Champ - a survivor
(warning graphic photos)
August and September are generally the busiest months for Shinglebacks to come into care.
The most common reason is dog attack after the lizard wanders into a homeowners yard and the pet dog may attack or attempt to “play” with it. Sadly, the lizards have very little defence against a grown dog.
It was early August several years ago when I was contacted about a Shingleback lizard that had been terribly mauled by a dog. The RRANA rescuer notified me that the lizard would require euthanasia more than likely due to the extent of the injuries.
On arrival, I was shocked at the condition of the adult lizard. His tail had been mauled beyond recognition. This is the moment in a wildlife carers mind that we consider what outcomes we might achieve for each individual animal that comes into care.
We also weigh up that although we have access through vets for good analgesia, ...how much do we truly wish to put an animal through. Such an injury would require a long rehabilitation process and I would have to be fairly sure that he would make it.
I decided that I would try as I did have previous success healing tail injuries albeit not to this extent. I decided to call him "Champ".
Champ was obviously in shock so after a vet visit we settled down to keeping him comfortable and rehydrate him. That took many days and consisted of subcutaneous fluids and tube feeding Champ. He was also on analgesia and antibiotics.
Although he was obviously in a bad way he was always really good with me and after about a week, I could really see that his tail was improving,….albeit very slowly. I was felling very positive for him.
Day 1 into care
After three weeks we had established a very good routine. He would have his dressing done every 24 hours and after a rest I would tube feed him high protein fluids. Even though it was summer I nursed him in a zip up, mesh canvas crate to keep flys from going near his wound which I left open. It was about at six weeks before he attempted to eat by himself again but after a slow start he really was enjoying the variety of foods offered and gained weight incrementally.
He had a heat pad which he loved and blankies to snuggle into to. His nature was really sweet and it felt so good to see him improving.
I would sit outside allowing the sun to heal his wounds but swatting flys away at the same time.
Four months after coming into care
It was around the four months stage that Champ progressed to the outside enclosure. He had gained a good amount of weight but the shingles that had formed over his wounds were not firm enough to consider release.
Champ stayed in care with me for a total of nine months. His tail healed very well and he was ready for release back to the wild.
I think about Champ often and know that I gave him the best chance.