Bad sign

Emerald’s sick. I e-mailed the closest herp vet (Burlington) and described the problem, asking if he thought it could wait til Wednesday, when they have later office hours. The receptionist called and said he thought it couldn’t.

Oh crap. I should have done something a couple of weeks ago when he stopped eating and pooping, but I figured it was just the weather. He looked fine. Maybe a little depressed, but basically healthy. I’d hold food in front of him and he’d sort of look at me like, “You expect me to come crawling over there for that?”

Then he pooped on his hammock last week, which has never happened because he is paper trained. So that’s when I decided to actually take care of my precious iguana. I got a new UV bulb for him, and a skin spritzer and some soft food that I thought he might actually eat.

No change in his condition by Friday night, so I took him out and let him wander a bit. He didn’t go far. And recoiled at my touch.

Saturday I spoon-fed him bananas and the store-bought food. He would open his mouth, as though to bite me and I’d stick food in there, but rather than swallow it, he’d just let it drop out of his mouth. I got a couple of bites down.

Then I noticed that he had a stuffed nose and was wheezing a little bit. When he opened his mouth to bite me, there were strands of saliva between the upper and lower jaw. It took me two days to figure out that wasn’t normal. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking in his open mouth, OK?

And I read in the Iguana Book that iguanas are very good at hiding it when they are sick, so once you see a symptom, they’ve probably been sick a while.

But by then, it was too late to go to any vets that had Saturday hours, even if I could find a herp expert in the area.

Yesterday I bathed him and wrapped him in an electric blanket and force fed him two pieces of zucchini. He let me hold him, and laid his little iguana head on my arm. This made me feel better because when I try to pet him, he opens his mouth at me agressively and shakes.

And today I’ll leave work early to take him to the vet.

I feel like a terrible, negligent mother. I took for granted how healthy and low-maintenance he was and didn’t immediately seek help when I knew something was wrong.

Then again, he’s 8 years old. And this is the first time that he’s been sick under my watch. That I know of. (He came home from the pet store with a parasite, but that was before he was mine.)