Monday, July 21, 2008

lizard woes

So on Friday, some of the honours student's lizards started getting sick. One of them died that day and another died on the weekend. I offered to help with deworming them, because we know for a fact that they ahve worms, and that they've been under a lot of stress lately. The fantastic vets here decided that as I've helped with deworming before I could do it all alone, and pretty much said that as much as they were delighted to help, they didn't actually want to DO anything.

I wasn't happy about the whole sitiation, but as it happened, I had a really busy week last week and a killer headache on friday, so I went I hadn't been down to see them until this morning. In the meantime I'd checked the dosages and asked a bunch of different vets for advice on how much to administer and how to give it to them and side effects and all that stuff, so I was feeling slightly more confident about the whole situation. When I got down to the unit this morning I was completely stunned by the condition of the animals. I measured them about 2 weeks ago and they were all healthy and full of nonsense and wriggling and in good shape. This morning one of them had nasty lesions all over himdelf and another two were barely breathing and thin and dehydrated. I disinfected them and tried to give them water, but it wasn't helping, so I tried to call the vets, but they didn't answer their phones and I started to panic. I can honestly say I ahve never seen lizards looking this bad before. I knew that they wouldn't make it until tomorrow if I didn't do something, and as much as I knew exactly what to do, I didn't have a)the ethical clearance (if you can believe that! I have no clearance therefore it should just die) and b) i didn't have the stuff I needed. So I did the only thing I could think of and took them to the zoo.

It was awful! Firtly there was complete chaos as they were deworming anacondas and one of them had bitten a zoo-keeper and there was blood everywhere and the snakes smelled bad and it was just complete havoc. The snakes were cute in a way though! It was just really awful becasue the vets agreed with me that the lizards were in a complete mess and might not survive, and I felt embarrassed that I'd let them get to such a state. I like to think that the people at the zoo know me well enough to know that I look after my animals properly, but I felt really guilty to be associated with such sick lizards.

On the other hand I know poeple who would just let the animals be euthenased or let them die rather than look like they weren't looking after them properly. I only realised later that I wasn't really obligated to do anything, but the thought of leaving them like that made me feel sick and furious with myself for even having that thought. The fact is that they're not my test subjects, and I have very little to do with them, but I caught most of them, and as such I feel responsible.

They're the honours student's responsibility, and to his credit, I checked the unit thoroughly and the tanks are pristine and the rest of the lizards are fine, so he's off the hook. He's done a pretty good job, but unfortunately we aren't vets and there are limits to what we can do. The only issue is that he had noticed that they weren't quite normal alst week, but he didn't have the experience to do anything about it. But considering the fun and games I've been having with the vets here, there's not much that he could have done. Which leaves me at war with the university vets who evidently couldn't be bothered to look after sick animals.