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RE: sick sulcata-poison plants

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Posted by: tglazie at Tue Nov 13 10:17:41 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by tglazie ]  

I actually had an experience very similar to this last summer. I had two large male sulcatas and four smaller males (worst luck in the world), and since I couldn't find a female at the time, I decided to make a long term shot out of it and raise a small group. I first got five, all but one of whom died in much the same fashion you described. They stopped eating, their bellies grew soft, and over a few days, simply died. I then purchased a second group of three, quarantined from the one living animal (I thought that maybe the one could've had some disease he had transmitted to the others). This time, in a completely different enclosure, all three of my new babies died. I had never had such a thing happen to me before, and I've raised over half a dozen young sulcatas to adulthood. Not to be deterred, I went ahead and bought two yearlings, thinking that they'd have a better shot at survival. They too began showing signs of illness. I took one of the animals to the vet, and he couldn't figure it out. He suggested poisoning to be the culprit, or a simple lack of calcium. But this didn't make any sense, as I had six males all over a foot in length roaming my back yard, having lived there since they were hatchlings, on the same ground on which these hatchlings became mysteriously ill. Four days later, both of the yearlings were dead. What's more, the one hatchling who survived the hand of death for so long was killed by a skunk that dug under the walls of his enclosure in the middle of the night (I set out a trap the following night and caught the pest; animal control released him into a less urban setting). I felt horrible after this experience, and it has caused me to shy away from keeping hatchling sulcatas.

But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was killing these kids. They couldn't have been poisoned. I'm an attentive gardener, and I use no pesticides or fertilizers, nor do I encourage the growth of any plant that is not immediately beneficial to the sulcatas. Buffalo, kikuyu, bermuda, and winter grass grow in abundance over my entire property. I grow cacti, hibiscus, mulberry, dandelion and althea (flowers, not leaves) in the summer, and I grow romaine lettuce in the winter. I supplement my animals' diet with calcium, despite the abundance of it in the South Texas soil, not to mention the innumerable sunny days. I couldn't understand what was going wrong. My larger animals thrive, as do any animals I'm fortunate enough to babysit. The weather here in South Texas is perfect; I'd raised sulcatas with no problems until now.

So, I have to wonder if this mass death was perhaps not my fault. Perhaps the breeder didn't provide his females with enough calcium during their gestation period. Perhaps the female is overproducing eggs. Keep in mind that sulcatas in the wild often go years without producing a clutch, and even then, they tend to produce only a single clutch per year. Contrast this with many breeders I've met who get up to three or four clutches a year, up to six according to some literature I've read.

Another thought I had was poisoning via allergens or inhalents, something that perhaps one of my neighbors was pumping into the air, like a roach fogger or soemthing of the like. These would perhaps not be enough to cause any problems with larger animals, but could potentially kill hatchlings.

I fully realize that I have no concrete evidence to back up my point, that such is mere speculation. But it is something worth investigating, in my opinion. I can tell you that I will never keep hatchling sulcatas any time soon, unless I have them set up indoors.



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