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    Member Freshman loislane24's Avatar
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    Default How smart are leos?

    Last night I took out the box with my crickets, and my leo was looking out at me. I swear he got all excited when he saw the box. Is it possible that he recognized it? How smart do you think leos are?

    If he recognizes the box, I suppose he probably recognizes me, right?

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    Member Freshman smsararas2's Avatar
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    I do not know how smart they are but I know that they can follow a routine. I feed mine at the same time every night and that is the time that they all start waking up and coming out and looking out the front of their tanks.
    I am not sure that I really suffer from an addiction, I am rather enjoying it!

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    Member Freshman PaladinGirl's Avatar
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    They definitely thrive on a routine. My little leo comes out at almost the same time every day looking for food and attention. She even poops at the same time every day, it's pretty amusing. She knows my voice and comes when called. When I put my hand in there she gets all excited and runs up my arm. So I think they're pretty smart. Of course, when I catch her trying to climb up the side of the tank even though she has no hope of getting out, I realize that their little lizard brains are just that: lizard brains.
    2 leos, Toon and Epic
    1 African fat tail, Hugzor

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    Shillelagh Law Sophomore M_surinamensis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinGirl View Post
    My little leo comes out at almost the same time every day looking for food
    It's almost like there were some kind of instinctive behavioral pattern that prompts them to take different actions at different times. Astounding!

    and attention.
    No. Just no.

    She knows my voice and comes when called.
    Also no.
    -And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

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    Geckos of Oz Freshman Quantumhigh's Avatar
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    Based off my personal experience of reptile handling and care for over 15 years. Yes they do recognize there handlers. I have no set routine on feeding at X hour but they do know when its time for food very clearly noticeable with my bearded dragons. Some do thrive on attention and some prefer to be left alone. They all clearly have there own unique personality. You really start to notice personality's once you have a dozen or more.

    Some people with differ with what I have to say, you be the judge of that by observation. Its pretty clear to me.

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    Member Freshman subjectivereality's Avatar
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    Well if goldfish are smart enough to be trained source, it's not really a far stretch that geckos can recognize their handlers and possibly even associate them with the availability of food (hence why some may come out of their hides when they see you). It is even possible to reason that reptiles can at least they stop associating you as a threat if you handle them enough. Reptiles can also feel basic emotions such as fear and anger (fight or flight) as well as pleasure (so in a sense they can be happy) source. However most reptiles do not have the capability to feel love, that is an emotion which group oriented mammals evolved.

    I think people underestimate how smart their reptiles can be. They often view them as a series of neural impulses, and that's it (which is true of insects but less so of vertebrates). Your reptile does have a memory, they do have certain emotions and they certainly can learn.

    Conversely another problem is that people also overestimate how smart their reptiles can be and tend to try to apply human characteristics to them. Those people need to realize that their reptile will never love them (at least not in the mammalian sense), and that although you can train them to do simple things ( allow you to handle them, eat out of your hand, associate you with food), you will never be able to train them like a dog.
    Last edited by subjectivereality; 03-25-2011 at 12:55 PM.

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    Member Freshman PaladinGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_surinamensis View Post
    It's almost like there were some kind of instinctive behavioral pattern that prompts them to take different actions at different times. Astounding!



    No. Just no.



    Also no.
    With that being said, yes. Kind of silly I even brought that up since pretty much every living thing's behavior is based on routine and instinct (except humans, we often deprive ourselves of instinct--we've become too "smart" for it!). Following a routine probably has more to do with circadian rhythm and instinct, not intelligence.

    However, I still say she knows my voice and possibly my appearance because when I'm in the room, she is out staring at me. If it's just my husband in the room, she doesn't come out much. I know it is simply an association with food, since I'm also the only one that feeds her. And I still say she likes attention and being handled! She happily runs up my arm when I put my hand in there. It's probably just her desire to explore, but it is endearing.

    I know a lot of people probably apply human characteristics to their reptiles, I admit I have been. It's just funner that way! My husband is ready to institutionalize me because I talk to her so much :-D
    Last edited by PaladinGirl; 03-25-2011 at 12:38 PM.
    2 leos, Toon and Epic
    1 African fat tail, Hugzor

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    Member Freshman subjectivereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinGirl View Post

    So the next question is, do leos feel love??
    I point you in the direction of my last post.

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    Shillelagh Law Sophomore M_surinamensis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quantumhigh View Post
    Based off my personal experience of reptile handling and care for over 15 years. Yes they do recognize there handlers. I have no set routine on feeding at X hour but they do know when its time for food very clearly noticeable with my bearded dragons. Some do thrive on attention and some prefer to be left alone. They all clearly have there own unique personality. You really start to notice personality's once you have a dozen or more.

    Some people with differ with what I have to say, you be the judge of that by observation. Its pretty clear to me.
    Thunder causes sour milk.

    I'll get back to that shortly.

    There's a term that's applicable here, "observational bias." It's basically the idea that the predisposition of an observer can cause them to interpret their observations in favor of the conclusion that is not impartial. What we believe, or what we want to believe, can color the importance we place on information as we gather it or the conclusions we draw from it.

    We're predisposed to subconsciously look for patterns and to draw connections between information as we receive it. It's a large part of how declarative memory works. We also have a frame of reference for behaviors that is focused on our own social interactions and thought processes, which we often apply (to varying degrees of inaccuracy) to things which are not other people. We anthropomorphize constantly, applying human characteristics and reasoning to everything we encounter, from inanimate objects to our pets. It's not accurate, but it is what our perspectives lead us to naturally, it's our observational bias. We have to make a conscious effort to set it aside if we want to strive for objectivity; we need to be objective if we're going to be capable of pure analysis.

    Experience is both quantitative and qualitative. I say this because fifteen years of keeping reptiles is valuable, but if your conclusions are never tested, never scrutinized from another perspective, then they may not be correct. You have come to some erroneous conclusions about reptile intelligence and reptile behavior, you look upon your experiences as evidence of your conclusions, but your experience is suffering from observational bias and your conclusions have not been genuinely tested. If an idea is not challenged, not scrutinized, then that predisposition we have for subconsciously connecting unique information into a pattern (justified or not) comes into play. We sometimes see what we want to see or what we expect to see, finding and manufacturing support.

    Some people believed that thunder soured milk. Milk sours over time and is produced more or less constantly. So anytime there is thunder, there will be some milk that has soured. Their observational bias caused them to mistake correlation for causation and as individuals they were never given reason to challenge what they believed.

    If you keep a dozen geckos, you will observe different behaviors from different animals over time. You have attributed this to the lizards having unique personalities. You want them to have personalities, the default state for you as a human being is to categorize things based on human terms. You arrive at a conclusion and have not been given reason to truly test it or to consider alternative reasons for the things you have experienced. It's the equivalent of thinking thunder sours milk.

    Gecko behavior is a result of instincts, behaviors that are programmed from birth and cannot be deviated from. There is a rudimentary ability to recognize patterns after fairly significant exposure and when there is an associated instinct. Instinctive does mean predictable and largely identical (with minimal deviations as a result of genetic drift inside a given species) but it does not necessarily mean simple. Different behaviors result from different conditions and different stimulus. The differences can sometimes be obvious, a juvenile behaves differently than an adult. The differences can sometimes be far more subtle, a three degree difference in temperature or a slightly different angle or speed when an owner goes to pick them up. The differences can sometimes be almost impossible for us to measure using the observational tools available to us, the exact function of the animal's organ systems and metabolism would require analysis that simply is not available to people in their homes.

    We can even create behavioral deviations ourselves without knowing it. We come to expect certain behaviors from individual geckos and we consequentially treat them as if those behaviors are inevitable. Our own approaches can be the cause of our expectations being fulfilled. A hypothetical owner woke their gecko up one day and it hissed at them, they anthropomorphized this into a belief that the gecko was cranky or aggressive and the next time they go to interact with the lizard, the owner is nervous... they expect a bite, their movements are sharper, more twitchy and less confident. The gecko is then confronted with a very different scenario as the hand that is looming over them is suddenly moving more like a predator. The gecko responds defensively, hissing or biting, reinforcing the mistaken conclusion the owner had formed. The reverse is true as well, the owner who believes their pet has a docile, easygoing personality is calm and controlled, smooth and relaxed; much less likely to spook the gecko into a defensive behavior and consequentially again affirming the mistaken observation. In truth, both geckos are equally capable of both behaviors and equally likely of displaying them. If they are given truly, genuinely, completely identical conditions to respond to, then the responses will be identical as well.

    A few dozen geckos, thunder sours milk. A few hundred or a few thousand geckos- or being challenged to make an effort towards unbiased, analytical observations and conclusions- and they lose that individuality that you perceive. I've been doing this reptile thing a little longer than fifteen years and I disagree with you almost completely.

    Though it's possible that I'm just paying attention to the evidence that supports what I want to be right to begin with. We're equally only human after all.

    Edits!

    Subjectivereality, I don't like some of the words you chose to use, but it's a semantic argument about the definition of learning more than anything else. That was a well written post and- despite my terminology objections- one I agree with in substance, if not in every specific. Well done.


    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinGirl View Post
    except humans, we often deprive ourselves of instinct
    You might be surprised at how instinctive humans are. We're just too conceited to acknowledge it most the time because it erodes our sense of free will.

    Quote Originally Posted by PaladinGirl View Post
    However, I still say she knows my voice and possibly my appearance because when I'm in the room, she is out staring at me. If it's just my husband in the room, she doesn't come out much.
    An alternative explanation for you to consider-

    Being your pet, you interact with her more than anyone else. You have observed how the gecko responds to various things you do. You subconsciously modify how you approach your pet, if you ever did anything and the lizard seemed more nervous or jumpy, hissed or hid or something that showed distress, you were able to associate that behavior with what you were doing at the time and avoid repeating it in the future. Your husband doesn't have the benefit of your experiences, he doesn't provide the same stimulus and the gecko doesn't respond the same way. If he's bigger than you and his footfalls vibrate through the enclosure differently, if he moves faster, if he does things you do not... different stimulus, different response. Rather than the gecko getting to know you, it's probably more of an indication that you have gotten to know the gecko.
    Last edited by M_surinamensis; 03-25-2011 at 12:43 PM.
    -And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

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  11. #10
    Member Freshman PaladinGirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subjectivereality View Post
    I point you in the direction of my last post.
    Oop, sorry. I edited that post before I read your last response I type things and edit them constantly in attempt to not look like a doofus as much as possible. I took out the thing about love. I can tell just by looking into my dogs' eyes that there's definitely a huge margin between lizard and mammalian love.
    2 leos, Toon and Epic
    1 African fat tail, Hugzor

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