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Thread: Inbreeding and mental problems

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    Default Inbreeding and mental problems

    We all know that our captive population of crested geckos and other reptiles sure is severely inbred. As selective breeding for morphs continues, the inbreeding becomes even worse. It is generally accepted that reptiles donít suffer so much of the effects of inbreeding than mammals, although I dout it. Simply reptiles have slower metabolisms and usually donít show illness so obviously as mammals. Moreover, it is known that inbreeding, even it doesnít cause overt illness, many times adversely affects longevity, resistance to disease and reproduction. As there are no large studies of the longevity, health and reproductive success of captive reptiles, we canot know for sure about it. The fact though that many bearded dragons and leopard geckos die yung suggests it. Of course inbreeding causes disease and deformities, which unfortunately are most times masked by reptile breeders.
    I am thinking now, by reading some posts, if inbreeding can also cause mental or psychological problems to the affected reptiles, which manifest in their behaivior. I found, for example, in this forum a topic about an unnaturally aggressive crested gecko who believed he was a leachie. This behaivior is atypical and concerning. Another post in another forum
    http://www.geckosunlimited.com/commu...-droplets.html
    was of a gecko striking at water droplets and anything moving, something obviously dangerous in nature. Even amphibians donít do this. In nature such a stupid gecko would accidentally grab a spiny plant, a part of a predator or something inedible and get severely injured or die.
    My gecko is very cautious of striking at insects, and if they are large he starts wistling from fear and turnes away. I made some time ago an experiment to see if he can confuse the mouse pointer of the computer with prey, but he wasnít fooled. It took his attention for a little, but then he went away. The same if I move my finger in front of him. My gecko though has a strange preference of turning usually left when I am handling him. He can turn right normally, all the limbs are ok, but he insists in turning left, and I believe that this is probably a mental problem from inbreeding. Has anyone here reported similar atypical behaiviors and reactions from a crested gecko? Couldnít be they from intense inbreeding?

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    I have had geckos attack water droplets.

    I have also had my cats attack things that are moving and obviously not food.

    I have seen MANY things that hunt by sight lunge or at least train in on something that moves in a way similar to their prey.

    I do not believe aggression or attacking moving things is at all a form of mental retardation in captive bred animals. Just because aggression isn't typical, it doesn't mean that it is a disorder or a malfunction, but a natural variation among the species.

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    It's definitely something interesting to think about. However I don't think it's as large of a problem as you suggest in reptiles. There are many breeders who inbreed their cresties, however I don't think it is the cause for concern. My crested gecko used to aggressively attack water droplets but has since grown out of the habit- I see this is typical crestie behavior and not a disability. As well, these animals shouldn't be considered an intelligent species - lets face it, our cresties aren't bright, but we love them anyways. If outward deformities are consistent when inbreeding cresties, I don't think we would see breeders (who likely got into the species out of love for it) carry on doing it. As for the 'stupid cresties' in the wild, it's a good thing they stay in our living rooms: the same could be said for any domesticated animal - they would be more fit in their natural environment if they started out there.

    If there is proof that inbreeding effects the longevity of a lizards life, then it's a problem. But it doesnt seem that there is any proof the early deaths of beardies and leopards are caused by inbreeding and not just poor care.

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    I think atypical behavior could be caused inbreeding, but with all animals even humans each have their own personalities. I think aggressive and false bits due to hunting untrue prey is just part if being in captivity. They are in their natural habitat so they hunt what they feel is food. Not really because their stupid. I have a gecko that attacks water drops but is a very calm gecko, its instinct. I don't think we will ever know in the near future all the effects of inbreeding, but I think it's more what environment you present to your gecko.
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    Cats have the concept of play as all mammals, so attacking non food items might be a form of play or exercise for true hunts. Most reptiles (not all, there are studies) don't play, their behaiviors respond to reality.
    Unfortunately inbreeding is unavoidable for a species with 200 founders. The only thing we can do is to minimize close inbreeding as possible.
    The info about the beerdeds and corn snakes is from various forums, where the most sick reptiles are from these species. Usually their owners are caring for them well, and most fall ill at around the ages of 9-12 years, when they would be living twice as long.
    I am waiting for more answers. Striking at water droplets seems very odd and maladaptive.

    As for mental retardation in captive animals, it is established that domesticated species always have smaller brains than their wild counterparts, with greater difference in intelligent and large-brained species. But even fish are affected. This reduction is genetic, as feral (previously domestic) animals retain the domestic brain size, and genetically unaltered animals, such as those bred in zoos, retain the wild brain size. Interestingly, in the last thousands of years of human evolution, brain size has decreased a bit in paralel with the evolution of more complex cultures, and this event is called by many researchers self domestication.

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    I don't believe these abnormal behaviors are caused by inbreeding. I think we also have to remember that many individuals that would not have survived (had they been born in the wild) are now thriving and breeding in captivity because of our care/ lack of natural selection. By making their lives easier and less harsh, less intelligent animals will be able to thrive alongside the more intelligent individuals. They are sometimes even chosen over the smarter individuals to breed because they may happen to look "prettier" than the smarter animals

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    captainhook, I'd like to see you back up your assertions about brain size and captivity.

    As for "maladaptive," it sounds like you subscribe to a rather adaptationist view of evolution.

    Furthermore, most cresties that go after water droplets are young and grow out of it. It is part of the learning process -- learning that though some food items (insects) move, not all things that move are food items. I have not seen anyone say that puppies chasing their own tails is evidence for excessive inbreeding in dogs; wolves do it too [example 1] [example 2].

    In other words, while there is undoubtedly a lot of inbreeding and loss of heterozygosity going on in captive-bred geckos, and intelligence/hunting skill/other traits that would serve geckos in the wild are inadvertently selected against in the quest to breed geckos with particular colours, patterns, and/or structural traits, I don't think that cresties going after water droplets provides a shred of evidence for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainhook View Post
    My gecko though has a strange preference of turning usually left when I am handling him. He can turn right normally, all the limbs are ok, but he insists in turning left, and I believe that this is probably a mental problem from inbreeding. Has anyone here reported similar atypical behaiviors and reactions from a crested gecko? Couldn’t be they from intense inbreeding?
    He may see better out of his right eye.
    3.4.0 Correlophus ciliatus (crested geckos)
    0.0.2 Abramites hypselonotus (marbled headstanders)
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainhook View Post
    Moreover, it is known that inbreeding, even it doesnít cause overt illness, many times adversely affects longevity, resistance to disease and reproduction. As there are no large studies of the longevity, health and reproductive success of captive reptiles, we canot know for sure about it. The fact though that many bearded dragons and leopard geckos die yung suggests it. Of course inbreeding causes disease and deformities, which unfortunately are most times masked by reptile breeders.
    The fact is that many species of reptiles have high mortality rates as hatchlings, both in captivity and in the wild. In the wild, they face threats from inclement weather, predators, insufficient food supplies, and disease, and in captivity, poor nutrition, incorrect temperatures, too short of incubation time, dehydration, and stress are all huge contributors. However, these are all risks inherent in the reproduction or breeding process, and not due to inbreeding itself. Certainly it could be a factor...but I'm not sure where you got your data on how many bearded dragons and leopard geckos die young, and the reasons behind the deaths. It's a stretch to link high mortality with inbreeding, especially since high mortality rates are associated with plenty of captive reptiles, including those who are primarily available through WC means with few breeders actually supplying them to the general population. These lizards are the most genetically diverse reptiles available, yet you have no more guarantees for vitality in captivity with these ones than you do with crested geckos or bearded dragons. Too much rests on the ability, experience, and methods of the breeder him/herself to be able to attribute genetic conditions to losses.

    Unless and until you can establish that every single breeder houses and cares for their reptiles in the exact same way, incubates for the exact same length of time and temperature, and provides their animals with the exact same food and nutrition, it would be extremely difficult to try linking hatchling deaths with that of inbreeding. There are just too many contributing factors to rule out first. Is it possible that some die young due to genetic defects associated with inbreeding? Absolutely. Is it possible that certain atypical behaviorisms are due to lack of diversity in the gene pool? Certainly. But to be convinced that deaths and atypical behaviors are primarily due to inbreeding or lack of genetic diversity is rather short-sighted and misleading.

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