9 year old male iguana acting stiff - ?

Discussion in 'Iguanas' started by Jadelizard, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. Jadelizard

    Jadelizard Embryo

    My male iguana, JayJay, has been “out of it” for about a week and this is the earliest I’ve actually been able to post.

    Now, before anybody tells me to run him to the vet, believe me I would if I had a decent one. The vet I use to take them too moved several months back and the closest one is two hours a way, not to mention that the man is a complete incompetent when it comes to reptiles.

    Basic info

    Food: collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, butternut or acorn squash, and a rotated supply of strawberries, raspberries, grapes or cantaloupe.
    Has been drinking water on a regular basis
    Cage: Free roam
    Defecates 2-3 times a week (all healthy)
    New Zoomed UVB florescent bulb

    Starting Symptoms:
    Totally lethargic
    Wouldn’t life his head up
    Wouldn’t us back half of body
    Unable to lift himself up
    Excessively pale in color
    Lack of appetite

    Current Symptoms:
    More alert, but still sluggish
    Will lift head up to look around, but movements are slow
    Still won’t lift body up when he walks
    Will move both back legs, but very stiffly
    Has turned almost completely orange with a few blue spots on his arm
    Better appetite, but still not eating like he use too.
    Has gained some weight, but still far too think for my likeing.

    Background history.
    Was 9 years old when I got him
    When I rescued him over 2/3rds of his body was covered in burns, his underside was one large seeping wound.
    The back half of his tail had to be amputated due to burns and scale rot. The front have has a bend in it where it was broken and healed crooked
    Has several missing or mangled toes due to bad shedding and the toes braking and healing.
    Had horrible mouth rot
    Was housed in a 2’x3’x4’ wire ferret cage with two shelves.
    Was feed some form of iguana diet mush from a bucket. (you mix it with water and give them the mush)

    I’ve had Jay going on two years now, his burns and tail are healed up, his jaws are straight and we’ve had no return of the mouth rot. He’s generally very active, and very affectionate despite his abusive past.
    I’m really worried about him, though he does seem to be getting better… My main concern is actually what happened to begin with so I can prevent it from happening again, or spreading to my other iguana.

    Anyway, that’s the end of my excessively long post. If anybody has any idea what’s going on with Jay or any tips as to what I can do to speed up his recovery I would appreciate all the help I can get.
    I’ll continue to update his condition every couple of days so you know how he’s doing.
    Thanks for any help and it’s good to be back.


    JEFFREH Administrator

  3. Tiny_Hendrix

    Tiny_Hendrix Embryo

    It sounds like your guy has developed MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) Which is mainly caused from lack of calcium. When the body calcium level is low it will start taking calcium from wherever possible, in this case the bones.

    Leaving them with these symptoms:
    * bowed, or swollen legs, or bumps on the long bones of the legs
    * arched spine or bumps along bones of spine
    * softening and swelling of the jaw (bilateral) - sometimes called "rubber jaw"
    * receded lower jaw
    * in turtles, softening of the carapace or plastron (the shell)
    * tremors
    * jerky movements-twitching in the muscles of the legs and toes
    * lameness
    * anorexia
    * constipation
    * fractures of the bones due to bone weakness
    * lethargy
    * weakness and even partial paralysis (sometimes unable to lift body off ground)

    This is really nothing to mess around with. It can kill your Iguana. It's a little far along, but I don't think too far along to be treated. I realize you say you can't take him to a vet so try for now to keep him from being free roaming, put him in a cage with a UVB bulb so he can soak up all the vitamin d from that. And give him lots of calcium. If he's still not better in a couple days I would definitely take him to the vet. The vet will give him special supplementation and vitamins to get him back on track. Your vet should hopefully be familiar with MBD, as it's definitely not uncommon.


    JEFFREH Administrator

  5. Jadelizard

    Jadelizard Embryo

    At first I thought it was MBD myself but the onset was far too quick and the symptoms aren’t right. His jaw isn’t soft or rubbery and his legs, though seeming week, aren’t bowed at all. Plus both my iguanas get ample exposure to UVB rays as well as calcium in their food.

    I should have mentioned before that my lizards rarely go a day without handling or interaction of some kind so I can assure all that this “illness” is new, not a growing condition. Also, considering their background, both my iguanas are by any standards extremely healthy and since y female, who eats the same food, and sits under the same heat lamp, is still at peak condition it seems unlikely that Jay’s illness is due to a lack in care or environment.

    And as far as the vet goes, I would rush him over immediately had I any faith in him. The one I had previously was wonderful and very knowledgeable, but as I said earlier the only one I know of in a two hour radius is a complete incompetent. The first time I took my female to him he informed me that, despite the fact that she was by all accounts in perfect health, that I should start mixing in cat food with her regular food and giving her UVB drops on a daily basis to boost her health and size. He also told me that I should probably puree her food for her due to her jaw being crooked, this would make it easier for her to eat.
    At 14 years old she’s just under 4 ft because she was feed nothing but lettuce and green beans for the first three years of her life, causing her to have a slightly mis-aligned jaw. She’s been eating “solid” food for the last 11 years.

    Now before I get posts on mixing male and female iguanas together, tell that to them. They’re the ones who continually searched each other out, and both stress out if I try to separate them. In two years I haven’t had a problem with the female getting gravid, and they have never once fought, even over food. And though I know it’s not recommendable, they stay healthier when together.

    The thing that intrigues me the most of all this is his new orange and blue coloration, which he normally only exhibits during the summer. This evening he ate a full plate of food and climbed onto the back of the couch without any assistance, using his legs slowly, but not choppily or shakily. His lethargia has diminished almost completely, though he still won’t lift himself up when he walks. I’ll try to post a picture of him and Robin both so you can judge of their conditions

    Thank you Tiny_Hendrix for your suggestion and I will increase Jays calcium and try to keep him immobile as you suggested, but the circumstances just don’t indicate MBD to me. Any other ideas are greatly appreciated and, as I said, I’ll check in fist thing Monday.


    JEFFREH Administrator

  7. Jadelizard

    Jadelizard Embryo

    Well, I have semi good news. I was able to talk to a reptile specialist today who has a lot of experience with neglected iguanas and was told that Jay more than likely had a mild stroke due to a blood clot, which apparently isn’t uncommon in a reptile with Jay’s history.

    Since it happened once I’ll need to be on the look out for more trouble in the future, but according to this guy Jay should fully recover in a few weeks.

    I want to thank Tiny_Hendrix for your help and advice.

    I do have new pictures of both my iguanas that I will be posting as soon as I can locate my cameras cable.

    Thanks again,

    JEFFREH Administrator

  9. cornishrexrules

    cornishrexrules Embryo

    Hey there where are those pictures, any updates, did he recover???

    JEFFREH Administrator

  11. ilovemyiguana

    ilovemyiguana Embryo

    My iguanas hind legs seemed to be paralized, I freaked out! He was not lifting his head up, dragging his body. This was in Sept.

    He had eaten large rocks. We tried to get them to pass, he suffered so, finally got the best reptile vet in San Diego to do surgery, Dr. Boyer.

    He has surgery in Dec.and is doing great now, even better than ever. It took me 3 vets and $4,000 worth of xrays, tests and treatments. Should have done the surgery ASAP.
  12. ilovemyiguana

    ilovemyiguana Embryo

  13. IguanaKing15

    IguanaKing15 Embryo

    I wouldnt up her calcium supplements too much. Giving her too much calcium can be just as bad as not giving her enough. If it was in fact a stroke, then there is no need to give her extra calcium, the calcium will do nothing to protect her from having another stroke. I recommend getting "Natures Reptile Vita-Spray", just spray her from neck down once a day.
  14. Jadelizard

    Jadelizard Embryo

    Okay, I know it’s been over a year since I posted, and the sad news is that I lost Jay shortly after my last post. He had another stroke and was completely paralyzed so I made the hard decision to have him put down.
    I only had him for two years but it was long enough to get to know his personality and realize how fun an iguana he was. I would wake up mornings and find him sleeping on my back, sometimes pulling on my hair, once I started to stir he would jump off and run back down to the couch where he lived with my other iguana Robin. In the two years I had him, he just wanted love, to be held, sit on my shoulder, be with somebody.
    When I first rescued him he was confined to a 3x3x4 cage, had a florescent bulb sitting right on top of the cage where he could literally hang from the top of the cage with his belly touching the bulb. Two thirds of his body was covered in burns and his tail had such an infection in it that it had to be amputated so not to risk the infection spreading to the rest of his body. His jaw was soft and his coloration, what you could see of it around the multiple burns, was a dull gray.
    The first picture is how he looked after two years of care, you can see some of the scars, and obviously the lack of tail. The second picture is Jay two days before I had him put down. He couldn’t raise his head at all was barely aware of his surroundings.
    I have now rescued three iguanas from neglect, two have died because their owners were, my apologies if I seem harsh, so stupid and inconsiderate that Jay died of complications after a mere nine years of life, Squitle, a two foot baby with a severe fungal infection on his face and head, as well as parasites, calcium deficiency, and just about everything else you can think of, died after only six months in my care. My first iguana, robin, who is now going on 16, also bears the scars or neglect from the first four years of her life.
    If you want an iguana, all good and well, but if you can not care for them, give them the room they need, give them proper and safe heat, give them good food, give them what they deserve, then don’t get one. Don’t put another iguana, another reptile, another animal, through what this one went through.

    Attached Files:

  15. 00luke00

    00luke00 Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry to hear that. He really was a beautiful iguana. I'm sure you did all you could to help him.
  16. grabdagauge

    grabdagauge Embryo


    Am so sorry for your loss. Man I just wish more people would think about all the responsibility's these guys come with before purchasing them.

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