In honor of Lafeber Vet’s Reptile Repro Webinar today, here’s Ziggy’s story.
In spring 2016, Ziggy started getting bigger around the abdomen and showing brighter colors. I knew this meant this would be her first round of laying eggs.
I gave her a small bucket full of dirt, extra privacy, and checked on her intermittently to see if she’d laid her eggs yet.
After two weeks, I came home to find her laterally recumbent on the floor of her cage. If you know chameleons, you know this is BAD as they are always perched on something.
I called around to every local vet and finally found someone who would see her in the morning. She was given pain med and IV fluids and she seemed to perk up.
For a week we tried giving her shots of oxytocin to try to stimulate her to lay on her own. When they didn’t pass, we elected to take her to surgery.
This was risky as she was already debilitated and I was warned she may not make it. Thankfully she pulled through but the surgeon was unable to safely extract all follicular tissue so I was warned she may undergo the egg laying process again.
Upon investigation, I realized my UV light was expired. Even though the light was still shining it was not emitting UV light. She couldn’t metabolize the calcium I was supplementing in her diet thus her eggs weren’t shelled properly and could not be passed.
Ziggy lived another 6 months before she passed away. I again found her weak at night and I called every emergency vet in the area. None of them felt comfortable enough to euthanize her so I held her crying until she finally passed away.
She was my first pet on my own and i still miss her. I feel guilty that my poor husbandry lead to her discomfort and that I had to learn a lesson through her pain. I vow to always do better for future pets and my patients.
I am still angry that no one could grant her a less painful death. I vow to advocate for these species and encourage all of my colleagues to learn to humanely euthanize these often neglected animals.
Today I’m continuing my journey to treat reptile patients. I hope Ziggy’s story encourages vet students and veterinarians to learn to serve reptiles.