One my of babies won't stop eating his own tail

So I have kept two babies from my furcifer virdis clutch. One is super mellow, nothing bothers them.
The other is a mean little shit, who is constantly in his fired up colors and is just mad at the world.
I've taken him to an exotic vet and they say he seems to be fine and shows no real sign of illness or pain, and I agree.
However he will not stop eating his own tail! I've gotten to the point I'm trying to wrap it because he has eaten half of it already.
He is fed a variety of prey daily, has a bioactive enclosure, and gets water every day. I thought at first it was his siblings, so I removed him from the enclosure and in to his own at 5 weeks old. And now, I'm watching him go to town to tear off yet another chunk despite me trying to get him to leave it be.

Any ideas what his deal is? Or what I can do to help?
 

javadi

Avid Member
Can you provide pictures? There is some evidence that they will target their tails and other body parts when shedding, and sometimes it can get out of hand. How much has been damaged? I'd be interested in seeing the region of the tail close up. Does he attempt to swallow it?
 

Jpeff

Chameleon Enthusiast
Gel hand sanitizer keeps snakes from eating their own tails. You could blob some on his tail and let it dry. It would act like sort of a lizard version of bitter apple.
Don't knw about hand sanitizer. That another reddit forum and we knw how those are
 
Can you provide pictures? There is some evidence that they will target their tails and other body parts when shedding, and sometimes it can get out of hand. How much has been damaged? I'd be interested in seeing the region of the tail close up. Does he attempt to swallow it?
Yeah I'll get pics when I get home.
And yes. What he does is he'll go about a week or so and let the wound heal, then out of no where, he just sees his tail as food and will comp at it, break it, break the skin, rip off the broken tip, and ingest it. So far, he's eaten a third, nearly half of his tail so far.

He eats his food and I provide 51 small crickets every three days, plus newborn house flies. Last week he also got baby mantids. So he eats well.
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
wonder if he has a bone infection or skin infection, and it just hurts. You wouldnt think an animal would be dumb enough to eat itself...

But then again you constantly see snakes swallowing half of themselves...
 

Jpeff

Chameleon Enthusiast
Most snakes are inbred especially pythos. The harder to get color morphs of snake are really inbred. Why alot of morph have hard time and so many birth defects. Knw alot of breeders been going to show since I was a kid. So a snake eating self is no shock at all.
 

JacksJill

Website Manager
Staff member
Cauda equina is an inflammation of the nerves of the tail. Long tailed dogs that stand in kennels get it when an infection or irritant enters the tail through wounds on the end from wagging. His sibling could have started it but now with out treatment he will try to finish it.
 
Can you provide pictures? There is some evidence that they will target their tails and other body parts when shedding, and sometimes it can get out of hand. How much has been damaged? I'd be interested in seeing the region of the tail close up. Does he attempt to swallow it?
This is Aegon
 

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Can you provide pictures? There is some evidence that they will target their tails and other body parts when shedding, and sometimes it can get out of hand. How much has been damaged? I'd be interested in seeing the region of the tail close up. Does he attempt to swallow it?
It's dark from the bruising. And I'm assuming dead tissue at this point. The bit he took off last night has scabbed over pretty good.
 

javadi

Avid Member
It's dark from the bruising. And I'm assuming dead tissue at this point. The bit he took off last night has scabbed over pretty good.
Very odd. However there's more of his tail left than I was expecting.

The good news is that as long as it doesn't get infected, he should be fine as far as overall reproductive ability and activity. I have had baby chameleons where I had to amputate almost the entire tail, and they grew up fine and without issues. This is surprising since chameleons use their tails so much but from my experience it works out OK. If he keeps doing this regardless of your efforts, and the tail gets bitten down to even shorter, chances are he simply won't be able to reach it anymore and he will just have a stub tail for the rest of his life. Then the problem will resolve that way.

One could try the approaches above to see if that helps (hand sanitizer). You could also apply neosporin to it, which is generally considered safe in reptiles, to keep it from getting infected, while also acting as a deterrent to biting. Personally, if it were me, I would watch the tail carefully and just make sure it's not showing signs of infection. Then I'd let him keep doing it so the problem resolves itself that way, and he will either stop or won't be able to reach it anymore. Alternatively, I might just amputate the abnormal, damaged regions of the tail as needed if infection was apparent. Or, have a vet do it (probably the better approach).

Now onto some more speculation with limited evidence behind it in reptiles. Pica is a condition wherein humans eat bizarre things like iron, paint, etc. and this is suggestive of a nutrient deficiency. You could modify your supplement regimen (increase the usage) and see if that does anything. Just a blatantly speculative idea but interventions like this can work in humans with a similar condition. Might be worth trying.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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