Presenting problem: Stomatitis in Reptiles

Key Points

  • Stomatitis is a common problem in snakes and lizards; disease is less common in chelonians.
  • Affected squamates can exhibit a variety of clinical signs including anorexia, dulled mentation, red, inflamed and swollen gingiva, mucus or discharge from the mouth, and open-mouth breathing.
  • An important differential diagnosis is primary respiratory disease as these patients can also present with thick oral mucus and hyperemia of the gingiva.
  • Multiple factors can contribute to stomatitis in squamates, however primary or secondary Gram-negative bacterial infection is an important component of disease.
  • Irrigate inflamed tissues regularly with an antiseptic solution.
  • Ensure the patient is maintained at its preferred optimum temperature zone.
  • Long-term systemic antibiotics are indicated for patients with cellulitis.
  • Testudinid herpesvirus causes a stomatitis-rhinitis complex in tortoises, particularly Mediterranean tortoises (Testudo spp).
  • Hypovitaminosis A is an important cause of stomatitis in box turtles and aquatic tortoises.
  • When left untreated, stomatitis can progress to osteomyelitis, panophthalmitis, dacrocystitis, pneumonia, and/or death.

Stomatitis, also known as “mouth rot”, ulcerative stomatitis, necrotic stomatitis, and/or periodontal disease is a common problem in snakes and lizards. Stomatitis is less common in chelonians and crocodilians, and often presents as a stomatitis-rhinitis complex in tortoises. This presenting problem article explores the pertinent anatomy involved, key points of urgent care, as well as tips for case management . . .


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