Deformed Baby Northern - Graphic *Update*

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Nae
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Postby Nae » Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:40 am

Thats also my concern, considering I suffer from mild scoliosis (spine curvature).

Luckily, I am able to do stuff like take a pain killer or arrange pillows to support myself if need be, and a friend of mine with a similar condition can wear a back brace - But there is nothing like that for this little guy. Looking at us, you couldnt tell if we were in pain or not, and luckily for me mines mild enough that most of the time Im not.

Im really not sure what to think...

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Postby Jeff » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:31 am

That is my main concern as well. I am totally relying on the experience I have interacting with quite a few skinks. I know they hide their discomfort very well, but at the same time there are subtle differences in how they move/behave at different times. Also, the way a skink eats can be helpful in determining how they are doing. Not the normal fluctuations, but when something is seriously wrong, they seem to stop eating altogether. I wil be watching for that closely. Since they can live so long without eating, he could stop eating because he is in pain, and go on living for months in agony. I won't let that happen.

I should probably make a video of this guy moving around. You would be absolutely amazed at how "normally" he moves. He looks hideous, but his movement is very smooth and fluid. He moves the same speed as other babies too.

It may be the best thing to try to get an x-ray to see if there is anything going on inside that would obviously be causing pain.

I am very aware that there is nothing that can be done to correct the structural deformities, so it is just a matter of determining if his life is worth preserving. Not from my perspective, but from his perspective. If there is no pain, then it is obviuos that he deserves, and would want to live. If there is significant pain, then in the case of a bts, it seems fairly obvious to me that if there is no way to alleviate the pain, it would be best to end his suffering. The hardest part would be to conclude through x-ray or other examination that there is "likely" minor discomfort or pain. What is the right thing to do then?

I know it seems like a skeleton that looks like this SHOULD be painful, but at the same time I know a couple people who have skeletal deformities that look painful as well, but they actually have no pain at all. When the body forms incorrectly, sometimes other parts can "fall into place" where there is room for them. That was not a scientific description, but I think you know what I mean. It is more likely that a skink born this way could live pain free, than it would be for a skink that received an injury that left him in this condition.

I do want to make it clear that I am not trying to prove anything at this guy's expense. I think there is a good chance that I can keep him "alive" for a long time. That is not my goal. If it becomes apparent that he is in pain, I will not allow him to live a life in agony.

I will probably post pictures from time to time to get opinions about what you guys think. Sometimes it is easier to notice something when you don't see an animal every day. Thanks for comments so far.
6.10.9 T. s. intermedia
2.2.7 T. s. scincoides
1.2.1 T. nigrolutea
2.2.0 T. r. rugosa
1.2.3 T.g. keyensis
2.0.5 T.s. chimaera
0.0.0. T. occipitalis
0.0.0. T. multifasciata
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Postby Nae » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:07 am

It really is a difficult situation - I completely understand where you are coming from.

If he moves fine, eats fine and considering there isnt exactly pressure on his spine (like, say a humans), he could very well not be in pain, as like you said not all skeletal deformities are painful. Heck, people have been born with entire limbs missing and not be in pain.

I really wish I had better English skills so as to contribute and explain myself as fully as I want to.

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Postby Katrina » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:48 am

Good luck Jeff. I don't think there is any right or wrong answer in a situation like this - in the wild this guy wouldn't survive and most breeders probably wouldn't keep it alive. But if it isn't in pain and is mobile and eating, then it is hard to say that he doesn't deserve an equal chance at life (not that life is ever fair or that anyone gets 'equal' chances).

The tough part is that you don't know him from a healthy point of view, so it is tough to gauge when it is too much. At least with Nemo, as much as I didn't want to make the decision it was quite apparent when the pain had become too much. You two don't have that comparison point.

Good luck! I know you'll make the right decision.
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Postby James Wilson » Sat Aug 13, 2011 1:51 pm

Katrina wrote: in the wild this guy wouldn't survive.


Luckey for this little guy, this is captivity, and not the wild.
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Postby James Wilson » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:08 pm

Katrina wrote:most breeders probably wouldn't keep it alive.


Also true. That being said, most breeders are concerned about money to one extent or another while at the same time convincing themselves that they are saving the species or at least somehow doing the species a service by keeping them in captivity. We all keep these animals in our care for our own selfish reasons, but Jeff is just one of the very few keepers that actually knows his reasons for keeping reptiles and does not try to fool himself or anyone else into thinking anything else.

As for pain, it is hard to say if he is in pain. But most animals in enough pain go off food and eventually die. However, that does not seem to be the case at all with this little guy. He is eating and doing his best to survive. I personally feel he is owed that chance to live. I know there are some people here that are hinting around ending this skinks life, and I think that would actually be the easy out. Again, I commend Jeff for doing what he is doing, as I have personally seen babies that are afflicted with similar deformities live for years.
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Postby Katrina » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:22 pm

I can't help but feel that you misinterpreted my post - by saying that it wouldn't survive in the wild and that most people wouldn't give it a chance at life was to point out that it is lucky to have a chance at life. I did not mean that it shouldn't have a chance and was not in any way implying that its life should be ended.
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Postby James Wilson » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:34 pm

Katrina wrote:I can't help but feel that you misinterpreted my post - by saying that it wouldn't survive in the wild and that most people wouldn't give it a chance at life was to point out that it is lucky to have a chance at life. I did not mean that it shouldn't have a chance and was not in any way implying that its life should be ended. :?


No misrepresentation. However, I see how you might think that from my post. So let me clarify. I definitely do not think you are thinking that this skinks life should be ended, but those are two rationals for many people that do feel just that. So I thought I would address them. My response was not so much for you, but rather those that would use those thoughts as reasoning to do what I am thinking we both feel would be a mistake. I understand your feelings on this situation, and that you were mearly pointing out both sides of it. I just just felt I would add my 2 cents to the them. You know I think the world of you. :)
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Postby Katrina » Sat Aug 13, 2011 2:57 pm

Sorry James, I misinterpreted!
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Postby Scotts1au » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:55 pm

Personally I don't know whether I would keep it or not. Would probably be torn like Jeff. I know that scoliosis is a painful condition in most animals, most farm animals with it are euthanised quickly. However I have seen blueys in terrible condition continue to try to eat. i.e after being run over by a car. So I'm not sure that failure to eat would be good indicator.

Yes we all keep them for selfish reasons couldn't agree more but sometimes it is more selfish to let something suffer. Doesn't matter whether you are a casual keeper, breeder, farmer etc same story.

If not convinced that the thing is suffering then no need to knock it on the head but the concept of taking responsibility for somethings welfare is a far greater responsibility than keeping something alive just cos you might want to see how long it can live with a painful deformity.

I have had to do it before - I've dropped a log on a pet bluey, I even chopped on on the side with a spade accidentally. Even with terrible injuries there are often no outward signs of pain, like defensive postures.

Only Jeff can make the decision- I'm just saying that my weighing up of all of the factors - it's future prospects, likelihood that it is already suffering pain or at least will and the fact that it will have to be looked after that takes up resources and restricts your future endeavours yes selfish to some degree, but then keeping them in captivity is selfish.
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Postby Jeff » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:24 pm

Scott, your opinions and insights are extremely valuable to me. Thank you.
6.10.9 T. s. intermedia
2.2.7 T. s. scincoides
1.2.1 T. nigrolutea
2.2.0 T. r. rugosa
1.2.3 T.g. keyensis
2.0.5 T.s. chimaera
0.0.0. T. occipitalis
0.0.0. T. multifasciata
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Postby El Lobo » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:13 pm

A view I have come to after many years of keeping pets is that with almost all animals a life of quality takes precedent over a life of quantity. My pets have always been those classified as prey and not predator which presents a greater degree of difficulty in determining the level of illness and/or pain they are enduring. They are genetically programmed to disguise outward signs of weakness which would make them the obvious target for a predator. However, there is (in general terms) one indicator that is not possible to disguise and that is how their condition is reflected in their eyes. This is reasonably easily determined in mammals and to a lesser extent birds, but I did not believe it could be the case in skinks until a couple of years ago when I came across a young wild blotchy that had just endured envenomation by an elapid. Apart from the obvious signs of muscular and neurological impact, there was a look in its eyes I believed clearly exhibited a great deal of pain. I had known this little one casually for over a year but could not state with any conviction how its eyes normally looked, but knowing the general appearance of a blotchy's eyes there was a substantial difference.

The above is probably a long-winded way of saying that a lot of information as to the well-being of an animal can be gleaned from the appearance of the eyes. Deterioration of lucidity and positioning of eyelids as well as visibility of the nictitating membrane for those with them is, in my opinion, a certain diagnosis of pain needing to be addressed without delay. There are occasions when medical intervention is successful and there are those other occasions where the only humane course of action is euthanasia.

I think I know Jeff well enough to know that his skinks are more to him than show-pieces and exotic acquisitions. Each and every one of them is treated with the same respect and are an integral part of his life. For that reason I totally support any decision he makes regarding the continuance or termination of the life of this young skink. This is not to say that other arguments put forward don't have credibility, because there has been a great deal of thought put into most of the posts. There is much in this thread from all points of view from which we can all learn.
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Postby Jeff » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:29 pm

Thank you Norm. I couldn't figure out how to talk about the look in a skink's eye without sounding like a lunatic, but you did it beautifully. This skink has one totally unaffected eye, and one that is slightly altered by his head deformity. I look intently into both of them every day. So far I have seen a dignity that is hard to describe in words. This is truly what I will continue to look for every day when I check on this skink. I know that may make me sound like a dork, but I think there are at least a few out there that understand exactly what I am talking about.
6.10.9 T. s. intermedia
2.2.7 T. s. scincoides
1.2.1 T. nigrolutea
2.2.0 T. r. rugosa
1.2.3 T.g. keyensis
2.0.5 T.s. chimaera
0.0.0. T. occipitalis
0.0.0. T. multifasciata
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Postby Richard.C » Sat Aug 13, 2011 10:21 pm

i know exactly what u mean jeff,i was exactly the same with my deformed blotchy,i have no qualms with keeping animals with such probs,part of keeping these animals is being responsible for them,sure no one wants deformed animals,but if they can live a long pain free life why shouldnt they be given the chance,you will probably find your self becoming quite attatched to that animal,i know i was rather fond of my one
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Postby Susann » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:54 pm

Jeff, I have always valued your comments greatly, and can tell what kind of person you are from the way that you give advice, even to those who are blatantly wrong but won't listen.
That being said, I commend you for giving this guy a chance. And the fact that you are willing to entertain opinions from others who have never seen Lumpy, I now have, if possible, even more respect for you.

Something I think would be worth mentioning, since so many seem to think that his severe spinal deforimities must be causing him pain, is that these creatures live on their bellies. They even walk by simply pulling themselves forward, not LIFTING their bodies off the ground. His bent spine may not be causing him any pain at all as he doesn't really put any weight on it unless he starts climbing.

BUT. With Jeff's experience, I would absolutely trust in his ability to tell if a BTS is thriving or not. I'm sure he has watched sick ones, ones in pain, and ones who have died.

Unfortunately, I have been through this change in eyes that Jeff and El Lobo talk about. And I hardly had any BTS experience at all at the time.
Anakin had inhaled fumes from melting plastic, and at first I thought we got lucky with just a scare, not only that we saved the house from going down in flames, but that we got Anakin into fresh air in time. But an hour or so after it happened I went down to check on him, and he kept walking through his water bowl. Which was weird, but even more weird was the look in his eyes. They had absolutely changed, and that is what let me know he was in serious trouble.
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You can absolutely tell from the eyes as soon as they "give up", and I also believe this can be the case when they are in pain.

Best of luck to you and Lumpy! It's the poor little ones who struggle that win our hearts. I had a tiny "Teacup" poodle. Dumber than a bag of hammers, but boy did I love that little guy!
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Postby BTSspartan » Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:26 pm

aww hes soo cute i want him
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Postby Lauriek » Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:27 pm

I can't really add much more to these posts except that I commend you Jeff for keeping Lumpy (?), not for scientific or voyeuristic reasons but for the dignity of the animal. If he's (she's ??) not in pain and appears healthy with good appetite then he will most likely survive longer than perhaps he would if he were in the wild.
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Postby ILoveMyMonsters » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:35 pm

Can you give us an update on how Lumpy (?) is doing? It would be interesting to hear some information or some pictures on how he is developing.

By the way, kudos for letting him live. If he is not suffering, then there isn't a reason to put him down. He's pretty cute in an odd sort of way :D
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Postby Linnea » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:14 am

Lumpy is very cute even if he looks like that, somehow. but it more frightens me to look at him than i think its cute...even if he looks very healthy despite his deformities.

however, if i had the choice i would have put him out.
if giving him a chance means to give him 5 years, it does sound noble and fair, but i dont think it is. not with such a massive birth defect.
though i respect your choice too - not since you cant see him being in pain, but because you decided to care for him. that gives lumpy a good purpose too :)

it seems noone else who posted here thinks the same as me though. please dont think badly of me. i just dont like seeing animals kept just to see wether they will live or not.

and yet, if you actually gave him an x-ray, wouldnt it be possible to see if you could remove parts of the lumps with surgery?
i dont know if anything like that is actually possible, but since you have yet to see the inside......

edit:

seems mbd and skeletal deformity are the only things brought up?
ive heard siamese twins arent that unusual even among reptile....it couldnt be extra parts....right?
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Postby James Wilson » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:40 pm

I was at Jeff's house last week, and Lumpy looks great. He is growing quite large and acts like a normal skink in every way. Jeff has him set up in one of his nicest enclosures, and he doing awesome. He eats well and is very curious. Nice work Jeff! You did the right thing.
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