches above the lizards (keep in mind these were the UV lights available at the time; recommended distances, wattages, etc. have changed substantially since then)--but then again, horned lizards are highly adapted to extreme-sunlight living.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 27th, 2015, 7:38 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, California
The uvb tubes back in the day then most broadly used were vita lights, but even the ones today, in order to be rated consumer safe for mainstream sale are very minimal, and need to be positioned in tight range for uvb crucial taxa, to exploit their value, which deprecates mere inches. This can be readily seen with use of a radiometer, with zoomed 10.0 reading out at the best values and slowest deprecation per time of use rate.

If allowed position in range freely, lizards will option to get as close as possible to the tube. There is absolutely no harm in this, in a non defective light.

Most 55 gal tanks are 16" tall. For animals that do not readily scamper up branches or have a gradual stack of rock they will/can use, the distance is too far - especially for UV crucial taxa. I can't think of a north American reptile that is more photo centric as an adult than phrynosoma. Some juvenile lizards and crocodilians maybe, but horned lizards need those wavelengths fresh and tight.

Its such an important factor that all other reasons that could be causing the current behavior cant be read accurately unless its on point. If you are really wanting to get into this species a radiometer would be a worthwhile addition to your husbandry gear.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 27th, 2015, 10:46 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, California
An easy way to fix the dilemma of needing to lower a uvb tube in a tank for lower strata animals like horned lizards and small tortoises is to use a 24 " under cabinet fixture, that already has slots to slip on tapping screws. Get a slender piece of plywood and attach the fixture. I used some flat strips of aluminum for the hanger rack, and screwed them across the top and bent it sharply to hug over the top frame of the tank on sides. Depending on the design of the fixture there will be a cover or panel of clear or frosted plastic. Remove it. Sometimes it pops or slides out, other times there are small screws that need to be removed. But it needs to be discarded so as not to filter out the uvb.

You can use an aquarium hood instead, and just drill or file out a couple holes and screw in the board. They are a little heavier though, so your hanger or rack needs to be secure.

In a 48 " space you should not use less than 24 " of uvb lighting, and a 48" fixture of either type won't fit inside the tank. Hope that helps. I dismantled my 'low rearing enclosure ' I used for many years with animals requiring that strategy as I'm reconstructing space. But its the same I have used with good effect and helped others construct, including some phrynosoma a couple years back, doing great from last report. I will undoubtedly make another one and take pics but I hope my description is useful.

The light should be hung In, not against the wall, even though it is easier to rig it that way. But having it flush to the back wall restricts the bask options of the lizards.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 8:50 am 
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I posted the above in response to what I had to go on, and to describe a quick method with what was described - a 55 gal tank, which is a super common acquired container. I find the lightweight under cabinet fixtures in 24 " length easy to come by in home improvement stores, but if you find 36" by all means, the more light coverage the better, and doubling up on them is preferred - I actually have very few animals that don't have more than one tube, or a tube combined with a laterally positioned coil.

A 55 is a narrow space and lighting it well so that the radiant heat and the uvb work together to provide an integrated resource takes some thoughtful effort.

What I described was easily appropriated with what you describe you have, and non committal in cost since the rack can be constructed from basic materials even garage scrap, and the fixture can be used on a future encl you may end up using for your lizard instead.

You may find the lamp stands that zoomed also makes handy for dropping your heat lamps, and pinpointing their position besides the tubes. They are a real piece of useful gear. Probably the most practical piece of commercial equipment that's come out, in a sea of useless reptile product offerings.

So I just wanted to say good luck, and share a little insider info about gear and spaces.

If the light hits the spot, the restlessness described mitigates almost immediately. But if the lighting is amiss, what I call "cornering" and dysphoric behavior, changes from what you are seeing initially - to torpidity and refusal to eat, and with phrynosoma, it happens rather quickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 1:40 pm 
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I would say that instead of crickets you should try to obtain a culture of bean beetles. These little creatures are extremely productive, one of the easiest feeders to keep around, and they are a perfect substitute for harvester ants both in size, movement, and the amount of chitin they have.

I agree with the previous posters on the UV-but also I would not be too concerned about the climbing behavior yet...they need time to settle in.

Not sure how far away their, err...,not so native habitat is but I think if you could provide an outdoor enclosure that would be ideal.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 4:37 pm 
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Joined: May 18th, 2015, 4:35 pm
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Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Thanks all. He has a very strong UVA+UVB bulb about 8-10 inches above the tank right now. If it continues to be a problem I'll figure out a way to lower it down to 6 inches.
He's eaten the crickets very readily, I just put the 3-4 smallest crickets I have available in there (they have very weak jaws to grab so I figure smaller crickets will be easier) and they are usually gone by the afternoon/whenever I get home from school.
He's a captive bred from E2 exotics. There used to be (or maybe I just can't find them) a population on Fort Moultrie (about 20 minutes away from me). I've spent countless hours searching over the past two years and just can't seem to find them. Many of my other herper/birder friends and friends that have seen them on Ft Moultrie in the past haven't seen them in at least 2-3 years. We've had some pretty harsh winters (that actually killed off a lot of our Common Ground-doves as well), so I wouldn't be surprised if they have, unfortunately, died off. I'd love to make an outdoors habitat but with dogs and winter approaching I'd prefer to keep him outside.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 5:10 pm 
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Is it a Mercury Bulb?

If it is its good to still use a fluorescent zoomed as the one mercury that had an accountable measure of uvb isn't available any more.

Mercury Bulbs are great when they are new, but have a fixed output of radiant heat that can only be adjusted with distance. The husbandry usefulness of the fluorescent 10.0 is that you can control the range of the uvb contact, separately from the radiant heat source, and key them both to an optimum.

A primo situ is using a mercury say, a power sun, as radiant day bulb, with a 10.0 florescent tube as a dependable rate uvb source. If you do that, even when the mercury no longer produces uvb, its still a good heat lamp.The fluorescent 10.0 produces uvb with a gradual, slow decline, while the mercuries fall off rapidly in uvb value after a few months.

If you wait to investigate your lighting you may waste time in stopping the behavior. The physiological response to the lighting is almost immediate. Behavior in photocentric reptiles is intrinsically controlled by good lighting principles.

If the light source is 8 to 10 inches above The Tank, its to far for either. If its a mercury(?) and its that far because of temperature target, it illustrates what I just described. If its a fluorescent - its too far to do anything but effect a trace detection of ultraviolet presence.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 28th, 2015, 6:49 pm 
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I don't know what type of bulb is being used, but as a general note to this subject re lights, it is common for people to confuse the Heat of a mercury bulb with the strength of its uvb, even by those who sell them in places. But the heat of the bulb has no correlation with its ultraviolet values. So, no a mercury bulb and a fluorescent uvb bulb used together will not "overdose " a crucial basker with uvb.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 29th, 2015, 9:26 am 
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One thing that can be a help is putting the thermometer on the ground where the lizard actually lives, rather than the wall. Even in non glass encl there can be a significant disparity between the temps of what the animal is actually experiencing and the wall of the cage. Hypothetically if someone were to use a 160 in a 55 they might find it too expansive for the space, which although considered appropriate by many standards is the length of two human footsteps. 2 closer heat lamps, with the secondary one a regular incandescent flood/spot on a dimmer control, works better in scaling the POTZ of the tank dimension to the thermoregulatory action of the lizard in such a space. That is what settling in, actually is in large factor. And nothing beats a temperature gun. I am not assuming anything in your situ, but taking the opportunity to share some stuff, since the title of your thread will undoubtedly catch the attention of others out there who have acquired phrynosoma in near or far future that may excavate something worthwhile in what we post.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 29th, 2015, 3:05 pm 
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Joined: May 18th, 2015, 4:35 pm
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Location: Charleston, South Carolina
He's doing much better today. So far since I've been home I haven't seen him "climbing" at all, and he ate 2 more crickets! I'll check the bulb's box for info, but it's pretty strong.
Still waiting on the powder to come in though.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 30th, 2015, 4:00 am 
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Location: San Francisco, California
Jack it was deeply appreciated to be able to share on your thread, thank you for your courtesy and indulgence. There is a gentleman I know who moved out of state that I will try to find his number - I did not transfer it to this phone but I know I have it somewhere, and I will pm it to you when I find so perhaps you can exchange notes. He, like you was an engaged keeper of these special lizards, unlike so many people who I have worked with who didn't grasp at all the task they had undertaken.

One such person posted a query a few years back on FHF, about a baby horned lizard they found, that wasn't as fortunate in there care, as Texas Pete is, in yours. I wrote a poem because of the little lizard and re dedicate it to your guy with a happier spirit


the little creatures wore crowns like thorns

triceratops children they would wiggle and swim in the sand

when they looked in the sun they looked a long time and

shed little tears of blood

when they found poison they ate it and it turned into

water

the entire sky knew their breathing

shadows cooling, and leaving.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 30th, 2015, 1:21 pm 
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Good to hear he's doing better, and taking the crickets. I still stand by my original recommendation however. Honestly I think even bearded dragon keepers could use these things...I sold some to a petstore and they recommended them on the occasion. However, the manager realized that if people were smarter and realized what these cultures could do they would lose a ton of cricket sales.


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 Post subject: Re: Keeping Texas Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum)
PostPosted: September 30th, 2015, 2:45 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, California
Hey Joseph, I'm curious about them - and I wouldn't mind recommending them if they're good and can enlarge the diet. PM me more details.


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