Bearded Dragons

Harley- Two nights ago we found what appeared to be a clump of feces stuck
in his vent and our gentle pulling was not helping. Yesterday he got the
clump removed and we found out that it was actually build up of secretions
from one of his hemipenes. The build up became waxy and stuck. The vet got
it out with no problem. This problem is not common in beardies although in
other lizards in which it is common, it is usually a sign of a vitamin A
deficiency so we have bumped up is intake of butternut squash which is rich
in vitamin A.

Dot- If you all recall from my previous updates, Dot had issues with muscle
spasms and shaking. Thanks to Cathy, she finally got the surgery she
needed. To remind you, she was showing symptoms of pre-ovulatory follicular
stasis, meaning she has follicles growing on her ovaries, but no eggs are
being delivered. The doctor opened her up and said she had some small
follicles beginning to grow and an abnormally HUGE gall bladder. Both were
removed and she is recovering like a champ. She is eating and is up and
moving around well. She is very alert and aware. Dot is doing great!!!!

Dexter- Dexter had a mass on her left jaw that she was going in to get
removed and while we had her out, we went ahead and “preemptively” spayed
her to keep her from having issues like Dot. When the vet opened her up, it
was a very different story. Dexter had no symptoms, but had follicles worse
than Dot on her ovaries. Her follicles were so bad that some had attached
themselves to other spots of the body, causing decay of that area. She too
had an enlarged gall bladder, but not as big as Dot’s. The mass on her
mouth was full of yellow pus. She is not recovering as quickly as Dot. She
still has not eaten but is moving around a bit. She clearly is in more pain
than Dot.

Both girls are on daily pain killers to help them through the pain. Their
hides and climbers have been removed to eliminate the risk of ripping
stitches out and their tile has been replaced with paper towel. They cannot
hunt and so are being hand fed their protein.

These cases have grabbed the attention of our vet. In all of her years as a
surgeon, she has never seen gall bladder issues in beardies and has
searched the literature and cannot seem to find much in that either. She
sent biopsies of Dexter’s samples to her lab at no cost to us. She is
allowed 5-6 cases per year that are deemed “professional interest” cases.
This means that she found something so bizarre that even she wants the
results, so she sends them in at no cost to us. The doctor will be sending
me photos of their surgeries with the histology report of the samples she
took. Hopefully the biopsies will give some insight into what is going on.
When I get the photos, results and diagnosis, I will send them your way.

Rough skinned newt
As you will notice, Cleese is spending a lot more time
on his rock. He is entering his terrestrial phase. Rough skinned newts have
different habits in different environments. Some populations are primarily
aquatic, spending more than 10 months in the water (this is closer to
Cleese). Breeding is done in the water and he enters sexual phase when his
cloaca swells. (my apologies to those who I said this backwards to). He has
been very active recently, so much so that his handler has asked to start
doing demos with him to the public (obviously not a handheld demo, but a
formal discussion)


Our queen has been a very busy little lady. You can see that our hive is
jam packed and there are still frames of brood waiting to hatch. Activity
has skyrocketed and they are acting sporadic. There are no queen cells
which makes George Hegeman, our bee consultant, believe that they are
not going to swarm. He will be coming for a visit. When we talk I will
give you more information.

Big Headed Ants

We had alates!!!! These are larger, winged individuals that are male.
All of the workers and the queen you see are females. These males only
get made by the queen if environmental conditions are perfect. These
males usually take the female on a flight where they fertilize her and
then they die. This is a great sign. It implies that the queen is
still in prime reproductive condition. Thank you AC staff for all the
work you do.

Coral Reef

Things are coming together for the coral reef. Last month we had some
issues with Bill the Rabbitfish. He was starting to get very
aggressive, nipping at fins, chasing fish away. At first we thought it
was territory. When fish run out of space, they get aggressive to keep
their territory. So we rearrange the east end of the tank in the hopes
of creating new hiding spaces and breaking up territories. This helped
but did not stop his aggression. Now we are thinking maybe the system
needs more food. I have added a feed on the auto feeder to increase
flakes and we may be adding more meaty foods into the diet. Currently
they get Nori 4 times a week, meat twice a week, algae from the
refugium one day and the coral get target fed once a week.

Sam Couch
Animal Exhibits Manager