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Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: new pics and looking better)

ashesc212

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(I put this in the iguana forum because he is in the Iguanidae family!)

I picked up a chuckwalla a few weeks ago at the White Plain reptile expo. Not much detail was provided about where he came from, etc. They had a bunch for sale and said that they got them on trade and were told they were captive bred.

Anyway, it's been a few weeks now. All the chuckwalla does all day long is try to get at the screen lid on top and even ripped two nails off of himself. He has a rock outcropping set up in his cage and a background that covers 2/3 of the cage. I have him in a 40 gallon breeder as he is small.

I read that captive breds can live in 40 gallon breeders and such but that wild-caught need 70 gallons plus. Have you ever had a wild caught and if so, did increasing the cage size actually calm him down?

What if he is captive bred but won't calm down in this cage? Is there anything I can do? I'm out of ideas. He has hide boxes etc.

Additionally, I read that they eat essentially the same thing as iguanas. They are mainly herbivores but occasionally may eat insects. It doesn't appear that he's eating the vegetables that we give him. We've even tried hibiscus flowers as I read that was safe to feed them and the color attracts their eyes. He won't eat those. I can't get my hands on the brimblebush and other things that they eat in the native environments. Anyway, Idk what to do. We do force feed him occasionally but I want him to eat on his own.

He definitely is pooping normal after we force feed him. Also, he seems hydrated after we force feed him. Finally, he is full of p*ss and vinegar so to speak so he can't be hurting.

Any ideas/help/advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
 

Beazer

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla

If he is wildcaught, just go through and inspect him for internal injuries. The poachers that gather them use crow bars to break the rocks and pull them out rough cause they inflate in crevices.

They typically do calm down in captivity (even in the wild some will eat out of your hand). What veggies do you have? Try frozen berry mix and let it thaw out just a little bit then put it in its cage. As far as the protein, they dont typically eat a ton of bugs, just the occasional beetle so maybe a couple superworms once a month. In the wild they eat pooh as babies and vegetation/cactus fruits lol.

Also, what is the basking area like? As for the cage goes, they are one of those animals that needs kind of a weird dimension of cage. So custom built is the only way to go for them, especially wild ones. It also keeps them from getting on the screens. Also, can you post pics of the chuck and the set up as well?

I use to work with St. Esteban Island Chuckwalls (documents and all) but just sold them to a friend about a year ago. I regret getting rid of them but I ended up not being able to make the outdoor enclosure I wanted for them and so he was able to do it. I also worked with the native species like what you have, when kids would bring in chuckwallas they caught cause their parents would make them get rid of it and they were usually injurred so required a lil TLC for a few months then would let them go on this isolated mountain by me. Frozen berry mix just always did the trick, you may even try fresh berries.

-Jon DeLong
 

ashesc212

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977
Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla

Beazer said:
If he is wildcaught, just go through and inspect him for internal injuries. The poachers that gather them use crow bars to break the rocks and pull them out rough cause they inflate in crevices.

He does not appear to have any internal injuries.

Beazer said:
They typically do calm down in captivity (even in the wild some will eat out of your hand). What veggies do you have? Try frozen berry mix and let it thaw out just a little bit then put it in its cage. As far as the protein, they dont typically eat a ton of bugs, just the occasional beetle so maybe a couple superworms once a month. In the wild they eat pooh as babies and vegetation/cactus fruits lol.

We feed him (or attempt to since he refuses to actually eat it): collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, romaine, cilantro (a little bit), hibiscus, cactus pad, cactus pear, strawberries, etc. We have also tried offering crickets and superworms. He won't eat anything. Every couple of days we force feed him a mixture of this and some critical care but I don't want him to become dependent on this type of feeding so I try to give him off days so that he will get hungry and eat by himself. It's not working.


Beazer said:
Also, what is the basking area like? As for the cage goes, they are one of those animals that needs kind of a weird dimension of cage. So custom built is the only way to go for them, especially wild ones. It also keeps them from getting on the screens. Also, can you post pics of the chuck and the set up as well?

He has a 106 degree basking spot on top of a hide rock. He has a MVB bulb right now, plus a Reptisun 10.0 that covers some of the other spots. He has a heat gradient too, hot end, cold end.

What custom size would you recommend? We need to do something because ALL DAY his sole focus is on getting out through the screen. It's heartbreaking; I really think he is actually wild-caught. Obviously I wouldn't take him back to AZ (or one of the other states with chuckwallas) though and release him because I am already attached and there is a chance that he is not wild-caught, etc.

Beazer said:
Frozen berry mix just always did the trick, you may even try fresh berries.

Hmm..I have given him fruit but maybe I'll try to smash it into a mix or something.

I'll try to get pics of him and his cage up tonight.
 

Beazer

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla

Leave the berries whole, though maybe just break a few open. Basking area should be around 115F-120F (check the surface temp with your hand too).

Dimensions for one I would do a minimum of 4' W x 2.5' D x 2' H and lots of crevices (something similar to the Retes stack might work good).

Retes Stack: http://usera.imagecave.com/tengkunovalrizky/retes_stack_double.jpg

Best of luck to you, I am glad the animal is in good hands atleast. They are one of my favorite animals to work with.

-Jon DeLong
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla

Okay, I'll up the basking temp and still get pics up tonight (hopefully if I can get my fiance to do it because I have some work to do).

Will his nails grow back?
 

tora

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla

I know in mammals so long as the vein inside wasn't too messed up they grow back ok. I'm leaning towards no for in reptiles though.
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: PICS *DUW*)

@Tora - The nail came off all the way down the the toe itself but I don't know about internally.

Okay pics: Here is the chuckwalla himself:

39253_433632739840_503769840_4500953_2153729_n.jpg

38817_433632759840_503769840_4500955_4118623_n.jpg

39778_433632784840_503769840_4500958_1440548_n.jpg

40664_433632809840_503769840_4500961_5475282_n.jpg


The current setup (that's a MVB but I also have an extra Reptisun 10.0 and the papers were just added because he was going nuts but its not helping):
38515_433632629840_503769840_4500944_6958592_n.jpg

37967_433632659840_503769840_4500945_5697884_n.jpg

37967_433632669840_503769840_4500947_6254102_n.jpg

39328_433632679840_503769840_4500949_4855809_n.jpg

39774_433632699840_503769840_4500950_5034376_n.jpg
 

Beazer

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE PICS ADDED *DUW*)

Looks good. Is he eating yet? As far as the toenail goes I dont know, it really depends how far it tore off to :/. Lol, I dig the pink dog toy.
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE PICS ADDED *DUW*)

Nope, not eating yet. I'm still trying to force feed him every other day at least.
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (Update: Bloody nose rub)

The fruit is not working and he still won't eat. I'm really getting worried. Now he has an all out nose rub so bad it's bleeding. More advice, please!?!

I've never had a lizard with a nose rub this bad where it actually bled. Should I take him to the vet immediately?
 

TeguKid80

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

I have a friend who keeps chucks and he has one kind of flower that they just devour. I forget what it is but I will find out when I can. I think you should put in more rocks or retes stacks, basically boards stacked with separation in between them. In the wild chucks go in between rock crevices when they are scared, so those would basically be a hide box for a chuckwalla. I would keep maybe cover his cage with towels so he cannot see out of it to the rest of the room, but just what is in his cage for a bit. Just my .02
 

Beazer

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

If its possible, try moving all the furniture to one side or stack something of sorts (to mimic crevices/tight spaces), add real rock if you can (im not sure what rock you guys have there but deteororating granite that is brown or something roughish and brown) and see if you can use a dirt substrate (make sure the dirt is "clean" dirt and not from dirty construction sites) and feel free to maybe add a couple big rocks into the dirt that barely surface. Do about a 2 inch layer of dirt. The towel technique may work, but you really need that airflow for these guys.

With cuckwhallas if hes trying to get out of the cage and not hide, there may be something up with the cage or stuff in there he isnt liking or he could be seeing a better suited area across the room he wants to reach. Though, Ive noticed the 3 main reasons when lizards like these guys nose rub is because either too much/too little heat in the cage/basking, over crowding of the tank, or they see somehwere they wanna be. best of luck to you.

-Jon DeLong
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

Cool; thanks for the tips, guys!!! So chris and I just responded to a CL ad and picked up a 4 by 3 ft cage for him. Tomorrow I'll try to rework the cage with all the suggestions you guys made after chris sets up the lighting.

I put some watered down povodone iodine on the wound and covered it with triple anitbiotic ointment. I hope this works. In the past my vet has told me not to put triple antibiotic on an open wound, especially if a bite, but I figured that it's more like a scrape in this case so it would be ok. I just don't want him to get mouth rot!
 

TeguKid80

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

Sounds like you are doing everything right! Good luck! Oh also he is a desert animal and will get a large percentage of the water he needs from his food!
 

eddyjack

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

I am not a real fan of anything other than Tegu but, damn that's a pretty cool critter!
I'm rather new to the reptile thing however.
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

Beazer said:
If its possible, try moving all the furniture to one side or stack something of sorts (to mimic crevices/tight spaces), add real rock if you can (im not sure what rock you guys have there but deteororating granite that is brown or something roughish and brown) and see if you can use a dirt substrate (make sure the dirt is "clean" dirt and not from dirty construction sites) and feel free to maybe add a couple big rocks into the dirt that barely surface. Do about a 2 inch layer of dirt. The towel technique may work, but you really need that airflow for these guys.
-Jon DeLong

I forgot to ask about the dirt thing. Is there any chance he can get impacted from this similar to how bearded dragons do when they are on sand?

We don't have any cool rocks like the granite that you speak of.

I am concerned the new cage's height isn't ideal. It's only 15" but it was the best cage that we could find on the fly. He still can't go in it yet because I'm going to have Chris cut out a screen on top since it is so short I don't want him to hurt himself on the light. Also, it stinks to high heaven and I have no idea why because he had a snake in there. So, we have to clean and let this thing air out for the day.
 

Beazer

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: Bleeding Nose Rub)

Not if its actual just normal dirt. Be sure to pack it down though. The areas they come from are really dusty (some are literally on the edge of dunes). Just be sure not to lay food on the ground of the cage, though I dont think any of that would cause impaction. I think its just mostly that calci sand that screws up animals systems or coco fiber for the younger/smaller animals. Theres also much debate on the whole sand impacting beardies or if its dehydration so the system cant flush out. The 15" will be alright for now, atleast yall got him a good dimension for the base to run around. I hope it all works out for you guys.

-Jon DeLong
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: some good some bad)

The Good:

Okay here's an update on Chuck. We have moved him into his new enclosure complete with sand, etc. While we were on vacation last week he started eating his food!! We had a vet tech pet sitting and he ate and this week we witnessed it ourselves. It seems that changing the caging and atmosphere helped.

Today I offered superworms again just to see if he would go for them. He is so skinny still that I need him to eat. He ate 6 of them!! I was so happy. Now I can offer those once a month to him!

The Bad:

The nose rub from the old cage is not healing well and getting worse. I'm afraid it is starting to form into a mouth rot. He is also really skinny and his eyes appear a bit sunk in. He has no fat pads.

Resolve: I am trying to get him a vet appointment for tomorrow but I have to wait until 10 a.m. before I hear from them because they are closed today.

More Bad:

I raised the basking temp to 115 and he will not sit under it. Most people have recommended these high temperatures. Should I just lower it back to 105?
 

ashesc212

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Re: Help w/ Chuckwalla (UPDATE: the good and the bad)

Here is a pic taken today. Compare it to the pics I posted a few weeks ago and you will see just how sick he looks. The sad part is he WASN'T eating when I took the earlier pics and now he is eating and looks worse!

Gosh, now I am panicking that he is dying! I can't wait until I talk to the vet tomorrow!
 

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