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rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:39 am
by kimtech
I am very happy to have found this site!
I am a veterinary technician and have just assumed care/rescued an adult blue-tongue of unknown age. It is in very poor health, and was surrendered to me in the hopes that I can save her. She(?) was diagnosed with stomatitis- not fully advanced, but far enough along to cause ulceration around the full margin of her mouth and under one eye, MBD, causing curvature in her tail - assuming NOT more of her spine, though we did not take any radiographs- but no curvature is visible. Most of her toes are gone. Her feet are raw where there would be toes. She has one toe on her front foot- and one on her back foot, but both appear to be necrotic. She is sunken with pelvic bones visible.
Background- she was given water once a week to soak, no water left in cage. No calcium given in over a year, fed veggies, fruit only. Mainly kale, bok choy, blueberries, bananas. No live food at all, no meat.
No UVB source, but had a basking light. High temp was approximately 79 degrees.
Substrate was some type of bark chips.
We put her on calgonate 1 ml every five days, baytril 1 ml every other day, silver sulfadine applied topically to the ulceration on her mouth, and her bloody stump feet, neosporin to the ulcer near her eye. Vet also suggest Panacur once a week for four weeks.
I changed her living quarters to a terrarium four foot by two foot, screen top, aspen shavings, heat lamp. She has a basking area with temp range from 80 to 100 degrees, a cool area that is room temperature, hides in both ends, and a large pool for soaking. She came running when I put the water in. I offered her some Recovery canned food, some cantelope, a wax worm. No desire to eat last night.

Is there anything else I should be giving her? Do you have any suggestions to help ease her into a better diet? I will read through the site, but appreciate any additional info you have to offer.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:38 am
by Linnea
We need a photo of her and her enclosure. it will help us get a slight idea of age and also tell us which species it is.

im not the best person to write this, but i can add basic info before the moderators and more experienced skink keepers come by and help.

keep on trying with the dogfood and vegetables together. its the only way, to be stubborn. for such an ill skink, adding something sweet she recognizes into the mix can help her start eating.
i have never heard of a skink only getting vegetables before, its usually so hard to even get them to touch them without mixing them in.
i think live food should be less prioritized at the moment. not sure.
might be good ideas here you can use.

double check all temps with a temp gun, surface basking temps are very important, especially for an ill skink.

a bluey loosing its toes is sad, but they can survive very very good without them! just a few days ago this post shows how good it can heal and work:
that didnt really help with the situation but might ease your mind a bit.

keeping soft paper towels (or regular towels, no chemicals) as substrate is an option for all ill skinks that need observation. easy to clean, reduces infection risks, reduces parasite risk, and its easy to find all poop and check.
changing substrate now however may cause a lot of unneccessary stress, so id say dont.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:34 am
by kimtech
Thank you Linnea- I will do my best to get pictures later on when I am home (I am at work right now).

I would like to also add- medicating her orally last night was stressful for both her and myself. I am so worried about injuring her *mbd*- and trying to restrain her and get the syringe in her mouth was a bad nightmare. She did the classic alligator roll and fought every step of the way. If anyone has any recommendations on an easier way to medicate, that would be greatly appreciated. I am afraid to put any pressure on her jaw- definitely do not want any broken bones or worse problems than she already has.
We opted NOT to do injectable b/c the vet insists that would be painful and more likely to cause her to not eat.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:03 am
by Spindown
Injection in my experience is much LESS stressful for both you and skink, less than trying to shove something in her sore mouth...and doesnt require interference with her mouth either.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:14 am
by Lea
This sounds a sad situation.

Eating can be slow, particularly after a big change in the habitat or environment. If she's active, that's a good sign and letting her settle a day or two, may benefit in the long run.

Given her emaciation, a purée diet might help. With her mouth being sore, steer clear of any fruits, which tend to irritate more than other foods. A mashed banana or boiled egg might be tempting for her though. Putting the purée in a small syringe a touching the lips at the side, may be enough to make her bite the syringe for you to push a small amount if the food on to her tongue. Being a purée, it is hard to spit out and just a half ml to a ml, may be enough to sustain her until she has the strength to eat for herself. All her energy will be pouring into trying to heal her various ailments and her low body mass will further compound infection by lowering the immune system.

A good way to hold a skink in this condition is to lie her along the length of your forearm, tail to your elbow, head and forelimbs through your fingers. By hugging her snug to your body in this position, you can get a fairly solid grip, without too much struggling. It's a good position for administering meds, even giving injections, when you are on your own.

Cantaloupe or watermelon are good high GI foods, not too acidic and can be good to help rehydrate and provide a short term energy boost for your skink. If you are concerned she isn't drinking enough, soaking a gauze piece in water and initiating a bite response, will usually get a skink to suck a little moisture fom the gauze. It doesn't sound like much, but a few mls can make a big difference when an animal is critically ill.

For more tips on feeding malnourished skinks, have a look at the medical advice section. Please pm me if you have further questions and I'll get back to you ASAP.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:59 pm
by Scotts1au
A couple of tips. For orally medicating, try rapping the bluey up in a moistened towel so that the end of the snout is just sticking out. Wrapping can be quiet firm, all the better so she cant - more, or see what is coming - like for treating a bird. Generally a little coaxing is all that is required at the edge of her mouth via a syringe. Generally any fluid entering the mouth will be swallowed. Don't squirt fluids in as they may be aspirated.

I have found when treating bacterial infections that forced warming works best, that is don't allow the bluey access to the cool end of an enclosure. It's immune system will operate better if kept continually warm (so no turning off a heat source at night). Being warm will also allow it's metabolism to work better and will give a better chance of the bluey feeling hungry.

Feeding - try a freshly scrambled egg. No milk or butter/marg etc. Don't bother with attempting a varied diet at this stage until the bluey is better, calories and protein is all that is needed, worry about a varied diet when eating regularly again.

Treatment - if giving Baytril (double/triple check dosages before administering), also allow 3 to 4 days before you are likely to see any benefits. A lot of people place too much emphasis on the chemical treatment itself without thinking about it as being supportive therapy rather than the fix to the problem.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:28 pm
by kimtech
Thank you!

I just returned home from work- and offered her some RC Gastrointestinal Hi-Energy canned cat food, chopped a little kale on top, and sliced a blueberry up and put it on top of the cat food. She dove right in and ate a large amount (large- meaning probably a tablespoon size chunk of the cat food and a couple bites of the kale that I had on there as decoy). THEN, I logged in and read your responses (thanks for the info on holding off on the fruit, will do from now on.)

I managed to take three pictures of her before my phone died. If i can figure out how to upload a picture I will show you her/him.


Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:27 pm
by Scotts1au
Does look a anaemic and in a bad way, have heart though because they do have an amazing capacity to recover. It is a great sign that it is eating - failure to eat can be an indicator of organ failure i.e liver. Good luck.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:35 pm
by Vegasarah
Sounds like everything I was going to suggest has been mentioned, but I'll give what information I can!

Change to paper towel substrate if there are open wounds on the feet, aspen could stick to it and make it more infected. I would do that right away to prevent spread of infection. It keeps the environment sanitary

Scott is very right- really wrap her up nice and firm. The less wiggle room she has the better. The damp towel is heavy and will prevent her from spinning or wiggling free. I don't know if blue tongues have this, but some other reptiles has a reflex on the side of their mouth. If you rub the very corner of their mouth it should open up- it's kind of like a gag reflex in humans to prevent them from trying to swallow food that is too big. Again, not sure if BTS have this but it could be worth a try.

Keep her nice and warm. I would suggest a basking temperature of 105 and a 'cool' end of no less than 85. (Moving to a smaller enclosure makes this much easier) This is just a temporary measure to help boost immune and other functions to help fight off the infection. It will also help metabolize food thoroughly and will help get her appetite up and going. When feeding, I would try first to offer some warmed dog food, eggs, banana, etc. Something with a strong odor might help, or offering a food that the skink is familiar with mixed in with one of those items. Even just smearing mashed banana on the front of the nose where tongue-flicking will get it off might help.

I'm going to suggest something that may be a little unorthodox, and I'm not sure if it has ever been tried with a blue tongue before. A soak in a mixture of baby food (pumpkin seems to be a favorite!) and water warmed up. I would say around 90 degrees F and keep her in there until it starts to cool down (not get cold! keep a very close eye on it and check it every few minutes!). A larger area like a Rubbermaid or something would be ideal where there can be movement. Sometimes when they go to drink the water, they taste that yummy baby food and really start to lap it up. It boosts hydration, gets their body temperature up, and could give nutrients and a few calories. This is something I have used with a sick tortoise and suggested (it worked) with a sick bearded dragon. I would not suggest this if the wounds on the feet could be affected by it, or if you do choose to do this, make sure to thoroughly clean the wounds afterwards. Not that I think pumpkin baby food will really affect a wound, but you never know. We don't know how bad the condition is without pictures, but I trust you to make a good judgment on it.

Very anxious to hear about this little guy and to see pictures!

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:39 pm
by kimtech
Vegasarah wrote:Sounds like everything I was going to suggest has been mentioned, but I'll give what information I can!

We don't know how bad the condition is without pictures, but I trust you to make a good judgment on it.

Very anxious to hear about this little guy and to see pictures!

You cant see the pictures I posted? How do I make them visible to everyone?

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:18 pm
by Richard.C
You have a northern there,does appear to have had a rough time

I find with rehabilitation not stressing them to much is very important,if its been in poor conditions with previous owners,just setting them up correctly can do wonders,i wouldnt force them to stay in to hot a cage,id still offer a big temp gradient,especially if its moving about,it will help eleviate stress,which in a compromised reptile is of the upmost importance

Like scott said blueys are extremely resilient so can come back from being in poor shape quite well,but gett the conditions right to try and ease the stress,the best medicines in the world wont help if conditions arent right and lizard is still stressed

Looks like its set up well and getting the attention it needs now,so fingers crossed its on the up now

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:21 pm
by Vegasarah
kimtech wrote:
Vegasarah wrote:Sounds like everything I was going to suggest has been mentioned, but I'll give what information I can!

We don't know how bad the condition is without pictures, but I trust you to make a good judgment on it.

Very anxious to hear about this little guy and to see pictures!

You cant see the pictures I posted? How do I make them visible to everyone?

I see them now! Sorry for the mix up!

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:23 pm
by kimtech
It is active- moves from the basking area to burrowing under the substrate in the cooler end (my house is set at 72- Im a wimp in the cold, and under 72 is cold).
Then after awhile, comes out and goes back to the basking area. DOVE at the food- was the first time it had ever had a meat-based diet. I am thankful that I didnt have to give oral meds today. However, tomorrow I have to give the Baytril. I will try the towel trick/corner of her mouth/see how that goes.
Thank you all for your advice and I will keep everyone posted on how its doing.

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:53 pm
by El Lobo
She certainly looks in a sorry state but do take heart from what Scott said: they are very resilient animals and can recover from dire circumstance.

Most thoughts have already been well covered and having regular access to veterinary advice has to be a distinct advantage. It's only my opinion but I would try keeping the whole enclosure as close to preferred body temperature (say 32-33°C) as possible on a 24/7 basis with a basking spot maybe 5°C higher for a reasonable period. While it is possible to administer the abx orally I would continue. Enrofloxacin as well as tetracyclines are known to cause necrosis at the injection site unless diluted.

Don't get too hung up over the fruit issue. The main reason not to feed a high percentage is because of the high sugar content which can result in gut dysbiosis. In this case presenting some she is familiar with each feeding may encourage her to eat more of the beneficial protein. For many species it is not only food scent but also colour and shape they recognise.

I wish every success in returning her to good health. It is incomprehensible that anyone could let an animal get to this state before seeking professional help.

A couple of good articles by Melissa Kaplan:

Fluids and Fluid Therapy in Reptiles ... =&EVetID=0

Emaciation (Starvation) Protocol ... C=0&A=1355

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:29 am
by Richard.C
Good sign its eating the meat well,if its moving into and out of basking area thats great as well,id stick to that regime,and watch how she does,before keeping whole enclosure to warm

Ultimatly you want them to be fine with standard keeping conditions which should be the less stress on them

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:45 pm
by taniya91
my bluey crackerjack had to have injections after he hurt his mouth and was fed via syringe for about 2 weeks and aside from being angry with me he handled it all very well the injections were the easiest part and the vet said it would be difficult and he'd give me a hard time...but nothing he just laid there i gave him his shot and then he walked away haha and then of course i picked him up and put him back in his enclosure ...his food via syringe (administer on the side of his mouth that was not injured) contained hard boiled egg, crested gecko diet , turnip greens, and butternut squash ...oh and some watermelon all blended up... he ate it willingly and all of it. he would even open his mouth for me to put the syringe in. at the end of the 2 weeks he was started trying to chew the syringe so i started putting the blended mix in his bowl and again he ate it all willingly .... after all this he didnt "talk" to me for about 3 days, didnt want me to hold him, talk to him, touch him nothing but then of course he got over it and is my little buddy again.... my point is i dont think injections would be such a bad idea as long as they are intramuscular. intravenous i can see being very stressful ...and im unfamiliar with the use of subcutaneous injections in reptiles so i dont even know if thats an option...i know there are a few other types of injections that i cannot think of right now

....i really hope she gets better very soon

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:11 am
by kimtech
thanks everyone= thought I would give you all an update.

I brought home a curved tip syringe to give her meds- it was much easier to get the meds IN using that. much smaller tip.
Didnt eat anything offered yesterday- had me worried. However, today, she ate a fair amount of A/D topped with blueberry baby food.

I used a temp gun- and well, I had too much fun checking temperatures. The range of the substrate is from 71 degrees to 100 degrees. I adjusted my light because the basking rock had temps from 80 degrees to areas of 113 degrees. That was pretty frustrating. I managed to keep it at 100 by moving the rock over some (duh).

Continued by checking the temp of my coffee in my cup..(124 degrees) dogs fur...and on and on.. lol.

Anyhow, my blueys' feet are no longer red and scabbed. They seem to be almost healed.
We will just keep on keepin on, taking each small victory as they come. :)

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:31 am
by Lea
That sounds positive to know he's healing on the outside. His insides must be getting enough nutrition to cope with all the stresses for him to displays outward signs of repair, that's excellent news, I'm so pleased! Once he's a little tougher you'll have to get some pictures to give us more of an update.

Best news I've had all day! :thumbs:

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:38 am
by Bluish
That's good to hear!
It's amazing how resilient they are.
Great to see the little guy/gal in good hands now. :thumbs:

Re: rescued skink bad shape

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:59 am
by Katydid11
I'm wondering how this guy is doing... Any updates?