November 08, 2007

Tycho's Recovery Continues

Quick word of warning here; if you don't want to read about our lizard's bathroom habits, skip this entry.

Tycho's recovery seems to be continuing. A week after we thought he was dying, his energy level as of last night seems to have come back to something approaching normalcy. He has become fully alert again and started tracking movement with his head.

LL gave him his daily calcium supplement last night, after which he didn't want to go back into his cage. He started scratching frantically to be let out. He got so frenzied that I finally gave him and out him on the futon so that he could watch television. I thought he might have gotten hungry, too, so I went to get him some greens. I hadn't taken three steps when LL called out, "He's not hungry!" I came back to the room and Tycho was doing the I'm-about-to-poop butt-wiggle. I grabbed him and rushed him back to his cage and what came out of that animal looked and smelled like a Louisiana blackwater bayou at low tide in August. One thing he is not is dehydrated; if he were, he would have looked like a shriveled raisin afterwards.

This is a typical symptom of respiratory infections in bearded dragons. I'm fully convinced at this point that's what he has. It's the most common health problem in the species and the vet missed it.

Tycho has long been weird about his defecating habits. He hates going in his cage; he'd much rather do it outside, particularly on something soft like a bed or sofa. I have no idea how he got this idea into his head. I've never known another reptile who cared so much about where it relieved itself. They typically go wherever they are when the need arises. Not Tycho; he has to be out of his cage. He'll refuse to defecate for days sometimes if we don't take him out, then put him back once he starts. When he needs to go, he'll scratch like a mad thing and try to climb out of his enclosure, practically jumping on his hind legs. Potty emergency! The behavior is so repetitive and has gone on for so long that we can almost always tell what's going on when we see it.

This is just one of the idiosyncratic behaviors that Tycho has adopted over the years. It's right up there with his love of all things satin, his love of watching TV (particularly cartoons), and his burning desire to watch what people are doing with their feet. The satin thing is really pronounced. I've seen Tycho get quite angry at someone for mishandling him and then calm down and doze off the moment he's placed on the fabric. For some reason, he finds it very comforting. I don't know what led him to this behavior, either. Why would a lizard care about, or even be able to discriminate between, fabrics? And why satin? I honestly don't know and can't even come up with a good guess. All of these strange behaviors are part of what endears him to us, though. He just isn't like other lizards. At times, he seems motivated by decisions he's made and that in itself makes him odd.

That he went to the bathroom so copiously last night is a very promising sign for his recovery. He's a thousand percent better than he was on Halloween. I suspect he'll want to eat again today. For now, we're going to continue with his calcium supplement and elevated cage temperature. He still needs to get an antibiotic for the respiratory infection, but even that seems to have abated a great deal on its own; his breathing is much better than it was just a couple of days ago. Overall, I'm relieved and happy to say that things are looking good for a full recovery. A week ago, both LL and I had considered having him put down rather than suffering. I'm glad we decided against it, though I don't think either of us truly had it in us to do that in the first place.

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