Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

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raisinjelly
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Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby raisinjelly » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:39 pm

Hi there! Oh boy this is gonna be kind of long. I'm really hoping that it turns out I've been worrying over nothing and we can all laugh at me for wasting a bunch of money and stress on a brumating skink.

So the skink is a 5 year old male Northern.

It all started at the beginning of August, when he went off his food. I'd also started noticing that he was having excess saliva bubbling at the sides of his mouth and his gums seemed very red. So I took him to the vet, and they did a mouth swab and blood test which did not reveal anything, but they put him on antibiotics for around 6 weeks and poof, he was all better! Some time goes by (sorry I have an awful memory) and he starts going off his food again, and I think I'm seeing more saliva, so I take him in to the vet again. They still can't find anything, so they put him on the same antibiotic. This time it doesn't do anything, and the vet tells me that she wouldn't really be concerned about him anymore unless he starts losing a lot of weight. I think, okay. I'm just being paranoid.

He keeps not eating and not eating. I just leave things be because of the time of year and what the vet told me. I'm kicking myself over my bad memory because I can't recall how he acted in previous winters, but I'm really thinking he was never this bad before.

When his weight drops from 812g to "750g" (turns out my scale was bad; he was 780) I decided to make an appointment with a fancier vet, one who teaches exotics medicine at a university veterinary hospital. She takes a mouth swab (negative) and does a blood test that shows something about white blood cell activity, which she says could indicate he's fighting an infection or that it could simply be stress. She puts him on a different antibiotic which does nothing. At his followup appt from that she does another blood test, which has an even higher white blood cell count. He goes on Baytril, which does nothing.

At this point my new, fancier vet decided to retire at the end of February, and I had a mighty sadness. Not really sure what to do now? How much weight loss over winter is a cause for concern? At the beginning of August he weighed 812g, and at this current point in time he is down to 728g. It's been months since he's had a real meal and he's still showing virtually no interest in any sort of food I've tried. Not hardboiled or scrambled eggs, banana, various other fruits, insects, all kinds of dog and cat food, canned snails. He'll pick at the stuff a little bit but that's all.

Here's a few pics of him from today:
https://i.imgur.com/08wCSXT.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/5EsB3xM.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/eTGDooK.jpg

I'd really appreciate any thoughts, especially if it's that he's fine and I'm a huge, overly paranoid dummy.
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splashy07
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby splashy07 » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:55 am

My males have not eaten since late October when they go into brumation. When they wake up in late January/early February they go into season and still do not eat. The breeding is done, and the boys are still going insane, usually until mid March. Right around the beginning of April they will start eating again. My eastern boys are just out of season and they're all eating. This is seasonal behavior. Now, with yours, I'm concerned about the not eating since August. I think you should start keeping a log, either on your computer, phone, or simply write stuff down so when your memory fails (as mine often does) you will be able to check back. Have you tried insects or raw egg? The raw egg usually is what starts mine going again. Make sure temps are correct also. Northerns rarely get sick. How about a picture?
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby raisinjelly » Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:48 pm

Hi Splashy, thanks for the reply!

I do definitely need to write things down more. As of last month I've begun a journal of all of my animals' monthly weights, so that's a start at least!

As for the food, I have tried insects which is the food he's always been crazy about, but he still just eats a few of them and then loses interest. Haven't tried raw egg so far, just hardboiled or scrambled, but I'll try to give that one a go too.

Have you noticed if it's normal for your males to drop weight over winter/breeding season? Mine has lost about 80g so far, which really concerns me. The pics of him are the imgur URLs at the bottom of my original post - he's always been a slender dude so it's hard for me to tell if he's looking TOO skinny.

Temps have always been good; 95-98F basking, mid 70's cool end, and he has UVB. Pretty much every single day over the last few months he's been coming out to bask, rather than staying sleeping down in the bedding.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby Janella » Tue Mar 03, 2020 7:30 pm

I completely agree with Splashy. Start logging every single day what your skink is being fed and if it ate anything or not. That way you know exactly when and what it at last.

I am concerned as well that your skink hasn't been eating since August. I also am concerned about the high white blood cell count. That does indicate infection. I had a similar thing happen with my Merauke skink. We think it also was somehow related to his breeding cycle but the key is that he had such a high WBC that I had to intervene and do force feeding, antibiotic injection every three days, and two other oral meds! I would talk to the same place your reptile specialist was and see if there is anyone see that could see your skink. If not, find a reptile specialist elsewhere and get it seen. These guys can go down hill quickly if an infection sets in.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby splashy07 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:11 am

Sorry, I missed the pics! Just looked at them and he looks perfectly normal to me. My males lose a lot of weight and it worries me every year, although I've been breeding for five years now and I guess I should be used to it. They live off the fat storage in their tails, of which yours looks normal. I'd bump up the warm end temps about five to ten degrees. And I agree with Janella about the white cell count, a point I missed. A vet check couldn't hurt.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby raisinjelly » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:05 am

Thanks guys, I'll try to find another vet again and see what they think. The vet who retired was pretty stumped about what to do next at my last appointment since she couldn't find anything wrong in swabs, blood tests, or an xray, and the two different antibiotics didn't work so it worries me that there might not be much else that can be done, if it is some mystery infection and not a seasonal thing. I'll see what I can do and update this post if I find anything out.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby splashy07 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:44 am

Well, if it makes you feel any better your skink certainly does not look sick. Maybe a few more degrees will trigger his appetite. I find my Northerns like it way hotter than my Easterns do.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby Janella » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:20 pm

Agreed...your skink looks good in the pictures. Hopefully it is just some weird seasonal. Try doing some force feeding for a while and see if you can get him to eating back on his own.
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Re: Adult skink not eating, losing weight.

Postby raisinjelly » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:27 pm

It does make me feel a lot better that he doesn't look thin!

Maybe I'll wait another week or so and if I still can't tempt him with anything, I've got a fresh bag of Carnivore Care from a rescue that didn't end up making it. He was pretty easy to take the Baytril from a syringe so I don't think it should be too overly stressful.

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