By Paige Haydon
A heavyweight lizard broke his owner’s heart when he bit off his own tail but his Instagram fans have come to his rescue.
Branden Fernando, 21, from Sacramento in California, USA was shocked to return home from work to find his Black Throat Monitor Lizard, Vader, had chewed his tail off in distress.
After three days at the vet, Vader needed more surgery costing £1,600 in bills which Branden was amazed to receive in donations from strangers- and not for the first time.
Branden said: “My brother’s girlfriend screamed, ‘What’s wrong with his tail?’ and when I saw it I was in shock we rushed to the vets 15 minutes later.
“When he became weak it broke my heart to see him like this and after seeing that money come in to save him, I knew I had to keep him alive.
“I couldn’t believe how many people cared for him.”
Internet sensation, Vader is lucky to have 24,000 followers who have clubbed together to cover £4,750 of vet costs for his tail and a previous operation on his stomach.
After two spells in veterinary care, Vader is finally on the road to recovery after shockingly tearing of his tail.
Branden said: “He had to stay with the vets for three days and he came home with some blisters which we first thought was an allergic reaction, but they kept coming.
“After a while the tail seemed to be healing well but it turns out they didn’t fix his tail properly and he got another infection due to a fracture being left in.
“He needed another operation two months after his last tail surgery and I made another gofundme page that raised $2,000 (£1,600) in three days.
“When I first got him he was very defensive and is now puppy dog tame and even trusted around small dogs and children to some extent.
“Every day is a struggle to make sure he’s ok. Vader hasn’t been doing his best but is doing better this week.
“People donated because they saw how much I cared for Vader from the day I got him he was everything to me.
“When I got Vader it was a dream come true, I’ve always loved the species I loved his attitude how he would hiss and whip and act all tough.”
“I setup my Instagram page, @Ktm_kritters for all of my reptiles which soon had 9,000 followers and through everything Vader was the star of the page and is now at 24,000.
“His tail is healing very well after his stomach surgery and seeing how well he was doing, I couldn’t believe how strong Vader was.
“One of my coworkers ended up donating $500 (£400) but the rest were complete strangers who just followed me.”
This was not the first time Branden had needed to take 13-month-old Vader to the operating table as he bought him with bark stuck in his intestines.
Branden said: “Vader was sold to me last June with a stomach obstruction with bark throughout his intestines which he had surgery for in early August.
“I started the gofundme at $700 (£560) and raised that in two hours.
“I had to raise money through gofundme due to the cost of the surgery and within two days he got $4,000 (£3,220) in donations.
“After his stomach surgery everything was going well and about a month and a half later he bit off the end of his tail in the middle of the night.