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Thread: Ferox Patrona phase - other behavior in the Corucia Circulus

  1. #1 Ferox Patrona phase - other behavior in the Corucia Circulus 
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    Leeway Corucia Research Center (LCRC)

    Courtesy of POLYPHEMOS

    Ferox Patrona Phase and Other behavior in the Corucia Circulus


    The Scincidae species: Corucia zebrata possesses many complex emotional and social characteristics. The intricacy of the Circulus (B. Schnirel, 2003) will be examined as well as associated behavior towards outside Corucia zebrata entering the territory of an established Circulus. Observed hormonal changes and associated time frame of the female after pregnancy will de described.


    Corucia zebrata-the Monkey Skink has been little researched in it's own ecosystem. Many aspects of this species remained unknown and undescribed. At the Southern Florida Corucia Research Center (SFCRC) much work was done with this species and many observations were taken. Further Circulus research was conducted at the Leeway Corucia Research Center (LCRC). Corucia zebrata of various ages and phenotypes were available for a cross the board prospective on behavior and relationships. Information such as this hopefully will lay the groundwork in time for onsite research on this species which is rapidly disappearing from it's native ecosystem due to extensive logging. If not, it will give a framework to better help understand and propagate Corucia zebrata living under human care.
    Corucia zebrata is a Scincidae species that has genetically put foward a great deal of genetic investment in the Viviparous birth of normally a single neonate after a 7.5 month gestation period. Consequently, the instinct to protect the young has evolved to be quite strong in this species and as a result, has created strong social bonds. These instincts and social bonds are the focus of this paper.


    Corucia zebrata is a rarity in the reptile world in that parental care is given. In addition, this species possesses a strong Circulus (reptilian social order) matched perhaps only by the Gharial (Gavialis gangetius). The Corucia Circulus consists of a single adult male. An outside male wandering with a Circulus territory provokes an aggressive charge by the Circulus male. He will approach the intruder with a twitching of the prehensile tail similar to that of an angry cat. If the intruder withdraws, the defending male will give chase. If he catches him or if the intruder makes challenge, severe biting will occur often resulting in missing phalanges. A retreating male will commonly recieve bites in the hip region. Corucia zebrata has a moss-like pattern for daytime camoflage. They also possess a Corucation (hence,the Genus name). This play of colors would not attrach predators but may signal and repel rivals by the flash of light. This would be at it's zenith during low angle light coinciding with this species crepuscular nature. Since Corucia zebrata, being a member of the Scincidae, lacks femoral pores, the male through parallelism, secrets a waxy substance to mark the boundaries of his territory. This secretion has been noted in captivity. We at the LCRC have not documented this. The Circulus may consist of a single or multiple females. If more than one, they establish an alpha-beta structure with established sleeping positions with the Circulus territory. Parker (as told to him by natives) noted skinner individuals sleep lower in the hollows with more robust individuals sleeping on top. A male will defend a female vigorously even against non-Corucian intruders (S.L.Schnirel, 2004). In the mating season, the alpha female is selected first. Newly introduced females however can entice the male under the right circumstances. After the usually one large neonate is born, there is a noted parental instinct to protect the youngster. The female has the greater bond of the two. Indeed, for a several week period, the protective instinct develops into an extreme hormonal state- the Ferox Parona Phase {Latin: Ferox:warlike, spirited Patrona: goddess, protectress }(B.Schnirel, 2003). The female during this period, is extremely aggressive to any and all intruders within the Circulus territory. In addition, she may be less tolerant or even somewhat aggressive towards other members of the the Circulus as well (other females, older offspring-particularly adopted youngsters nearly maturity{after age 3}.) After the Ferox Patrona Phase, the female will return to her normal behavior and relationships to other members of her community. She still will be responsive and protective to her young but more at ease. The Ferox Patrona Phase may be beneficial as the neonate gets a little stronger and quicker but may secondarily serve to drive off maturing, older youngsters remaining in the Circulus and allow them to establish or join other territories. With the possible exception of the Ferox Patrona Phase, the instinct to protect young Corucia is so strong, that orphaned young are readily adopted into the Circulus. In one instance, several GFO's (Gravid female Obtained) Young were rescued by the Southern Florida Corucia Research Center from a California importer who was holding WC (wild caught) female Corucia to separate the young at birth for greater profit. The four young arrived stressed and agitated. After much deliberation, it was decided to place the four in an established Circulus enclosure (SFCRC C99-1). This Circulus consisted of one male (SFCRC 9901) and two females (SFCRC 9902, SFCRC 9903). SFCRC 9903 was the alpha female and was gravid at the time. The young were immediately accepted by all members which much tonque flickering.
    Scent flickering is normal behavior in general Corucia greeting and acceptance. The four young immediately showed relief and exhibited calm behavior ever since. These four (SFCRC 2104, SFCRC 2105, SFCRC 2106, and SFCRC 2107) lived over two years in this Circulus. The alpha female, in the Ferox Patrona Phase, started to give chase to these adoptees as this ever increasing Circulus was starting to get on her nerves. The four were placed in a large enclosure of their own at this point. Several times after this, GFO's were introduced with adoptive parents. With both CB (Captive bred) and GFO's, the young will snuggle under on top of both the mother and father. Often they will also cuddle with beta females. In one case, a male (SFCRC 2002) was more protective and nurturing towards a single offspring than the female (SFCRC 2101) (B. Schnirel, 2003). Based on this and other behavioral observations, Corucia young should remain in the Circulus for at least 3 years prior to separation. To remove the young before hand invariably results in high stress and irritability in the young. In establishing a Circulus in captivity, it can be quite a challenge. Corucia zebrata can be very individualistic and picky when selecting companion Circulus members. Relationships can change as well over time (de Vosjoli, 1993). A case of 5 females with 2 males lived in complete harmony for approximately 6 months when all of a sudden hell broke loose between the two males. There was no mercy to be shown between the two and one male was quickly removed. Why the two males tolerated each other for so long was never explained (B. Schnirel,2004). Once a Circulus is established (With the exception of GFO's), it can be very difficult to add any new members.

    Brian L. Schnirel

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