Necturus maculosus

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Hadar
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Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for someone with experience raising Necturus maculosus in captivity. I am caring for 30 right now and they have being having issue with trematodes. Currently I'm giving them injections of praziquantel every two weeks to get rid of the infestation but its been a month and they still aren't really eating. I have 4 systems and two are doing great but I need more to do better before we can start breeding them. Please let me know if you have any advice.

Jimi
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Jimi »

In case anyone is wondering, this is a lab-based academic project. Not animal hoarding in someone's basement, not some hinky commercial scheme. ACUC etc rules all apply.

Any of you caudate guys, or vets, got any advice?

cheers,
Jimi

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

Thanks Jimi for clarifying. This is part of my research project at my university. We have vets here at the school but they work with mammals so mudpuppies are out of their comfort zone.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

I haven't kept those guys but similar aquatic 'phibs liked deep dark cavernous hiding areas, and/or plenty of veiling plant life. This isn't coming from a medical platform but one of security to encourage a feeding response. One thing to note would be being careful artifact surfaces won't abrade the animals. Making them big and open but dark and avoiding small rough passages in closed system. They don't have to be natural media just deep and dark.
Berkeley Boone would be good on here

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

I wouldn't count on them to start feeding until after treatment has finished, and perhaps some time has passed in undisturbed solitude.

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

They have ceramic pots to hide under and artificial plants but there is no substrate in order to minimize vectors of disease transmission.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Because I have kept guys like them in non permanent situ, not unlike your Q environs, I have gone substrate less and it worked well, especially with the deep hides. You can also monitor the food taken.

I don't know the level of antisepsis your work with these is required, but rupturing food items can enhance take rate. I don't know if that is acceptable in a semi sterile env ?

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

They were eating night crawlers from long forceps but stopped eating after the infestation. Now I'm concerned that the anorexia is due to stress from treatment. We have cut the night crawlers to see if that helps and tried ghost shrimp as well. These changes helped slightly (animals that had not eaten in a month ate one shrimp or chewed on a night crawler but then spit it back out). It has been two weeks since the change though and only two of the former eight animals who weren't feeding have markedly improved.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Shrimp are fast and vivacious, crawlers resist strenuously. Treatment can stress and subdue feeding vigor. Maybe try freshly pre killed crawlers/shrimp, perhaps slipped in their hides. I would first try that, with the proven foods seized with half hearted attempt.

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Berkeley Boone »

Thanks for the plug, Kelly. Much appreciated!

Hadar- I don't have any experience with maculosus, but I have kept a fair number of punctatus. I kept them with waterlogged leaves for cover (oak, magnolia, etc). I'm not certain if the macs need acidic water, but it sure helped the puncs thrive. So that may be something to consider to add to the ceramic pots. Cover is the key to their mental stability though- perhaps add several pots of different sizes to each tank. I'd agree with you, keep the bare bottom, but think about adding some leaves or more pots in there.
In regards to the food, the suggestion Kelly made about chopping up the food/offering pieces is good. I'd also try to broaden the offerings if feasible- try (rinsed) shrimp from the grocery store, smelt pieces, dragonfly nymphs, SMALL whole earthworms (red wiggler size or smaller, less than 1.5-2 inches), aquatic snails. I've also found some of the aquatic salamanders will take to sinking shrimp pellets that are manufactured for tropical fish.
Good luck! I hope that helps, and kind of answers your questions. Let me know if there is anything else I can try to help with.
--Berkeley

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Cole Grover
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Cole Grover »

Out of curiosity, have upu tried asking the experts on caudata.org? Some there have been breeding them successfully... I'd look it up if you haven't already...

Cole

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Berkeley Boone »

Good point, Cole. I just had thesame thought this morning- she should try and track down John Clare.

--Berkeley

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Joseph S.
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Joseph S. »

I don't know if more than a couple people on caudata have bred these guys-and those that have haven't had repeat(or any?) success. I must say, breeding a fairly difficult species such as this is quite an ambitious project!

I wonder if since you probably have access to it if hormones would be in order for stimulating breeding?

I would agree one smaller food. Live black/bloodworms if you can get them. Animals in a compromised state are going to want to spend the least amount of energy to pick up a food item, and the electrical impulses the prey put out are another stimuli to feeding(I know Ampullae of Lorenzini have been found in Pleurodeles-I suspect most aquatic newts/salamanders have them) but something like a couple pieces of trout chow or something else really smelly would also be worth a try.

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

Thank you for the suggestions. Once the animals are healthy, the plan is to use hormones to aid with reproduction. Fingers crossed that it works!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

In austere substrate less situ where free matter is not wanted, hi grade peat in media bags may be useful. There are also liquid products in aqua culture regularly used for south American tropical, but these are less straightforward in their current make up, with dubious "herbal ingredients" and slime coat enhancements that are just marketing. I like Peat which is (when you break it down)basically leaf litter tea strained in a contollable way. Like Berkeley suggested, an acidic water chemistry can be beneficial. In terms of acuity, it may impact stress level as well, encouraging normal activity, including perhaps physiological, hormonal ones

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Duplicate post smart phone foible

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Im editing out this fumble in posting with my phone and using the space to explain something, in case of misunderstanding, it is general I realize as I use the word Acuity/s frequently in discussions and when I do, I usually (as in this case as well) do not mean it in its common Visual definition.

By Acuities, I am speaking about the sensitivities and responses of an organism to the elemental character of its immediate environment. Tactile, thermal, spatial, chemical, even air flow and exchange. In lower taxa these reactions to cues are most often involuntary and systemic, and also often delayed or discreet in the absence or ambiguity of their application in casual observation, present company excluded.

Where hard data is not available, or difficult to measure I prefer to err on the side that such acuities are basal and present, even if I do not readily see their expression.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Im surprised that no one is bringing up ionic imbalances and an acidic environment.

I am sure the OPs research setting has quite the adequate stewardship, and I speculate neutrality in practice. But I hope my informal idea of careful peat use to perhaps marginally lower the ph to incite behaviors was taken in the spirit it was intended.

On a tangent - I see cannonized views of peat use with terrestrial caudates repleat with documentation but I see it as flawed in the way it was applied. A relatively sedentary ventris to the ground, cubic space of Moist Peat is the same as being swathed in it. If the same application was done with a wet mix of sodium bicarbonate or calcium citrate the chemical effects of that constant exposure would of course also be unavoidable.

Acidic levels of forested wetlands of habitat would seem a dichotomy. But the complexity of habitat features and surface diversities are key - and can be easily duplicated in captivity. Any sub with any distinctive character, can be provided with respite from its uniformity. Peat being a base to seat other surface values. Many of my "Peat" terraria are substantially stone in exposed surface value, so there is humus ie, along with other biome elements. With Tigers for example (when they were still permitted) they were very stoney with slate and river rock, and fairly large water feature. Same w/ mandarins and my terrestrial oriented anurans

Any thoughts?

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

I contacted a few people on caudata.org but haven't gotten many responses and I have a message out on the Amphibian TAG listserv. The DVM on our IACUC doesn't want us to lower pH because he doesn't think it will do anything with regards to the parasites and could change the bacterial or fungal environmental flora unfavorably. The current maintenance pH is 7.2-7.8 and he suggests it be kept around neutral however at 7 or lower the pH can allow B. dendrobatidis maximal growth at 17-25 C. Our current temperatures are 14-16 C. He also mentioned that low pH selectively blocks calcium action potentials in amphibian neurons in culture. He cited a couple papers from Journal of Herpetology and Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission but the studies were done on a variety of species, not just Necturus maculosus. I am increasing water changes to twice a week at 50% and increasing salinity (still trying to decide on amount) this week. I am hoping to get the okay to decrease temperatures more but I have to wait for approval, that's the way it goes in research. The last two that died were septic so we might be starting antibiotics soon as well.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kelly Mc »

Thank you for taking out the time to reply, and for posting about your necturus project in this forum.

It would be so cool if you updated us on your project journey, and all the details you are providing, its kind of like gold.

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Berkeley Boone
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Berkeley Boone »

Agreed, Kelly!

Best of luck, Heather. Keep us updated.
--Berkeley

Jimi
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Jimi »

Curious if you've reached out to the zoo community. Surely they've worked out some of these water quality parameters. And their results might be more readily-assimilated by ACUC members?

cheers,
Jimi

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Hadar
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Hadar »

I have reached out to the zoo community and there is some disagreement about what ideal water parameters are.

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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by Kfen »

Let me start by saying I have not kept any salamanders.
I am surprised by the desire to not lower the ph. Shouldn't chytrid be a non issue in a sterile lab setting? I have had both turtles and amphibian eggs get fungus when kept with too high of a ph. Once lowered, the fungus went away quickly. I am not sure what type of water your Necturus comes from, but if they do live in somewhat acidic environments, keeping the water that way will help them with all of their life processes, including fighting off infectious diseases.

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justinm
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Re: Necturus maculosus

Post by justinm »

Hadar wrote:I have reached out to the zoo community and there is some disagreement about what ideal water parameters are.

I would reach out to the St. Louis zoo staff who have had a lot of success with Hellbenders. Hellbenders often share habitat with M. necturus. I've met the person in charge of the project and I can share her email address if you would like it let me know I'll share it privately.

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