Hey friends. I’m sad to announce that on Sunday Aug 28 my Monkey Tail Skink Beyonce passed away. I’m going to tell her story here because I need to get it out of my head.
This post will discuss medical issues, death, and bodies. Please don’t read if that will upset you.
I purchased Beyonce in July of 2021. She was sold as a pregnant female, vouched for by friends who knew MTS better than I do. She arrived bright eyed and immediate started winning over everyone who met her. Outgoing and gentle. She would be anyone’s friend for a pothos leaf.
I knew something wasn’t right though. First off she seemed to be rather skinny. I thought, ok, maybe the baby is taking all her reserves, just gotta bulk her up. The seller agreed and had been trying as well. And it did seem to be working, she started gaining some weight, though not much.
Not long afterwards I brought home a family unit of 4 more MTS. Not as friendly as Beyonce, but awesome animals, and maybe I could add Beyonce to the family in the future. Except… Beyonce looked a lot more like the male than the other female MTS. Suspicious. We were joking about changing Beyonce’s name to Elton, but I still didn’t trust my sexing abilities, so we stuck with Beyonce (and I continued to hope she’d start showing a baby belly any day).
Of course she never did have a baby. Instead she continued to struggle to hold her weight over the winter, and come spring she crashed (as in one day she was climbing around acting like herself, the next day I just found her looking like a living mummy, curled up on the ground. Yet somehow still alive. We rushed to the vet, couldn’t find an obvious issue aside from extreme dehydration/anemia, so we treated with a broad dewormer, antibiotic, and with fluid therapy. We also took a blood sample, but it would be days to get the results there. I think she weighed something like 220g that day – she looked insanely bad. We didn’t have much hope.
The next day she was holding on, but there was no fight to her.
The vet called the day after and I got to report something amazing – Beyonce was suddenly bright eyed, active, and her old self. Pictures were sent. Weight was taken. She’d doubled her weight in 2 days. Something was working.
The blood results came back. They found a single blood parasite in the sample, but they couldn’t really tell much about it. We decided to continue the current meds and then test again to see if the parasite would still show.
We maintained the fluid therapy for a while longer, though it got much harder to do once she was fighting back each treatment. She was however drinking and eating willingly again, so we started trying to reduce the frequency of fluid treatments. And then she crashed again. Back to daily treatments, but now we’re wondering why she’s not staying hydrated despite eating veggies and drinking water. With the treatments (fluids injected under the skin) she was solid. Stop it and she’d crash, though less of a crash each time.
At this time my personal life took over due to a health scare with my fiance. Beyonce was stable, but I failed to complete the course of the dewormer or antibiotic, and I didn’t get her back in for the re-check when intended.
Once my personal life stabilized, I got in touch with the vet again. We went for a re-check and to start the forgotten meds over again (it’s not good to stop meds part way). I can’t recall if it was that visit or the follow-up, but we did another blood test too.
This test came back with extreme anemia. As in the blood was basically water there was so few blood cells. The vet wasn’t sure if this was a contaminated sample (it happens sometimes) or a legit issue – remember that Beyonce is all bright and alert at this time, she doesn’t seem anemic at all. I can’t recall for sure, but I think we saw signs of the blood parasite again too.
We made plans. I was saving up to have blood tests done on all my monkey tails – Beyonce to recheck, and the others to compare the results against (there’s not much info out there on MTS health unfortunately). And my vet was making plans to try an experimental treatment for the blood parasite (it had been tried in turtles before, but not lizards).
Sadly, last week Beyonce seemed a bit slow and grumpy, which was unusual. And then on Sunday I found her dead. I’d been out Saturday evening, and found her Sunday mid-day. I’m not sure how long she’d been gone for, but her body was… unusual. Very sunken in a way I’ve not seen before.
On Monday I talked to my vet, and we decided to have a partial necropsy done. We weren’t really looking for the cause, and there’s probably nothing we could really get useful samples of now, but maybe we’d learn something. Who knows, maybe something from Beyonce’s life and death can help other skinks in the future.
Today I picked up Beyonce’s remains. My friend Steve will be helping me skeletize them, for use as an educational display. I’m also going to skeletize Pooch and some other animals I’ve been holding onto the remains of.
Oh, and the necropsy confirmed Beyonce should have been Elton. My “pregnant female” was a sick male who never really had a chance. I wish so many things could have gone differently, but I’m also so thankful for the time we had. I know he touched a lot of lives in his short time with ME, mine especially.
RIP Beyonce. You are missed.