Dr. Atlas preformed an necropsy (autopsy for reptiles) on Mattie on Sunday. He found that she was suffering from a fatal liver disease that we could not have done anything for. The condition said several things: Mattie was older than we thought, probably at the end of her normal lifespan; that she did not die from husbandry errors; and, her fatigue, lack of appetite and slow demise were very much part of the disease progression.
90% of reptile deaths occur as the result of husbandry error. I knew this and over the weekend felt very guilty that I was the cause of her illness. I am relieved to know that her care was good and that everything I was doing for her in her last few months were in her best interest and comforting in what was probably a very painful condition.
Dr. Atlas was so kind to arrange for us to keep her shell. At the present, it is wrapped and refrigerated. We will have it cleaned by a preservation specialist. For now, neither Greg or I are able to open the wrapping to look at the shell. We don't think we will be ready to see it for a few months. We are grateful to have a bit of Mattie with us, a little bit of her to hold onto.
Thank you to everyone who has extended comforting words to Greg and me.