Sorry, I know that's a bit trite, but in this case I couldn't resist since it's somewhat appropriate...
Also this story is so long that I have to post it in two parts. I guess I'm long winded...
You regulars may remember that a several weeks ago, I separated my two iguanas, Cisca and Pancho, because Pancho was beating up severely on Cisca.
All was quiet for a while and everything seemed okay, Cisca was calmer and more affectionate than I ever remember her being. And Pancho had settled down nicely in his new digs, though it was a smaller enclosure, he seemed to like it.
About three or four weeks ago, Pancho stopped eating. I tried everything, changing his diet, even giving him his favorite gourmet canned iguana food (very expensive). I changed his feeding times and daylight cycle. I gave him more attention. Nothing seemed to work. A couple of times I had him out, he would trot to the back room where Cisca's enclosure was and scratch at the door. And after he went to her cage the fourth time, I thought; "What the heck". I opened the door and let him into Cisca's cage and watched them closely for about an hour.
During that time, he vigorously bobbed his head at her. And she returned the bobs. They stayed on opposite sides of the tank and glared at each other. After another hour, he stomped over to her platform and started to mount her. She spun around and threw him off and he tumbled to the bottom of the tank. With that, I took him out and put him back in his own tank. He was quite agitated and scratched at the door for half an hour and tore up all his bedding. He then settled down and started eating. Hmmm... Maybe short supervised visits weren't a bad thing. Cisca too seemed a little more attentive, though she also needed about an hour to settle down from Pancho's advance.
A week later I let him go into her tank for almost the whole day. When Cisca was done having "visitors" she would thrash him and I would take him out and send him home.
The next day, he stayed overnight. I was starting to think that maybe they could come to a reconciliation and he could move back in. They both seemed to like each others company. And I would see them sleeping on each other like they used to do.
The following week, on the second day of his visit, I heard loud banging from the tank. I found Cisca cowering in the corner of the tank and Pancho with his mouth gaping open and blood on his muzzle.
I took Panch back to his tank and examined Cisca. She was really torn up. She had multiple deep bites on her back, hind quarters, and tail, and the lower quarter of her tail was fractured and bleeding profusely.
I cleaned all the wounds and splinted her tail as best as I could. I called the vets and my wife took them both in the day after.
The vet said that the wounds weren't really life threatening as long as they were kept clean. The fractured tail would not knit back together and was amputated. As you may know, iguana tails are designed to be separated if traumatized and even have fracture lines in the bones to ease the separation. The vet felt that Pancho probably didn't bite her tail through, but she probably fractured it trying to run away from Pancho. She also recommended not bandaging the stump and just keeping it clean. There's a small possibility that it may grow back, though it won't be as long and it wouldn't be as colorful. It was a relief though just to know that she would be alright.
Pancho's original problem still needed to be diagnosed though. Despite his improved appetite, he still wasn't eating like he used to and was losing weight. And though he beat up Cisca, I didn't want him to be sick either. The vet was worried also, and wanted to have a blood screening to check for kidney problems. If there were, I knew that there would be very little we could do for him. Fortunately, his blood tests came back fine. The vet thought that he had a minor infection and recommended antibiotics for both Cisca and Pancho.
My wife came home with several vials of antibiotics and a dozen syringes and needles. The antibiotics have to be injected into the muscle of the front leg. Hoo boy, I wasn't looking forward to that! Actually though, they take their shots without complaint. Just put the needle between the scales and push in at an angle quickly and push the plunger. By the time they notice anything, the needle is out. I've given them each two shots and it's been easy. They have about ten more days of shots and I hope they all go as easily.
The vet also recommended force feeding Panch until he gets his appetite back. The vet said to take the regular diet of vegetables vitamins and pellets and add more water and liquefy it in a blender and use a large syringe and give him about 30cc twice a day. Feeding him this way is a bit messy as you might think. He takes it readily enough but he is like a little kid and will try to spit it out if given a chance.
As you might guess, Panch will no longer "visit" Cisca and will have to remain separated permanently.
Next week I'll take Cisca back for a follow up visit and hopefully she'll be well on the mend. I'll let you all know how it goes.
I have uploaded a few pictures of Cisca's wounds after her brawl with Pancho. The most visible ones are on her tail. And also there is a picture showing her shortened tail.
Her other wounds are underneath her and much harder to photograph, considering that Cisca is a very private lady and prefers not to have herself exposed in that way. Have you ever tried to hold a squirming chainsaw with one hand while trying to snap a picture with the other. The results are less than acceptable. ;>
They're in my photo album.
She is actually recovering pretty well. The above mentioned photos can be found at http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/serraspolkadotiguanas in Barrys photo album which is named Cisca and Pancho - Barry's Igs.
reprinted with permission by Barry Zurawicz 2001