Friday, January 30, 2009

Long Lizard Rant

As I've mentioned before, my lizards really stress me out. On paper, this shouldn't be the case at all. They don't want attention. Once you get the set-up arranged properly, it should be a piece of cake. Just feed them, clean their tanks, and check temperatures occasionally to make sure things are still working as they should.

The parrots are the ones that should be stressing me out, but they usually don't. I'm certainly not saying I'm perfect or an expert, but I've done enough reading and have enough experience to know that I'm providing them a pretty good captive life. I can tell by their behavior that they are happy. That's not the case with the lizards.

I think Andreas is relatively happy, for a lizard; he comes out every day, eats and poops well, etc. Elsa is another story. She's still brumating, so I only see her a couple of times a month. She rarely eats, rarely poops, and is quite sluggish. She acted similarly last winter, so I feel fairly confident that things will turn around as summer arrives. Their temps are the same; how does she even know it's winter?

At their vet checks, their blood work came out well, and the vet reassured me that they were very healthy.

Last week Wednesday, I returned home from work to see that Andreas's light had burned out. I am quite frustrated with the company from which I buy their lights. They are very high quality, when they work. They are supposed to last a year, but I've been averaging 3-4 months. I sent one in for a replacement on the warranty, but then decided it was too much work for too little return, with the restocking fee, shipping costs, etc., so I would just bite the bullet (these bulbs are $40 each).

What frustrates me most is that Andreas's tank was quite cold when I got home, as was the bulb. Who knows how long he was without this heat source (although he does have others, this one is required to get the temps up to where they need to be)? Since Elsa was in her hide, I put him in her tank to warm up while I changed the bulb and waited for his tank to warm up.

That was my last replacement bulb (I try to keep some in stock since they go out so frequently) and tried to buy more, but they are backordered! This is the same company who has other bulbs for me on backorder since October -- over three months! Looks like it's time to make other plans...

Friday night, less than 48 hours after the bulb had been replaced, I was sitting on the couch when the light went out. Are you kidding me? I called the company this week, got a refund for the bulbs that are still on backorder, and told her the situation with their bulbs and why I was switching brands. The representative convinced me to send in the defective bulb for a replacement and to give them another shot. They'd been having quality control issues, but recently switched manufacturers.

After the light went out, I had to wait until the bulb cooled down so I could remove it and replace it with an older, lower-quality bulb (the bulb we used originally with him, before we found this other company) that I keep on hand for emergencies. Once again, I temporarily placed him in Elsa's tank, although this time she was out of her hide, basking. She went over and bit him on his tail! I decided being in a cold tank was preferable to being attacked, so he was moved again. She did not appear to do any damage to him.

Last night, he had a choice of dandelion greens or endive; he chose dandelions (of course!):
I tried to get a picture while the leaf was larger, but he's a quick eater! It kind of looks like he has a green cigar coming out of his mouth. I just love his little pink mouth, too!

Here, he was taking a short break from eating. You can see the marks on the leaf where he bit down:We are planning on turning a spare bedroom into a room for the lizards, with space heaters to get the temperatures up, and many different basking and hiding places. This larger space would allow for more temperature variations, so they would have more choice, and we can build all sorts of fun structures for them out of foam "rocks." Right now, they're in tanks that are the minimum size, so the temperature variations are not as great, and they each only have one hiding place.

But Elsa's aggression towards Andreas is making me rethink our plans. I had spoken to my vet previously, and he thought that as long as the enclosure was large enough and there were enough hides, we could house them together. They are solitary lizards, but since we have one male and one female, as opposed to two males, he thought we'd be OK. (Of course, we would pull any eggs that might appear.) They'd lived together at the pet store, in an enclosure smaller than each of them have now, with no problems.

If we have to build two separate enclosures, each one will, necessarily, be smaller than if they could enjoy the larger space together. We have a few months to figure everything out, but the plans are changing daily!


Anonymous said...

Poor you! I sympathize totally. Sometimes it's so challenging to create the right conditions for these little charges we bring into our lives. But it sounds like you are going to end up doing the right thing - whatever that is! Good luck to you!

Mary said...
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Mary said...

I certainly feel your pain. It seems when you start with those kind of problems (bulbs) they keep up for awhile. Hope you get it figured out. Cute picture! He looks friendly in that shot!

Mary said...

Thanks guys! We got him a new heating device and we're going to try out another substrate this week.

Mary -- I find him so adorable, in a strange sort of way. I can't wait for you to do their portraits (which reminds me, I need to get on that...) When he cocks his head at me, I just love it!