Perils of Housing Animals Together

Anyone who reads posts on reptile forums quickly notices a pattern of new keepers wanting to put multiple animals into a single enclosure.  Often they want to mix species, which is almost allways a bad idea for all but those with lots of experience and very large enclosures, but keeping multiples of the same species together is something that many people also wish to do either out of space concerns, aesthetics or breeding purposes.  With many species, as long as you pay attention to the sex of the animals your are mixing, have enough hiding spots and an appropriately sized enclosure you will be ok.  Even so, sometimes fights can break out and animals can get hurt.  It can be easy to anthropomorphize animals sometimes, but the reality is that reptiles are generally solitary creatures and they do not need "friends" to be kept with them in order to ensure their happiness.

About two weeks ago I was seeing how all of the inhabitants of gecko condo were doing when I noticed somethign was wrong with Green Man's right eye.  He has been paired with Belite this year for breeding (Blintz and Berliner are offspring of theirs this year), and we have noticed that Green Man is not the most suave of partners.  Several times we have noticed Green Man approacing Belite, bobbing his head, stomping his rear feet and shaking his tail in an attempt to entice Belite only to have her blow off his attempts.  This time it looks like Belite became fed up with his attempts to get to know her better and decided take a few chomps out of Green Man:

Green Man's wounded eye

As you can see, his eye is very cloudy and also appears as if it is bloodshot.  This is certainly not normal, as you can see from this comparison with a top view of Green Man so you can see his healthy and wounded eye:

At the time I was not sure if he had injured his eye on something or if there was an infection behind the eye.  Though both are bad, an infection could have likely caused blindness and eventually been fatal.  I emailed Penn Vet hospital and was able to get Green Man in for a checkup.  They were able to determine that his eye was injured and it was not an infection, so though that is still not good I was very releived.  The main issue that went undertermined is if Green Man's cornea was damaged or just his speculum.  Gecko's like the Chahoua have a transparent scale, known as a speculum, which covers their eyes.  They shed the speculum each month with the rest of their scales, and it is possible this is all that was damaged.

As an added bonus, the ophthalmologists at Penn took a lot of really cool pictures of Green Man's eyes while he was there.

I will not know for certain if it was just the speculum that was injured until Green Man sheds, but regardless his eye has been improving with the help of an eye cream and injested medicine from the vet. I am glad things seem to be healing fine for him, but this is certainly a good reminder to pay attention to the interactions of your animals and make sure you are only putting these typically solitary creatures together if you need to and if you do it in a way to mind the health and safety of the animals.

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