The Tale of the Missing Tail
In September this year, Mushu had to have his tail amputated and it all started with a blood sample test.
For a couple of months Mushu had been refusing to eat. I had been monitoring his mass (more commonly referred to as weight) and bowel schedule for some time. Although his mass didn't seem to be affected, he went through nearly 3 weeks without defecating. That's when I decided that a vet visit was in order.
I took him to see his vet and we decided to try and get his metabolism 'working' by force feeding him a feeding formula. Everyday for three weeks, I force fed him the formula twice a day. It seemed to work and his bowel movements normalised. However, there was very little improvement to his appetite. It may be worth mentioning that at the beginning of this treatment and after his first defecation, I took a stool sample for the vet to analyse. The results came back normal.
At this point, the vet recommended we carry out a blood sample test in order to make sure everything was as it should be. You may already know this, but if you don't, a blood sample in bearded dragons is collected from the upper part of underneath the tail. Just below their genitals.
The vet did not have an easy time with Mushu as he doesn't seem to be a fan of needles. Therefore, the procedure took a couple of tries. Although the blood sample test came back normal, a week or so after the test being done, Mushu started showing red blotches on his tail. They looked like a bruise would on a human. The first time I noticed them was on a Friday night. On Saturday morning, the bruise like marking had started spreading. I called and booked an appointment with his vet first thing on Monday morning. On Sunday, nearly his entire tail had gone red.
On Monday, the vet looked quite worried about the markings. She administered a first dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory. She also gave me a few injections with the correct measures of antibiotics and pain killer so that I could inject him. For the next 6 days, I injected Mushu with antibiotics every 3rd day and pain killers everyday. Luckly for me, I have never had a problem with needles or blood and my husband is one of the most understanding people I know.
During this period, the red markings seemed to stop spreading. However, they did not look to get any better. At the end of this antibiotics administration period, the vet decided the safest option would be to amputate the tail. She was concerned that the inflammation had spread further internally than we could see externally. He was admitted to surgery the same day and his tail was amputated.
Although the inflammation had indeed spread internally further than we thought, they were able to successfully remove every visibly affected area of his tail, leaving him with a little stump that looked uncomfortably close to his genitals. There was always a risk of infection from the surgery and also that whatever the illness was could have already been in his bloodstream.
The weeks after the surgery were followed by more anti-inflammatory injections as well as daily pain killer injections. Thankfully, all our efforts paid off and Mushu has fully recovered. He is now a tailless but healthy lizard.
The vet had sent his tail to be analysed in order to establish what had happened. It came back as a bacterial infection. The vet believes that he caught it due to the open wound caused by the blood sample test. Also, due to the type of bacteria, she believes he may have contracted it at the animal hospital itself. Frustrating, I know. However, I appreciated her honesty. Additionally, I know and trust his vet and the quality of her work. Although I do not believe in luck, for easy of understanding, I will say that we were merely unlucky. There was a small percentage chance and Mushu so happens to have fallen into that small percentage chance.
I am happy to say that the ordeal is now past us and Mushu has had a full recovery. However, I also know that throughout this period, I had mixed views from family and friends alike regarding the amount of time, money and effort I put into treating my lizard. To those, I can only say that what I did was not only the most humane option but also the most logical one.
If you've read a few of my previous posts and other sections of this website, you will know my views on this are nothing new. I do not believe reptiles should be kept as pets. Not because I don't believe they could make good pets but because I do not trust us humans to give them the respect they deserve. Of course, this does not apply to all humans. Nonetheless, since they are kept as pets, the least one could do is not only provide to all their needs, but also to their quality of life. Some would argue that they are not rewarding pets. I have heard countless times the ' What do you get back from keeping them? At least dogs show you affection.' line. To that, all I can say is that if you only have a pet in order to gain something from it, you should probably not be keeping a pet at all.
To finish this post, I would like to thank my husband for his patience, understanding and support. Not many people 'get me'. However, you seem to do so more than most.