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Speck - The Survival of a Uromastyx
A true story sent in by Cathi

My mom and I were at a pet store once buying supplies and we spotted a young Uromastyx who was clearly not doing very well. He was braced up against the glass barely breathing. He was sharing a tank with a veiled chameleon and they had a tank divider between the two. Sweat from the tank set up next door was dripping down into his mouth since he didn't have the energy to even back away any longer. He had no food just crickets running around who were now eating him. I noticed on the tag it said “no humidity” and I suspected that was part of the problem. I knew nothing about Uros, but I felt that he would be better off with me than staying there just because I was willing to try and learn about what he needed. I got into beardies through the same crash course education from a rescue, so I would do it again.

Now, I had to learn what he was sick with, how and if it could be treated, and also how to care for him in even the best of times. I asked for some literature on them, they had none. I asked for another reptile enthusiast, no one. My Mom was like, “we can’t leave him here. He’s gonna die if we do!” So we purchased him, immediately left and got on the phone with my favorite reptile store who instructed me as to what kind of set up and care he will need.

Meanwhile we took him out of the box and noticed they stuck him in there with a wet paper towel for the ride home! I immediately drove him an hour away to see my reptile vet. He was suffering from the same thing that miners get. It was like a tar in his lungs. The chameleon set up had a fountain and these guys are only supposed to get their moisture from their veggies. So everything was sticking to the inside of his lungs. He was also being starved to death.

He estimated that it had been several months since he had ate last. Probably before he was caught. But, since he was so sick now he most likely wouldn’t eat. So, I had to keep having him injected with steroids to boost him up enough and stimulate his appetite once every couple weeks afterwards. My vet also told me there would only be a small speck of hope that he would make it and since he was an import he may also quickly lose his will to live. So, there was his name. 'Speck' My little speck of hope.

Well, I left there mad as hell, I’m sure you can imagine. I went back to show the pet store the dated receipt along with the dated receipt from the vet. I paid $150.00 for him and another $289.00 for his vet bill the same day. I insisted they would refund the money for him and for his medical expenses or I would get an attorney. (Expecting it would come to legal blows and fully prepared for it...) Surprisingly... they did. Completely blew my mind too! They gave me the cash back for him and a gift card for $300.00 to replace the medical bill.

It was an uphill battle and touch and go for a while but Speck made it. And since he grew up beside Velcro, my beardie, he thinks he’s a bearded dragon now. Uros don’t eat many crickets in the wild, but since he thinks he’s missing out on something I usually have to throw in a couple for him to chase and terrorize. He’s got the stalking prowess of a water buffalo so they usually don’t have to exert that much effort to get away! But, it’s good exercise for him!

Well, I am sorry to talk your ear off about little Speck, it’s just that I really don’t have much faith in the pets that they care for in that store. You pretty much have to go out of your way to neglect reptiles. A small amount of care and maintenance goes such a long way with these guys. They are typically very hardy little animals.

This is why I have no faith at all in this store. And to this day, after what I went through with them the manager literally gives me personal care when I go in there. I bring Speck in with me all the time to show him that he is doing very well, and couldn’t be happier. I know that typically the rule is that if you “rescued” a pet from a store they will just go and buy another one and stick it in its place, since they made their money. It gives them no incentive to change their behaviors. I refused to see that happen and so therefore they paid for everything. Not only the cost of him but his medical. All that came out of me was the bi-monthly appointments for his shot. But the vet only charged me for the shot price and not an office visit because, he was pretty happy about the outcome as well. Since then, they have put literature in there about the animals they personally are selling, including the lizards. I am happy to say they are cared for much better. Believe me, I always check. *winks* It’s nice when the animals can win once in awhile.



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