Thursday, September 4, 2014

RIP Sutcliffe, the baby bearded dragon

He was tinier than my favourite highlighters...

It’s been a tough week here at SAT HQ…despite rallying in his last days our little foster-bearded dragon, Sutcliffe, passed away on Monday. He was medicated twice a day, provided with UV lights, consciously not over-handled, provided with heat and – where possible – bathed in natural sunshine, but in the last 48 hours signs of metabolic bone disease returned with a vengeance. He became soft and doughy, lost his ability to grip, and despite injections of calcium and subcutaneous fluids, failed to make it. His absence hurts all the more because his feeding and medication regime topped and tailed my day.

Sutcliffe enjoys a spot of sunshine in the garden. This picture was taken approximately 24 hours before he passed away. I'm really the sun made an effort to come out on Sunday! I just hope all the other reptiles in Sydney are getting the warmth they need.
In reflecting on this exacerbation of disease, I wonder if the total lack of natural sunshine (due to some pretty bad Sydney weather) for about five days preceeding his death tipped him over the edge? He still had artificial UV light, but it isn’t the same. And he really did come alive when he could spend time outdoors. Or was he always on the back foot after a shaky start in life? Did I feed him right? Did he get the exact doses of calcium he needed?

It is hard to know. He never missed a dose of medication, nor a meal. His enclosure was pristine and never over-heated. What is certain is that he was a magnificent creature of extraordinary beauty, and for only five grams he managed to teach me a lot about MBD. And gee didn’t he love the sunshine. 

Sutcliffe on my thumb.
Every time the sun pokes out from around the clouds I think of little Sutcliffe, sitting on his twigs, holding his chest up and soaking in the rays.

He has been buried at home in the garden, and I’ve ordered a little headstone which I will lay over the site when it arrives (it measures 8cm) (you can view the stones here - I've ordered a tumbled riverstone). I hope that one day I pop outside and find a little lizard or skink basking on that stone.