New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

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New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby chkadii » Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:29 pm

I hope this is the right place for this. I read the medical FAQ post for underweight skinks but I'd feel more comfortable with hand-tailored advice if anyone has any. I'll give an overview of today, then pics, and then the questions I have.

Earlier today my boyfriend picked up a young, underweight Halmahera skink. I was suspicious of it's condition but the guy at the show says the last time it ate was three days before, and it's been eating pinkie mice and crickets (ugh, really?). I'm hoping that this is simply a case of neglect rather than parasites or disease. (I mean that in the best way; because now it'll never be neglected again!) There's some evidence of a rough shed not too long ago; it's face looks patchy as if it was half-shed and there was some skin still on it's toes.

We set it up in a 20gal long tank since it is so young and small. We have a nice reptile-specific 55gal long tank for it when it's big enough to easily make the distance. At first it hid in the regular hide for a while, and I can't blame it! I set up some damp terrarium moss in the plastic container it came in and cut a corner off to make an impromptu humid hide to make the last bit of shedding a little easier. It did sit in the humid hide for a little bit, and then finally came out to explore.

The water dish is flat and long- I chose this one so it could lay down in the water as a second option to ease the rest of the shed. The skink immediately drank a ton of water upon discovering the dish, and it's been sitting in the water for over an hour now. I'm assuming it was dehydrated, but I'm glad it at least shows an interest in drinking.

We put in a little plate of scrambled egg and minced green peppers to see if it showed an interest in food. It's our Irian Jaya's favorite, so we hoped that it would incite a hunger response. No such luck. The skink saw the food, went right up next to it, but hasn't sniffed/licked it closely, and went back down to the water dish. My uneducated opinion is that it's used to delicious, fat little pinkies and hasn't been exposed to anything else yet. It might also be full from drinking so much to overcome dehydration?

Oh, and this is common sense, but figured I'd keep your minds at ease- it's totally quarantined from the other reptiles.

Pictures (sorry for the quality, I took them on my phone)
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This is a fuzzy shot but you can see his little hip bones :cry:
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In this pic (and the ones below) you can easily see the spine and the patches on his face.
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So these are the questions I have:
I know scrambled eggs aren't much healthier than pinkies. What should I try feeding from here on out? (FYI, this isn't the only thing we feed the skink we've had- he gets a varied diet of greens and proteins; kale, collard greens, peppers, spinach here and there, cat food to interest him in greens, etc.)
Should I keep food in there daily, just in case it does show an interest? Or try every 2-3 days?
How long should I try to feed naturally before resorting to syringe feeding? (I have fed leopard geckos via syringe before, so I do have some experience, albeit not much. I'm in no rush to try it if I don't have to.
It seems alert as far as I can tell. It is only the first day home, so I'm not messing with the skink or the tank any more than I had to (to put in the humid hide and the food only). I realize it's stressed so I'm keeping a careful, but distant, eye on it.
Is there anything I'm doing wrong? Or something else I should be doing? I'm looking into vet office hours as we speak.

Any advice will be much appreciated. Thank you for reading!
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Bird_Brain » Sat Aug 25, 2012 3:11 pm

First I would definitely not rule out parasites. If parasites are the cause, it typically is a fairly easy and cheap fix. Im not sure if you know, but Im assuming it is either a wild caught specimen or a baby from a fresh import (mother was imported gravid and gave birth in captivity). Either way, the chance of parasites are very likely. Add that to the amount of stress the little guy has had to go to bouncing around show to show, that could really allow his immune system to slow down allowing the parasites to "take over". So a vet visit would be the best bet for this little guy. The vet could also recommend the force feeding if necessary. IMO, it would probably do more harm than good with the stress it would cause.

As for diet, I would start with canned dog food and mixed veggies. I would offer food once a day at this point, but wouldnt leave it in all day. You dont want him to pig out and have a fast weight gain. Slow and steady is typically the best for weight gain.
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Richard.C » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:18 pm

Another clue is its hanging at water bowl,signs its dehydrated,young ones lose condition very fast,less fat reserves and a stronger need to put growth on,so keep water topped up with fresh water ontop of reptilekings advice,it looks bright eyed enough so could just be neglected,bit of tlc will help parasites or not
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Lea » Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:34 am

Hi there, I agree with Richard and Brad, he's probably dehydrated and that can make a skink lethargic and disinterested in food. There is a possibility of parasites or infection and before you do anything else, you'll want o go to the vet to rule these out.

On the plus side, he is drinking. If they get to the stage where they refuse even to drink, it's often too late, so you have that in your favour. As the others said, too, he looks bright and as if he still has interest in his surroundings, so it's best to take action with the vet now, in case he deteriorates. With his low weight, he is more susceptible to picking up bacterial infections etc, with a possible lowered resistance to infection.

For now, don't fret too much about what he eats, you can rectify the deficiencies after he gets through this beginning. His main concerns are survival and life preserving measures, as an emergency, so feed him whatever he wants to eat, trying to incorporate high energy foods with a good protein amount. Something that we would consider a food with quickly available energy will give him a zap of the glucose required to allow him to eat without fatiguing, such as a fruit, watermelon is a good example. Using this alongside a slower energy release food, such a as a protein, meat or egg, for example, allows them to complement each other. The slower energy release will sustain him for the next day or so until his next feed. After he starts to build up his intake, there is less need for the more sugary high energy foods, which should really be an occasional treat.

If the only thing he'll eat is pinkies, then still offer him some, but alongside a couple of healthier choices. He may ignore them, but in the long run, they will be better, so getting him used to a few smells may even tickle his tastebuds enough for a try.once he has built up a bit, you can get more serious about his likes and dislikes and putting your foot down for change, but concentrate on his survival for now.

Sometimes fresh meat can entice a bite, just due to the smell being a stimulant, but a wet dog food is just fine. Fairly often they have a little veggie content, so do give a bit more in the way of nutrients, than a pinkie, but again, whatever he wants, pander to him, until he has the energy to be picky.

If need be, they can be force fed- making his mouth open so you can pop in food, but it comes with risks as they can aspirate easily. Wince he's been taking the pinkies, keep going with them. If he loses Interest altogether, we can tackle it then. Often, just by gently pressing food against the side of the mouth will pee them off enough to bite at the offending item. Just watch your fingers and don't be too rough! If he gets stressed, stop, as he'll end up using more energy and it will make matters worse.

Keep the fresh water topped up- it sounds revolting, but mixing some minced dog food into the water, just enough so the water is still lappable, can give a little boost of energy without him realising he's being duped! If you do that, then provide a second water dish, so he doesn't choose to stop drinking. Skinks that are low in energy tend to lap at their food, rather than take big mouthfuls, too, so a purée diet with a higher water content, can feed these lappers in the interim. Some will always prefer a low chew meal, too, licking everything once, but not actually going for the solids, so allowing for this skink preference might help.

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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby chkadii » Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:15 pm

I don't have much of an update, but I didn't want you all to think the worst from my silence. Yesterday I got the little guy (or girl!) to eat a pinkie by rubbing it on his nose. I'm not thrilled that he isn't keen on the other options we've given him, but at least he has some food in him.
Today I'll check the tank to make sure he hasn't thrown it up or anything. He's been in his humid hide since yesterday as far as I can tell. The face patches are definitely messy/old shed, he was rubbing his face all over the tank yesterday.
I did put in two water dishes, one mixed with a bit of cat food for energy and one with fresh water in case he refuses the other. He hasn't hung out near the water bowl since the first day, which is either a really good sign or a really bad sign.
I emailed a mobile vet that I've heard good things about; I'm hoping it'll be less stressful for the skink if he gets checked out at home as opposed to being taken to an office. We haven't handled him at all yet for fear of stressing him out, though he did accept the pinkie from my fingers. If none of the food from this morning was touched I'll try another pinkie tonight.

Thank you all again for the advice you've given me so far. I felt a lot more confident hearing it from you guys rather than shooting in the dark on my own. I'll give you another update after we see a vet, and I'll take progress shots after we put some meat on his bones.
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Richard.C » Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:20 pm

For now ,main thing is getting food into him/her and rehydrated,when its back to normal is fine for changing diet,pinkys will be foos for building fat reserves
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Spindown » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:21 pm

fecals are normally pretty cheap, usually the meds are too. Most parasites are quite easy to get rid of via oral medication. I've done it many times.
Waxworms are good for weight gain as well or so I've been told
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby chkadii » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:44 pm

Update!

Remember that little bag of bones from the beginning of this thread? Well look at Barnaby now!

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His hip bones are starting to disappear!

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He also finally sloughed off all that old shed.

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This last picture is from today. He (she?) had some swelling along the left side of the throat. We went to the vet this morning, but she gently told me to keep an eye on it for now and go back if it gets worse. Boy, do I feel like a helicopter parent! :roll:
We still have a journey ahead of us, but Barnaby's already looking like a brand-new skink!
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:59 pm

WOW!!!!
Did you find out why the skink was so skinny?
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby chkadii » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:17 pm

When we talked to the person that was selling him at the show, he said they were feeding Barnaby crickets and pinkies every three days. We did take him to the vet, but weren't able to get a fecal (Barnaby was uh... inconsistent in the beginning) so we went with a broad-spectrum dewormer and it seemed to work just fine.

We're fairly certain he was wild caught, so parasites (while unconfirmed) were a good possibility. But honestly, I think he was badly neglected and it didn't help whatever problems he might have already had.
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby xxmonitorlizardxx » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:19 pm

I can tell you he is wild-caught ;) and your doing an awesome job :)
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Lea » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:40 pm

That's a great improvement, looks like a different skink. I think you can safely say he has his appetite back! I'd curb his feeds to perhaps half to 2/3 of when he was gaining, just so he doesn't pork out too much. Very happy to see this!
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Fatal_S » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:35 pm

What a great update. He looks fantastic and couldn't have found a better home :D
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby El Lobo » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:52 pm

Great job. :thumbs:

It's amazing how they can be improved with the right diet.
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Bluish » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:40 am

It's really heartbreaking to see the condition of some of the animals at these shows or in the stores.
A little bit of TLC and it looks like a whole new skink. Nicely done! She/he is a real cutie.
If you are still looking for advice I'd say just keep doing what your doing. :thumbs:
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby chkadii » Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:28 am

Thank you all! We probably wouldn't have attempted it without knowing we had this site and forum as a resource. And even though Barnaby is a grumpy little problem child, I'm sure he'd thank you, too.

Our next battle is socialization before he gets big enough to do any real damage to our fingers! :lol:
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Niels D » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:38 am

Nice work. He turned out to be a real stunner.
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Re: New skink very underweight. Advice? (Image heavy)

Postby Spindown » Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:55 pm

Awwww glad to see hes doing better! Some people at these expos should be keel-hauled for the way they "care" for their animals. >.<
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