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Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:09 am
by hurricanejen
A few of you may remember a couple months ago, I had posted about my northerns coming out of brumation and being completely unable to stand each other. Before brumation, they had lived together for about a year, bred, and no problems were had. Immediately after coming up from brumation, there was some breeding activity, and then some extreme aggression began taking place between the two.

I had asked for advice from anyone who had tried housing theirs together as well, and got some response that was helpful. What I ended up doing was housing them separately until both were back up to their pre-brumation weight, and fat and sassy, and generally doing well. I then tried some intros while soaking, while outside the cage, and then in the cage itself.

No dice. Outside of the cage, some minor huffing and puffing, and they generally avoided each other, but no actual chasing each other down types of aggression. Soaking, no problem at all. But in the cage itself? Nope, while initially there wasn't much in the way of fighting, after a day together, this morning the male was actively displaying towards my female (which is interesting, if you haven't seen it before), and while initially she avoided it, she did end up going after him. So, they are separated, and will remain so except for breeding. Neither one has serious injuries, I removed them before that could happen, but they were definitely intending to cause some harm if they remained together for too much longer.

I am not sure why they were okay before, but are not now - I have no way to test things like hormonal levels (could be brumation triggered a change in those that had not been there previously - this year was the first year I brumated them), and perhaps they were just young enough before that they did not have what they felt were established territories. I don't have a larger cage anymore to test out if it's just not enough space, which I suspect may be a big part of it - with all the space in the apartment to choose from and interact with, they would interact, but on their own terms. The cage I was trying for them now is only 4 x 2 x 2, okay for one adult but cramped quarters for two.

Anyway, for anyone who had read that or followed that at all, the end result is that they are separate and will remain so. :) Thanks to the folks who gave me advice the first time around, I appreciate the help!

-Jen

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:32 pm
by Katrina
Thanks for following up, it is really interesting to hear that. Sorry it didn't work out, I found it really interesting.

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:53 pm
by Jeff
I don't remember how old you said the skinks were before, but my first thought was that they just weren't fully mature before this year. I know that my northerns seem to continue to mature and behave differently for about three years. This is even if they reach adult size and breed before that. My male shinglebacks were born in 2008, aand they have been quite different every breeding season so far. They were best friends the first two years, then the third year there was obvioous tension between them, and this year there was been some actual aggression between them.

Age is one possibility, but I have heard a number of stories where adult skinks have been kept together for a number of years with no problems at all, and then one day the keeper comes home to find a bloody mess. I am also sure that some have been kept together without incident for life. It is the unpredictability of keeping multiple scincoides together that causes many of us to strongly discourage keeping them together, at least in a normal sized indoor enclosure. I'm glad that you kept a close enough eye on them to know they needed to be separated before either was seriously hurt. You can probably imagine what kind off damage they could do to each other if they would have been left together for any length of time unsupervised.

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:28 pm
by Richard.C
thanks for the update jen,had a feeling it would be like that,normally once they start,theres a good chance they wont mellow,sometimes its just during mating then they mellow again,other times they dont,i still have a trio together,no sign of aggression at all,all the rest have been seperated as they get aggressive straight away

if yours did mate,theres a chance the female is gravid,if so,could explain the aggression,though with my trio,both females were gravid and were still fine with the male,but out side of breeding cycle,they both dislike the other male whom bred them

for peace of mind ,keeping them by them selves is the best bet

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:24 am
by hurricanejen
Jeff- They will be 3 this year, and bred for the first time last year. That was one of my thoughts as well, that they simply hadn't matured fully yet. I am still extremely curious what their behavior would be like when offered a much larger space to cohabitate in, but since at this time I can't provide that size of a cage, I guess that will have to wait! I adore them both, knowing what I did, that they could end up getting aggressive towards each other again, I couldn't just leave them alone right off the bat. Glad I didn't!

Richard - I believe mine mated, I saw definite mating activity, but the female's appetite the last couple weeks has not been reflecting a state of being gravid. She was a pig for a while, wolfing down everything, but the last few weeks she's been eating little and sleeping most of the time. Weight is good, heat is fine, although at 70 the night time temps are cooler than they were during the time she was gravid last year. She's not nearly as huge as she was last year before she gave birth, so I dunno...

More tinkering required I suppose. Thanks guys!

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:56 am
by Richard.C
females often go funny eating wise not long after mating,weather it has to do with fertilisation who knows but they can do just as u describe,when did she drop last season,still alot of time to bulk up i would have thought,im not sure bigger caging always solves the aggression,i know its common even in large outdoor enclosures,but does at least give them more of a chance to escape and avoid it

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:12 am
by hurricanejen
Last year she dropped in July, but she also bred later in the year. This year they were locking up in early/mid January, so my thought was that she *should* be dropping babies around May. Last year, she could not stop eating - she even chased my dog off his food bowl one day while roaming the apartment (this made me laugh so hard I cried). Didn't matter what it was, she'd try and eat it. This year...she started that way but the last couple weeks just not nearly the same appetite, next to no appetite at all.

She does still eat a little bit, and drink, and her weight is still on the heavier side of normal...just strange.

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:18 am
by Richard.C
ahhhh,k,could just be hiding her pregnacy well ,could be quite close to dropping to i guess,they are fiesty,can imagine it chasing dog off its food,the chap i got some of my northern from had them free in the house alot to,with an adult desert sand goanna,of over 3 feet in length,they used to chase it off to strangely enough

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:47 pm
by hurricanejen
She ended up dropping 14 babies and 2 slugs at the very end of June... So pretty close to the same time last year.

She is still a gigantic b*tch of a lizard.

Re: Update on housing Northern BTS together

Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:57 am
by Richard.C
Nice jen,

Feisty lasses usually hold there feistiness,lol,my feisty female was mated again today,this time though she was biting back,male didnt give up and copped it for his efforts,i think the windows shut for this season now