Blue Tongue Eating Less After Handling

Discussion in 'Australian Lizards and Monitors' started by rainmonitors, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. rainmonitors

    rainmonitors Not so new Member

    Jul 7, 2018
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    Sorry for the long wall of text! But I think all of it is important. However TL;DR is at bottom.

    I've had my blue tongue for 4-5 months now, and apart from when I first got him, I haven't been handling him.
    I made this thread after owning him for a month - - in which shortly after this I completely stopped handling him. He was gradually getting more and more defensive when taking him out of his cage, and so I thought to just leave him alone.

    So now it's been 3 months or so since handling him, and since I do very regular spot cleans and have bad motivational/depression issues, I hadn't done a complete substrate change and sterilising the viv, until now. So obviously, I had to take him out for the clean, the first contact in months excluding hand feeding (which I do every feeding) and the occasional back stroke whilst eating (both which he seems very comfortable with).
    He wasn't acting aggressive or defensive, which ever one it is, when I took him out, but instead for the first time since owning him, he peed everywhere. Now this isn't really an issue since lots of lizards and other reptiles react that way when newly handled, right?
    Anyway that scenario made me realise that perhaps I shouldn't completely give up on handling, since him peeing everywhere not only came as a surprise but made it a longer task. What's people's opinions on this? Should I just keep leaving him alone and endure the peeing everywhere for cleaning, or work with him more consistently so he does become more handle-able?

    BUT FINALLY, to the actual topic of the title. After cleaning, and some more pee putting him back in his viv, I gave him some roaches, and thinking he wouldn't be feeling great after that change, decided to feed him 2 days later, which is today. Unfortunately, he seemed very very shy, like when I was regularly handling him, and only ate a mouthful of food before retreating back to his hide (like I thought he'd do if I fed him immediately after cleaning his cage, not after two days). He's a really big eater, so it seems like handling, even small required amounts of it (taking him out and putting him back in his cage), has made him revert back to his scared self.

    So going back to the previous question, should I be handling him more? Is this behaviour normal (putting down eating, not the peeing)? What should I be doing about this? I'm feeling kinda lost with him at the moment. I don't want him to be this scared he won't eat, or that he'll pee everywhere when briefly handled for required cleaning.

    TL;DR: My blue tongue hates/is so scared of handling that he won't eat nearly as much food when offered. He also defensively peed everywhere when handled for cleaning. How can I change this behaviour, if I can and should?
    --- Automatic Post Merged, Jan 6, 2019, Original Post Date: Jan 4, 2019 ---

    Fed again (feeding every two days), took a mouthful and ignored the rest of his food. Appeared very defensive and afraid when I lifted up his hide to lead him towards his food with hand-feeding him blueberries (he takes to this very well, I do it every feed and he's never had an issue with it). How do I show him I'm not a big scary, even though he's always in his hide? I only ever bother him in his hide to feed him, and like said, he never had an issue with it previously. And no, I haven't handled him since cleaning his home, nor do I handle at all besides that!
  2. nuttylizardguy

    nuttylizardguy Active Member

    Nov 1, 2018
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    He's stressed by the new smells in the tank, you've replaced stuff that has his scent on it and he feels comfortable with , so kinda like relocation stress . He's probably been stressed by being handled by you since he has not been for months ( um , 3 months ? is a long time , so he's now essentially wild , I think withdrawing from daily physical interaction was a mistake ).
    More frequent interaction try to make a habit of giving him a food treat each time so he comes to associate the interaction with something he likes or enjoys.

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