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Reisz   Stormy  

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Hello! I bought a male Mountain horned dragon back in July with a female. Unfortunately the female was really dehydrated and sick when the pet store received her and she died a few nights later despite my attempts to rehydrate and feed her. The male has been lively and full of spunk since I got him home. He usually ate between 5-7 crickets daily and moved around his tank during the day.

Last month I added another female to the tank since he seemed to be lonely since the loss if the last one. They seemed to respond fine to one another after a bit of distance and head bobbing (unsure if this was out of season courting behavior or just them warning each other of boundaries) and for the past month have slept side by side or on top of one another.

About three weeks ago my male, Loki, stopped eating. I thought that maybe the female had somehow upset him and this was the cause, so I continued to make sure he was getting enough water at least (with a syringe) and hoped that he would regain his appetite. A week later as I was putting crickets in the tank I noticed that Loki’s foot looked red, raw, and very swollen. This must have come about over night because I am not sure how I could have missed such an angry looking injury. I took him to the vet the next day. We found an old scar on the bottom of his ankle and she concluded that the injury was old and the infection was inside his foot. She said the stress of the last couple months, coupled with the introduction of another lizard may have brought the infection back if it was laying dormant and gave him an antibiotic injection. There were no open wounds, so rubbing any cream or vitamin D3 on it would not be helpful. She also gave me some powdered carnivore food to mix with warm water and unfortunately force him to get some food in to his stomach.

A couple days later I noticed my female was very bloated and my male’s foot wasn’t looking any better, and that his back legs would tremble and shake occasionally when I picked him up. I assumed this was calcium deficiency since he hasn’t been eating the crickets (which are gut loaded and also powdered before being placed in the tank) so I took them both to the vet fearing that parasites were a new concern. The vet x-rayed both of them "out of interest" this time and with no charge and concluded that the female’s intestines were full of air and there was a mass in her upper bowels. She gave both lizards a shot with some medication and this far the female is no longer bloated and seems to be doing fine. The x-rays on the male, however, showed that his injury is not only a surface wound, but an old fracture where his ankle has been left in splinters. She opened the wound and drained it, put the goo under the microscope and said that It was full of bacteria. She gave him some more antibiotics (these last 48 hours) on top of the parasite medication, gave me some antibiotics to give him orally every two days, and sent me home to wish for the best.

Now his foot is looking great compared to what it had been! The swelling has gone down an incredible amount and the color of it is no longer bright and red and raw looking. Darker now, the wound has almost closed completely, and the dead scales have all fallen off. I’ve been cleaning this every day with warm water and hydrogen peroxide (just a drop) that I thoroughly soak and clean out afterwards. The wound itself doesn’t seem to bother him anymore, but he still won’t walk on this foot and uses his knee instead. During both visits the vet mentioned that amputation is a likely solution and I’m wondering if maybe that’s what needs to happen.

My main concern is though that he is very weak and lethargic right now from not eating properly or getting enough water. I know he’s dehydrated and I have been giving him warm water soaks every night, as well as feeding him his liquid food (with calcium powder added with permission from the vet. His legs no longer shake, by the way, so I assume this has done some good) and water with reptile aid of electrolytes and vitamin D3 especially for stressed and dehydrated reptiles.

I’m afraid that since he doesn’t always eat it all (when he starts to fight it and will no longer swallow or keep the liquids in his mouth, I figure its time to stop) that he’s going to die because of lack of food and water. I try to feed him five times a day as the medication says to, but because of my work schedule and lack of friends and family comfortable with handling a frail lizard and forcing open his mouth, sometimes I can only do it three times before its time to put them to bed. He doesn’t respond badly to being fed. Getting his mouth open the first time is always a struggle, but in cleaning up the excess around his lips with a q-tip he usually opens it and allows me to feed him at least a syringe and a half of food and a syringe of water.

Lately he’s lacking enough strength to even hold his head up. He lays flat against the cloth he has in his cage (place originally to keep dirt out of his wound, but I’ve kept it because it doesn’t get as cold as his dirt at night) with his head down. Very limp most of the time when picked up and placed elsewhere. Occasionally lifts his head or sits up when placed in warm water or when I’m opening his jaws, but otherwise his eyes are almost always closed and he is very unresponsive to physical contact. He used to hiss and bite when I used to touch him on the sides, and it worries me now that he doesn’t seem I notice at all. I know he’s probably very tired from fighting off an infection and that he’s probably a bit malnourished, but I was wondering if there was anything I could give him to help him recover his strength any faster?

I also recently noticed that he hasnt been going to the bathroom and in giving him tummy rubs that his stomach was very full and bloated. I read online that sometimes medication given to them for parasites can kill the bacteria needed for digestion and that it was recommended to give him some probiotics to help build them back. I’m unsure of that and haven’t done so, but I did give them two drops of oil each (via syringe last night) and this morning found that his cloth was stained with runny, green poo. I’m not sure if the color or the lack of solidification is from the liquid diet and oil, and if I should get this looked at? The female hasn’t gone to the bathroom yet, as far as I can tell, so I haven’t been able to compare.

I’ve also noticed that the male gets very cold at night when the lights are turned off. Usually he responds fine and will turn his natural green (opposed to the dark brown he is lately from stress and illness) as he relaxes and sleeps. Last night I woke up several times and noticed he was still brown. I’m not sure if he just hasn’t slept due to discomfort from emptying his bowels, or if maybe he has a stomach ache from the diarrhea? He’s not as bloated any more so doing seemed to have helped, but he’s definitely not looking as healthy right now as he has been. I had him out and wrapped in cloths warmed in the dryer since his skin was very cold for a little while last night. I’m going To go out and get a heating pad or something similar to keep under him at night, as well as ask about night lamps (though my only concern with this is, the terrarium lid I own only has two slots and both are filled. To keep a night light on them, I will need to buy a new lamp/holder or take both bulbs out and place the red light in every time I put then to bed).

I don’t know the wattage of my bulbs or the brand, though one IS a Coil and the other isn’t (pet store was adamant that this particular coil was safe and used on all their reptiles. I also didn’t buy these on my own. My parents consulted with the pet store and bought the terrarium and bulbs for me while I was out of town). According to my digital thermometers, temperature stays between 75 - 81 (F) during the day, and drops to high 60’s - 71 (F) at night. The female seems to do fine and doesn’t get as cold as Loki at night, though she rests up high and of course he lays on the ground wrapped loosely in a cloth. Humidity during the day is up in the high 70’s or low 80’s due to a mister I’ve purchased, though I reluctantly turn this off at night as it seems to fog up the cage to where I can no longer see INSIDE if kept on without the lights, and also I’m afraid it’s also making the tank colder. So the humidity unfortunately drops to the 60’s at night. I use plantation soil (tropical terrarium substrate) for their bedding and live plants and a decorative styrofoam background for them to climb on. They have a water dish deep enough for them to sit in that is kept active with a bubbler. The female drinks out of this, though the male has never done anything but sit in it (and he’s not doing that lately, of course). I have always fed him water with a syringe or made sure he was licking it from the glass regularly.

I am just at a total loss of what to do to help him regain his strength and help him resume going to the bathroom regularly. I think I might try another bulb (this one is 5 months old). Is there a brand or wattage you can suggest?I’m also in the process of building another, slightly bigger tank ( 4 feet high, 3 wide, 2 and a half deep). When this is finished (hopefully by Sunday) should I clean out both tanks and seperate my male and female? I would put the female in the bigger tank since she’s active (though, for the record, she hasn’t been getting anywhere near Loki now that he’s on the ground so I’m not sure she’s bothering him) and keep my male in the smaller tank until better or worse happens.

Just any tips, advice, or anything you can give me would be really helpful. I’m new to lizards (adopted the first two because there had been no prior interest in them since they were wild and vicious. Originally I was looking at snakes) and adopted the female I have now to keep loki company. I also can’t find much of anything about MHD’s online since they’re a relatively new species. I just really don’t want to lose the little guy since I love him very much. Or at the very least, if I do, I want to be able to say I did everything I could.

Thanks! Please get back to me ASAP!

12/01/12  12:12pm


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  Message To: Reisz   In reference to Message Id: 2286812


First off- here’s a REALLY good website for care for these guys. Back in March my female laid eggs unexpectedly and this website got me through incubating, hatching and raising the babies, not to mention just general care and other websites and books you can check out. Froggieb used to breed MHDs on a regular basis, so she knows what she’s talking about, and even wrote an article for Reptiles Magazine on these guys several years ago. Anyway, here’s that-

GO TO IT ASAP. There are a lot of husbandry things that need to be changed. Past that, you’re welcome to email me (- easier to reach me there) with questions/concerns about your guy and your girl. Let me know how they are!!!! I really really hope they make it through...

12/10/12  12:38pm

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