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Sick caecilian--Any advice?

Phrog

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I've had a group of four terrestrial caecilians (sold to me as "blue cameroon caecilians," but I haven't been able to confirm that) for about 7 months now with no problems. Tonight, I had one on the top of the substrate--probably the only time I've seen one surface--and it is not looking well. It is a bit lethargic and is discolored (with a red hue to it) and also has a couple of lumps along its body. The lumps are fairly firm and noticeable. One is near near the head, may 10% of the way down its body, the other about in the middle. I have him quarantined for now soaking in water with just enough moss for him to hide in a little. I dug up the other three and they looked very healthy (actually, they had put some length and weight on since last time I dug them up). Tomorrow they will all get new substrate just to be safe. Any idea on what this could be? And more importantly, what can I do to save the sick one?

Awesome pets, but normally best left alone for the most part--unfortunately this means I couldn't catch this sooner. Please post any idea you may have. There's not a lot of people I can turn to with caecilian help so hopefully someone here has an idea. I can email pictures if that can help with a diagnosis.
 

Phrog

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Update: He didn't make it through the night, so I guess the only thing I can do is change the substrate for the others and hope for the best with them. Still, if anyone has any ideas at all, I could use the information to help avoid this in the future.
 

Mortimer

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I'm sorry about your little guy.

I don't know how to answer your question (my knowledge is limited and mostly about axolotls), but I was wondering if you took any pictures of the one who was sick (a picture that shows the discoloration and bumps)? I'm thinking that that would be helpful for others when they see your post.

Others typically ask these questions, too: What kind of substrate are you using? What's the temperature like? What do you feed them?
 

Phrog

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Thanks--never fun to lose a pet.

I got a couple of pics, but can't figure out how to upload them. I see the "insert image" button, but it makes me give a URL. How do I pick one from my computer?

As for general housekeeping: my substrate of choice is just a mixture of several common substrates. Mostly sphagnum and some ground coconut. I also mixed in some litter from outside (taken from an area with no pesticides or other amphibs present, always fearing chytrid) and threw it in the mix. Some pea gravel at the bottom of the tank helps with drainage. I keep the humidity up, but just by adding water relatively often as the humidity of the tank above-ground doesn't really affect them. I keep the tank in a room with an ambient temp of around 75F. They get fed red wrigglers or small night crawlers about once a week, which is about how long it takes mine to find them all. I've heard of people feeding them other stuff, but worms have been tried and true for me so I stick with them. I change their substrate ~1-2 months, or whenever I'm feeling ambitious, which is normally the only time I see them. Keep an eye on the substrate a little, making sure nothing starts to rot. I know more elaborate setups can be done with standing water for them to swim in, but I've tried this and I feel they benefit more with extra burrowing space, than having a good chunk of the tank being occupied by a built-in pool.

By no means am I an expert of housing caecilians, but I've kept a lot of different amphibs over the years, and have had caecilians for a few years now. This is what has worked for me.

They're really pretty pets to keep (until last night evidentially), but do not always ship well. I'm hoping to get a couple more species in from Tanzania in the next couple of weeks. I can post more pictures then if you're interested.
 

Mortimer

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It's easy to upload pictures from your phone....on the computer, I think that there is an attachment icon (paperclip) that you use to upload them.

And please post the pictures of your new little ones when they arrive! :)
 

TylototritonGuy

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Mostly sphagnum and some ground coconut.

The key word that sticks out to me is the use of Sphagnum moss, which is known to cause problems with most amphibians (mainly Caudata) when it decays. Here is an extract from an article from Caudata Culture:

Sphagnum peat moss is generally not a recommended substrate for captive caudates. Decaying sphagnum moss has antibacterial and antifungal characteristics that can be desirable in vivaria; however these advantages come at the cost of potentially-dangerous low pH. While some keepers have used peat moss with success, it is important to note that there is batch-to-batch variability in the pH of peat, and there is also wide variation in particular species' tolerance for low-pH environments. Thus, as a general rule, this is a substrate to avoid. See below for more information on pH effects and testing.

"Long Thread" sphagnum moss is used frequently, but should be carefully tested for pH prior to use (see below). It appears that the source of the sphagnum affects how acidic it is. Terrestrial sphagnum seems to have low pH problems, while arboreal sphagnum, the type that grows on tree bark, appears to be less of an issue. When used as the sole substrate, health issues are most often encountered when the sphagnum is kept saturated for long periods of time or exposed to standing water.

I am not overly sure if Caecilians are a species that can tolerate it more or not though as my knowledge is very limited on the Gymnophiona order but it could of been something to do with the Sphagnum moss used.

I hope this helps a small amount, really sorry to hear it passed on! :(
 
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    @axolotl nerd, where can I find waterdogs or tiger salamanders my son has wanted one for a long time and I've been searching high and low with no luck
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    Axolotls are amazing until they get sick and then they’re a pain in the backside to treat - I recently lost two axolotls due to unknown causes
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    i highly recommend “buyanaxolotl.com”- ive purchased from them and received a beautiful animal for relatively cheap, in great condition, and excellent shipping precautions. the breeders are a couple living in georgia (i believe, don’t quite remember) and they’re fantastic. sometimes their website contact page doesn’t work, so i’d probably try just emailing them. good luck and happy hunting!
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