Last Updated: 2/24/08
My Lizard and Her Setup
Einstein's 67 Eggs and Her Leg Waving
Einstein's Egg Binding and Vet Visit
Pictures of My Sailfin Lizard
Sad note: Einstein died on 2/5/08.
My Sailfin Lizard
Einy's Species, Age, and Buying Einy:
Einstein was my Sailfin Lizard or Dragon. Einy's scientific name was Hydrosaurus pustulatus. My mother bought her on 10/31/93 at about 2-4 months old. Within a month, I took over all of her care. The pet store told my mother that Einy was a male captive-bred Weber's sailfin lizard (Hydrosaurus weberi). Since I know Einy was a female Philippines' sailfin dragon (Hydrosaurus pustulatus), the store may also have been wrong about her being captive bred since most sailfins are taken from the wild. The store worker also told my mother that Einy could live in a 20 gallon tank for her whole life (perhaps he meant 2000 gallon?).
Due to enlarged femoral pores, two lumps on either side of her rectum, blue on her neck adornments, and a small sailfin along her tail, we believed her to be male. A few lizard breeders informed me than in fact, Einy was female. This was based on her photos. I finally got to see a color photo of a male Hydrosaurus pustulatus in the May 1998 issue of Reptiles magazine. It looked like Einy who had a sailfin and blue coloration on her head. In fact, after Einy laid on egg on 8/29/99, there was no doubt that Einstein was a female Hydrosaurus pustulatus. Later, I was shown a photo of the head of a male Philippine sailfin lizard. There was more blue than Einy had.
As of July, 1998, Einy's body length was about 10 inches and tail length about 17 inches for a total length of about 2.5 feet. She had a tummy about 3.5 inches wide alone and about 7 to 8 inches wide with her feet included. I tried to measure Einy on 1/28/06 but she was not very cooperative. Her head was about 2", her body 8" (for a total body of 10", the same as above), and her tail a few feet. Her total length was hard to tell since she will not put her tail out straight but it was about almost 3 feet. She really had not grown much then in 8 years! Her final measurements after death are on the bottom of this page.
Einy lived in a 120 gallon fish tank. It is 4 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet deep. She moved in there on 11/21/98 after living in a 40 gallon breeder tank for many years (the turtle now has that tank but will soon move into the 120 gallon tank since Einy's death). I finally bought the 120 gallon tank which I received on 11/10/98 since she was cramped in the 40 gallon. Her tank had carpeting on the bottom. The back and sides are covered in photographed outdoor scenes with rocks and plants and cardboard on the outside of that to retain heat and light. She had a hot rock with a piece of slate on top, an undertank heater, and a combination light with 5 bulbs. This included a fluorescent strip light with a Reptisun 5.0 UVB bulb of 40 W. Another fixture holds two 100 W white light incandescent heat bulbs and another holds two 75 W night lights. An aquarium wave timer turns day and night lights on and off at around 6 am and 6 pm. [The turtle will be using those same lighting systems once he goes in there.]
Ideally, Einy would have had an even larger tank. Most books recommend a tank of about 5 feet by 3 feet by as high as you can have. I did not get her a larger tank because I could not find one already made (glass or plastic or wood or net or anything) nor could I find someone willing to make her a tank (except for one guy who said I would have to pick it up, over 300 miles away; besides that tank was also 120 gallons but custom cut through the glass for wires). I did not have the skills to build one myself. An all glass tank worked better for her anyway than one made of wood and poultry netting because, in the winter in our house, it gets cold and very dry. The glass holds in the warmer, moister air better. Of course, even if someone had been willing to make Einy a large cage, there was still the issues of space (all walls on the bottom floor of the house are blocked by furniture, fish tanks, and windows) and money (her last setup cost almost $500). I also live with my parents who do not live for the animals like me. If I had control of the house, I would just close the door to one of the rooms and give Einy the whole room! I could just imagine water pouring through the ceiling below as she splashed about her 500 gallon indoor pond! Anyway, Einy had enough room to jump, turn, swim (a few inches anyway), and run (a few feet) in the 120 gallon. That was better than the thousands of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish that people keep that cannot do those things in way-too-small cages.
Einy had a 17.5" x 17.5" x 7.75" deep plastic storage drawer of water for drinking, bathing, defecating, and swimming. I kept the water an inch below the top to minimize splashing Above it, there used to be a mini dripper (I stopped using it around 2000?). The water was filtered by a Duetto DJ 100 which worked pretty well. I only needed to remove feces daily with a turkey baster, change water once a week, and clean the filter every week. The filter material was changed totally every three weeks. A steel, plastic coated, bent, runged shelf served as a ladder out of the water. I bought a new one every few years as it rusted.
She also used to have one small hanging plastic red plant, a large hanging silk vine, and a white flowering plastic plant stuck in some lava rock until she decided to start eating those. She still (to the end) had four small round rocks, a toy plastic dinosaur with a sailfin, a food dish meant for turtles, a large piece of driftwood (out of the tank for now), a medium fake plastic driftwood, a huge log house (half a stump), a real grape vine, and loose crickets with babies hopping all over. On 1/28/06, I put in another steel, plastic coated, bent, runged shelf as a shelf for her to sit on and a way to get into the pool.
Einstein went to the vet for egg binding in 2006 (see below). See also went to the vet on 7/17/06 for mouth rot. She often had her mouth open. It looked irritated, gray, and sometimes bled. The vet said it was the ideal time for treatment for that (whatever that means). For a week, she was on 0.2 mL twice a day of 10 mg/mL Baytril (enrofloxacin antibiotic). She was 2.1 pounds.
Einstein's 67 Eggs and Her Leg Waving
I noticed that beginning sometime around 1999, Einy began waving her arms at me and bobbing her head. These are all common behaviors of iguanas but I did not know that sailfins behaved in the same manner. These behaviors made me believe that Einy could indeed be a male. That all changed when she laid an egg. I caught her waving at her reflection in the tank glass a lot. Maybe she thought her beau was waving back! Maybe that is why she laid an egg? Eventually, she would bob her head if I bobbed mine.
On 8/29/99, as I approached Einy's cage for her daily feeding and maintenance, I saw what looked to be a caterpillar's cocoon near her hot rock. Then it hit me, "It's an EGG!!" Einy's egg was white, about 2 inches long, about 0.75 inches wide, and with a small hole leaking yellow yolk out of it. It was otherwise intact and well formed. It sort of had a fuzziness (not fungus) to the outside of the shell. Einy had not been eating well for a few months before this. I guess she was egg bound. After a few days in a glass jar, the yellow leaking yolk turned a bright green.
On 7/4/00, I found another egg. This one was in two pieces with a third of it missing. The shell was extremely thin. It was mostly yolk. This time I did not notice a marked change in her behavior either before of after the laying. She continued to wave at me and her reflection.
After this egg was laid, Einy went into a five week partial fast where she would not eat for over a week and then just eat for a day. I could feel an egg stuck in her cloaca. Well, on 8/14/00, I found not one but three eggs! No wonder she was egg bound! I could feel at least one more in there as well! (I never found another then though).
On 6/2/01, Einstein laid two more eggs after eating very little for the previous few months. Afterwards, she pigged out! Here is a photo of these two eggs on 6/3/01 with a cm ruler to compare their size. She laid yet another egg on 6/11/01.
I was surprised to come home on 8/20/01 to find that Einy had laid three more eggs! She was an egg machine. They would not hatch even if she bred because the yolks bled through the shell. She should be getting plenty of calcium. If the eggs were harder, they would not fit. For her size and the size of her cloaca, the eggs were humongous!!
Einy laid four eggs on 5/1/02. They were mostly yellow with little white on the outside so even if she had a mate, those eggs would not be viable. Einy laid two eggs on 7/11/02. Einy laid three eggs on 9/8/02. One egg was broken, and the remaining pieces came out a few days later along with a large meal of undigested carrots, grapes, kale, cucumber, and apple. I had to change her water!
Einy had not eaten for weeks so that on 5/26/03, she laid one egg. After another day, she started eating even though I would think there are more eggs in there! She laid another egg on 6/1/03 and another on 6/21/03. Another appeared on 6/28/03.
Einy stopped eating in March and April 2004 so I knew she had eggs in her. But when she popped out 5 of them on 4/27/04, I was surprised! Four was the most she laid at once before. Einy laid one egg on 7/11/04.
On 2/12/05, Einy laid four eggs. She had not eaten much of anything for the previous few months. On 5/9/05, she laid two eggs. On 7/10/05, she laid four eggs.
Einy was egg bound and did not eat for four months until she finally laid four eggs on 3/25/06. See the story below. Even after that, she barely ate and lost most of her muscle and fat. Finally, on 5/27/06, she popped out 5 more eggs! She had started to eat so hopefully she would get over her anorexia.
Einstein laid four surprise eggs on 8/9/06. This was a record year! Einy laid three surprise eggs on 11/19/06 again!
Einy did not lay again until 7/20/07 when she put out four eggs. One seemed okay, one was a miniature egg (half size!), one was bent, and one was broken. Einy laid three eggs on 9/14/07. Einy laid four eggs on 11/26/07.
So, she laid one egg in 1999, 4 eggs in 2000, 6 eggs in 2001, 9 eggs in 2002, 4 eggs in 2003, 6 eggs in 2004, 10 eggs in 2005, 16 eggs in 2006, and 11 eggs in 2007. She was six years old when she laid her first egg.
I have a few questions for any sailfin experts who may read this. A breeder finally replied to
these questions on 1/10/02 and his answers are in parenthesis after the questions. He said pretty
much what I thought. I left the questions and answers to help others.:
1. Is it common for solitary female sailfins to lay eggs? ("Yes, most hydrosaurus will lay infertile eggs without a male, usually very small clutches a few times a year.")
2. Do I need to worry about her becoming egg bound? She was for over a month. ("It is possible for them to become egg bound especially with fertile eggs. Infertile eggs still possible, but I believe they know they are infertile and will usually lay in silly places without too much hassle.")
3. Is her laying an egg a positive or negative sign about her health and my care of her? ("Usually any aspect of reproduction in captive specimens is a good healthy sign, maybe not for humans, but I would say for reptiles definitely.")
4. Will she continue to lay eggs? ("She most likely will, maybe twice a year. Keep records!")
5. Female Eastern wild turkeys are able to lay eggs without having mated, and these eggs may rarely hatch to produce clones of their mother. Can any reptile do this? Should I then try to hatch her eggs? ("Parthenogenesis has been documented in several lizard species, but I believe no such happening with hydros, I usually toss them as I find them, but luckily most of mine are paired up.")
6. Do you know of anyone with a male Hydrosaurus pustulatus near Baltimore, Maryland who might like to breed with Einy? ("Finding pustulatus is now a near impossible task as the Philippines haven't shipped in more than 6 yrs and probably will never again, and most captive ones have croaked by now....")
As you can read above, normally when Einy's egg laden, she will partially fast for 3 to 8 weeks. By early May, 2006, she had been eating maybe 5% her normal intake for some 3 months. Einy was not making black feces at all anymore, just the occasional white excretion (equal to urine in mammals). Einy was not swimming in her pond any more either. Normally when resting but awake, she would be alert with her head up. Now, she had her head down even in the middle of the day. She was egg bound. I took her to the vet on 3/2/06 which was her first vet visit. In her healthy state, she would have flipped out the entire time. Because she was weak, she only flipped a little and let them examine her and do what they needed to do without sedation. I told the vet she was egg bound but she did not believe me until the x-ray showed at least 6 eggs in there. Interestingly, they appeared circular whereas when laid, her eggs are oblong. I wonder if that just occurs when laid. Anyway, the vet gave her a calcium gluconate shot followed by a oxytocin shot about 15 minutes later. This was supposed to contract her reproductive tract and initiate "birth" of the eggs within a few hours. Per her suggestion, when I got home, I soaked Einy in warm water for about 40 minutes by putting mesh lids over the laundry tub. By morning, no eggs had yet to appear. She said sometimes they need two shots but that 80% of the time, the shots get the eggs out. The other 20% of the time, surgery is required. Other comments made by the vet and assistant were that "oh, she's pretty" and her mouth has a little rub damage (which I could not see). No one there had ever seen her species but the vet had treated iguanas before for egg binding.
On 3/4/06, I took her to the vet again for a second oxytocin shot. So far, no eggs. She did finally eat some fruits and vegetables and passed some real feces which was a good sign that things may be moving inside her.
As of 3/10/06, she had still not laid any eggs. My mother would not allow her to be operated on ("it will kill her!"). So, we waited. She ate a little bit every few days, maybe a grape or so is all. I gave her warm water soaks every few days. I could feel an egg right near her cloaca. I sure hoped they would come out soon! Update 3/15/06: No eggs.
On 3/22/06 to 3/24/06, my mother put Einy in a tub with warm water and cod liver oil for about 4 hours each day. She finally agreed to see a different vet with more experience on 3/27/06 and even consider surgery. We were also going to enquire about percutaneous ovocentesis which is where they insert a needle under mild sedation and suck the yolk out of the egg nearest the exit instead of cutting her open (which the vet later said she would not do/try). I first suggested one more try with the shots on 3/24/06. The vet refused to give her a Vitamin B12 shot when I had her there but I knew my mother was more persuasive. The vet saw Einy at 2 pm after half an hour of waiting while I was at work. She got another calcium shot, oxytocin shot, and a Vitamin B12 shot. That night and the next morning, she started scratching around. Around 1 pm on 3/25/06, I glanced in her cage, and there they were, four eggs. The x-ray showed at least 6 eggs but she should be able to get the rest out. She ate a cricket after I soaked her and put her back in the cage. The other vet would not get a chance to see Einy. My mother is always right. She says her cod liver oil treatment cured her. I think it was the repeat of the shots. If I had done the surgery a month ago, she could have easily died. How Einy could go 4 months without eating much of anything is a mystery but she did! I weighed the eggs. Three were 13 g and one was 12 g. Here is a photo of her four eggs.
Einy ate well for a while but then stopped. I was worried she would not be able to defecate with the remaining eggs in the way but she produced a good amount of that smelly stuff on 3/34/06. On 5/27/06, she finally got out 5 more eggs so hopefully she was empty and will really eat now. She did and lived another year and a half.
Note: All pictures before 11/21/98 are in her old 40 gallon tank. Pictures are listed from oldest to newest.
Here is Einstein on October 1, 1996.
Einstein on 7/11/98. You can see Einy's sailfin or tail crest which was about 3/4 of an inch high.
Einy's cage in entirety, 7/11/98. The tank was 3 feet long. You cannot see Einy's tail but you can see her body in relation to the tank.
Top view of Einy on 7/18/98. Notice how blue the back of Einy's neck was.
Einy in the 40 gallon tank on 10/25/98. Her neck again was very blue.
120 gallon tank with Einy in the middle (hard to see), 11/22/98.
Einy in her new water tub in her new 120 gallon tank, 11/29/98.
Einstein on 10/2/99.
Einstein on 6/3/01, facing forward; I love this photo!
Two of Einstein's eggs on 6/3/01. A cm ruler was used to determine size.
Einstein on 11/18/01.
Einstein on 7/12/03. You can see her sail.
Einstein's tank on 1/25/04 with my cat Gino on top. You can see Einy in the back right of the tank.
Einy's head on 5/5/04.
Einy's head that was shedding a big piece of skin on 8/29/04.
Einstein on 2/26/05.
Einstein on 6/14/05.
Einstein on 10/1/05. You cannot see her head well but I was taking a photo of her back abdomen because she was shedding the largest batch of skin I had ever seen at one time.
Einy and her tank on 1/28/06. She was hiding in the log. This is just before I replaced her Sterilite storage drawer pond with a new one since it was cracking.
Einstein on 2/25/06. She was full of eggs here.
Four of Einy's eggs on 3/25/06. A ruler shows the scale.
Einstein on 5/6/06. The white things are not on her but on the glass.
Einstein on 10/21/06. She has some nice blue in this photo. You can see where she had lost a lot of her front toes.
Einy on 12/30/06.
Einy on 3/17/07.
Einy on 5/12/07. I took the photo because she was shedding a lot.
Einy on 12/29/07. Look at that strong blue color on her chin and back spikes!
Einy on 1/13/08. This is the last photo of Einstein when she was alive. She died 2/5/08.
There are five photos below taken after she died.
When I went to feed Einstein her crickets and king mealworms around 6:50 am on 2/5/08, something was wrong. Her mouth was partially agape. She seemed "wrong." I turned on her light. I thought she might be dead (which creeped me out and scared me) but I did touch her. She moved ever so slightly. She was alive but not for long. I put her on the hot rock but that did not help. Within the hour sometime, she died. I was in shock. She had not been eating a lot of food but also certainly had not been fasting lately. I guess she had been a little less active. I unplugged the power to the 120 gallon tank and went to work. We buried her when I got home. Before we did that, I took photos and measurements.
These are approximate measurements. Her total length was 34.5 inches. Her head length was 3 inches. Her head width was 2 inches. Her tail length was 2 feet and 3/4 of an inch. I forgot to measure her body but it would be 6.75 inches by process of elimation. Her weight (although her tail was not on the scale) was 889 grams (about two pounds which makes sense as she was 2.1 pounds on 7/17/06 according to information earlier on this page). She never really lost weight. She may have had an egg or two near her cloaca but I mostly felt her pelvis down there so I doubt she was egg bound (which certainly never harmed her in the long run before anyway). She had a little mouth rot but it was not too bad. I think she just died from organ failure. She would have been 15 years old this spring.
These are photos taken after her death. If you are squeamish about such things, please do not
open the photos.
Left side view - her tail was shedding
Left side view from the front
Close-up of her head from the last photo showing her teeth and minor mouth rot
Top view - most of her body; you can see the front toes she has lost over the years
Close-up of the last photo showing her third eye on the top of her head
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