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Diary of a Rhino Iguana
Kharma's Story

General Stats

  • Female Rhinocerous Iguana (Cyclura cornuta)
  • 3 years old
  • Laid 8 eggs ( no good) on 8/19/03
  • Weight approx. less than 2 kg (3.4 lbs.).
  • Was given to me 9/7/03
  • Possible MBD turned out to be gout and mineralization of tissues
  • Possible Infection, high WBC, high glucose, high AST on bloodwork

Sunday 9/7/03 - Kharma arrives here thin and weak but in better shape than I had thought. She got here late so we bathed her and put her in her large dog crate for the night. She eats two raspberries. Nighttime temps are high 70s. We give her a shot of Baytril in her crest per her old vet for an elevated WBC thought to have originated from an infection in her reproductive tract. Later on I realize that the crest is probably not the ideal place for a shot of Baytril.

Monday 9/8/03 - Kharma eats some figs and greens and a couple of rep-cal pellets. Not a lot but it is something. We take her out to bathe her that evening and realize she has significant burns on her thighs and tail base. Thermal burns we suspect. She had been kept on a heating pad of some sort at her previous owner's place. We soak her in a mild betadine solution in the tub and put bacitracin on the blisters (unbroken blisters). We give her a shot of the baytril in her front left leg and administer 2ccs calciquid (new version of neocalglucon) orally.

Tuesday 9/9/03 - Kharma is soaked in a mild nolvasan (chlorhexidine) solution in the tub in the morning. One of the blisters has broken. I put bacitracin on the burns. We clip off a big hanging piece of skin. We obtain a small tube of silvadene to put on the burns that evening and soak her again and put the silvadene on. Again she ate some figs and some greens. We skip the baytril as several people say it isn't supposed to be 1x a day. She gets 2ccs Calciquid

Wednesday 9/10/03 - I write up everything I know about Kharma and fax that (2 pages single spaced) plus all the paperwork from her previous vet to my vet. I make an appointment for the following Monday evening 9/15/03. She is soaked 2x today in Nolvasan solution. She continues to eat figs and some greens. She gets a shot of Baytril in her right front leg.

Thursday 9/11/03 - I talk to my vet on the phone and we talk about the fact that we now have a mysterious concentration of baytril to give orally. Since we don't know the concentration we decide to move to something we know. He prescribes Sulfatrim and I pick it up at our pharmacy. It is pink and smells good. She takes 1cc of it pretty well. She is bathed once in the Nolvasan solution. The Silvadene is working and we can tell the burns look much better. She is whipping more now too so I think she is feeling better.

Friday 9/12/03 - She is soaked twice again in the Nolvasan. I talk to Juliann Sweet from CA who does a lot of green iguana and cyclura iguana rehab. She gives me tons of information about what to feed and stuff. I run all over town to fetch all the things she has told me to including Oxbow Farms Critical Care for Herbivores mix, canned pumpkin, Natureade's Aloe Detox and Pedialyte. I come home and mix up a batch of food but she has already eaten quite a bit of fruit. She eats a couple of bites on her own. Feeding her from the syringe does not go over too well. Tomorrow we will see if she eats it on her own when no fruit has been offered. Dr. Sweet as well as my vet see values on the bloodwork that point to possible liver and kidney issues.

Saturday 9/13/03 - Attempted to feed items Dr. Sweet recommended. She doesn't want any part of them. I offered her some greens and she ate some. Maybe I am trying too hard. She was bathed in the Nolvasan solution and silvadene was applied. We forget to give her the Sulfatrim.

Sunday 9/14/03 - I notice that her right rear leg (the one she has been dragging) looks worse than it had looked before. I don't know what is going on with that. She seems to be dragging it more and more. Can't wait to see the vet tomorrow evening to see what he says. The burns look much better now. See pictures here. We gave her the sulfatrim early in the morning and will continue to do mornings now. We only missed by about 10 hours! She eats some greens when they are presented right to her. She doesn't seem to want to move to the dish. I took her out and sat on the couch for a bit before her evening bath. She took that pretty well. The right rear leg actually looks like it might have an abscess or something in it. It is much bigger than the other one. We will see what the vet says tomorrow.

Monday 9/15/03 - The leg still looks horrible and I think she is walking on it even less. She eats some greens today and I give her the sulfatrim. Today is vet day. At the vet we have him take x-rays to see what is up with that leg. It shows that the ball on the end of her femur that goes into the socket in her pelvis is worn away nearly flat. In combination with the bloodwork that was already done the diagnosis is gout. Articular gout he says. On the other x-ray we can see her aorta. This is not good as it means it is mineralized. So, we leave her on the sulfatrim and we get a new drug called allopurinol that reduces the uric acid in her system. We are to try and get more of the Oxbow Critical Care into her. He says that while forcing the food in the side of her mouth with the syringe it is hard to get them to aspirate it. We hope that between the new drug and making sure her diet, temps, lighting are correct that we can at least stop this from progressing. We will check bloodwork in a month.

Tuesday 9/16/03 - I successfully give her the sulfatrim, allopurinol and about 5ccs of the critical care mixed with pedialyte and aloe detox formula. She eats 2 grapes as a reward. She also eats greens while I am gone to work and then another handful of turnip greens when I get home. I put silvadene on the burns. They are looking really good. She whips me with her tail really good. I think she must feel better as this one hurt.

Friday 9/19/03 - Didn't eat much on Wed. and Thurs. I tried some "tough love" on her and only offered the greens in addition to the critical care. She picked at them but only when I put them right in front of her. Got the bright idea to mix the sulfatrim, allopurinol and grape pedialyte together in one syringe today. This went well. I opted not to do critical care. She ate some greens for me. Then I offered some of my cyclura.com recommended homemade diet (includes legumes, mixed veggies, baby cereal among other things) mixed with canned pumpkin. She ate A LOT. Probably consumed 1/3 of a cup. Pooped in the tub and then soaked in nolvasan solution. Silvadene applied.

Saturday 9-20-03 - Fancy Westron bulb that the guy had left me burnt out when I went to turn it on. UVHeat is wonderful if you can get them to work for more than a month. Not sure they are worth the expense. She now has a 100 watt ZooMed Powersun UVHeat bulb. We'll see how long that lasts.

Wednesday 9-24-03 - I added a human heating pad set on low under a towel under her log and am leaving it on all night. Started this Monday. We have reached a turning point I think. She is eating very well. East greens and fruit with some gusto. It really looks like she is feeling better. She is more energetic when picked up also. Noticed her poop in the tub looks more like iguana poop as opposed to undigested matter.

Thursday 9-25-03 - We are done with the sulfatrim antibiotic. Experimented with putting her allopurinol pill in a grape and it worked like a charm! If she keeps eating the way she is eating we will not have to force anything on her including fluids! This is wonderful! Nothing was forced on her today. Her poop looks fabulous. Still soaking her in the tub daily and applying the silvadene. The burns also look great. Her leg still drags thought.

Saturday 9-28-03 - Burns are sloughing off. It looks really nasty and painful. The big one is oozing blood a little bit under a big scab that is coming off. I am working on getting the silvadene in there far enough to be effective. It is a big hard scab and is coming off. If you aren't squeamish pictures can be seen here. Her appetite is improving daily. Even though the burns must hurt she is a real trooper. The allopurinol continues to be easy to feed if put into a piece of fruit. Raspberries work well for this as they have a pocket to stick the pill in. We think she has gained about a quarter of a pound! :)

Monday 9-30-03 - Burns look better already. Stopped oozing. The Silvadene cream is a miracle. She continues to eat well and take her allopurinol in grapes or raspberrries.

Friday 10-10-03 - It was off to the vet to see how her blood is coming along. She HATED the vet once again. Gaped and hissed at everyone who came within about 10 feet or so. Had blood pulled and she was weighed. She looks like she has gained a HALF POUND!!! Very good news. Vet says the burns look good.

Saturday 10-11-03 - She is punishing me now for taking her to the vet. She hides all day and refuses to eat anything but grapes. Pugs went to the vet too and is in a similar mood.

Monday 10-13-03 - GOOD NEWS! Her blood values that we were concerned about are well within normal ranges! Her glucose level went from something like 318 to 142 and her uric acid went from 18.2 to 2.4 or something similar. I dont have the numbers in front of me. The vet said all the values for organ function are fine. Whatever I am doing I am to keep doing it!

Tuesday 10-14-03 - The burns look super good. Need to take pictures of them for the album. She is eating well again.

Thursday 10-16-03 - Her appetite seems to be increasing. I upgraded her to a larger food dish and she ate ALL her greens plus a few grapes. I am so happy she is eating all her greens! She is rewarded for eating all her greens with some soaked Rep-Cal pellets.

Saturday 10-25-03 - Very active in her cage. On a whim took her out and put her on the floor in Pugsley's room. She did so well that she has taken up permanent residence in there. Set up a basking spot on the floor for her. Pugsley is curious but doesn't bother her too much. She ran away until he cornered her. She came out gaping, bobbing and hissing but when he didn't move she gave up, shut her mouth and walked away. Burns are healed over so that there is nothing to catch on the carpet.

Sunday 10-26-03 - She is doing well and has found a good spot to hide/sleep. Hiding a lot but that is to be expected. She eats when prompted.

Wednesday 10-30-03 - Kharma comes out and basks a LOT. She is eating well and exploring a bit. I spied on her for awhile from outside the room and she attempted to climb Pugsley's tree that he was sitting on. She is very animated and curious. Not at all nervous when we walk around in the room. VERY tolerant of petting.

Saturday 11-1-03 - Pugsley stalks her a bit but she gapes and hisses and he doesn't get too too close. She stops short of biting him. She has started to defend her basking spot a bit. I am more worried about her hurting Pugs believe it or not. I think he is getting it though. That he has to back off and she is fine.

Tuesday 11-17-03 - Still freeroaming nicely. Eating very well on greens, cyclura.com diet and some pellets on the side. Very confident lizard that doesn't budge when people come into the room. Doesn't care for strangers getting too close but won't give up the basking spot. Not sure how much Pugs has been coming down to interact with her. She was not too pleasant towards him and I suspect he keeps his distance now. She is shedding well also. Took measurements today and she is 32.5 inches overall and 13.25 inches SVL. Weight 4.5 lbs! She has gained an entire pound since she got here Sept. 7!

Sunday 12-7-03 - No news is good news they say; and that is the case here. She is improving every day. Has shown herself to be quite a character. Very bold and defends her basking spot with vigor. The burns are cleared up and pink skin is in their place. She is nearly done shedding completely. I suspect she will start to shed all over again soon as she continues to gain weight. (4.75 lbs yesterday) We plan to do more bloodwork in January to be sure the uric acid is still being expelled from her system.

Sunday 1-4-04 - Kharma is doing extremely well. She is just over the 5 pound mark! She continues to freeroam very nicely with Pugsley. She has her own spot on the floor. Last week she began experimenting with some climbing so she must be feeling better. She eats very well and defends her basking spot from Pugs and from Pete when he comes in for a visit. We are going to schedule bloodwork just to be sure the uric acid is being expelled naturally as she has not been on the allopurinol since October.

Saturday 1-10-04 - Kharma's progress is still impressive. We have recently had an incident where Pugs put a breeding bite on her and broke the skin. I freaked out and removed her to the next room. She has not been happy since then. She has spent a lot of time sleeping on the couch that is in that room (storage room basically) buried under blankets. Every day I drag her out and put her in her basking spot. She has ample heat and uv but continues to do little more than sleep and pick at her food occasionally. Every chance she gets she tries to get down into the living room. We have an extensive barrier set up to keep her in there while we are out.

Saturday 1-24-04 - Kharma has been in her own room for about 2 weeks now. She continued to try and get out all the time and get to her favorite spot in the living room. Yesterday I caved in and put her uv heat light down there so she can bask on the back of our couch while we are home. I poop her in the tub first in the hopes she will have no accidents. So far so good. She basks literally all day now. I have no idea why the living room is so comforting to her. There is more activity and the cats are everpresent. They dont seem to bother her in the least. We have to keep a sharp eye on her when the woodstove is burning. We dont want her trying to climb on that. But overall she hasnt really gone too far. She basks and begs for food from us if we dare to eat in there. Today she landed smack dab in the middle of my plate that thankfully only contained some potato chips. Not the type of behavior we are looking for! She weighed in today at 5.25 lbs.

Friday 12-31-04 - Wow its been a LONG time since an update here! SORRY! No news is good news in this case. Kharma is doing incredibly well. She is well adjusted, eats well. She still limps but we have had no issues with the gout returning nor has the leg given her any trouble in about a year. She doesnt know she walks funny! :) She has resumed living with Pugsley and has even gone back in there for more after he has put some breeding bites on her (nothing serious). She roams the house a bit when we are home and most of the time returns to Pugs room for nighttime. Occasionally she will go to sleep on the couch in the room next door which is fine. It is nice and toasty warm in there too. She did have blood pulled and and xray done over the summer to ensure that the gout was staying away. The only thing that was elevated was her calcium level which we feared meant she might be gearing up to lay eggs even tho none were present on the xray. That doesnt seem to have been the case, thankfully. She is over 8 lbs.

Saturday 4-30-05 - Kharma has eaten very well this past winter. She is up to 9.25 lbs. She is getting HUGE. The limp is even less noticeable although it is still there. We are hoping to get through another breeding season without her producing any eggs. She seems to be getting along with Pugs. She is now the same size as him so if anyone is going to get pushed around it might be him.

Stay tuned...



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