Fence Lizards Forum
Sick Emerald Swift - Lethargic, Won’t Drink
First off, I realize this is the Fence Lizard forum, but the Swift forum is so dead that I’m worried I won’t get much help there, and I know that Swifts and Fence Lizards are quite similar — I’ve been feeding the wild fence lizards in our yard for the past several months.
Here’s what’s happening: I’ve been buying mealworms for the fence lizards at a local reptile store. This place keeps their animals in somewhat questionable conditions, but it never seemed to cross the line to negligence or abuse. A few weeks ago I noticed some emerald swifts for sale there, and they really caught my eye. I kept thinking about them, and last week I thought "maybe I can bring them home", so I started researching. It was then that I realized all that goes into caring for these lizards, and worse, just how short of this the store was falling in terms of care and housing. I decided to buy them and give them a proper home.
I bought the swifts 4 days ago but couldn’t yet bring them home. At the time, the female was rowdy and energetic and spastic, but the male was very docile. I knew that being tame was rare for these types of lizards but it seemed more attributed to personality than condition.
Well, today I went to pick them lup and the male was just in bad shape. He was limp in the carry box, so I went to put them in the temporary terrarium I had just bought (with plans to give them the proper, full blown vivarium I’m building in a few days) on the drive home. The female kept up her energy but still the male just lay there limp, not even moving his limbs that were positioned uncomfortably. I raced home as quick as I could without distressing them more than I had to, quickly threw everything together, and put them in. It’s only been a few hours, but he’s hardly moved at all. He’s slouched over on the ground and can’t seem to push himself off the ground, even after putting him under the heat lamp at 90°. I’ve read thread after thread after thread, and nothing I’ve tried seems to help. I’ve tried giving him a warm soak, but after sitting there for a few seconds he’ll freak out and try to jump out. Is that a sign that I should stop trying? Or should I force him to stay in because he doesn’t know what’s good for him? I’ve heard we should try a pedialyte/water bath but that sounds...sketchy at best. I’ve dropped water on his snout and he won’t lick it off or drink. I’ve tried massaging his underbelly to force out whatever might be impacted, and it does nothing except occasionally spook him enough to start squirming out of my hand (where he jumped into from the bath I tried to give him and stayed). Putting him in water and massaging his underbelly are the the only times he responds with any energy, and it is brief bursts that quickly fizzle out.
I tried keep the heat lamp on 90°, but eventually he slid off the cork wood stump as if to get away, one claw stuck to the wood. This is what freaked me out the most because he very much looked dead. So I’m letting him sleep in there with it set to 75°, hoping that’s okay. I read elsewhere that stress and handling can really do these guys in, so I don’t want to keep picking him up, but I don’t know what else to do.
The setup at the store where they were kept had one weak heat lamp, no direct sunlight and no UVB light (unless it was a heat/UVB combo? Is that a thing?), some kind of jagged, woody substrate, and no source of humidity aside from any misting they may/may not have done. The Bowl had a bunch of drowned crickets in it, and the female is probably 15% larger than the male (and I bought them both, so she’s in there with him; she burrowed herself in for the night about an hour after bringing them home.) So I realize the issue could range anywhere from impacted bowels to stress from a dominate female to lack of UVB to pneumonia to dehydration to parasites.... but does anyone have any ideas or suggestions outside of all this? Do I try and force feed him? Just give it time with the UVB light/direct sunlight? Anything else I can do to help make him poop? I know the vet could maybe help but I also don’t want to stress him way out, even more, by hauling him in the car somewhere and having another stranger poke and prod him. Could lack of proper humidity be the cause alone? Or is it some combination thereof? My greatest concern is that the female is super energetic and strong and aggressive, so whatever the issue is, it doesn’t seem to be affecting her at all. So it makes environmental causes hard to pinpoint.
Anyways, apologies for the information overload. I just figure that being as specific and thorough as possible might best help me save the little guy, which I really hope to do as I’m already quite fond of him. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.