#ThrowbackThursday 1

Happy #ThrowbackThursday everyone. This week we serve up some papers for making your Herps happier.


Warwick, C., Arena, P., Lindley, S., Jessop, M. and Steedman, C., 2013. Assessing reptile welfare using behavioural criteria. In Practice, 35(3), pp.123-131.

While clinical reptile medicine as a science is in its ascendancy among veterinary surgeons and other interested groups, familiarity with the often related issue of reptilian behavioural and psychological health appears less common. Behavioural change in reptiles, as in other animals, is often the primary indicator of disturbance, injury or disease. Just as a behavioural sign may be an indicator of stress or a physical problem, a physical sign may be an indicator of a behavioural problem, and abnormal behaviour may result in injury and disease. This article focuses on abnormal behaviour in reptiles, including signs of captivity-stress, injury and disease and their aetiologies, and takes a fresh look at some old and established biological and husbandry problems. Concise diagnostic guidance on behaviour issues is also included. The article might serve to prompt questions that may be asked of reptile keepers when evaluating animal and husbandry background.

Silvestre, A.M., 2014. How to assess stress in reptiles. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, 23(3), pp.240-243.

Stress, as an adaptive response of any animal to a stimulus that presents a threat to homeostasis, can occur in reptiles. Yet, many veterinarians fail to recognize the signs of stress in reptiles. In this article, evaluation of reptile stress has been discussed with a focus on the analysis of behavioral changes, neuroendocrine correlation, and biochemical and physiologic effects in reptiles. If stress can be assessed and treated properly in captive reptiles, their health and well-being can be optimized.


Burghardt, G.M., 2013. Environmental enrichment and cognitive complexity in reptiles and amphibians: concepts, review, and implications for captive populations. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147(3), pp.286-298.
Reptiles and amphibians have been neglected in research on cognition, emotions, sociality, need for enriched and stimulating environments, and other topics that have been greatly emphasized in work on mammals and birds. This is also evident in the historic lack of enriching captive environments to reduce boredom and encourage natural behavior and psychological well-being. This paper provides those responsible for the care of reptiles and amphibians a brief overview of concepts, methods, and sample findings on behavioral complexity and the role of controlled deprivation in captive herpetological collections. Most work has been done on reptiles, however, and so they are emphasized. Amphibians and reptiles, though not admitting of easy anthropomorphism, do show many traits common in birds and mammals including sophisticated communication, problem solving, parental care, play, and complex sociality. Zoos and aquariums are important resources to study many aspects of these often exotic, rare, and fascinating animals, and rich research opportunities await those willing to study them and apply the wide range of methods and technology now available.

Ferguson, G.W., Brinker, A.M., Gehrmann, W.H., Bucklin, S.E., Baines, F.M. and Mackin, S.J., 2010. Voluntary exposure of some western‐hemisphere snake and lizard species to ultraviolet‐B radiation in the field: how much ultraviolet‐B should a lizard or snake receive in captivity?. Zoo biology, 29(3), pp.317-334.
Studies of voluntary exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the sun in the field were conducted in the southern US and Jamaica for 15 species of lizards and snakes occupying various habitats. Species were sorted into four zones of UVB exposure ranging from a median UV index of 0.35 for zone 1 to 3.1 for zone 4. Guidelines for UVB exposure in captivity of these and species occupying similar light environments are presented. Data for most species were collected during mid-day during the spring breeding season, which appeared to be the time of maximum exposure. For two species of Sceloporus studied more intensively there was significant variation of exposure among times of the day and among seasons. So, all-day studies over the entire active season are necessary to fully understand the pattern of natural exposure for a particular diurnal species. Environmental and body temperature and thermoregulation as well as UVB/vitamin D photoregulation influences exposure to UVB. Regressions allowing the inter-conversion of readings among some meters with different detector sensitivities are presented. Readings of natural sunlight predict the same photobiosynthetic potential for vitamin D as the same reading from artificial sources whose wavelength distribution within the UVB band of the source is comparable to that of sunlight. Research approaches to further increase our understanding of vitamin D and UVB use and requirements for squamate reptiles in captivity are outlined.
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