Common reptile diseases

Reptiles can make great pets, but they can be tricky to look after if you don’t do the proper research first. Wannabe owners of bearded dragons, lizards, snakes, and other exotic pets in Worcestershire, should consider these common health conditions and reptile diseases below.  

Not all reptile diseases and conditions are preventable. However, if you research your reptile species thoroughly and understand what’s normal for them, it can be easier to spot signs of bad health. 

Common health problems in reptiles: 

Metabolic bone disorder – This common reptile condition is typically caused by a lack of proper care, insufficient UV lighting, not enough vitamin D, nor the correct diet for their development. Lizards and tortoises are more at risk as they also require calcium as a supplement. 

Installing adequate UV lighting and a timing mechanism can help to prevent metabolic bone disorder in reptiles. Even better, you can get a thermostat-driven UV heat lamp to ensure your pet has access to the right amount of light and heat. Researching the correct diet for your species of reptile and any supplements or special treatment they require will help too. 

Ectoparasites – Mites live on the skin’s surface and are the most common external parasite that affects reptiles. They hang around by the eyes and ears, and inside skin folds around the joints; you may notice them as red or black dots. Reptile mites cause stress and skin irritation and can be difficult to eradicate. Lizards and snakes are most affected. 

Fungal diseases in reptiles – Many pet reptiles live in damp conditions, which is correct for their species. However, this can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Check your reptile regularly for signs of fungal infections and bad health; if their skin becomes damp, weak and damaged, it’s a good idea to try an anti-fungal spray specially designed for reptiles. 

Common viruses and signs of bad health in reptiles: 

  • Adenovirus (common in bearded dragons and king snakes) symptoms include weight loss, appetite loss (caused by increased liver enzymes), and lesions on the intestines and liver. Neurological diseases can follow if left untreated. 
  • Flavivirus is transmitted by eating infected insects and can cause liver disease, encephalitis, stomatitis, and death. 
  • Herpesvirus can lead to pneumonia and neurological issues. Common signs of reptile herpes include weakness, appetite loss, nasal discharge, eyelid swelling, and regurgitation.  
  • Iridovirus can damage tissue in the liver, kidneys, and spleen. It can also cause anaemia if it attacks the red blood cells.  
  • Poxvirus (mostly found in tortoises and lizards but can affect other reptiles) signs include skin lesions all over the body, but mostly concentrated on the head. 

When cleaning out their housing and handling your reptile, hygiene is important. You should always clean your hands thoroughly. Reptile diseases that can be passed to humans include salmonella, campylobacteriosis, botulism, and leptospirosis.  

The team at Clent Hills Vets hope you found our article on reptile diseases useful. Why not help other reptile owners by sharing? Simply click your favourite share icons above.