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Is Dozer obese?

DangerousDann

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149
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Someone posted a comment on my last dozer video stating Dozer was way too obese and was going to die from gout. I know Dozer is a bit chunky, and I have cut back the amount of food. What she wrote was pretty nasty, but if he is in fact in danger, I would very much like to correct it. Can someone please give me some advice
 

Walter1

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Someone posted a comment on my last dozer video stating Dozer was way too obese and was going to die from gout. I know Dozer is a bit chunky, and I have cut back the amount of food. What she wrote was pretty nasty, but if he is in fact in danger, I would very much like to correct it. Can someone please give me some advice
DD- overweight. Just cut back some. Maybe 1/4.

Cheers Pal.
 

DangerousDann

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149
DD- overweight. Just cut back some. Maybe 1/4.

Cheers Pal.
Thank you Walter

I started cutting back a few days ago when I noticed he was getting a little lethargic, and was just laying under his lights, which I thought was partly due to the weather changing and wasn't sure if Tegu's pack on extra weight if the hibernate.

The person who left the comment called me deplorable and couldn't control when and what I feed him, which isn't true
 

Walter1

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What's to be gained by that person being rude? Nothing positive.

You're right. Tegus add weight best they can before brumation. When they emerge, they'll have lost some weight. They don't have to expend much if any energy in captivity to find a meal, so easy to gain weight. Ah, just like people in well-to-do countries.
 
Last edited:

Roadkill

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I would have to agree that your tegu is obese, however there is a lot of bad advice out there with regards to feeding and husbandry that could easily lead anyone astray. How often have we heard "feed them as much as they can eat every day" recommended for juveniles? Or people asking how they can make their pets grow fast? Reptiles have a much lower metabolism than most pets we are familiar with, and that kind of feeding schedule is literally killing them with kindness. There's a general rule of thumb we often state in comparative physiology to teach students a rough idea of caloric needs of various types of animals. If you had a bird the same mass as your tegu, the caloric intake needed to sustain the bird for one day is enough to sustain the same mass of reptile for 40 days. Add in that in captivity there is little to encourage the tegu to practice any exercise (they don't have to hunt, avoid predators, etc.) and obesity becomes an all too common problem.

My advice is to cut back the frequency of feedings, the volume of feedings, and to try incorporating less nutrient dense food items such as fruits and veggies. From what I've seen in the video, it does look like your tegu appears to have full movement range of his limbs and otherwise has good skeleton formation, so probably the biggest problem to overcome is just obesity.
 

DangerousDann

Active Member
Messages
149
I would have to agree that your tegu is obese, however there is a lot of bad advice out there with regards to feeding and husbandry that could easily lead anyone astray. How often have we heard "feed them as much as they can eat every day" recommended for juveniles? Or people asking how they can make their pets grow fast? Reptiles have a much lower metabolism than most pets we are familiar with, and that kind of feeding schedule is literally killing them with kindness. There's a general rule of thumb we often state in comparative physiology to teach students a rough idea of caloric needs of various types of animals. If you had a bird the same mass as your tegu, the caloric intake needed to sustain the bird for one day is enough to sustain the same mass of reptile for 40 days. Add in that in captivity there is little to encourage the tegu to practice any exercise (they don't have to hunt, avoid predators, etc.) and obesity becomes an all too common problem.

My advice is to cut back the frequency of feedings, the volume of feedings, and to try incorporating less nutrient dense food items such as fruits and veggies. From what I've seen in the video, it does look like your tegu appears to have full movement range of his limbs and otherwise has good skeleton formation, so probably the biggest problem to overcome is just obesity.
Since posting this, I have cut back on the amount (portion) that i've been giving him. I've had trouble finding info on how much/how often to feed him. Based on advice i got from a local pet store that I stopped going to, I was told to feed him what he could eat in 10 minutes, well, Dozer can eat a medium Rat, 3 grapes and a handful of turkey.

If you were me, how much and how often would you feed him?

I appreciate any advice

P.S. this was the comment left on the video "The poor tegu is waaayyyy too obese. Like literally his arms look like sausage links they're so fat. If he doesn't already, which I doubt he doesn't, he'll get gout and that will kill him quickly, all because you can't control when and what he eats. Deplorable."

Just mean with no helpful advice
 

Roadkill

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Well, while they are correct in the tegu being obese (sorry), they also are quite ignorant in claiming that obesity will lead to gout (while eating habits are related to gout, it is more to do with content of certain compounds as opposed to total caloric intake)....and yes, the end bit was rude and uncalled for.

Tegus in the wild are.....well, I pretty much guarantee that if any hobbyist ever encountered a real, wild tegu, they'd think they're starving. The majority of wild tegus I've seen are disturbingly thin (there are exceptions). They also get lots of exercise and are amazingly fast (trying to catch a wild tegu on the run while you're chasing them is pretty much impossible without barriers or something to slow them up). Hence why I bring up the exercise angle. Having said that, I can't say the best way to encourage them to get exercise. Lots of roaming space, I have a set up where my tegus can get out to roam, but they have to go through a difficult climb to do so (I understand this may not be easy for people to accomplish with their own situation). As for feeding...particularly with an obese adult, I recommend trying to have a diet of 50/50 animal protein/vegetation, if they're not breeding they can probably go with a feeding of once every 3-4 days (being hungry isn't a bad thing.....), and of course lots of stimulation to get them mobile.
 

DangerousDann

Active Member
Messages
149
Well, while they are correct in the tegu being obese (sorry), they also are quite ignorant in claiming that obesity will lead to gout (while eating habits are related to gout, it is more to do with content of certain compounds as opposed to total caloric intake)....and yes, the end bit was rude and uncalled for.

Tegus in the wild are.....well, I pretty much guarantee that if any hobbyist ever encountered a real, wild tegu, they'd think they're starving. The majority of wild tegus I've seen are disturbingly thin (there are exceptions). They also get lots of exercise and are amazingly fast (trying to catch a wild tegu on the run while you're chasing them is pretty much impossible without barriers or something to slow them up). Hence why I bring up the exercise angle. Having said that, I can't say the best way to encourage them to get exercise. Lots of roaming space, I have a set up where my tegus can get out to roam, but they have to go through a difficult climb to do so (I understand this may not be easy for people to accomplish with their own situation). As for feeding...particularly with an obese adult, I recommend trying to have a diet of 50/50 animal protein/vegetation, if they're not breeding they can probably go with a feeding of once every 3-4 days (being hungry isn't a bad thing.....), and of course lots of stimulation to get them mobile.
Thank you ,
I knew he was getting overweight at the end of summer but thought he was getting ready for brumation.

As far as exercise , he now has free roam of his room, that was the intent of the video was to show him exploring his new room , but then got that comment , and wasn't sure if I had to worry about dozer dying on Thanksgiving when I got that comment .

He had been just laying around most of the day, so I made the jump to completely redo his room so he can free roam and get exercise, giving him a basking area , and areas where he can climb on.

Thank you for your help and I will definitely make the needed adjustments
 

Walter1

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Thank you ,
I knew he was getting overweight at the end of summer but thought he was getting ready for brumation.

As far as exercise , he now has free roam of his room, that was the intent of the video was to show him exploring his new room , but then got that comment , and wasn't sure if I had to worry about dozer dying on Thanksgiving when I got that comment .

He had been just laying around most of the day, so I made the jump to completely redo his room so he can free roam and get exercise, giving him a basking area , and areas where he can climb on.

Thank you for your help and I will definitely make the needed adjustments
Like having a dog- just because it will eat to a standstill doesn't mean that it should. My three young adults are fed twice, sometimes three times, each week during summer. Sometimes enough to fill them, sometimes just what I have.

I'm eager to hear how Dozer responds to the free-roam.
 

Roadkill

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Just wanted to add something I had thought of later. While the "free-roam" is a great start, I could easily see it not doing as much as you'd like. Working as I do in animal research, something that has become not just popular but considered a very important part of animal husbandry ethics is the concept of "environmental enrichment" (as well as other forms of "enrichment"). This is basically a conscious effort to include additions to the animal's environment that promote natural behaviours (to inhibit stereotypy) and engage or stimulate them mentally. An open room of little else will only promote exploring for so long. For some animals, the addition of toys does lots for their well-being, but I can't say I've seen much that I'd call a "toy" for tegus, other than old clothes or sheets. You clearly have the space in there to incorporate more, I recommend perhaps trying the addition of drift wood, hollow logs, large PVC pipes, stuff to encourage your tegu to explore. It doesn't have to be natural looking unless that is what you want. Simple things like old buckets or coffee tables might be of great interest to your tegu. The other thing to keep in mind is what you often see in good zoos. They don't just toss this stuff in there and leave it be. They periodically go in and rearrange things, make it all "new" on a routine basis.

As I stated in my own case, I have a means that encourages climbing - but while I think this is great I stress ALWAYS with people and their tegus that climbing has it's downside - the fall. Tegus do not "jump down" or "climb down" gracefully, they drop, and any significant height compounded with the tegu's large mass and head-first descent is a recipe for snapping that head back and possibly causing real serious injury. I always recommend "climbing space" be constructed in such a way as to ensure the animal cannot fall.

Another enrichment technique is to hide the food. We all know how easy it is for tegus to become habituated with their food. A strategy some places use is to hide the food in things that require the animal to have to work at it to get it out. Another technique is to hide it in different structures each time to encourage looking for it (yesterday we put the food in that hollow log, tomorrow we'll put it on top of that large rock). I've even seen zoos incorporate a sort of physical puzzle for the food item, like placing a solid piece of food on an oddly balanced log suspended by a swinging rope from the ceiling. Yet still another enrichment technique is that which we often see in aquariums with marine mammals, getting the animal to perform a simple task in order to receive a morsel of food. Believe it or not, I've been shown a video where a zoo incorporated this technique with alligators, and the simple tasks were not so much something like fetching a stick, but having to cooperate with routine physical examination. Literally things like having to sit still with the mouth agape while a technician inspected their teeth, surrendering each limb much like "shake a paw" with a dog so that the technicians could not only visually ascertain good health, but manipulate the limb to determine if there is good movement or sore joints - and yes, I stress this was in unrestrained alligators, using their own bare hands to handle the trained alligators. If it can be done with an alligator, it can be done with a tegu. The key idea is to get them responsive and trained to work with you. Once that is accomplished, it becomes easier to encourage them to exercise with you.
 

Walter1

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5 Year Member
Messages
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Just wanted to add something I had thought of later. While the "free-roam" is a great start, I could easily see it not doing as much as you'd like. Working as I do in animal research, something that has become not just popular but considered a very important part of animal husbandry ethics is the concept of "environmental enrichment" (as well as other forms of "enrichment"). This is basically a conscious effort to include additions to the animal's environment that promote natural behaviours (to inhibit stereotypy) and engage or stimulate them mentally. An open room of little else will only promote exploring for so long. For some animals, the addition of toys does lots for their well-being, but I can't say I've seen much that I'd call a "toy" for tegus, other than old clothes or sheets. You clearly have the space in there to incorporate more, I recommend perhaps trying the addition of drift wood, hollow logs, large PVC pipes, stuff to encourage your tegu to explore. It doesn't have to be natural looking unless that is what you want. Simple things like old buckets or coffee tables might be of great interest to your tegu. The other thing to keep in mind is what you often see in good zoos. They don't just toss this stuff in there and leave it be. They periodically go in and rearrange things, make it all "new" on a routine basis.

As I stated in my own case, I have a means that encourages climbing - but while I think this is great I stress ALWAYS with people and their tegus that climbing has it's downside - the fall. Tegus do not "jump down" or "climb down" gracefully, they drop, and any significant height compounded with the tegu's large mass and head-first descent is a recipe for snapping that head back and possibly causing real serious injury. I always recommend "climbing space" be constructed in such a way as to ensure the animal cannot fall.

Another enrichment technique is to hide the food. We all know how easy it is for tegus to become habituated with their food. A strategy some places use is to hide the food in things that require the animal to have to work at it to get it out. Another technique is to hide it in different structures each time to encourage looking for it (yesterday we put the food in that hollow log, tomorrow we'll put it on top of that large rock). I've even seen zoos incorporate a sort of physical puzzle for the food item, like placing a solid piece of food on an oddly balanced log suspended by a swinging rope from the ceiling. Yet still another enrichment technique is that which we often see in aquariums with marine mammals, getting the animal to perform a simple task in order to receive a morsel of food. Believe it or not, I've been shown a video where a zoo incorporated this technique with alligators, and the simple tasks were not so much something like fetching a stick, but having to cooperate with routine physical examination. Literally things like having to sit still with the mouth agape while a technician inspected their teeth, surrendering each limb much like "shake a paw" with a dog so that the technicians could not only visually ascertain good health, but manipulate the limb to determine if there is good movement or sore joints - and yes, I stress this was in unrestrained alligators, using their own bare hands to handle the trained alligators. If it can be done with an alligator, it can be done with a tegu. The key idea is to get them responsive and trained to work with you. Once that is accomplished, it becomes easier to encourage them to exercise with you.
That's great advice. Perhaps even small morsels, bit-sized treats, hidden here and yonder randomly so that the tegu learns that it can be anywhere in its giant living space.
 

DangerousDann

Active Member
Messages
149
Just wanted to add something I had thought of later. While the "free-roam" is a great start, I could easily see it not doing as much as you'd like. Working as I do in animal research, something that has become not just popular but considered a very important part of animal husbandry ethics is the concept of "environmental enrichment" (as well as other forms of "enrichment"). This is basically a conscious effort to include additions to the animal's environment that promote natural behaviours (to inhibit stereotypy) and engage or stimulate them mentally. An open room of little else will only promote exploring for so long. For some animals, the addition of toys does lots for their well-being, but I can't say I've seen much that I'd call a "toy" for tegus, other than old clothes or sheets. You clearly have the space in there to incorporate more, I recommend perhaps trying the addition of drift wood, hollow logs, large PVC pipes, stuff to encourage your tegu to explore. It doesn't have to be natural looking unless that is what you want. Simple things like old buckets or coffee tables might be of great interest to your tegu. The other thing to keep in mind is what you often see in good zoos. They don't just toss this stuff in there and leave it be. They periodically go in and rearrange things, make it all "new" on a routine basis.

As I stated in my own case, I have a means that encourages climbing - but while I think this is great I stress ALWAYS with people and their tegus that climbing has it's downside - the fall. Tegus do not "jump down" or "climb down" gracefully, they drop, and any significant height compounded with the tegu's large mass and head-first descent is a recipe for snapping that head back and possibly causing real serious injury. I always recommend "climbing space" be constructed in such a way as to ensure the animal cannot fall.

Another enrichment technique is to hide the food. We all know how easy it is for tegus to become habituated with their food. A strategy some places use is to hide the food in things that require the animal to have to work at it to get it out. Another technique is to hide it in different structures each time to encourage looking for it (yesterday we put the food in that hollow log, tomorrow we'll put it on top of that large rock). I've even seen zoos incorporate a sort of physical puzzle for the food item, like placing a solid piece of food on an oddly balanced log suspended by a swinging rope from the ceiling. Yet still another enrichment technique is that which we often see in aquariums with marine mammals, getting the animal to perform a simple task in order to receive a morsel of food. Believe it or not, I've been shown a video where a zoo incorporated this technique with alligators, and the simple tasks were not so much something like fetching a stick, but having to cooperate with routine physical examination. Literally things like having to sit still with the mouth agape while a technician inspected their teeth, surrendering each limb much like "shake a paw" with a dog so that the technicians could not only visually ascertain good health, but manipulate the limb to determine if there is good movement or sore joints - and yes, I stress this was in unrestrained alligators, using their own bare hands to handle the trained alligators. If it can be done with an alligator, it can be done with a tegu. The key idea is to get them responsive and trained to work with you. Once that is accomplished, it becomes easier to encourage them to exercise with you.
Thanks you for all the info.

What's in his room now is just a start, I'm working on his flooring next (TruGrass) , which I hope to be getting shortly after Christmas and have plans to do some of the things you've talked about, I just kinda blew through my budget when I hit a major ceiling repair in his room, I got burnt out a bit working on it for 3 weeks.

I've cut his food down plus he's shedding now, so not as hungry. He seems to be getting a lil thinner, as I'm starting to see that crease on his side again.

We've definitely been spending more time together and working more on a bit of training, but now he climbs out of the enclosure on his own, and he's really good at not biting me when I rub his face, nose, jowls, chin... even while eating.

I shot some video over the past few days which I'll try to have up next week.

Thanks again for your help
 

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