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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 3 November 2009 Referencing Hub media

    Captive management is an important conservation strategy for species that are threatened in the wild. In this video clip, Dr Kelly Hare, from the University of Otago, talks about her research that aims to develop methods or tools to improve the conditions for captive lizards.

    Points of interest

    • Think about what factors scientists need to consider when keeping animals in captivity.
    • In New Zealand, it is illegal to keep any native reptile or amphibian in captivity without a permit. Discuss the possible reasons for this.


    Captive management means that the individuals are actually held in captivity, so in an enclosed space somewhere, whereas if it’s just management in the wild, that would just be management of the individuals, so it’s actually individuals held within a building or in outdoor enclosures.

    Captive management is important for any species that can no longer survive by itself in the wild or that may go extinct in the future in the wild, so it’s a way of keeping some individuals around so that you can keep increasing the captive population with the hope that one day there might be some place they can be released back into the wild, because obviously the whole aim of this is to keep them in happy healthy conditions out in the wild where we don’t have to interfere with them too much.

    So my research is aimed at developing methods or tools that can be used by the conservationists who are keeping captively held endangered species. So, hopefully, by testing differences in diet regime and in thermal regimes, we would be able to tell them that, yes, it’s OK to keep them fed all the time or perhaps it’s not OK and they should be kept on a diet or their mothers should have at least 40 hours of basking available a week – all these sorts of things that will increase pregnancy success and provide really healthy optimal offspring for future translocations.

    The challenges of keeping skinks in captivity is the same as for any species – you need to keep them content and healthy and happy in order for them to actually be giving you true answers for your experiments. So for skinks, they need to have adequate food and water, they need to have a heat source where they can bask and a low stress environment, so you don’t want to go in and handle them all the time because that is a little bit stressful for them

    Amanda Chamberlain