Reptiles make fascinating and unique pets but require specialised care to ensure their well-being. One of the most crucial aspects of reptile husbandry is illness prevention. Like any other pet, reptiles can succumb to various health issues if their owners don't provide the appropriate care and attention. In this blog post, we'll explore key tips and strategies to keep your cold-blooded companion healthy and happy.
We can only hope you will never have to deal with a sick reptile, but here are some essential things to notice when you think your animal might be ill. Reptile vets are sparse, and we always advise that you contact us first for advice on what is going on with your animal - if we are unsure of what to recommend or how to help the situation, we would advise a vet visit accordingly.
Maintain Proper Enclosure Conditions
The environment in which your reptile lives plays a significant role in their overall health. Each reptile species has specific habitat requirements, such as temperature, humidity, and lighting. It's vital to research and understand the specific needs of your reptile, whether it's a snake, lizard, or tortoise, and ensure that their enclosure closely mimics their natural habitat. Environmental conditions help prevent respiratory infections, skin issues, and other health problems. It is vital to ensure that your enclosure is suited for the specific animal in which you own.
Provide Clean Water and a Balanced Diet
Reptiles have diverse dietary needs, so feeding them according to their species and age is crucial. A balanced diet typically includes insects, vegetables, fruits, and sometimes rodents for certain species. Always provide fresh, clean water daily in a shallow dish, using either bottled water, filtered water or a water dechlorinator. Regularly remove uneaten food to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause illness in your pet. We will also advise you on what foods are best suited for your animal and which ones to avoid to reduce any risk to their health. See our salad and plant list here.
Quarantine New Additions
If you're introducing a new reptile to your collection, whether it's from a breeder, pet store, or adoption, it's essential to quarantine them. This isolation period allows you to monitor the new addition for signs of illness or parasites without putting your existing reptiles at risk.
While not as interactive as some other pets, reptiles benefit from environmental enrichment. Providing hiding spots, climbing structures, and other forms of stimulation can help reduce stress and prevent boredom. A mentally and physically stimulated reptile is less likely to develop health issues.
One of the most effective ways to prevent reptile illness is through education. Learn about your reptile species' specific needs and behaviours, and stay updated on the latest research and care techniques. Being an informed reptile owner ensures you can provide the best possible care for your pet. Always ask questions - it’s what we are here for!
Here are things to look out for in a sick reptile:
Wheezing/ troubled breathing
Bubbly discharge from the mouth
Change in eating habits
Change in stool
Most Common Health Problems:
MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) - A lack of efficient supplementing, insufficient U.V.B or incorrect diet typically causes this common health condition. Metabolic Bone Disease is a weakening of the bone structure from abnormal levels of calcium, phosphorus or vitamin D. Diseases or conditions that cause deficiencies in any of these things can lead to bone loss, fragile bones, fractures, bone deformities and serious disability. Installing adequate UV lighting and providing the correct supplements and diet will prevent this.
Ectoparasites - Mites live on the animal's surface, usually underneath their scales. They are the most common external parasite that affects reptiles. You may notice them as little black or red dots that will be found sucking the blood of your reptile, and they tend to be found along the snake's body, mainly affecting sensitive areas such as the eyes, head and underbelly. Mites can occur from poor hygiene, transmission from an infected animal or being wild-caught. Prevention methods include ensuring to wash/ disinfect your hands between each animal you handle, ensuring proper care is being taken when spot checking and keeping up to date with frequent full cleans (we usually recommend every 4-6 weeks) as well as quarantining any new animals before introducing them into your collection.
Fungal Diseases - Reptiles living in especially damp enclosures can be subjected to fungal diseases as the damp environment can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Checking your reptile regularly for signs of fungal infection or bad health can prevent the disease from growing. If their skin becomes damp, weak or damaged, we must take a course of action to prevent it. Good sanitation and a well-balanced diet can decrease the incidents of fungal disease in reptiles.
Preventing illness in reptiles requires a commitment to understanding and meeting their unique needs. By maintaining proper enclosure conditions, providing a balanced diet, seeking regular veterinary care, practicing good hygiene, and handling your pet with care, you can help keep your cold-blooded companion healthy and thriving. Remember, a healthy reptile is a happy reptile, and your dedicated care will ensure a long and fulfilling life for your unique pet.
Remember, we are always here for you and your animal.
Thanks for reading!