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  1. #1
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    Sudden death - young savanna monitor

    I'm posting this for a friend of mine, who just lost their young savanna monitor. I know its hard to find a cause of death on the internet, and that it would be better to take the body in and have it autopsied. However, we thought that maybe someone would have an idea of what happened.

    For some background information - She only had him for about four weeks. He was still relatively young (hatchling). The temperature and humidity in his tank were appropriately regulated, along with basking temperature. She has thermostats for all heat sources, and thermometers to keep an eye on the heat. Ambient temperature was around 90 degrees, basking was around 110, and humidity was 55-60. She fed him hornworms, dubias, and she also gave him a very small pinky mouse - everything but the mouse was dusted in calcium w/d3. He was a very good eater. As for handling - she handled him for 5-10 minutes every two days.

    The monitor appeared healthy the last few days (he passed last night), eating with excitement and no problems. He explored his tank regularly and used his hides for regulating his temperatures. However, he didn't eat Thursday but was still active and alert - nothing out of the ordinary except being "less bitey" when handling. She said he was active the entire past week, and has seeemed fine since she bought him. The friend and I had been video calling - she went to show me him and noticed he was sleeping under a hide. About an hour later, however, he was found in a corner on his belly just laying there.

    After his death, while she was looking over his body she noticed he had one sunken eye, his belly was incredibly soft and even slightly "moldable." My friend said she could only feel his spine in the abdominal region, and the bones in his legs and such. She also saw a large black spot on his belly.

    My friend decided to do some slight research before bed, and found that most savanna monitors are not captive bred - and most have parasites. Could it have been parasites? If so, should she be worried about any of her other pets (crested geckos, snakes, various bugs, etc.)? I had brought up that he may have been exploring, tried jumping out or up for some reason and landed wrong? Possibly puncturing something inside? Although we both realize (like I said), that its hard to determine the cause of death online - she wants some closure.

    I have attached a link to some photos of his setup, and him both before and after his passing.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran hilabeans's Avatar
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    Iím very, very sorry for your friend. Closure will be provided by a necropsy - tell her to refrigerate the body (do not freeze!) and take him to the vet Monday morning.

    It could very well be parasites or something different. Your instincts are right, only a post-mortem will tell for sure.

    Again, thoughts are with your friend. Thatís a heartbreaking loss.

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  3. #3
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    So sorry about your friend's sudden and very sad loss of her monitor. I have zero experience with monitors though, & a necropsy would be the best way to
    find out what happened. The large black spot on his belly sounds as if he may have "landed wrong" as you sounds like internal bleeding. He may well
    have had parasites but it's unlikely that he'd have died suddenly like that from them. What an awful experience, it sounds like she was taking good care of him
    too, though considering the information about parasites, a sooner vet check up would be in order if she tries again with another one.

  4. #4
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    Re: Sudden death - young savanna monitor

    Iím sorry for your friend- losing a pet is bad enough, unexpected loss much worse.
    I may have an explanation for the black spot and abdominal softness; apologies for the graphic description following...

    When the little one passed, his gall bladder likely released its contents. Such a small lizard in a warm place, the bile probably started to break down the internal organs enough to make the abdomen noticeably softer.

    A necropsy is the best idea- keep the body cold, not frozen, as said above, until you can get to a vet. Please post here if you get any information; if we can learn anything, that helps future keepers. if it was very young, there might have been some issue that could not have been known, something wrong with the poor thing from the start.
    Good luck- I donít think it was anything you did wrong, if it helps...

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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