Alex Roars Again After Tumour Trauma

This article was first published in The Warrnambool Standard (Fairfax Media) on July 16 2014

GAME of Thrones’ Westeros might need to watch out for dragons, but Warrnambool has nothing to fear from its own much friendlier reptile, Alex the bearded dragon. 

The 10-year-old family pet has a new lease on life after undergoing rare and challenging surgery at the Warrnambool Veterinary Clinic to remove a soft tissue tumour near his hind legs.

Surgeon Dr Katy Davis said it was a new experience for the clinic.

“I’ve performed surgery on cats, dogs, cows and even a snake but this was a first for a bearded dragon,” Dr Davis said.

“There aren’t many around this area.”

As a result, the surgery posed a few issues, including Alex’s tough reptile skin and slow metabolism.

“He was connected to the gas the same as cats and dogs, but was difficult to monitor because of his slower metabolism with his heart only beating every one or two minutes. We also didn’t have any endo-tracheal tubes small enough to go down his throat, so we made one from a 16 gauge catheter that is normally used for a cow’s vein,” Dr Davis said.

“Reptilian skin is also challenging because there is not as much stretch as cats and dogs.”

The successful operation took about two hours and Alex was able to go home the same night.

Alex’s owners wish to remain anonymous but are grateful to the clinic for the successful operation.

“We haven’t seen him so bright and active for a long time,” his owner said.