Tuesday, December 29, 2020

3950. Cactus plant in outdoors in Singapore

 Although slow-growing, a cactus plant is fairly self-sustaining as it stores moisture in its roots, leaves and stems, and so largely regulates its own food intake. A cactus plant likes a light, airy and warm spot – but not too hot, around 18°C is ideal – and can cope well in direct sunlight.

1. Are cactus plants indestructible?

    No, if you've ever killed a cactus you are not alone. The easiest way is by over watering, poor drainage and using the wrong compost. Ordinary potting compost holds water well, which is a huge bonus for most plants, but not for cacti, as they need very good drainage. If you want to keep them alive it's best to use specialist cactus soil instead.

    2. What's the best spot in the home to place a cactus?

    A cactus can tolerate a warm and sunny spot in the summer, even outdoors on the patio or balcony. But in winter the placement should be cooler and light.

    3. Does a cactus flower?

    Cacti are all flowering plants, but some have more prominent blooms and there are a few, such as MammillariaGymnocalycium and Parodia, that will flower quite easily with impressive, colourful displays.

    4. How do you get a cactus to flower?

    Cacti flower on fresh growth, so if your plant just sits there, unchanging year after year, it's very unlikely to flower. What you should do is to get the plant to follow its natural growth cycle. It needs to go dormant in winter and then wake up in spring. So, put it somewhere dry and cold – but not dark – over winter, and stop watering all together. In spring give it as much sunshine as possible and start to water it.

    5. So how often should you water a cactus?

    It’s best to give more water in spring/summer and less in winter. Remember, avoid over watering. It’s better to allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering the plant again.

    6. Types of cactus: what are the most common species?

    The species that are most commonly sold are EchinocactusFerocactusGymnocalyciumOpuntia and Mamillaria.


    7. And what are the best varieties for beginners?

    Moon cactus (Gymnocalycium) have very colourful tops, usually red or yellow. These aren't flowers so the colour is there all year round. Bunny ears cactus (Opuntia), also known as polka dot cactus, have spots of golden bristles against a green background so they look modern and geometric. And the spiny Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria) is easy to grow and has lovely little pink flowers.

    8. How to look after a cactus: what's the best way to handle them?

    Carefully! Either with very thick gloves or use folded newspaper to loop around the top. If you’ve been stuck with a spike, you can remove large ones with tweezers. Remove small spikes by sticking duct tape on them and then pulling it off, or by rolling an old pair of tights into a ball and rapidly rubbing this over the spot. The final fine spikes should be worked out using olive oil, advise the plant experts at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.

    9. What pests do you need to look out for?

    Check that your cactus is free of mealybugs on both the plant itself (the body) and the root system. With its woolly white wax coating containing oval insects, it's one of the most common pests in cactuses, and difficult to get rid of. Additionally, red spider mite (eight-legged insects that weave a delicate and dense web over the plant), aphids, scale insects and thrips can also occur. Also, check for damage and that the root system is intact. If cacti have been kept too wet for a long time they may have rotted 'from the pot', which can also be caused by fungi and bacteria. The green part – the actual stem – can then feel soft.


    10. Are all cacti prickly?

    No. What we usually think of as cacti are desert cacti, but there are also forest cacti without the bristles, however, please note that the range available as houseplants is quite small.

    11. How long does a cactus plant live?

    In the wild cacti can live for hundreds of years. Indoors they may survive for 10 years or more. The trouble with old ones is that every single knock, scratch or blemish they get stays with them, so they tend to look less appealing as they get older.

    12. Is a cactus the same as a succulent?

    'Every cactus is a succulent, but not all succulents are cacti,' explain Thejoyofplants.co.uk. 'Like many other succulents, cacti have succulent properties – the ability to store moisture in their thick fleshy trunk and stems. These reservoirs are used to bridge periods of drought.' A difference, however, is that cacti are 'defined by the presence of areoles (specialised sites where spines form) whereas succulents have none', explain the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

    13. What is a Christmas cactus? And how is it different?

    A Christmas cactus is a popular Christmas plant during the festive season. The Brazilian coastal plant, known as an epiphyte, grows on top of other plants, trees or rocks, and there are two species: Schlumbergera truncata and S. × buckleyi. A Christmas cactus flowers for around two months from late November to late January, with lots of little flower buds – in red, white, yellow, pink and purple – appearing throughout the Christmas period. Find more Christmas cactus care and growing tips here.


    The cactus plant grows in the soil in Singapore, to heights taller than a man. There are some red flowers seen by me. I took these photos around  
    Nov 5, 2020. 

    Saturday, December 26, 2020

    3949. Oxytocin injections to induce non-obstructive egg laying in red-eared sliders

    2 Jan 2021.


    1. Edit video


    1.  HOOK

    Handphone video from the owner shows a 10-year-old red-eared slider, 860 g digging the soil to lay eggs for two hours. approx 0:00 to 1:58

    NARRATE the following using the above footage which should include some of the owner's voices too:

    Female red-eared slider, 10 years old, 860 g. Soil digging. 

    For the past 7 days, the slider dug the apartment floor with her back legs as if she wanted to lay eggs. She lost appetite and was restless. The owner brought her to a garden area. She dug holes but could not lay the eggs. On the 7th day, she failed again to lay eggs. The lady owner brought her to Toa Payoh Vets.


    3. TITLE. How to treat a red-eared slider that had difficulty laying eggs? 

    Around 80% of the residents in Singapore live in apartments (IMAGES, videos). This owner is one of them. Her red-eared slider wanted to lay eggs in the soil, but she did not have a garden for the slider to lay eggs which may take several hours or days. She brought the slider down for short hours, but there were no eggs laid. The slider's agitated digging behaviour at night affected the family members as they could not sleep.

    What is the solution to her problem?

    5. TREATMENT AT TOA PAYOH VETS. The standard operating procedures are:

    1. History taking. The onset and duration of egg laying behaviour. 

    2. Physical examination. General examination. Examination of the cloacal area to check whether the egg is stuck in that area. If it is, this is a case of OBSTRUCTIVE EGG RETENTION. The egg will be taken out manually. Oxytocin injections will not be effective and will not be given.

    3. X-rays confirm NON-OBSTRUCTIVE EGG RETENTION as in this case. 

    4. Oxytocin injection. 1 or 2 injections (use images of oxytocin bottle below).

    4.1  One injection of oxytocin IM or SC is given. If all 3 eggs are laid within 24 hours, there will be no need for a second injection.  All 3 eggs were laid. Two are normal and the third egg was cracked.

    4.2  If no eggs are laid after the second injection, chances are that the owner had delayed seeking veterinary treatment for over 7 days. The owner is advised to wait and see.   

    4. The red-eared slider goes home. 

    CREDITS (CLIP FROM THE ORIGINAL VIDEO. Add one image with your name (see Stefanie's image and videos). 

    The video should be 2 to 10 minutes.  




    Use another video footage from several of my Youtube videos. I will not be spoon-feeding.




    1. Obstructive egg retention - 1 case

    2. Non-obstructive egg retention - 7 cases (SEE BELOW AND VERIFY NUMBER OF CASES)

    3. X-rays needed.


    Singapore apartments - No soil. Box of sand and soil not practical.

    Oxytocin injection 2 I U/kg. 7 DAYS OF EGG RETENTION. Took a longer time to lay eggs. 

    3 HOURS GAVE OXYTOCIN 2 I U/KG 3 HOURS AGO --- alL  eggs laid


    Oxytocin is effective in inducing egg laying in red-eared sliders with non-obstructive egg retention.
    10 I U/kg is best.
    IM or SC
    Muscles or skin near the tail end





    Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow).

    Toa Payoh Vets has been getting several egg binding/retention red-eared sliders from the internet for the past 5 years.

    Although the number of cases treated are less than 100 to come to a statistically significant finding, my cases show that oxytocin injections, IM or SC or both can be effective in getting red-eared sliders to lay all eggs, in cases of NON-OBSTRUCTIVE egg retention. Sometimes, two injections 24-48 hours apart are needed to ensure 100% success rate.

    The vet must ensure that the slider has NO obstruction of the egg, for example, an egg is stuck near the cloaca, obstructing other eggs from being laid. Otherwise, oxytocin use will be ineffective and risky to the life of the slider.  


    Edit Video footage - use some footage to show that this is a case of OBSTRUCTION OF THE EGG.
    Treatment is by manual removal of the egg. Do not use oxytocin as it will not be effective. 



    X-rays are recommended to differentiate the two types of egg retention. The following cases are sliders treated from 2017 to 2020. They are cases of NON-obstructive egg retention. Oxytocin injection in one or two doses effectively passed out all eggs.



    Two injections of oxytocin 24-48 hours apart may be needed to achieve 100% success. If the owner has had delayed seeking veterinary treatment for more than 10 days of digging/egg laying behaviour, oxytocin injections may not be effective.   

    The Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected at least one egg-laying 
    red-eared slider called Kame. She used to lay eggs in the soil in
    the gardens of a condominum. The management sealed off the 
    access to all residents. This included Kame. The owner had to go to
    Toa Payoh Vets for the oxytocin injection to help her lay eggs.   


    use some footage for the 20-year-old slider to make the video more interesting
    otherwise, just showing slides of X-rays can be quite boring and sleepy 

    The following is Kame having to come for oxytocin injection on  Christmas Eve.
    The owner said that the soil in the condo garden is very dirty as there are debri and dust
    from the construction of a new condo next door.

    Thursday, December 24, 2020

    3948. Kame the red-eared slider couldn't lay eggs

    24 Dec 2020. 

    Toa Payoh Vets was closed on Christmas Eve. But there was an emergency. An owner phoned up at around 4 pm. Her 6-year-old female red-eared slider was very restless. She was scratching the flooring and moving a lot. Her front paws pushed away her favourite food which were the prawns.   I attended this emergency.

    An X-ray showed 4 eggs.  I injected oxytocin 1.5 ml SC injection and 0.3 ml Calcium injection. One malformed egg laid after the X-ray but 30 minutes before my injection. "It is a malformed egg with a ridged shell," I told the lady who had been a costume jeweller creator.

    "The government wanted $1,500 as a licensing fee as I was a jeweller," she told me. "Apparently, the licensing fee is to monitor jewellers for money laundering as the company would have to submit records of sales. I had to close the company as I don't make that kind of money as a jeweller!"

    She filled a big plastic container with water and put the slider in after my injection. We waited nearly 45 minutes while she observed and talked to her pet. 

    "Best to leave the slider alone as she might be too excited to lay eggs in your presence," I suggested.

    "I am not disturbing her," she countered. So we waited and waited. Finally, she decided to take the slider home. 

    "Bail out half the amount of water inside the tank," I suggested as she wanted the red-eared slider inside the water in the tank. Her husband helped her to carry the tank of water onto the back seat of the red car. It was a longish car that permitted ease of entry of the tank.

    4 eggs were seem in the X-ray

    This Egg 1 was laid before oxytocin and calcium injection

    2 eggs were laid after the 2nd oxytocin injection on Boxing Day
    26 Dec 2020

    All 4 eggs were laid

    She laid two eggs on Christmas Eve. One egg was laid after the X-ray but before the 1.5 ml SC oxytocin  and 0.3 ml Theracalcium injections.  The other two eggs were not laid on Christmas. A 2nd oxytocin 1.5 ml IM. Two eggs were laid after 45 minutes.  


    19 Dec 2019. 



    Tuesday, December 22, 2020

    3947. A pug has thick mucoid right eye discharge (Part 1) and abnormal waking up at 3 am (Part 2)

    PART 1

    Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020. Consultation

    PUG, MALE NOT NEUTERED, 7.5 kg, 38.1 degrees C

    Right eye had a gluey discharge with a brown spot. The worried owner phoned me today as she had not seen me since last year. I treated her pug for corneal ulcerations of the right eye some 9 years ago in 2011.

    Her father would buy the Hills R/D food from us. The pug had a trim weight of 7.5kg. Had serous discharge from both nostrils.

    Visual examinations from her handphone were not very clear.

    On 22 Dec 2020, I saw the pug at the clinic. 

    1. Thick gluey mass on right eye with a brown spherical lump of 3 mm across. Totally dry eye. 

    2. Bad breath. R U Premolar 3 was loose and dead, at Periodontal Disease stage 4.

    Had groomer do the dentistry every 3 monthly as no anaesthesia was required but the groomer did not inform her about the 2 loose and dead lower incisor teeth which also needed extraction. 

    3. Hard spherical lump at about 80% of the golf ball in the bladder area or benign prostate hypertrophy. No pain on palpation. Urine is said to be normal.  


    Under anaesthesia, I irrigated the eyeball, cleared the sticky matted cornea of hairs and debris. I applied fluorescein eye stain and saw four superficial cornea ulcers. These ulcers caused pain in the pug.  Then I extracted 3 loose and dead teeth.

    The owner is happy to see the eyeball is now clear of junk and matted hair. She will apply artificial tears a few times a day. Antibiotic drops for 7 days.


    9 YEARS ago, if the owner had accepted my advice to do a cosmetic surgery called right facial fold resection, the pug would not have had eye irritation from the hairs of the corneal fold. 

    After years of irritation and infection, the tear glands dry up. Hence, now the right eye is a dry eye and needs daily care.



    PART 2

    Dec 29, 2020 consultation with Dr Sing Kong Yuen

    3 days after the dental extraction and eye cleaning, the dog exhibited agitated behaviour early at 3 am - barking loudly, wandering and not wanting to sleep. Some sneezing heard by owner a this time. 

    For the next 2 days, also the same waking up early at 4 am and barking.

    As at 3 Jan 2021, still wake up early at 4 am but not so restless and little barking. The owner is tired out. 

    This behaviour from 25 Dec to 29 Dec 2020  of early rising tired out the owner. The owner sent me a video on 29 Dec 2020 as follows:

    I examined the dog on 29 Dec 2020. No heart murmurs but irregular heart beats. Serous mucous discharge from both nostrils. 

    My consultation video with the owner on 29 Dec is as follows:


    X-rays - enlarged heart

           - lungs with fluid?  

    Blood and urine test results pending.    

    Dr Daniel prescribed:
    Rimadyl, doxycline, Iron capsule, neurobion, 500 ml normal saline bottle for dry eye flushing and Hyaline eye drops to keep eye moist. 

    To stop wearing e-collar, chloramphenicol eye drops and owner's dry eye drops for people. 


    4 Jan 2021. The owner reported that the pug did wake up at 5 am yesterday but then went back to sleep without being agitated or barking. The owner reported that the Hyaline eye drops were excellent as it was oily and the dry eye did not dry so fast as before.

    CONCLUSION. It is hard to know what caused this abnormal behaviour 3 days after anaesthesia, dental extraction and eye cleaning. The pug still eats and is otherwise normal. Could it be pain somewhere and/or the wearing of the e-collar affecting his sleep?



    Monday, December 21, 2020

    3946. Girdling roots

     A tree is girdled when something is tightly wrapped around the trunk or stem. A stem girdling root circles or partially circles the base of a tree at or just below the soil surface.

    Stem girdling roots choke off the flow of water and nutrients between the roots and branches and food produced in the leaves from reaching the roots. They can also compress and weaken the trunk of a tree at or above the root collar flare (the junction between the trunk and the main roots) causing it to lean and lose its stability. Girdling roots may girdle other roots, but there is no known harm in this. Trees having stem girdling roots suffer a slow decline in health and a premature death.

    The appearance of a tree trunk will be affected by a girdling root. Usually tree trunks flare out where they enter the ground. The root will prevent the collar flare, sometimes the trunk may get narrower and appear flattened or sunken. The threat depends on the size of the root and the amount of the tree’s circumference affected. It is almost impossible to predict if a developing girdling root will cause problems for a tree. However, if a tree has girdling roots it is more likely to have problems than one without them.

    The causal factors may be genetic or cultural. At the end of this article is a list of trees that may be more prone to stem girdling roots. Cultural practices that may cause girdling include poor growing practices or poor planting techniques.

    Most tree roots are in the top 6 to 24 inches of soil and grow out from the trunk in a spreading manner. Cultural practices that can adversely affect this natural root pattern include: (1) Planting in a hole that is too small so the roots can not easily spread out. (2) Planting container grown trees that have roots growing in a circular pattern. (3) Planting a bare root tree by twisting roots to fit into a small hole. (4) Leaving wire baskets, burlap and any part of a container in the planting hole. (5) Piling mulch against the trunk of a tree (creating a mulch volcano).

    The most common theory of the cause of stem girdling roots, is that they develop as a result of trees being planted too deeply. When root systems are buried, less oxygen and water is available. The roots will grow up towards the surface of the soil and tend to encircle the trunk. The more deeply buried the roots are, the fewer the roots available for the tree to become established.

    Symptoms and Diagnosis

    Symptoms of stem girdling roots include: (1) Scorch, early fall color, early leaf drop, damage on one or two branches. (2) Abnormally small leaf size. (3) Excessive twig dieback, the appearance of large, dead, leafless branches (stagheading). (4) Thin appearance to the crown, overall stunting. (5) Little or no trunk taper at the collar. (6) Leaning (7) Susceptibility to environmental extremes and other biotic problems.

    Many of these symptoms can also be characteristic of other causes, such as drought or nutrient imbalances. A plant disease diagnostic laboratory cannot identify this problem. The only sure way to determine if a stem girdling root is the cause of a problem is to examine the root system and its relationship to the tree trunk.

    Integrated Pest Management Strategies:

    1. Inspection. Carefully inspect the root system at the time of planting. Remove any girdling root on bare-root plants. Cut away the wrapping on balled & burlapped plants, check for girdling roots and natural root flare. Cut through any circling roots of container grown plants in a few places.

    On mature trees, if any of the symptoms appear, examine the root collar by probing into the soil near the trunk flare with a stiff wire to find the depth of any stem girdling roots.

    2. Planting. Dig planting holes 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball, with sloped sides and no deeper than the root ball. In heavy clay soil dig the holes shallower than the root ball by at least 3 inches. Make sure there is no soil above the root flare. If there is soil above the flare, very carefully remove it down to the flare. Apply mulch no deeper than 3 inches and never against the trunk of the tree.

    3. Ongoing care. Make sure to water a newly planted tree regularly and water any tree during drought periods. Avoid using fast–release fertilizers, they may burn tree roots. Reduce environmental stresses on established trees and add nutrients if it appears there is a deficiency. Periodically examine the root flare to make sure it appears normal. If stem girdling roots are present, gently remove the soil until you can find the root collar flare. This may need to be done by a certified arborist.

    4. Pruning. Stem girdling roots are commonly removed by using wood gouges, saws or pruners if they have caused minimal stem compression. If one has caused extensive compression, removal treatment must be careful not to damage the stem. Such roots are frequently left in place when they cannot be removed safely. Again, it may be necessary to consult with a certified arborist.

    5. Removal. If stem compression from a stem girldling root is more than one third to one half of the stem circumference, removal of that tree should be considered because the tree’s stability is compromised.

    3945. Nature stories. Epiphytes on tree trunks

    The term epiphyte describes a plant which, like a parasite, grows on a host, but unlike a parasite, takes no nutrients from the tree itself and relies on nutrients from the air, falling rain, and the compost that lies on tree branches. Their epiphytic way of life gives these plants advantages in the rainforest, allowing them access to more direct sunlight, a greater number of canopy animal pollinators, and the possibility of dispersing their seeds via wind.


    Epiphytes are found throughout rainforests, but exist in the greatest abundance in the so-called cloud forests which exist at the fog-laden elevation of 3,300-6,600 feet (1,000-2,000 m). Epiphytes belong to 83 families, of which the majority are ferns and flowering plants. Some of the better-known epiphytes include ferns, lichens, mosses, cacti, bromeliads (over 2,000 species), and orchids.

    Dragon scales tree which has the Latin name Pyrrosia piloselloides is an epiphytic plant.

    This is the most familiar fern found on urban trees and is regarded as the pioneer epiphytes (Wee, 1984). Older trees are sometimes totally engulfed by their circular fronds, leading to its common name as of Dragon's Scale. The fertile fronds are markedly different being very narrow and elongated. The sori runs along the sides of the blade margin.


    The fronds of this fern are almost circular and "pasted" on the trunks and branches of trees. Sometimes, they are oval in shape. Some Dischidia species like D. nummularia and D. major are similar, but their leaves are oppositely arranged.

    Fertile fronds are narrow and much more elongated.

    A tree trunk covered with the Dragon's Scale Fern.

    Circular fronds is the typical shape.