"Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

"Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

Postby ugo » Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:27 am

I apologize for *my usual bad english; **my inability to read again what i wrote, then it will be filled with mistakes , as usual.

"Much edo about nothing" (W. Shakespeare)

The huge racks' utility is out of matter ! but there are things we all experience everyday, the most evident are : the APATHY, and the unmotivated, episodic, sudden AGGRESSIVITY of the snakes kept in the racks.
Here some of my past observations and considerations on about 7 years (2000-2006, 3 consecutive breeding seasons), with 5 Species involved, kept i n parallel either in Racks (Freedom Breeders ones http://www.freedombreeder.com/reptile-racks.html ) and Vivaria (Herptek, i use above all this one .http://240plan.ovh.net/~herptek/herptek ... produit=46 also for Corallus and Chondros).
Python regius CB
Morelia spilota cheynei CB
Thamnophis s. tetrataenia CB
Dasypeltis palmarum WC
Naja annulifera WC

There are 2 ways about keeping : 1) USA Keepers are minimalist : newspaper as substrate, a water bowl and an hiding box; 2) European ones prefer a 'naturalistic' viv, too rich in fornitures and hard to mantain and clean: I am in between the 2, my terraria are easy to clean and have surrogates for branches, leaves etc. Sometimes i use newspapers : several studies committed by several organizations (I love to recall U of the most knowledge-rich amongst theEuropean non-professional ones : The EUROPEAN SNAKE SOCIETY,http://www.snakesociety.nl/Y0/y0-index.htm and its journal, Litteratura Serpentium) showed that - a part from a few English newspapers- newspapers and their inks are safe to the snakes and pets.Another study, commissioned by the Chicago Herpetological Society (1985-88, i think ) had similar results. http://www.chicagoherp.org/. The last positive one i read is an Australian study i can quote fully, cause i have here the work : "Preliminary Evaluation of a Recycled Paper Product as a Cage Substrate" by N. Davie, in Advanced Herpetoculture, n° 1, 1996.
For the arboreal snakes i add false leaves -useful as hiding places, for keeping humidity and for drinking- false branches, hidingh box (ttp://www.ms-reptilien.de/product_info. ... ts_id=7689) , and as substrate i use a mix of Sphagnum moss + cocos fibres, pre-loaded in HOT water : every time i spray the viv, it keeps the requested humidity for hours without any mold troubles .(the new product, wood chips, is very promising).

I used only omogeneous data for the 2 groups; data were processed by the STUDENT Q TEST for the SIGNIFICATIVITY, and here are shown those resulting 'Significative' at various degrees.

Given my past, I'm more used to deal with matters from their 'inside' -in the meantime many herpetologists (Avery, Lillywhite) were observing behavior and recordering basking times, i was investigating the possible involvement of localized cerebral GABA and GABA-like receptors in the same basking behavior-.
This is my limit : I can be a PERFECT SUCKER. attempting observations from the 'outside'.
and more : the few snakes involved, the lackness of an objective method -as the double-blind - make these observations NOT SCIENTIFIC ONES at all, they are only friendly notes about what happened to me.
I apologize also for the lack of Bibliography : but since my divorce I am not free to go and check my papers and books at my library, then i put a few ones from memory.

The lack of movement and the prolonged hypoxia -snakes deal well with transitory hypoxia (C. Gans, Series Editor "Biology of Reptilia" vol.5) as stagnant CO2 increase at the lower layer inside the rack's boxes, and the possible light-toxic plastic esalations, and similar, cannot be excluded as contributory causes, even if the first cause appears to be the lack of STIMULI (and movement).
Sensory depression negatively affects all the Vertebrates : Human beings transitionally and experimentally deprived of sensory imputs (sight and touch), lose the kinesthetic sense and go into a state of confusion and shock.
Kittens and youg monkeys raised in an environment lacking of stimuli show 1) huge difficulties in growing up; 2) several pathologic disorders; 3) inability to socialize; 4) inability to mate & breed. The same happened to kittens derpived of sight and mums,but not to kittens deprived of sight and mums but forced to move.(Ethically horrible experiments of the past! I agree with Ur disguste, but our knowledge on Physiology is builded on crudelity!!!!!!!)
(1 for all : "PSYCHOLOGY -as a behaviour science-" H:F: Harlow; R.F. Thompson; J.L. McGaugh. Albion Pub: S.Franc. around 1971)
please : keep in mind snakes are 'social animals', their way. They learn -as every others- a lot from adults as juvenile. they have their social interactions and a very rich life
(A. Siegel, every his works and above all "Snakes. Echology and Behavior"; Crews on Thamnophis; B: Henderson about caribbean Corallus)
By using lizards (Genera Lacerta/Anolis/Dipsosaurus) either as laboratory animals (Crews) and to study thermoregulation (Lillywhite, Avery) and hormones-linked courtship and mating (Crews), Authors noticed they had to modiphy their too simple vivs and make them more interesting -by adding simple wood-cubes at the bottom-in order to avoid the evident apathy of the lizards.
About the so called "fossorial snakes" : there are really a few ones we can put in that group , but they aren't so easy to see in the hobby. Surely we cannot put amongst them the Python regius : although they spend the day buried, their behavior changes totally at night : they love climb and hunt on bushes preys, also on sparrows (Passer sp), not at all a fossorial prey : I quote only 1 paper about the related species P. anchietae, but U can find several about this topic : Spauls, S:"P. anchietae, habitat, behavior, colour, diet" Journalof Herpetological Association of Africa, about 1993, and in the same Journal have to be some other papers by Haagner, if I remember well.
I can add my dayly (ehm... nightly) experience about P. regius night climbing activity!!!!!!!!!!!!
Arbitrarily I took as index of wellness the numbers/frequency of "tongue-flickings"
( see works by Chiszar, D; Chiszar, D and Radcliffe, CW, above all in Animal Behavior, 1988.......2005)
- at every meal
- after cleaning the terrarium
- random by a 5' web-cam recording
tongue flickings were significatively higher in number amongst the snakes in the vivs, showing that the snakes were alert and interested as expected.

Although i took many data about feeding, metabolism and energetics, and i saw which ones followed or diverged from the Dawson-Bennet metabolic equation, i cannot use the collected data because of the inherent limitations of the experimental apparatus (Moruzzi's resting chambers): I performed allometric extrapolations, of course, but we....could fly to Fantasy.
(i strongly advice everyone of U to read again theMetabolism and Energetics in the above quoted vol 5 of the Biology of Reptilia, by C. Gans , Series Editor, Academic Press; current vol 20 and 21 changed Publisher. The 'Toxinologists" amongst U will find there 1 of the 3 very startings of contemporary TOXINOLOGY):
Anyway, only to say something very simple : Thamnophis in the vivaria were more voracious and had higher metabolic rates; P. regius fed more in the racks. Dasypeltis palmarum met the Dawson-Bennet equation only at 23°C.
In the racks the diagram curve had an "S" shape
in the vivs it had a "Steps" shape (a lower growth rate but more lasting)
- MUSCLE TONE and % of muscolar tissue versus % of fat/subcutaneous tissues
Only 2 records (on adult P. regius) by using a Miometer (MYOTON) for spasticity (Tone, Elasticity, Stiffness) :
showed flaccidity of the muscolar tissue and other investigations showed an its % decrease
Resting selected temperature in the racks were colder than the ones in the vivs; of course it can be only an inherent artifact : the rack's boxes are smaller than the vivs and there is not a real 'gradient' inside them, but only a warm side and a cold side.
A light, but significative, increment of morbidity/light diseases amongst the rack's snakes
More frequent in the rack's group
Fertility = numbers of new-borns, either as a total number and as a % versus dead ones + slugs : racks showed a decrement starting from the 2nd breeding season.
Male sperm cells : they were as low in number as always, or having scarce motility, not significative differences between the 2 groups.
A great number of my breeding failures showed that the problem was related to males fertility. Only in C. caninus it was due to the female obesity, like as the fat tissue sequestred the LH and FSH.
There is a direct correspondence between the release of stress-hormones (adrenal gland) and various degrees of reproductive inability in many of the male vertebrates. ( then, perhaps, I have to do more efforts to make the males feeling more confortable in their enclosures).
Since my divorce, given the lack of space, i started keeping snakes in pairs, and i noticed a dramatic improvement of the males sperm!
Surely i omitted or forgot important data

Breeding Chickens

Would U keep Ur puppy, dog or cat, all his life locked in a closet?
I was a collector, now i prefer keeping few snakes/a time.(after a few breeding seasons, i change Species), but still i need racks.
Here people took to the streets and asks for the wellness of chickens and pigs at the breeding farms: Are our snakes less worthy?
I have no solutions : I use racks, but i dislike them.
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Re: "Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

Postby Bushviper » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:21 am

I also use racks but only for some species. Boomslang for example do not like racks.

I have been looking at making my own tubs by combining a see through tub and a grey solid tub which is "welded" together. These tubs will be about 90 litres in size and should work well for a number of species. They will take up more space but the snakes will not be so cramped.

To achieve " Since my divorce, given the lack of space, I started keeping snakes in pairs, and I noticed a dramatic improvement of the males sperm!" you have to keep changing the male and placing him with new females.
It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Those who are afraid to ask are ashamed of learning.
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Re: "Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

Postby ugo » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:24 pm

Thanks, Bushviper

what i meant is that microscopical examinations of the sperma always gave me pics of a low numbers of spermatozoa with a low degree of mobility; this improved in the males kept togehter with females.
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Re: "Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

Postby marc bt » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:49 am

Thank you for the interesting read! I will definitely give this a read through again when planning my new snake room.
a wiseman once said:"you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and feed him for the rest of his life.."
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Re: "Much edo about nothing", Rack versus snakes'wellness

Postby snake kid » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:29 am

Wow that's quite interesting, a bit hard for me to understand at first nut the second time I read it it became clear to me(I'm a bit slow upstairs). Thank you very much for a very interesting read. Luckily all my snakes live in vivariums and I keep them in pairs to save space.
3.1. BCI
1.0. Burmese python
1.0. Taiwanese ratsnake
2.0. Cornsnake 1 normal 1 Butter
1.2. Brown house snake
1.1. Olive house snake
1.0. Mole snake
1.1. Rhombic egg eater
1.0. Coral snake
1.1. Red lipped herald
0.1. Cape cobra
1.1. Night adder
1.1. Puff adder
1.0. boomslang
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