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Hidden Dangers for Reptiles

Although BloomingPaws Vet Clinic no longer treats pet reptiles, we would like to share some facts on their health and care for those who have reptile pets.

Reptile pets include: Lizards, Snakes, Turtles, Tortoises

Most Common Hidden Dangers

  • The body heat of reptiles is dependent on their environment. Reptiles do not maintain their body temperature internally as mammals do, which means their body temperature is the same temperature as their cage. It’s very important to be aware of the optimum environmental temperature for each species of reptile.
  • Many species have specific humidity requirements. If they are not kept at their optimal environmental requirements then digestive and immune related disorders will occur.

Specific Hidden Dangers

Additional environment requirements vary by species. Each species has its own, very specific, requirements which can range from:

  • Dry to tropical
  • Warm to hot
  • Ground living to tree living to water living
  • Drinking from puddles/streams to drinking dew from leaves

Environmental Issues for Bloomington, IN

Bloomington has four distinct seasons, so the climate is constantly changing. In addition, we have a very humid climate, relative to the native habitat of many reptile species. Reptile owners in Bloomington need to adapt the environment of these pets to our changing climate.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

One of the most common disease problems reptiles have is Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). In simple terms, it is an imbalance in vitamin D3, calcium and phosphorous in the body. The imbalance is caused by not enough of or too much of one of these elements.

Clinical signs

  • Hard bumps on the long bones of the legs, back and tail
  • Hard, swelling or softening of the lower jaws
  • Softening of the plastron or carapace of turtle and tortoises
  • Constipation
  • Fractures
  • Anorexia

Ask our Exotic Veterinarian if your pet is at risk for MBD. Read this article for additional information about MBD.

Intestinal Parasites

A common problem with reptiles are intestinal parasites. Healthy reptiles have a number of different  organisms in their intestinal tract.  Usually the immune system and “good bacteria”  will keep the digestive tract running smoothly. When the reptile is under stress (chronic or acute)  then the immune system doesn’t work as well. In this case, pathogens (bacteria, worms, fungus, etc…) can over grow and cause problems such as diarrhea and anorexia. Most of these organisms can only be seen with a microscope.