On September 1, an adult female Common Five-lined Skink was admitted to the Wildlife Center after she was attacked by a free-roaming cat in Albemarle County. Skink #16-1998 was bright and alert during the physical examination, but had multiple severe lacerations and puncture wounds across her body.
Veterinary intern Dr. Peach sedated the small patient so the wounds could be properly flushed, cleaned, and treated with topical medication. The skink's tail was badly injured, and Dr. Peach was prepared to amputate the injured appendage. However, surgical amputation was not necessary; Dr. Peach said, "The skink decided to take care of that for us." The lizard's tail fell off! There was no cause for alarm, as losing their tail is a natural defense mechanism for skinks. If attacked, a skink's tail may detach from the body and continue to twitch in an attempt to distract and lure the predator towards the tail as the skink escapes to safety. The tail may grow back later.
Dr. Peach started the skink on a course of antibiotics to prevent infection after being in a cat's mouth. Skinks are difficult to care for in captivity; because of their small size (#16-1998 weighs only 6.6 grams!) and propensity to move quickly through even the tightest spaces, the patient is kept in a special tank in the Reptile Room of the Center's hospital.
Each day, the rehabilitation staff offers the lizard several mealworms and beetles for her meal. Dr. Peach reports that the skink is healing well and has gained weight since admission, though her appetite has not be strong. The vet staff will continue to monitor her wounds, appetite, and attitude.
The lizard will need several more weeks of antibiotics before she can be cleared for release; in Virginia, reptiles need to be released before October 1 to prepare for winter hibernation. Dr. Peach is hopeful that the skink will be healed in time to meet this deadline.
Your special donation will help the Center to provide care to this unusual patient ... and to the 2,500 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals the Center will treat this year.