Saturday, 30 October 2010
I have uploaded some pictures of the white goo-ing I mentioned earlier. I saw it happen to a whole bunch of Sloths all neighbouring each other - A couple of hours after nearby ones had their claws cut (stress related?)... Still working on this one!
So a few days ago I tried putting the harness and device on a Choloepus - Grace - for the first time... it didn't go so well! They are a lot feistier than the Bradypus so persuading her to put her arms through the right holes didn't exactly go to plan. We ended up having to sedate her to get it on properly which wasn't ideal. Anyway since then I decided to put my womanly sewing skills to good use and modify the harnesses to make it easier - basically chopping them up and sewing on extra clips. They don't look particularly professional, but they work like a dream! I have them on a couple of two fingered sloths at the moment with no sedation necessary - just a tasty bean for distraction.
I have finally started drafting out which Sloths I am going to be using as my sample (I will be changing their conditions to see how it affects their behaviour patterns). I have picked out 16 Choloepus that seem appropriate (covering a range of conditions - number in cage / age / sex / size of cage / location etc.) I have attached a diagram of the cages and the ones I plan to use :-)
I only have a sample of 4 Bradypus that I can use the devices on and they all share the same enclosure - There used to be more but Judy and Luis are opening a new sanctuary up at Monteverde (cloud forest) so 6 Bradypus have been moved up there leaving only 8 here.... 3 of which are too small and then Sid-Wiggy who enjoys cuddles faaaar to much to be used in my study!
One of the conditions I was planning on changing was the type of food they are given - currently the Choloepus are fed beans & berros in the morning and carrots, potatoes & dog food in the afternoon (this combo gives them all the nutrients they need). My plan was to give them the leaves they eat naturally in the wild but this is looking a little difficult..! In the wild they rotate the type of tree they feed from regularly to avoid the build up of toxins - So it seems I would need to work out what toxins are present in each leaf type and rotate them at the rate they do in the wild - which no one really knows for sure. And it's a bit hard to do an observation of them in the wild considering they are nocturnal and very high up....! Adding to this problem it turns out I would need to go out everyday to find the right trees, climb them and pick the leaves fresh. I'm not so sure how well that would end ...! But I will see what I can do, more problem solving!!
Excitingly (in a geeky science sort of way) I have finally got hold of equipment that will let me measure and record the weather - which is fairly useful considering this has a MASSIVE effect on their behaviour. I can now monitor the temperature, light level, humidity, and wind speed (woop). I have also be lent the use of a very impressive little digital microscope that will let us look up close at the skin of those Sloths with skin problems and see what is going on - also very exciting!
In the last couple of days we have had 3 new babies brought to the sanctuary which is sad (but very cute). The first was a very young Bradypus confiscated from some children trying to sell it. It didn't look so good when it first arrived but seems to be doing ok now, fingers crossed. It has been named Tiny Myte because it is so small yet so strong! The second arrived yesterday and is the youngest I have seen yet - not so sure of the story behind it but it is VERY small and has come complete with the new born baby wrinkles - this one is called Shilo. Just as I am writing this another has been brought in, apparently it's a 1 month old Choloepus and unfortunately it's pupils are dilated which is never a good sign. Hopefully with some time and TLC it will get better... ! I will get some pictures and upload them soon.
So I finally had my first day off since I have been here :-) I went down to the beach in Cahuita and had an amazing day relaxing in the sea and watching the monkeys on the beach. I'm off to the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama on Wednesday for 3 days on the old visa run... it looks AMAZING !!! Very excited for that one.
Anyway I hope all is well back home and it's not too cold .... :) xxx