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Thread: Dying babies

  1. #1
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    Default Dying babies

    Hi guys,

    This is my second post of the day. I'm currently an intern at an exotic educational animal program and have been put in charge of raising some baby crested geckos. Here is the deal:

    On my first day, I had been informed that a few months earlier my job had bought 6 crested babies for $15 each. As she was showing me the babies, she found one dead in the tank.
    Before I started, two had already died not including the one on my first day. I was told the first one died in the first few weeks. The second started looking really ill, so they separated her to a different and small tank by herself (I will just use her to refer to all of them because they're too small to sex). She died not long after.

    Fast forward about two months into my being there, I was told to take them home as a special project so that I would be able to provide constant care....

    Gecko 1: She was 2 grams when I first started working with her. Her weight fluctuated up and down from 2-3 grams for weeks. Finally, she hit 4 grams and stayed at that for weeks. Then suddenly, she dropped to 3 grams, then to 2 grams. One morning I went to spritz their tank and she was dead. I found her upside down next to the water bowl. I was genuinely devastated. Every other day I was putting food on a spoon and trying to hand feed her. She would always lick it a few times but never go in for a full feast. I introduced mashed blueberry and banana on the spoon to stimulate her appetite on days when she had no interest in the Pangea, same response with the licks.

    Gecko 2: She was 3 grams when I first started working with her. Same fluctuations as Gecko 1, but less extreme. Her weight crawled all the way up to 6 grams, and then she started a shed! I was so thrilled because that means growth right? The shed stayed on her for a few days. I checked her toes to make sure the skin wasn't covering them, and I made sure it wasn't covering any of her vital parts. It was mainly just on her back. Day four of the shed, I found her dead in her hide. Same situation with the spoon feeding as Gecko 1. Warning: I attached pictures of her dead body. In the photos she definitely looks thinner than she really was, but not by much. Though I check on them every day, they always looked dried out when I find them dead, like they've been dead for a long time.

    Gecko 3, the final gecko: He started at 3 grams when I got him as well. His weight dropped once from 5 to 4, but went back up. When he got to six grams he plateaued for what seemed like eternity. The day Gecko 2 died, I weighed him and he finally hit 7 grams! yay! Today I weighed him and he was back at six grams and looks visibly smaller, but he is still alive. If I ever introduce blueberry or banana on the spoon he goes in for it pretty aggressively so I don't spoon feed him because I know he needs a more balanced diet. His pictures as of today are attached below.

    Geckos 1 and 2 always looked a little sickly. They just seemed thin and almost wrinkly. You could see their ribs through their skin. Gecko 3 looks pretty beefy and has pretty much always looked that way. I don't know about the others before I had got there. My boss thinks the breeder who sold them to her knew they had problems so that's why they were so cheap. When I have consulted veterinarians, the response is usually "these things happen with reptiles."

    I spritz their cage pretty heavily twice a day, sometimes with a little update mid day. I live in Florida, and my house temperatures are about 76 degrees. I fill their bowl, mix their food, and spray the tank with bottled water to avoid chlorine. I attached a picture of the cage so you can see what I'm working with. The bamboo plant I bought when I brought them home. The bowl on the glass I only recently bought for the last gecko because I read they prefer to eat up high.

    As for food, I have tried switching the flavors of the mix. I also put the small crickets in there every so often, about five at a time. When it was the three, the crickets were gone in two days. But, they eventually stopped eating the crickets all together so I took a break. I put five in with the last one yesterday and they're still there, though I can't be sure how many.

    I heard they shouldn't be handled too much as babies because of stress. Besides showing them the spoon when there was three of them, and the weekly weigh ins, I don't bother them.

    I would say these geckos are probably 6 months old or maybe a bit older.

    All three of them were super active when I did handle them! They were not lethargic at all. They all tried to jump and would run up my arm. Especially Gecko 3, he runs when I even get close to him.

    Please help, I need gecko expert wisdom. I can't let this last one die. He is such a fighter!
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  2. #2
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    Wow, that sounds like a rough job... I'm sorry to hear about your losses

    Everything you mention seems to point to a parasitic infection (loss of appetite, failure to thrive, death). Have you had fecals done on any of them? I would do so on your remaining gecko ASAP. They likely came with infections from the breeder, based on what you described.

    Besides that, your husbandry sounds okay. I wouldn't leave crickets in with the gecko(s) though. Crickets can bite and stress your gecko if not immediately eaten. You don't mention if the crickets were dusted... they should always be gutloaded and dusted with calcium before feeding. If the crickets aren't eaten quickly, they will groom most of the dust off. People tend to tong feed or move the gecko to a separate enclosure to feed live insects. Also, crickets are a relatively common carrier for parasites- a lot of people (including me) like feeding dubia roaches. Not sure if that's an option for you. Dubias are more nutritious, easier to keep and less smelly

    On shedding, cresties usually shed overnight pretty quickly and eat their shed, so most owners don't even notice that it happened! Shedding should never have taken multiple days in a healthy gecko, so that was probably a sign that Gecko 2 wasn't doing well.

    Last thing- your tank could probably use more greenery. Some hanging plants from the top and along the sides- a hidden gecko is a happy gecko

    Good luck with Gecko 3! Keep us updated on the little one

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    It's possible they could have parasites. If you can take a poop sample to your vet, they should be able to tell.

    You are feeding Pangea or Repashy, right?

    You may have too many crickets in there. Too many can attack your geckos and bite them. Are the crickets small? They should be no bigger than the space between the gecko's eyes. I would feed only one or two a week, one at a time, in a separate container like a Kritter Keeper until your gecko is recovered.

    You might want to try some UVB lighting. It couldn't hurt.

    Your temps and humidity sound fine, although you might want to get a digital humidity gauge. Put a couple of feeding stations out, one high and one low, so they can find them easily.
    Eileen
    TAD (Tiny Ancient Dinosaur) - Yellow flame dash pinstripe crestie 1.0.0
    Hygge, aka TBD (Tiny Badass Dragon) - Brown reticulated gargoyle 0.0.1
    Rody Jane - Cattledog/stinkwad mix 0.1.0
    Dixie Moonpie - Rattledog 0.1.0
    Ancient barn cats - 3.0.0

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    Parasites! I didn't even know that was an option. I will schedule the vet appointment first thing in the morning. Weird that she didn't mention it before. Thanks! Wish I would have heard about this sooner :/

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    Actually no, I hadn't been previously advised to use calcium. We use calcium always for our bearded and tegu, but not the geckos. I was recently investigating why one of our adult females isn't laying clutches EVER, and I finally discovered the calcium levels info. I will 100% start dusting. I assume that in the case of Pangea and Repashy the calcium is already included? We don't do the crickets too often so I just want to make sure that the calcium isn't something I need to include in other areas.

    I tried the separate feeders for the crickets, but they were absolutely not into it. It seemed to stress them out and they never went for the cricket.

    I wonder why the shed would have stayed? Dehydration? I misted quite a bit extra during that time to help with the shed.

    Will definitely get more greenery. My work has a ton of spare stuff so I can do that in the AM.

    Man, just when you think you've got a good grasp on things, seemingly obvious information hits you in the face. Glad to learn. Thanks!

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    I think the suggestions provided above are great. Buying 6 crested geckos for $15 each is likely the source of the problem. I would never sell a crested gecko at 3 grams because I don't think I'd have established that a crestie that size is definitely a good eater. Do your best with the gecko(s) that are still alive and, if the program decides to try this again, make sure the breeder is reputable and the geckos are bigger..

    Aliza

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    If you put (dusted) crickets directly into the tank, just do one or two a time so they don't overwhelm your gecko and start biting. If your gecko doesn't eat them in a reasonable amount of time, take them back out.

    Others have said you can leave a small dish of calcium out and your geckos will use it as needed. The Pangea and Repashy are complete diets, and they really shouldn't need calcium other than that (except for dusting the insects), unless it is a breeding female.

    If there are still shedding problems, you can try a sauna.

    Hoping for the best for your remaining geckos!
    Eileen
    TAD (Tiny Ancient Dinosaur) - Yellow flame dash pinstripe crestie 1.0.0
    Hygge, aka TBD (Tiny Badass Dragon) - Brown reticulated gargoyle 0.0.1
    Rody Jane - Cattledog/stinkwad mix 0.1.0
    Dixie Moonpie - Rattledog 0.1.0
    Ancient barn cats - 3.0.0

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    Hey update!

    The vet gave me a bit of ivermectin to give to the last gecko. I was only to give him one drop, which I did. That was a little over four days ago and I have to say he looks worse. Iím so afraid that he will die in the next few weeks. I feel like every vet iíve spoken to has been very unconcerned about this geckoís health, so I was wondering if you guys had suggestions. Is Ivermectin a good crestie parasite medication? Does it harm the geckos? Should I try something else?

    The vet didnít look at the fecal so we donít really know what weíre working with but time is running out.

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    It is really unwise to treat for parasites without actually knowing what the problem is or if there is one! That is really bad practice, Iím sad to say. Did the vet give a reason for not looking at a fecal sample? Did you ask for one? They usually run $40-50 or less, so if you already paid for a vet visit, this should be much less.

    It looks like ivermectin is only used to treat external parasites (like mites) in reptiles and as a spray.
    http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Rept...-For-Reptiles/

    So Iím really confused. It seems unlikely that external parasites are the problem in this case and your vet is telling you to dose it orally. I would definitely try to get a second opinion if at all possible These sites are good for finding an exotics vet:
    http://www.herpvetconnection.com/
    http://arav.site-ym.com/search/custom.asp?id=3661

    Hope that helps and good luck :/

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    Hey everybody!

    Thought you might want an update on the last baby.

    So! After many elaborate attempts at hiding the Ivermectin in fruits, I finally figured out that if I put one drop on its (it is still too small to identify a gender, or at least I can't-whole other problem if anyone thinks they can do it this small let me know!) nose then it would lick it off. Surprising, since my boss at my big cat internship told me how disgusting Ivermectin apparently tastes.

    After the treatment, like I previously mentioned, he went downhill fast. Super lethargic, lost a gram, looked very sickly. This persisted for almost two weeks. I discovered through constant observation that the Ivermectin made the gecko suuuuuper thirsty. I sprayed the walls heavily throughout the day, and it would almost always immediately lap up the water droplets.

    Now, I am happy to say, the gecko looks much much better. It has gained back the lost gram, and one more. Meaning it now weighs a whopping 8 grams.

    I can't say for sure whether it is healed of whatever parasites were infecting its system, but I do notice a difference.

    Anyways, since I couldn't find much on Ivermectin and cresties, I hope this helps someone in the future. Just remember, keep up that hydration and make sure they drink the water.

    Oh yeah, I have also disregarded some advice from other reptile workers about not cleaning the tank as often as you would for an adult, because it is too stressful on babies. I now change the paper towels after every movement, and I do a serious bleaching deep clean every 5 days. This is just to make sure that if any parasites are left they die super quickly.

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