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 Post subject: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 18th, 2015, 5:33 pm 

Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 360
Location: CT
What are everyone's thoughts on wild collected feeders? I guess I am specifically referring to insects/invertebrates, but if you would like to add about rodents, fish, etc, just specify. Assuming you collect from an area without pesticide or chemical use, the question is: are the benefits from a varied diet worth the risk of parasites and/or potential toxicity?

I am sort of on the fence and have wavered back and forth throughout my days of keeping. Some things I have done to minimize the risk (in my mind anyway):
I never use snails because they are known to be a common parasite vector
Similarly I don't use slugs that I find on the crawl, only ones found under cover. Some parasites make their hosts act strangely.
I don't use brightly colored, strong smelling, or hairy insects.
I don't use lightning bugs, they are known to be toxic to at least some lizards.

If anyone knows any specific inverts that are toxic to reptiles, that would be useful into to put here.

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 18th, 2015, 8:24 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Location: San Francisco, California
What kind of variety are you looking for? The sensate enrichment of diverse prey dispatch or a desire to fill potential gaps in nutrition?

I do suspect the limited array of prey species available may induce dietary excesses, but deficiencies not as much as is most easily believed. Nutrient profile and resources of biological bodies fall unto some very basic perimeters - right down to fluid salts that keep ionic balance.

I think reliance on pinkies for vert value for large frogs, would be better filled for instance, with smaller frogs, not for what the frogs have, and the pinkies don't, but for what the pinkies have, that frogs don't ingest normally or need (mammalian milk).

Both pinkies and frogs have good usable tissues for nutrition however.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 18th, 2015, 8:31 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:11 pm
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Location: cape cod ma.
I feed my dendrobatids collected termites and midges. I've never had any problems. In the distant past I maintained a breeding pair of five lined skinks entirely on collected insects. Bess beetle larvae were a favorite. I would get multiple clutches from the female most years.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 18th, 2015, 8:44 pm 
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Termites are clean and everyone loves to eat them.

Wild insects also self groom, which crickets attempt but are often inundated by waste and overcrowded factor in culture, that make them a primary transmitter for pinworms and a myriad of other microbial life that are potentially pathogenic. Cultured live food does not guarantee vector free food, at all.

I have a friend who lost many rare dendrobates to mycobacterium, which he pursued to trace. He is a physician and had full resources available to do so. The culprit was fruit fly culture, the flies carried it from the media on their feet, bringing it in contact virtually everywhere they touched.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 19th, 2015, 10:00 am 

Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
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Location: CT
Kelly Mc wrote:
What kind of variety are you looking for? The sensate enrichment of diverse prey dispatch or a desire to fill potential gaps in nutrition?


I suppose both, but with more emphasis on the nutrition aspect. Another reason would just be availability. There is always something to be found while out working in the yard. Or instead of shooing insects out the window from inside my house, just dropping them into one of my reptile enclosures.

So let me ask it this way: given your comment on overcrowded domestic feeder insects, are wild collected inverts more or less of a risk of parasite transmission?

Does anyone know if ladybugs are safe for herps? I get a bunch of those in my house this time of year. I've never tried them due to my "brightly colored" rule.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 19th, 2015, 10:20 am 

Joined: March 30th, 2014, 12:16 pm
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Location: Okaloosa ca, Fla.
My focus being eastern hognose snakes, right now I only use collected feeders. I use southern toads, southern leopard frogs, and bronze/green frogs for adults. For neonates I use small toads, cricket frogs, and just recently I have found success with using green tree frogs on neonates.

I will freeze large ranid frogs for my adults, but I've noticed neonate eastern hogs are partially stimulated by visual cues and tend to move towards live food only if toads are not the food being provided. This is often the case as young southern toads grow very rapidly and it is difficult to find enough of the proper size, so cricket frogs and tree frogs must be used to augment the diet at times.

I've been keeping eastern hogs for over 5 years now and I have never had any parasite issues with my healthy snakes when giving live anurans. The only parasite issues I have had have been from pre-infected WC snakes.

Now when I have kept water snakes in the past I'll offer live fish collected at the same sites as the snakes, but otherwise I will always freeze the fish first. I don't use pet-store feeder fish - for my area the only feeders are goldfish.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 19th, 2015, 11:20 am 
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I would not use ladybugs. The bright color being a tip off that they may be poisonous or at least taste horrible. Flies, moths and spiders are usually pretty safe.
Kelly, I try to be very fussy with fly cultures. The slightest hint of mold and in the trash they go.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 19th, 2015, 11:22 am 
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Kfen wrote:
Kelly Mc wrote:
What kind of variety are you looking for? The sensate enrichment of diverse prey dispatch or a desire to fill potential gaps in nutrition?


I suppose both, but with more emphasis on the nutrition aspect. Another reason would just be availability. There is always something to be found while out working in the yard. Or instead of shooing insects out the window from inside my house, just dropping them into one of my reptile enclosures.

So let me ask it this way: given your comment on overcrowded domestic feeder insects, are wild collected inverts more or less of a risk of parasite transmission?

Does anyone know if ladybugs are safe for herps? I get a bunch of those in my house this time of year. I've never tried them due to my "brightly colored" rule.


Many Beetles can have noxious secretions to protect themselves from predators, and I think ladybugs are one of those. If you are going for representation of insect groups as a feeding ideal, ask Joseph about Bean Beetles - they sound like a better option.

But there are always risks of transmission when feeding live food, collected or cultured. Only your personal scale can assess the risks and decide what is best.

The issue of different insect species providing different nutrition or filling gaps is theoretical, with an option of approaching that ideal - but with a measure of control being the choice I employ. Larvae will have a richer phospholipid profile than their adult counterparts - which make them a valuable energy source. Don't fall victim to what I call Dietary Anthropomorphism - as far as Fats are Bad! They aren't. They are necessary for cells to live and function, and sate the appetite. But some types are normally encountered and mobilized and some aren't, depening on what an animal has evolved to eat.

Other differences in insects are chitin amounts, and constituents of its own feeding platform. Its more important what the insect was feeding on all along then what is in its gut at the time of feeding it out. Carrot and apple bits in the gut of a cricket have almost nill value to a carnivore, that incompletely assimilates plant based matter. Its the constitution of the insect that has value.

If you choose 3 or 4 feeder insect subjects, including a larvae type or two and raise them as cleanly and nutritiously as possible, and use additional supplementation prudently, you will have no deficiencies.

Our cultures reliance and willingness to use poisons to control insects and unwanted plant life (possibly ingested by insects), plus the ability od insects to travel, contact and possibly accumulate unknown factors is something to consider.

There are also esoteric parasites and natural chemistries of insects and plants we know little about in reference to feeding them to other animals, and non indigenous roles that should be considered also.

I make sure I feed different sizes, and stages of what I feed. Hard adults, fresh molted softies, etc. Keeping their water and food fresh, and making sure their container is frequently clean - for where there are numbers, there is great amount of fecal matter.

I also feed some of my animals frozen thawed insects on forceps or habituated feeding situ. These animals have the most tight, mildly odiferous stools Ive ever seen - more like what you would expect from wild scat then the soft repellent stools often seen with bearded dragons that eat many live smelly e coli infused crickets per sitting.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 19th, 2015, 11:29 am 
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pete wrote:
I would not use ladybugs. The bright color being a tip off that they may be poisonous or at least taste horrible. Flies, moths and spiders are usually pretty safe.
Kelly, I try to be very fussy with fly cultures. The slightest hint of mold and in the trash they go.



I was really jarred when my friend told me about his guys. I had a thief ant situation and their little feet walking in and out was the exact opposite of what I try to achieve, they only like certain guys though - mostly my gallotia that I give thawed dubia to. With no trace of their existence any where at all, they will appear within minutes of a thawed dubia. They are at bay now but I had to change my feeding protocols. Cant leave the food in and go to work. No leftovers allowed.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 10:50 am 
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One has to think or at least I do about the uniformity inherent to captivity and how the feeding event is one of few opportunities to provide some neural excitation. Its underestimated currently, but I think that will change.

The nutrients that are important to include in diet are easily met with cultured sources and informed use of supplement, for instance beta carotene is less appropriate for carnivore use than vt A palmitate, so read ingredients.

Giving experiences to captive animals I see as an act of astute compassion. I am not comparing or quantifying the experiences, but that they occur.

I would like to see my lizards grapple with the quandary of large powdery wings, fat egg filled abdomens and a motherload of fly larvae on a fallen fig. I would like that. I like the challenge of trying to provide some equivalences of those experiences.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 12:26 pm 
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I think the potential for poisoning captives is very much overstated. I regularly feed stuff I find around lights and from field sweepings to my reptile captives.

While fireflies have been linked to deaths in reptiles-their are a couple anecdotes from Dendroboard.com of people feeding them to Phyllobates terribilis (their heads light up apparently) with no reported ill effects. That being said weeding out anything that is suspicious is always good.

I am more leery of collecting feeders for amphibians due to chytrid. I would personally avoid WC termites for this reason though the risk is minimal. On dendroboard great recipes for termite traps to allow easy access to lots of the little buggers. The other possible contamination in termites is pressure treated wood.

I also think some folk are overly concerned about keeping animals parasite free. Some parasites are very harmful(and you do risk those feeding WC amphib and reptile prey items-but apparently simus has had no issues...Bob Applegate reports giving his mountain kings protozoan parasites from feeder lizards), but many are benign-some are even proving to be commensals(pinworms). I had my bluetongue skinks fecals done and one came back with lots of pinworms...I'm sure they both had them. While many people would freak out and treat-given that these skinks are omnivores I bet they are an important part of the gut microfauna. Skinks involved never showed any outward signs(the one that had the highest pinworm numbers she was strong and solid as a brick and very beefy!)


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 1:30 pm 
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Almost all bearded dragons fed live crickets getting a float will come up with something, but the problem is the continued influx of organisms that surpass and complex what some would consider commensal load. Other husbandry factors common to casual GP care have affected parasite loads, to interfere with general health.

Because of such a readily booming rate of multiplication it isn't necessary to worry about any lack of gut flora unless its to replenish lost activity due to antimicrobial medication.

It depends on how careful one wants to be with a subject. I remember breeding small phelsuma species and leaving my window open all day with fruit in the baby cages, the window opened to a wildly overgrown back yard and small diptera of many species would go into the screens to feed the geckos, which were hatching like crazy as phelsuma are so productive. And a wooden environment I had that seasonally produced a multitude of winged termites that were eagerly zapped up by the two polychrus lizards that lived in it, some treated wood probably, but very old. The polychrus lived in excess of 10 years and were both homed with reports of continued flourish later, but perhaps the termites only ingested the non treated aspects of construction, and the branches. But it happened about once a year and I allowed it, didn't move them or try to eradicate them. Out of curiousity a co worker and I tasted them ourselves. They tasted like sunflower seeds only lighter in flavor.

But with my gallotia group or my two whites tree frogs - whom are 15 and 16 years old and in stellar condition, I wouldn't take the chance of feeding them any organism of unknown contact.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 2:31 pm 
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I have used wild or field collected feeders for many years without issue. As a rule I never collect from areas that I am not sure are pesticide free. I also use plants grown in my yard (weeds) as well.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 2:52 pm 
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Kelly Mc wrote:
Almost all bearded dragons fed live crickets getting a float will come up with something, but the problem is the continued influx of organisms that surpass and complex what some would consider commensal load. Other husbandry factors common to casual GP care have affected parasite loads, to interfere with general health.



This statement isn't speculative. Over a span of 16 years (and more if i count other places) Ive had much contact with people owning reptiles and seeking veterinary referral, and/or discussing findings and issues with their reptiles. In bearded dragons in particular - there is always some positive finding. With the more exotics oriented and ethical practitioners in this area, the load is assessed and not automatically treated.

A word to the wise - if you do buy crickets and there are dead, dark, decomposed crickets in the bag even a couple - or an inordinately putrid smell, or apon placing the crickets in a container and spraying some water or moist food offered they glom like crazy, its a bad sign.

At the place I worked the cricket routine was strict, and admittedly arduous, a never ending monitor and chore of 1000 - 2000 crix per bin. They didnt always look or smell wonderful, but they received daily cleaning, fresh food and clean water that was refreshed daily, and sometimes twice. If you go to a place and they keep the crickets out of public view - ask to see them. if its a no, another bad sign.

But the above protocol is only a maintenance basic. There are no assurances, with raising ones own feeders being a desirable choice. It becomes second nature, and in using reductive measures and control in feeding practices I have noticed it does matter.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 3:01 pm 

Joined: March 30th, 2014, 12:16 pm
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Location: Okaloosa ca, Fla.
That is a very interesting note you made about buying crickets. Luckily I don't use crickets anymore.

My beardy is now on an almost all vegetation diet, she's getting into her later later years now. For gut loading toads before I feed them to my hogs, I use chopped earthworm now days. There is no findings backing it, but I believe that because of the nature of earthworms, they provide more nutrition to the toads and therefor more to my hognoses, than would crickets purchased at a bait store.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: November 20th, 2015, 3:04 pm 
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Some methods are useful simply because they narrow the field of troubleshooting a problem by a helpful rationale of elimination.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: December 6th, 2015, 7:14 pm 
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Years ago I rescued a YOY fox snake that a coworker caught on a glue board just before killing frosts occurred. This coincides with Dormice making their way into my garage to eat the grain and seed for my mouse colonies. So I live trapped about a dozen or more of the Dormice. I successfully bred them, and fed off the babies as the Fox snake wouldn't take the domestic mice. The downside was that they smell about 11 times worse than domestic lab mice. Which is impressive.


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 Post subject: Re: wild collected feeders
PostPosted: December 7th, 2015, 12:15 pm 
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Haha geez. I can only imagine


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