Livebearing mothers eating neonates

drewtt

New Member
Admittedly, I have never bred or raised any viviparious species. I have read and heard many first-hand accounts of birthing and raising of babies, but I have never come across any first-hand accounts of the mother turning around and eating her young, despite reading many warnings on this forum. And yes, to the usual forum police, I did use the search engine on here a couple of times, looking for threads on this topic.

I re-thought this idea after reading this thread (by the way, congrats on the babies, Gizmo), where a couple of comments were made:

Separate from mother immediately! Before you know it you'll have less babies! What are you feeding them?
seperate them as fast as you can, the female will only tolerate looking at them for so long ( they look like crickets that walk like chameleons to her) and im sure she will be wanting to eat in a day or two ( she will eat ALOT)...
These comments are not uncommon in threads dealing with a similar context.

Please note that I am not saying that you should let your female give birth and leave the babies in for extended periods of time. I also agree that setting babies up in a separate enclosure sooner rather than later is a good thing. I am just wondering if there is any first-hand evidence out there where keepers have witnessed the mother turn around and snap up her young.

Has anyone actually experienced this?

Drew
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
"The biologists placed a one-way mirror between an adult and a juvenile, so that the adult could see the juvenile but not vice versa. The projection of an adult's tongue toward a juvenile counted as attempted cannibalism. About a third of the adults tried to attack the unsuspecting juveniles within 30 minutes of observation. The authors also witnessed one incident of cannibalism in the field when a young chameleon made the mistake of getting a bit too close to an adult."...
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2006/7/enforcing-the-generation-gap
 

jdog1027

Established Member
If babies are left with a mother in the same cage for an extended period, I'm sure that eventually the babies would start to look very tempting. But a mother is not going to sit and eat babies as they fall out of her. That would not work out very well in nature's scheme of things. If someone who has a gravid live-bearer keeps at least a daily vigil on the cage (which I think everyone would do anyway), there shouldn't be a problem with them staying in the cage for a day or two.
 

jojackson

New Member
Yes Drew, I've had centralian Bluetongue females devour a young before I could rescue them. Its a 5 month gestation, atleast a month of which, the female doesn't eat at all (final month), so by the time she births, she's very hungry indeed. It can be tricky to catch the birth and most folk wont bother to provide anything but water during the last month since it spoils, so you have to be quick to catch the action.
I should also note that egglaying females, especially monitor species will readily eat their own hatchlings where eggs are left in the enclosure to naturally incubate and hatch. (pers obs circa 1990) Captivity is unlike nature in this regard where young (excepting a few cases I can think of) general scatter immeadiately at birth (livebarers), though you might expect a weak, slow or dead young to provide a tastey meal.

If babies are left with a mother in the same cage for an extended period, I'm sure that eventually the babies would start to look very tempting. But a mother is not going to sit and eat babies as they fall out of her. That would not work out very well in nature's scheme of things.
Agreed, sensible thinking! :)
 
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drewtt

New Member
"The biologists placed a one-way mirror between an adult and a juvenile, so that the adult could see the juvenile but not vice versa. The projection of an adult's tongue toward a juvenile counted as attempted cannibalism. About a third of the adults tried to attack the unsuspecting juveniles within 30 minutes of observation. The authors also witnessed one incident of cannibalism in the field when a young chameleon made the mistake of getting a bit too close to an adult."...
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/2006/7/enforcing-the-generation-gap
Thank you for that link. I pulled the original paper. That particular experiment was conducted "to test whether juveniles constitute potential prey for adults." It differs from my question in many ways, including: use of an egg-laying species, non-neonate (but still young) "prey," and adults that were not all female. Not having live babies, I don't think this study provides any examples of mothers eating babies soon after delivery.

I was probably not entirely clear in my original post. To clarify: I am wondering if anyone here has experienced a live-bearing chameleon mother eating her young shortly after giving birth.

Drew

PS - Slightly off-topic, but I just googled species with documented reports of infanticide and I'm a little surprsied to find some whales on that list!
 
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