Monday, September 24, 2007

Mushuette : lizardus rubberi

In the 21 years he has been a veterinarian, he had never seen anything like it. Mushu's owners brought the family pet to the Riverside animal hospital in Jacksonville FL on Friday, September 14 2007, after they became concerned about an unusual protrusion.

Finley Collins, 7, was excited to think that her lizard was having a baby but her father Jeff thought what they saw may have been the result of eating sand or something. He decided to take it to the vet and John Rossi, the vet who saw Mushu, knew that bearded lizards lay eggs, not give birth.

"The next thing I knew, I was seeing legs and a body and a head. It was very strange to be tugging on this thing," stated Rossi.

Rossi said that he has seen bearded dragons swallow suction cups, dimes and scews before. In looking at the protrubance, he felt they were dealing with a long, rubbery worm of some kind so he didn't x-ray Mushu. The lizard was sedated and Rossi began to gently tug on the protruding bit and by the time the little feet appeared, they knew what had.

Mushu evidently had eaten a rubber lizard "playmate" in it's tank and it had passed through it's entire gastrointenstinal tract. In the end, Mushu, a 12 inch long lizard, gave "birth" to a 7 inch long plastic baby.

Bearded lizards have overtaken iguanas in popularity as pets in the U S according to recent reports. They originate in Australia but are readily bred in captivity and can live 8 - 12 years with proper care. They are considered an opportuntistic omnivore, eating a variety of vegetation, spiders, insects and the occasional small lizard and rodent. In captivity, their diet will consist mainly of leafy vegetables and insects, mostly cricket..

They are very trusting and docile and will also be very curious and friendly and this makes them very desirable as pets. They enjoy interacting with humans and rarely, scratch, bite or otherwise attack humans which makes them very suitable as a pet for younger children. It is recommended that they not be housed together because, even if they get along, one will generally get more food than the other.

Mushu evidently found it's playmate more along the lines of dinner and I am going to guess that there won't be another rubber lizard companion in the near future. According to Rossi, the mother lizard is home resting comfortably and the baby, Mushuette, category lizardus rubberi, remains under the care of the vet's staff.

Of note: photos from Will Dickey/The Times-Union

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