Aside

It seems that we have let this blog go downhill.  Honestly, we thought that no one was reading it based on our stats.  It takes a lot of time to maintain.  Recently, we have seen a jump in our stats so we might get back to it.  I apologize for the photos that seem to have disappeared.  Most of the photos were linked through my Facebook account, and it seems that Facebook has re-indexed them.  This means that we will have to go back and put the photos somewhere else and relink them.  Please excuse the appearance of the blog in the meantime.

Aside

If you are around Texas or can get to TX during the weekend of March 8 & 9, 2014, you should check out the first no-kill TX rattlesnake festival.  As per the event’s webpage:

The Texas Rattlesnake Festival is an educational, no-kill rattlesnake event.  We intend to create a fun, family friendly event in which we can share the value of these amazing and beautiful animals and in which NO SNAKES WILL BE HARMED OR KILLED.

Currently, we will be displaying private collections of these beautiful and amazing animals to include some very unique colorations, along with other reptiles native to the state of Texas.  We will have presentations from some of the most respected and well known people in the Reptile Industry along with fun hands on activities for children and adults alike.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see live venom extractions presented by Kentucky Reptile Zoo, while learning of the many benefits of Snake Venom.

To check out more on the festival, go to the events webpage or Facebook page:

Texas Rattlesnake Festival

Texas Rattlesnake Festival Facebook Page

 

R.I.P. Russ of R&T Pet Supply


I came back from the White Plains reptile show with a heavy heart today. As Chris and I sought out our usual vendors, we were astonished to see that Russ of R&T Pet Supply was not there in his usual spot. The last time we went to the show in July, he was there and seemed fine. We actually called his shop as we are pretty loyal customers, and found out the news that he passed recently. After doing an internet search, we found out that he had an aggressive case of stage 4 lung cancer that metastasized to his pelvis.

We have done business with Russ for years. We have visited his shop in College Point, NY and have had many conversations with him about animal welfare. He was never out to gouge customers and truly wanted the best for animals and the people who care for them. I personally grew fond of him through my interactions. Honest and honorable people are hard to find these days and he was one of them, a very special person indeed. Our trips to the reptile show will never be the same. R.I.P. Russ. I will miss you.

For those looking for pets, I know his wife is struggling to rehome some of the special needs animals (dogs) in their rescue now that they only have one income. If you are thinking about adopting please check out their page: http://laurenzavlunov.wix.com/helprelocate

Also, please patronize their store if possible: https://www.facebook.com/RandTHolisticPetSupply

In the words of my husband, Chris, “The reptile community has lost a great friend.”

R.I.P. Kwayze and Sloan, My Sweet Angel Beardies


It’s been too difficult to post this year after Kwayze’s passing in June, which I didn’t even update on here.  The last I have shared is that Kwayze was about to have surgery.

Kwayze made it through surgery and then died during the recovery phase.  The surgery was complicated and really, she probably should have been euthanized during it.  Basically, the mass in her stomach was an egg sac/cyst that formed on an ovary.  However, there was already broken yoke in her abdomen and an infection that had abscessed and shot out tentacles of blood vessels everywhere.

I am sad to say that Kwayze passed during the night of June 22, 2013 while on IV fluids.  She was my baby girl and losing her pretty much killed my soul.

In a turn of events, Sloan, our other bearded dragon who was slightly younger than her and from a different breeder, appeared to be going into brumation as he did every year.  He had a fecal performed in the summer and was treated for parasites.  Everything should have gone better after that.

However, during the last week of October, Sloan appeared to be straining to poop.  He was still eating, however, and I assumed that he was impacted.  I ensured his temperatures were correct and kept soaking him and giving him water.  I also gave him organic pumpkin which usually works for this.

On November 2nd, Sloan was running around the house and looked up and at ’em.  Everything seemed fine.

The next day, Sloan looked very lethargic and there was blood in his stool.  We brought him to the vet immediately and treatment of this mystery illness commenced.

By the next morning, it was unclear whether or not Sloan would improve.  I had to go to work but my husband was able to work from home.  Sloan had regurgitated his carnivore care that my husband gave him, and his antibiotics.  I had to work late that night until about 8/9 o’clock at night.  Chris kept trying to get me to come home, but didn’t say why.

When I got home, what I saw was heartbreaking.  Sloan’s beard was solid black and appeared to have fluid filling it.  I knew it was over.  I held him as long as I could that night and took him to the vet the next morning as soon as they were open.  I had to say “goodbye” on November 5th, 2013.  The poor baby was gasping and could barely breathe.  He was still pooping out pieces of his intestine and blood.

Sloan sits in a memorial box (cremated) on my mantle now.  I wish I had done this with Kwayze, as well, but I was too messed up to think straight at that time.  I miss them both dearly and it hurts me every day.

It makes me question whether I know anything about reptiles.  With as much research as I do, as much time as I’ve spent on forums and talking to people in the industry, with as much money as I’ve spent on their vet care, everything was ultimately out of my control.  They both died at about 5 years old.

Kwayze and Sloan were like children to me.  I never pictured them not being around.  I don’t have my own “human” children right now for various reasons, and I am an animal lover to the core.  They were my family members and at many times my best friends.  Though they couldn’t talk to me, the look in their eyes told me everything.  I could feel the bond between us and I know they could too.

The worst part about having animals is coping with their death.  Many people don’t understand the connection and think that you can just move on and buy another.  No – animals have their own personalities and special place in one’s heart; they are not inanimate, throw-away things.  I risked losing my job by taking the day off to bring Sloan in and relieve his suffering.  I took off during a time that wasn’t optional.  Thankfully I still have my job but this is how important my animals are to me.  I love them to death and would do anything I could to make their live’s better.

It feels as if I have lost a son and a daughter this year.  Truly, 2013 has been one of the worst years of my life, not only for what happened to my babies, but also for many other reasons.  I hit a lowest of low point and that’s all I care to say about that.  At the same time, I have many friends who have lost their animals this year as well.  This year has not been good for pets.  I am not sure what is going on  with the cosmic order of things, but I can only hope that better times lie ahead for all of us.

Despite all that has happened, during the loss of Sloan, I found spirituality and faith.  I hope it sticks and allows me to be happier and more able to cope with the good and the bad in life.  At the same time, I live with the fear that my remaining pets are more vulnerable than I ever thought and that they too may not live to see next Christmas.  I try to cast these thoughts aside, however, and just continue to hope for the best.

This is how I want to remember them, enjoying the sunny days:

Sloan, the bearded dragon, enjoying some sun by the kiddie pool

Sloan hanging out outside with his daddy

Kwayze, bearded dragon, hanging out getting some rays

Kwayze, bearded dragon, chilling out

 

 

 

It’s been a tough few months…I thought I would post something on the lighter side of things today.


Typical conversation with my wife over instant message about our animals…in this case our Bearded Dragon…

Ash: I wish they had a smaller version of this for Odin:http://www.bigappleherp.com/Big-Apples-Java-Wood-Single-Basking-Perch?sc=2&category=23146

me: ash, I got split wood in the garage why can’t we just use that

Ash: not as good as Java wood

me: no but free

Ash: odin doesn’t like free, he’s go cup
[“gocup” means for lack of a better translation “high class” in Cantonese, one of my wife’s favorite learned words in Chinese]

me: shush…he [Odin, the bearded dragon] wears no pants and thus has no wallet to pay for things…

 

Odin

Bearded Dragon, Kwayze, Needs Surgery for Mass on One Side of Body


Well, I have bad news; my bearded dragon is not well.  It seems that she has a large mass on one side of her body that could be a tumor, an egg sac, or a variety of things.  The xrays are not clearly indicative of what it is.  As a result, she needs exploratory surgery tomorrow, June 21, 2013, which could also be a fatal event.

Here’s the xray:

Kwayze Bearded Dragon Xray - Mass on One Side

Kwayze, our bearded dragon, appears to have a mass on the right side of her body. This mass could be an egg sac or tumor.

So, here’s some background on the situation. We’ve had Beardie (aka Kwayze) for 5 years since she was a baby. She has had the best care possible in terms of husbandry and food. We’ve had our ups and downs with her. Often times, she will refuse to eat a proper percentage of vegetables and will hold out for worms or crickets, for example.

Every year Kwayze lays infertile eggs like most female bearded dragons. Her patterns are as follows: Around the May/June timeframe she eats a lot and then starts getting bigger. It becomes more obvious that she is gravid. After a bit she runs around frantically searching for a place to lay. We provide a laybox, but not being “mother of the year,” she refuses to lay in it and spreads them all over her cage instead. Right before she lays, she stops eating.

This year, she did not show that level of activity. However, her right side kept getting larger and larger and lumpy. I thought that perhaps she was eggbound and took her to a vet. This vet, we will call him “Dr. B” is not her usual vet as “Dr. S” is. Dr.B has a larger facility that is a 24/7 emergency animal hospital. Thinking she was eggbound and that she might need surgery and to stay overnight, I took her to Dr. B.

Yesterday at the vet, Dr. B initially stated that it seemed like eggs and conservatively she could just go home and we could wait it out to give her some additional time. However, another option is to take an xray and go from there. I decided to go with the xray since I knew she was not acting normal and since she was not eating.

The xray results came back as above, with a large mass on one side. Dr. B said that we could do an exploratory surgery with her on Tuesday. The surgeon is experienced with reptiles but is limited on availability. Additionally, Dr. B wanted to take a bloodtest to ensure that she is healthy enough for surgery and was not going through kidney failure.

This morning, Kwayze looked very pale and uncomfortable. She was laying around in unusual ways and I panicked and thought she was dying. To test this, I offered her one of her favorite foods, superworms. She would not chase them but would let me handfeed a couple. After eating a few more, she started gagging like she had a sour stomach and refused any more. Then she looked even weaker.

I decided to call Dr. B up again and ask if we could rush the surgery. I explained that I was worried she would not make it through the night. He noted that we could use a less experienced surgeon but that it would not be as well planned out. Based on his experience with her yesterday, he thought she could make it until Tuesday. However, he recommended that I might want to bring her in for a reassessment today to make sure she is okay. He even said I could take her back to my normal vet, Dr. S. since he is available to do the surgery tomorrow.

That’s what I did. I took her to Dr. S. this morning who gave me a second opinion and feels that it is likely an enlarged egg sac mass. He said that he performs surgeries on exotics all of the time and has done many on beadies with similar situations. He also showed me some pictures of surgeries that he had done. Overall, I felt comfortable that he could do a good job at it.

I think it’s best to have it done sooner than later. She is clearly uncomfortable.

So, right now Beardie is at Dr. S’s office and he actually called me while I was writing this blog. He stated that she is in good condition and even perked up after the fluids and the heat from the incubator. She will go in for surgery tomorrow and we will continue to hope for the best.

I am worried however, that it is one of those things that we don’t want it to be: a tumor wrapped around her intestines, cancer, etc. For her sake, I really want her to survive to continue to live a happy and healthy life. She deserves it and she is like a child to me. I don’t know where I will be tomorrow if it turns out to be unsuccessful. I don’t want to know that this morning was my last time with her; it just may destroy me.

Truthfully, and not to make this into a rant, I don’t handle death well. Chris is much more spiritual than me. I think nature is cruel and that certain things are not fair. -but as Chris or even my mom would say, “why does anything happen? Why are kids born with cancer? Why does anyone or anything get cancer? Why are people killed in accidents?…” You get the idea. It’s completely random in their minds, whereas I tend to look at it as a personal attack against me. I typically find myself to be very unlucky, especially since I used up all my good luck in one shot by meeting Chris and marrying him.

Anyway, if you read this, please pray for Kwayze for her sake, as ironic as it may sound after reading the past paragraph.

_________________________________________________________

For an update, please see:

R.I.P. Kwayze and Sloan, My Sweet Angel Beardies

Herping in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey


Chris and I have hiked around the pine barrens several times.  Our most common finds are fowler’s toads and fence lizards.  While those are very enjoyable finds, we have been searching for more elusive snakes such as the timber rattlesnake, pine snakes, and king snakes.  Over the past 5 years, despite going out at all the right times, in the right temperature conditions, the correct months, etc…we have not seen a snake in the Pine Barrens!  Yet, friends and acquaintances seem to know all the right spots and find them repeatedly.

However, on our last trip, we were much more fortunate.  Check out the pine snake and kingsnake that we saw:

King Snake:

Pine Snake:

Pine Barrens Pine Snake

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