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The effects of simulated transport on the behaviour of eastern blue tongued lizards ( Tiliqua scincoides)

By K. Mancera, P. J. Murray, Y. N. Gao, A. Lisle, C. J. C. Phillips

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There is widespread transport of reptiles for the pet trade throughout the world and the 'dead on arrival' rates are high. The eastern blue tongued (EBT) lizard ( Tiliqua scincoides; Order: Squamata; suborder: Lacertilia) is particularly popular due to its unusual blue tongue. Noise, vibration and thermal discomfort are known contributors to transport stress. We analysed the behaviour of EBT lizards (n=9) when exposed to four of these stimuli in a changeover design. Lizards were exposed to Heat (35°C), Cold (15°C), high or low frequency noise or a Control treatment with no stimulus in a test chamber for a 5-s period. Heating blankets and ice packs were used to create the hot and cold temperature stimuli in the test chamber, and a speaker broadcast noise/vibration from a truck recording. The test chamber was connected to an escape chamber, accessible after exposure to the stimulus, and a small hiding chamber opposite the test chamber. Lizard behaviour was monitored during stimulus exposure and then for a further 15 min, after which each lizard was removed. Lizards exposed to Cold spent less time in the test chamber (330 vs 434 s) and more time inactive in the escape chamber (148 vs 40 s). They also spent longer walking towards the hiding chamber (18.0 vs 10.5 s) and walking in the hiding chamber away from the stimulus (3.6 vs 2.3 s). We conclude that cold temperatures are potentially noxious for lizards in a simulated transport environment as they reduce activity and increase escape attempts.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 239-249
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Publisher Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
DOI 10.7120/09627286.23.3.239
Language English
Author Address Centre of Animal Welfare and Ethics (CAWE), School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland (UQ), Gatton 4343, QLD,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Biological resources
  6. Effect
  7. Heat
  8. Lizards
  9. Noise
  10. pathogens
  11. Pets and companion animals
  12. Reptiles
  13. temperatures
  14. therapy
  15. tongue
  16. trade
  17. vertebrates
  18. vibration
  19. Virus diseases
  20. Wild animals
  21. wildlife