Following a good care guide is like following a recipe. The authors do their best to spell out what ingredients they used to care for the animal and perhaps even how to breed it. If readers follows the recipe carefully, they are likely to achieve similar results.
Care guides are a very important way for knowledge to be passed along to enable new owners to successfully keep their lizards healthy.
A care guide consists of the experience and opinions of the author which are blended together until it becomes difficult to separate fact from belief.
The experience of the author is factual– what the author did and what happened when the author did it. Sometimes, however, facts are left out that the author did not notice were important.
The opinions of the author are not always based on fact. Sometimes things are misunderstood as important when they aren’t. Sometimes the author believes things that aren’t true about the lizard’s natural history or care needs. Sometimes the author thinks something happened due to something they did when in fact it would have happened anyway, or it happened because they were doing something else they didn’t think was important or even notice and it goes on and on.
In the lizard keeping community, mistaking opinion for fact happens all the time. Often, the most popular and repeated of these opinions are accompanied by misplaced righteous passion.
This is really too bad. When we use opinion as a substitute for fact, it hinders our progress. While opinions are tested, facts are not. When testing and experimentation ends, so does improving our understanding.
Because care guides are a mix of opinion and fact as understood by the author at a particular moment in time, they should never be considered the “final word” on husbandry. This is true whether the guide is found on an internet forum, a website such as this one, obtained from a breeder or even from a book or a magazine.
Don’t be one of those people who insists that there is only one “right recipe” to make a cookie or to keep a lizard. Lizards have definite needs that must be met, but often there is more than one way to meet those needs.
Separate experience from opinion. Test opinion to get more experience and thus reveal more truth and you will be on a never-ending path of learning directly from your lizards and improving their husbandry and finding ways to best meet their needs within your particular situation.
I’ve been at this for decades and am still learning new things all the time, not only from the lizards but from other people who considered something or looked at something from a point of view that I had not. This never-ending curiosity and process of discovery makes keeping lizards incredibly interesting over a lifetime.