An attempt at suburban lizard vet medicine
I have this lizard that lives in my back yard. He’s technically not a gecko and [embarrassingly] I’m not even sure what species of reptile claims his DNA as its own (Carolina gecko?). But he’s super-cute, as are all the lizards we South Floridians consider friendly, insecticidal neighbors.
These guys all have their own territories with only the occasional dispute among them. More sensible than cats, I’d say, and even more fun to watch as I sit out on my patio on muggy evenings.
Their antics are so entertaining: mating rituals, territory protection, prey stalking, etc. Plus, they’re so individually identifiable that I feel like I’m watching an infinitely better version of Meerkat Manor without even having to own a @#$% television! Love it!
There’s the silly little “Jester” that feels entirely comfortable running over my bare feet. There’s the big black bull whom I’ve named Warf (for his Klingon-esque looks). And then there’s the wily Desdamona—named for her tolerance of Warf’s aggressive attentions.
Gus is my new favorite. But he’s got a serious handicap. He’s a hefty bully who eats like a healthy horse. Problem is, the mass growing off his head is starting to get way out of hand. The first time I spied it, I thought he’d just caught a big beetle. Why isn’t he swallowing it? I contemplated briefly before returning to my writing.
The next time I saw him, a few days later, he was sporting the same jaw-line bulge. No plausible coincidence here—Gus had some growth. What’s a vet to do? I tried catching him—no dice. I thought of trapping him—how?
So yesterday I bought some small crickets at the same place I buy mice for my rat snake, Dart. Baby captive-bred crickets are slow and stupid compared to flies, mosquitoes and other lizard prey, so I figured he’d eat them up fast. I soaked five in Baytril (enrofloxacin)—a trick I [proudly] pioneered with brine shrimp when I did my aquatic medicine externship at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (someone else published my own methodology after my tenure, much to my chagrin). I don’t know if he ate them but I saw Gus right before I released them in his area.
I plan to feed Gus these crickets for a few weeks to see if I can’t heal him of a possible abscess (the least destructive disease he might have growing out of his face). What else can I do? These guys keep me so entertained and readily consume so many of my peskiest insects that I feel I owe them something—and don’t I?