Pet of the Day

April 27, 2003

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Leo, the Pet of the Day
Name: Leo
Age: Unknown
Gender: Female
Kind: Leopard Gecko
Home: Wisconsin, USA
   Leo's one of my rescues. She was nearly starved to death when she came to me; the vet who saw her was amazed she was alive at all. You could see every bone in her body, her skin hung on her like a crinkly sheet over bones. She is a high yellow, but was ashen gray and brown when I found her. I won't go into the details of the neglect she suffered, save to say that she was not fed for at least three months, her cage was not cleaned once in nine months, and she was in terrible shape when she came to me. Her previous owner still maintains he "took excellent care of her" and that I was overreacting in my taking of her. When the herp vet saw her, he told me not to expect her to live, even if I did feed her and care for her as she was so extremely malnourished she could barely manage to lift her head.

    The only good sign he saw was that her eyes were still bright, clear and alert. She followed every movement with her eyes, even though she couldn't move her head, and never took her eyes off of anyone. She was also very friendly despite being starved nearly to death The offer to euthanize her was given, but all she'd ever known at human hands was misery and I felt she deserved at least a chance at life... especially since leopard geckos can live for up to twenty years and she was likely barely over one year!

    So, I took her home and fed her a combination of gut-loaded crickets, wax worms, superworms, silk worms, and any other safe item for her to eat that she would eat... and boy did she eat! For the first month she was too weak to chase down prey (but refused to eat pre-killed anything) so I had to feed her from either tweezers or my fingers. She was always careful not to bite my fingers when they were used instead of the tweezers. One of the best days of her recovery was the day she flat out refused to take food from the tweezers and wanted to stalk and hunt it down on her own again. She had problems shedding for about four months after I got her, and even with a moist hidebox & mistings, had to be soaked in shallow warm water and have skin peeled off. She didn't like it, and she would squeak in protest when she went into the water, but she never once tried to bite me for doing it.

    I've had her for almost a year now, and other than her coloring not being fully back to where it should be, she's a completely different gecko. When she went in for her last checkup the vet couldn't believe she'd survived and had become so healthy again. She's got a nice fat tail, has her muscle mass back again, and is still as sweet as ever. If I put my finger out in front of her nose, she'll lick it. She doesn't do that to anyone else but me. She enjoys and even seeks out handling; if the cage door is open she'll sit at the edge and watch for me to come over and try to get onto my hand to sit on my arm any chance she gets; her cagemate Momo could take some manners lessons from her. ;)

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