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Smallest Animal You Ever Worked On?

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Dr Amsel with fat-tailed Gecko

What is the smallest animal you ever worked on?

The smallest animal I ever worked on was an African fat-tailed gecko. I got a call from his keeper that he had stopped eating. When wild animals go “off their feed,” the keepers call the vet. The gecko was about 4 inches long, with huge eyes, a fat tail and a bellyache. I felt is belly. There was something hard in there. They had been feeding him crickets, which were too big. One had gotten caught somewhere in his digestive tract. He was so small I had to make an anesthesia mask out of a straw and some scotch tape. I used the smallest scalpel I could find. When I opened him up his intestine was tiny, like a strand of spaghetti. Something large and hard bulged inside. The tricky part was to cut through that tiny intestine and still sew it back up again so carefully that food could pass though. I made tiny, little stitches. I warned everyone that small lizards often don’t survive anesthesia, so not to expect too much. But in the end he did fine. In the next zoo newsletter I had the nickname, Lizard, gizzard, wizard.



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< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.