Wildlife blog of Dr. Palazzolo and the Long Beach Animal Hospital | Long Beach Animal Hospital - Part 18

LBAH Informational Articles

Tegu Oral Tumor

Reptiles get tumors in numerous locations in their body. This page describes how we treated an oral tumor, called a squamous cell carcinoma, in a Tegu. Squamous cell carcinomas also occur in mammals, especially the ears of white cats that are exposed to the sun. We have a page describing this disease in a cat.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.



This is the Tegu upon presentation to our office. This growth had been present for several weeks according to the owner. In reality, it was probably growing on the inside of the mouth for a much longer period of time.


We anesthetized it (you can see the breathing tube in its windpipe) and assessed the degree of involvement. As expected it went deep into the oral cavity.


We used cautery to remove it since this location has an extensive blood supply and cautery minimizes bleeding both during and after the procedure. The appearance of the mouth is much nicer with the tumor removed.





The cancerous tissue was submitted to the pathologist for analysis. It is a squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor. Due to the aggressive nature of this tumor there is a high chance that it will recur in this spot, although usually it does not spread to the rest of the body.

This is the actual report we received from our pathologist. It is from a doctor that specializes in reading tissue samples from reptiles.

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Heart Disease

The purpose of the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) is to provide the cells of the body with oxygen, nutrition, and essential fluids. It also helps these same cells rid themselves of waste products, and distributes hormones and enzymes to allow for normal physiologic processes. It is even a big part of temperature regulation.All of this is no small feat when you consider the fact that the cardiovascular system must supply these needs to a body that contains billions of individual cells.

The cardiovascular system is very complicated and does not lend itself to a simple explanation and categorization of its functions. Therefore, the sections on physiology and pathophysiology are a little complex, but if you get through them it will help in your understanding when we talk about specific diseases along with their diagnosis and treatment. You may need to go through them more than once. You might notice that we repeat important concepts, and from different angles.

Hopefully this will help put it all together.You can bypass all the background information and go directly to specific diseases like HeartwormCardiomyopathy, and Valve disease, the most common heart diseases we encounter. We also have a summary page on Heart Disease if you find this page contains more detail than you need. It will give you background information but in a condensed format.

This page has actual pictures of the heart and the organs of the chest. Most people will not be bothered by their graphic nature, and will actually find them fascinating. The mechanisms of heart failure in the dog and cat are very similar to humanoids. The explanation of congestive heart failure applies directly to people in many cases. The main drugs used to treat heart failure are almost identical in people and animals.

Heart disease and its diagnosis is complicated stuff. We commonly call in our cardiologist Dr. Fred Brewer to assist in many cases. He specializes only in cardiology, and has extensive knowledge that he is willing to share.

Here is Dr. Brewer explaining heart sounds to one of our externs


We work on a wide variety of species that get heart disease in addition to dogs and cats. This guinea pig has heart failure.


This is the heart of a 50 pound dog. It is about the size of your fist. You can easily see some of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle in the same manner that the heart supplies blood to the rest of the body.

The pericardium has been removed for better visualization

This is a ferret heart, obviously much smaller. You can see the pericardium, the layer over the heart as it is pulled away.

Rocky Walker 21218 Ferret Gastric tumor Picture of normal pericardiumThe heart starts beating before birth, and continues until death. Think of how many beats that is in the lifetime of any living organism. Lets have fun with math and play with some basic numbers:

Average heart rate in a cat- 150 beats per minute

This is 9,000 beats in one hour

This is 216,000 beats in one day

This is 78,840,000 beats in one year

This is 788,400,000 beats in 10 years.

Many cats have a heart rate greater than 150 beats per minute, and live much longer than 10 years. They will have over a billion heart beats in their lifetimes!

Later in this page we will be referring to the right heart and left heart, which might give you the impression there are two hearts. There is only one heart- we do this only because it helps to understand the flow of blood through the heart.

Glossary of heart terminology

cardiac– pertaining to the heart aerobic– dependent on oxygen for normal physiology
arrhythmia– irregular heart beat anaerobic– not dependent on oxygen for normal physiology
murmur-abnormal flow of blood through the heart valves anemia– low number of red blood cells
atrium-two of the smaller heart chambers systole– when the heart muscle contracts and ejects blood to the arteries
ventricles– two of the larger heart chambers diastole– when the heart relaxes after systole and fills up with blood
hypertrophy-abnormally thickened heart muscle ascites- fluid buildup within the abdomen
cardiomegaly- an enlarged heart pleural effusion– fluid buildup within the thoracic cavity
pulmonary edema– fluid buildup within the lungs polycythemia- excess number of red blood cells
myocardium– the heart muscle microcardia– a small heart

We will repeat this terminology throughout this page to help you eventually get your Latin down pat. Just as it starts making sense we will add more later!

Follow the links to continue on with our heart page:

Vascular Anatomy & Physiology

Heart Anatomy & Physiology

Causes and Symptoms of Heart Disease

How We Diagnose Heart Disease

Cardiac Diseases and Treatments

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Selous 2015

Siwandu Camp

This is a luxurious camp with gourmet food and a personal chef. Its ideas for small groups, honeymooners, and special occasions

Upon arrival you are greeted by an enthusiastic and professional staff


Accommodations are excellent



You eat overlooking a lake


At the end of a morning game drive or walking tour they surprise you with breakfast in the bush


The walking tours are great with expert guides who show you all the little details you don’t see when driving in a safari vehicle

Selous2015-Guide Selous2015-Isaac

You can eat on a pontoon boat with a personal chef



This huge Baobob tree is over 2,000 years old. Poachers would hide in a hollowed out section of Baobob tree to elude the park rangers. The locals thought they were witches because they seemed to disappear out of thin air. The park rangers were not fooled and eventually caught them


The guides preparing our boat for a 4 hour lake excursion



These highly territorial and powerful animals are the cause of many human deaths in Africa. They feed on land at night, getting between them and their escape route back to the water is not advised. On the water you take a risk in a canoe as you float past their individual territories. They can bite a canoe in half.

We were in a reasonably large boat with an outboard engine and a guide that knows the lay of the land, so we were able to get close to them and get some good shots before we had to make a quick getaway. I wanted to stay until they got closer but the guide was having none of that.

The cows with calves always kept a wary eye on us. They were not the ones we had to worry about.


The bull of each group would come out to challenge us as we motored past them



They would jockey for position, submerge, and then appear somewhere near us


If we did not leave the area they would approach us partially submerged



A threat display would come next


If that did not deter us they would charge us ready to bite the boat



This is crocodile country as evidenced by the skull at the reception area


When you get out of the boat and walk around you see skulls in the sand


These crocodiles did not seem particularly aggressive, although we never got close enough to find out.








African Fish Eagles









Selous2015-FishEagle-14 Selous2015-FishEagle



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Wild dogs of Tanzania


Wild dogs are endangered with extinction in Tanzania (they number 2,000 in the whole country. They are usually found on the move, and as such can be difficult to photograph. We were lucky to catch them while they were resting. The next goal is to catch them while hunting.

As was to be expected, we first came across them while their pack was on the move


When they stopped running they did some bonding



Lucky for us they settled down for a rest








After an hour they were on the move again, this time to a waterhole for a drink





That’s the last we saw of them


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Tanzania 2015

My 8th time to Africa.  In addition to another great trip to the Serengeti we visited the Selous in Tanzania. You can see details of my 7 prior Africa trips in the Wildlife Photography section of the LBAH web site.

In the first half of the trip we went back to Lake Ndutu in the Serengeti. After the Serengeti we went to the Selous

Our next Africa trip is in 2017, this time to Botswana or Zambia. On that same trip we are thinking of going to Cape Town and cage diving with the Great Whites. You are welcome to join us, let us know in advance so we can accommodate you and your group.

Our group was one of the best  yet. Click on the picture below and see them in action in the Serengeti and the Selous.

Upon arrival


At the Serengeti entrance


Serengeti Wildlife

We saw the usual cast of characters in the Serengeti along with with plenty of predators. A few of our hundreds of good photos are on this page.

Wild Dogs

It took me 8 trips to Africa to observe Wild Dogs. What made it even more unusual is the fact we saw them twice on this trip, once in the Serengeti, and once in the Selous.



Cubs at Play

There are two separate lion pages. The first one is lions at play, especially with the cubs. The second page is a large male lion interacting with a clan of hyena

Click on the cubs below and watch  some of their behavior


Lion-Hyena Standoff

Click on the lion picture below for a standoff
 between a large male lion and a clan of hyena




They are daytime hunters, so you get plenty of opportunity to watch them in action. They can be difficult to photograph, and seem to enjoy waiting until the light is bad for photography to do their hunting.

Click on the picture below to see them hunting


Selous Wildlife

The Selous is a vast wildlife area in Southeastern Tanzania. To get there from our camp site at Lake Ndutu we had to fly back to Arusha, through Zanzibar, then Dar Es Salam, and finally onto the airstrip at Siwandu Camp. The vehicles used here are different than in the Serengeti, but the guides are still awesome.

This is our guide Niven, ready to take us from the bush airstrip to our camp


The Siwandu camp is quite luxurious


There are many waterways and our guides knew them like the back of their hands


Click on the hippo below to see our photos from the Selous


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Tanzania 2015 Guests and Guides

We made it! After 2 years of planning and lots of airplane flights we are finally on safari.


Well, almost there. We still had another 45 minute small plane flight to get us to Lake Ndutu, our final destination for the first leg of our trip.


Speaking of small planes, do you have any idea of why the pilot puts thorn bushes around this tires?


The vastness of the Serengeti is apparent from this view at the visitors center


Upon arrival at our camp in Lake Ndutu in the Serengeti we were given an orientation by Peter. He has a lovely accent along with a great sense of humor and smile.

In this first short video he is telling my guests the shower is voice controlled at the Serengeti Explorer Camp. This means ask for it and the assistants will bring hot water.

In this next short video he tells my guests not to panic (breathe slowly) if they see wildlife around the tent. There is an armed ranger at night, and there is no record of any animal attacking a guest in the Serengeti.

Our park ranger on duty at night. That is an AK-47 he is holding.


In my prior Africa pages in the Wildlife Photography link I explain in detail where our camp is and why we go there. In this page we are going to enjoy my guests as they enjoy the area and grab some great shots of their own.

Practicing our photography prior to the trip made a difference


CP and Olivia in the shade of a tree overlooking the plains of the Serengeti


We had some nice walking tours around lake Ndutu



Another great set of guides that made the trip a success


CP and Firoz scouting ahead


Our driver/guides know how to get us in the middle of the action


As good as they were sometimes we ended up pointed in the wrong direction


Mark showing some good form with the 500mm lens


Ross (Mr Indiana) doing what he does best. This trip was a birthday present from his wife.

He gave a nice toast at the end of the trip.



Tiffany keeping a watchful eye on Ross


Lorna, Andrea, and Nikki hanging with a baby leopard


Mark and Janelle lovey-dovey as usual


Amy with her cool hat



Lori hamming it up while Amy is working


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Lions at play


Tanzania has more lions than any other country. They number around 20,000, although they were well over 100,000 in the recent past. Habitat destruction, persecution from herders, and poaching have been the biggest reason for their decline

The lions in the Serengeti have been studied extensively for decades. This is a photo of the vehicle they use for their research.

Pic of vehicle

In addition to the lions we observed daily in the Serengeti we also encountered lions in the Selous

The Selous lion cubs entertained us for hours



















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Cheetah on the run



They act playful when they are not hunting for their survival


In the cool of the early morning, when prey is abundant and within striking distance, Cheetah sometimes do nothing. Only when the sun is higher, and  it is getting so hot that heat waves interfere with photographing them with a telephoto lens, do they streak after their prey. Their excessive panting after a chase are an indication of how winded they are in the mid day heat.

This is one of those aspects of cheetah behavior that cannot be explained. Why they pass up opportunities in the cooler part of the day is hard to understand. They don’t seem to catch on to the fact that we need better light for good photos!

Here is an example of heat waves and harsh late morning sun


There is an abundance of cheetah and prey when we go in February, and with patience and good guides, you get your chance to catch them in action.  We came across a unique situation, something even the guides had not seen before.

This female cheetah had a successful hunt with a gazelle. This is an adult Thomson’s gazelle, which was not her primary target. She was looking for a 1-2 day old gazelle calf hidden in the grass, and ended up killing the mother of the baby gazelle she was looking for (or so we thought).


She put it down after killing it and called to her cubs



This short video shows how winded she is in the heat of the late morning

She scanned the grass looking for where they were hidden


As her cubs ran towards her they scared the gazelle calf  their mother was looking for originally. It was hiding right in their path. What are the odds of that happening?


Their instincts to  hunt overtook their mother’s calling, and they spent the next 15 minutes ineptly trying to kill the calf as their mother looked on








The mother cheetah left her dead gazelle and watched her cubs, letting them learn on their own


Eventually the cubs killed the gazelle calf



Imagine our surprise when one of the guides radioed that the adult gazelle the mother cheetah had killed was gone. It turns out that it was never killed, just stunned, because the mother cheetah was distracted by her cubs and what they were doing.  While all of us, including the mother cheetah, were watching the cubs, the adult gazelle got its wits and walked away. It was one major stroke of luck for a hapless gazelle that a few minutes prior had its throat in a cheetahs mouth!

Follow this link to see many more photos of cheetah hunting from prior trips.

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Lion-Hyena encounter


This was my fist chance to see a close encounter between lions and hyenas. It happened at 9 Am while driving  in the central Serengeti.

A clan of hyena were feasting on the significant remains of a wildebeest



The ripped away and engorged themselves




They kept a wary eye in the distance, and we soon found out why




As it turns out, a small pride of male lions had killed the wildebeest earlier and already feasted. They were lounging about 100 yards away after gorging on the wildebeest. They left their kill to the hyenas since they could not eat any more.

One of the males decided that he did not want the hyenas eating his meal so he returned, walking right down the middle of the road


He was a big boy, and could not move very fast due to his full belly


When he got close the hyenas scattered.


Hyenas have powerful jaws, and in sufficient numbers are not usually afraid of lions, especially lionesses. This is not the case when a large male lion approaches.


He grabbed his carcass and started walking it back to the other male lions




He stopped to rest frequently, with the hyenas watching from a safe distance


As the hyenas amassed in greater numbers they got their courage to start approaching the male



When there was 15 of them he decided it was not worth it and left the wildebeest to them




When it was obvious he was far enough away they returned to finish eating


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Serengeti 2013 Group






Les and Cindy


Greg and Claudia

Return to Photographer’a Africa page

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