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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If this can be done with reptiles, it "should" be a snap with horses?


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Training

Since the early 1990s, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of operant conditioning techniques to train exotic animals for husbandry purposes. These animal training techniques can assist in facilitating day-to-day care, routine medical procedures, and management of reptiles. The act of training becomes enrichment for both the animal and the keepers as they interact. Any reptile brought into clinics, such as dendrobatid frogs, Bearded Dragons, Green Iguanas, monitor lizards, boas and pythons, and turtles and tortoises, can be trained to calmly and voluntarily enter a crate instead of being physically restrained for crating. Reptiles can also be trained to accept various veterinary procedures such as ultrasounds, nail clipping, blood draws, or even being medicated. Reptiles with chronic conditions requiring regular visits and or treatments can be trained to cooperate for many types of procedures. This kind of training allows for treatment with little to no stress to the animals and client.
 

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I think nearly all creatures *can* be trained. It's up to the trainer to figure out what works for the particular creature. Training different kinds of animals has always been very interesting to me.
 

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First thing that came to my pedantic mind is, they classed frogs as reptiles?? :p Second thought was a zoo doco on happenings at Australian zoos, I saw about... oh prob nearly 20 years ago, but still long after behavioural training had become reasonably well known... Wasn't as if behavioural psyche & operant conditioning were new ideas then, zoos already used the theory/practice on big cats & sea mammals for eg... They were transferring some female zebra from one open plains zoo to another. They brought the zebras in to a small paddock about a month before the transport date, to 'get them used to stuff' - I thought cool! We're going to see them train them & desensitise them to going into a float, etc. Why would they not do that??

They did nothing of the sort, only 'desensitised' them to having people in close proximity & being driven through runs. They then measured the animals, and built solid ply boxes, to be a rather close fit for each animal, so they could be put in the boxes but they couldn't move around in them. When it came time to get the vet to tranquilise the animals, they knocked them out, dragged them onto a sheet of ply & slid them, drawer-like into the boxes. Stood them up & loaded onto a truck. The animals were slumped in the bottom of the boxes then, but should have woken soon after & just had enough space to stand up. Unfortunately when they knocked out one of the mares, she couldn't be slid into her box - it was found she was heavily pregnant & was a lot wider than when they measured her. What do you suppose they did?? I was horrified to see, they got more people, to push & prod & literally squeeze her into the box!! She was jammed in. Apparently when the truckie stopped after a few hrs(was something like 12 hr journey between zoos), he found the distressed mare in foal, still jammed, unable to stand or move. I forget the details, but they were all shocked at the zoo to learn she & her foal died before the truckie could get appropriate help to get her out!

...And when I(and apparently many others) wrote letters of horror at their treatment, we got condescending replies, telling us that zebras were not horses, could not be transported in horse trailers or trucks, that it was obvious the people who wrote to express horror did not appreciate that zebs were 'wild animals' & could not be trained or domesticated, and what they did was 'world's best practice'(!!)

Anyway, my (as usual long winded) way of saying, that info should be sent... on a big billboard... to that zoo!

One thing though, without the use of punishers, I'd be interested to hear of ways of training snakes - an animal that only eats once every 3 weeks or so, doesn't actively like being touched....? My daughter's snakes are... resigned to being handled(& they do seem to be a lot more keen to be picked up by her, as she is the regular 'keeper' & she takes them outside frequently, to enjoy 'naycha', which they do seem to enjoy. But with the only obvious motivator being a fat rat dangled in front of them 3-weekly... how would you train them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I obviously do not know how to train a snake, but from what you say and from what I've read, maybe cut said rat into small pieces and give said snake a small piece each time the snake made a small move toward a goal set by the handler?


The quote came from a science daily article. I thought it was interesting that snakes and turtles were trained. ??Frogs??


There is an annual frog race in California in remembrance of Mark Twain. Wonder if the competitors train their frogs..........
 

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I would love to read @Kalraii on this, as this is one of her areas of expertise.

My son's friend says her snakes know her and come to her. I like snakes, but never found them to be especially personable. However, I'd like to have an open mind, especially when more experienced people tell about their experiences.
 

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Well @Hondo, for many years when my child was young we would enter his bullfrog in various contests that were sponsored by the frog festival. One year he won over all champion for jumping. You could enter your own frog or rent one...
 

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It does amaze me at times to see just how much the animals, reptiles, amphibians, etc can learn when a person is patient and interested in training them.

Food motivation is definitely common, but some creatures just seem to like people more than others.

As a child growing up, the zoo had a large tortoise that gave rides to the kiddos. Every day, this tortoise would walk back and forth from point A to point B, turn around and return to A. Child would get off, next one would get on, and the trip would start again.


I thought it great fun, and we always patted the tortoise's head after the ride. There was no collar, no leash, no prod, nothing to make this kind creature go back and forth, but he did.

Time passed and some group decided it was animal cruelty, so the tortoise was sent off to another zoo, and put in with other ones. He died shortly afterwards :frown_color: we were so sad to hear he had passed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
....and I'm certain the folks that took him to the Zoo are still proud of themselves for saving them.


Gottatrot mentioned about two slugs that came every day when they fed the dogs and waited patiently until the dogs finished and then came down to clean up the scraps.


Well go drag Karaili over here. I hesitated posting this but glad I did.


Calaveras County frog jump? Used to be part of my stomping grounds for a few years. Good friend in Angles Camp.
 

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No, it is a South Louisiana festival celebrating all things Lithobates catesbeianus (Bullfrog to most of us). The rented frog's legs would wind up on your plate after the contests. There are jumping contests (how many in a row, how far), a derby, beauty pageant... Frogger lived the life of luxury in my mother's back yard pond, never to be eaten (by humans at any rate).
 

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So far as snake feeding goes, I'm not sure you could do that Hondo, I think they like food that looks like it was live & decent sized for them. I do recall on a snake forum, when i was learning about them(as i felt my daughter wasnt old enough to be wholely or solely responsible) someone asked if they could feed their big python lots of mice fed daily, instead of big rats or guinea pigs or such & the answer was no, but don't recall the qualification of advisor or reasoning so... They are also slow to eat & digest so don't know how frequently they would want even small feeds... and feeding a warmed (So it's like fresh) rat is one thing but cutting a whole rat, guts & all, into tiny pieces... i dont think i could be bothered training if thats the only option! :lol:

Have had a bearded dragon & a bluetongue that we very basically trained - both just to come when called for food, so we could take them into the garden... & find them again!

And the thought that you can hire frogs QtrBel- too funny! Not sure if hire should be the term if you ate them afterwards tho...

Slugs huh? Spiders can apparently be trained, tho I have NO desire to even consider that one! Tho my daughter also likes spiders & has kept 'pet' Wolfies & Huntsmen(Huntsmans??). They would come out of hiding when they saw her...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm really trying to get my head wrapped around shaping and targeting. I'm doing a lot of reading and youtubing and thought the reptile training was fascinating.


I'm beginning to feel more and more like a cannibal about eating animals. Not for others I'll quickly mention. Just for myself.
 

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^And personally(not meaning to discredit other's reasons/feelings about vegetarianism) I identify strongly with the saying 'it's not the cow, it's the how'. It's a saying I've only heard recently, either made up or popularised by concepts of regenerative farming & how terrible (many) forms of 'meat growing' is for the environment/climate. The principle being, it's not *necessarily* bad for the environment to grow cows for meat, for eg, but intensively farmed, grain fed, 'improved' pasture fed... is not good. My feelings are that eating animals for moral reasons are the same - as an animal lover & meat eater, I don't feel like a 'cannibal', but I am particular about only eating meat that's been grown & processed humanely, as well as sustainably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I do not disagree. At all. Just something that's been rearing it's head for me. It really is a dilemma for me. I have a hard time doing anything that supports industrialized animal farming although I likely do to some extent every day. I've killed, butchered, and eaten meat most all of my life.
 

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Slugs huh? Spiders can apparently be trained, tho I have NO desire to even consider that one! Tho my daughter also likes spiders & has kept 'pet' Wolfies & Huntsmen(Huntsmans??). They would come out of hiding when they saw her...
All I can imagine is multiple large spiders creeping out of dark crevices as you enter a room... No thank you :eek:
 

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I'm really trying to get my head wrapped around shaping and targeting. I'm doing a lot of reading and youtubing and thought the reptile training was fascinating.


I'm beginning to feel more and more like a cannibal about eating animals. Not for others I'll quickly mention. Just for myself.
I've been feeling this way too. Plan to just eat up the food I have, then try eliminating meat and fish.
 

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Well, I obviously do not know how to train a snake, but from what you say and from what I've read, maybe cut said rat into small pieces and give said snake a small piece each time the snake made a small move toward a goal set by the handler?


The quote came from a science daily article. I thought it was interesting that snakes and turtles were trained. ??Frogs??


There is an annual frog race in California in remembrance of Mark Twain. Wonder if the competitors train their frogs..........
Snakes don't really eat like that, in small pieces that is. They're not going to grab and constrict a tiny piece of rodent. I don't think that they would even know what it is. You could probably entice them with other things that they enjoy. You would have to figure out what the particular species that you are working with likes.
 

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I've been feeling this way too. Plan to just eat up the food I have, then try eliminating meat and fish.
It's easier than people think! I've been a vegetarian for 12(ish?) years. I started not because I felt politically inclined to, but because I just didn't like meat. Not supporting factory farming is a big bonus though. I'm always surprised when people ask me "So what do you eat?" as if they think I'm vegan, gluten free, and allergic to water. Uh, all the same stuff as you but without the meat? Pizza is still on the table (literally) and that seems like everyone's favorite! Blood tested and all with no deficiencies, which also breaks the "that can't possibly be healthy" stereotype.
 

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When I was a kid (sometime in the last century) I caught a lizard - we called them alligator lizards because they could get up to 14" long - and made a pet of it. Herman actually seemed to like me. I could put my hand in his terrarium and he would crawl up my arm, under my hair and settle around my neck. I'd "wear" him to school, and he'd crawl down my arm and into my desk through the ink-well hole (look it up kids. Desks used to have lift tops and a hole for the ink bottle). I don't know that I trained him, it was more along the lines of him doing something I liked and getting rewarded by being out of his cage.
 

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Snakes don't really eat like that, in small pieces that is. They're not going to grab and constrict a tiny piece of rodent. I don't think that they would even know what it is. You could probably entice them with other things that they enjoy. You would have to figure out what the particular species that you are working with likes.
Yes, my thoughts too, but as I said to Hondo, comments that snakes *shouldn't* be fed like that are yet to be qualified either tho. And yes, I'm sure there are other(non-punishment) motivators than food, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any useful... Hanging out in a tree. Basking under a light or in the sun or on their heat mats when they're cold. Hiding in their hide when they want peace & quiet or are too hot... They do seem to enjoy being taken outside & exploring, but how do you use any of that for training?? And people say that food treats/clicker training for horses is impractical!

But I'm far from any snake expert, and as I do know one - albeit native, venomous locals who he relocates for people & has no desire to train them - I've put the question to him. Stay tuned, he might come up with something interesting. I have no doubt they could be trained with punishment, but of course, you wouldn't want to do that to a pet, except you wanted to teach a... snappy one not to strike perhaps. A lot of people keep guineafowl for their behaviour towards snakes - they will mob them, then chase them away from their home area. I'm sure if a snake were chased a few or more times from a certain area, they'd learn to stay away...
 
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