avian excellence

Demoiselle cranes (Anthropoides virgo) are avian migrants par excellence. The smallest crane in the world, standing at a mere 76 cm (30 inches), the demoiselle still achieves the most goliath task in the avian world every year. In August and September, tens of thousands of the birds take wing to avoid the icy winters of Central Asia, passing over the Himalayas on their way to the warmer climes of India. The way is arduous, with intense attrition rates from inclement weather and predation by eagles. All the same, they are resilient fliers, capable of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles without needing to land or to eat, and most of the birds surmount this monumental obstacle for years on end.

While some western populations winter in northern Africa instead, it is in India that the demoiselle is best known. In fact, the people of Rajasthan, who call the demoiselle the koonj, revere the crane for its historic place in Indian literature and mythology. Demoiselles typically mate for life in monogamous pairs, and care for hatchlings for about two months until they fledge. Unlike most cranes, the demoiselle is not a bird of the wetlands, instead preferring upland regions, where it feeds upon a wide array of both plant and animal matter.

Photo: by Sumeet Moghe (at Wikimedia Commons), at Tal Chappar, Churu, Rajasthan, 1 February 2014.

scarletboom  asked:

Hey bluebell, what's crypto?

I’m gonna answer this publicly because I have three other asks asking about the same thing. 

Crypto is short for cryptospiridiosis and it’s one of the deadliest diseases found in reptiles.  It’s caused by a unicellular parasite called Cryptosporidium varanii (also know in older references as Cryptosporidium saurophilum).  It’s highly contagious by contact and is disturbingly common in gecko farms.  It can infect almost ANY reptile; even snakes have their own strain of crypto. 

What happens is the parasite infects the lining of the intestine, preventing the absorption of nutrients. Essentially, the gecko starves to death, no matter how much it eats. 

Geckos infected with crypto lose weight quickly, and start to show a symptom called ‘stick-tail’.  This is when the tail is super skinny and basically looks like a stick.

Here’s the general progression of symptoms:

  • anorexia, loss of interest in food
  • loss of muscle mass in the legs, especially the hind legs
  • regurgitation of food and undigested skin shed masses
  • change in consistency of feces, florid diarrhea, ‘cottage cheesy’ stools
  • weight loss, wasting away, thin tail
  • enlarged, darkened liver (hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver)
  • lethargy
  • death

This parasite can’t be detected with the usual fecal smears/floats.  TBH, until fairly recently, the only way to detect it was via necropsy.  Now we have a few tests that can find it. 

Tests available:

An acid-fast stain test (ASF) uses a chemical called ‘carbol-fuchsin’ with the feces of the infected animal.  It binds to a compound in the cell walls of the oocytes (eggs) of the parasite.  It dyes them bright red so they’re easily seen under 100x microscope.  This test won’t work if the parasite isn’t in the reproductive phase and should be redone later.

Merifluor Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA) Test: this is MUCH more accurate.  It uses blood, saliva, or another bodily fluid.  I’m less familiar with this test personally.  Long story short, a chemical will cause a color change under the right wave length in an infected sample.

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) Test: this is the one i always advise since it’s the most accurate. This test uses an enzyme or an antigen to test the immune response. 

There’s NO CURE for crypto.  It’s 100% deadly eventually.  It may go into remission, but the animal should be considered highly infectious.  Humane euthanasia is advised.  I’ve seen and heard of entire collections wiped out by this disease, which is why quarantine is SO IMPORTANT.  I quarantine my lizards for about three months before bringing them into the lizard room.  If they came from unreliable or unknown breeders, I quarantined for longer.

Avian Biotech provides an excellent mail-in service for testing for about 25 dollars.  I’m pretty sure they use either the ELISA or the IFA test.