Reptile dentition tends to be relatively uniform with a simple, conical shape. Most reptile teeth are loosely attached with the dental attachment most superficial in acrodontic species. Tooth loss and replacement is a normal occurrence in reptile species with pleurodont dentition, which includes snakes, and many lizards. Take special care when handling reptiles with acrodont dentition as teeth will not be replaced when infected or fractured. Additionally, periodontal disease is common in captive lizards with acrodont dentition such as bearded dragons and chameleons. Periodontal disease is an insidious condition. As plaque formation builds and gingivitis worsens, many reptiles will continue to eat. The owner may not observe problems until disease is quite advanced. Feeding lizards an unnatural, soft diet is believed to promote plaque development and the development of periodontal disease.
Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures cannot be administered until you and your staff can safely handle and restrain the lizard patient. This article reviews patient transport and defense mechanisms of the lizard, including tail autotomy, as well as protective gear and restraint techniques.
Reptiles lack an epiglottis and the glottis is ready visualized, making intubation readily accomplished in most species. If the glottal folds are closed, apply topical lidocaine to facilitate intubation. The tracheal rings are complete in reptiles. Use of an inflated, cuffed endotracheal tube can lead to pressure necrosis because there is no elastic ligament to accommodate tracheal expansion. Always select an uncuffed endotracheal tube in small reptiles and never inflate a cuff in large reptiles …
Inland bearded dragons are native to Australia and are a popular companion animal. Private breeders often select for desirable temperaments and various color morphologies in an effort to provide an ever-increasing variety to the pet trade. They are also bred commercially and sold by large pet retailers making them a widely available pet reptile…
This live webinar event was presented by Javier Nevarez, DVM, PhD, DACZM, DECZM (Herpetology). View a recording of Dr. Nevarez’s web-based seminar and earn 1 hour of R.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credit. Lecture objectives include a review of the principles and concepts of reptile analgesia, recommended analgesics, signs of pain and pain recognition, and a review of analgesic protocols. The presentation also reviews principles and concepts of reptile anesthesia, popular anesthetic agents and anesthetic protocols, monitoring, as well as keys to success.
Exotic animal medicine requires a delicate balance between medical concepts true for all living creatures (“one medicine”) and species-specific information and this is true for lizards.
Lizard behavior varies with the species, however the normal lizard tends to be alert, responsive, and curious. Some species, like the bearded dragon and leopard gecko tend to be particularly active and animated while most chameleons are more…
Primarily a disease of captive reptiles, dysecdysis is sporadically seen in free-ranging reptiles. Among captive reptiles, difficult sheds are most common in those with a complete shedding cycle: snakes and some geckos such as the leopard gecko and African fat-tailed gecko. Some skinks with relatively tiny digits, are prone to retaining shed skin on the digits.
Fasting may be expected in lizards during certain times of the year. Many gravid females eat less or go off feed entirely due to the large number of eggs filling the coelom. Some species also fast for weeks or months as an adaptation to excess heat or cold, drought, or lack of food. This dormancy in reptiles is called…
Thermal burns are a common injury in snakes and lizards. Companion snakes and lizards may come in contact with poorly protected heat sources or old “hot rocks” that short circuit. Even free-ranging reptiles may be at risk for thermal injuries during grass or forest fires. This presenting problem article “Burns in Snakes and Lizards”, explores a basic understanding of burns in reptiles, then moves onto key points of urgent care as well as general aspects of case management, including patient history, physical examination, differential diagnoses, diagnostics, therapy, and finally prognosis.
The basic principles of fluid therapy are the same in the reptile as seen in birds and mammals, however reptile anatomy and physiology make some features of this crucial supportive care procedure unique. This article reviews fluid resuscitation with the use of crystalloid fluids and colloids, indications for replacement fluids including signs of dehydration and osmolarity values reported in reptiles. Routes of fluid administration in reptiles are described include subcutaneous, oral, soaking, intracoelomic, intraosseous, and intravenous via the cephalic vein, jugular vein, and in rare instances intracardiac catheter placement. Patient monitoring, including blood pressure measurement and signs of overhydration, are also explored.
With even the most scrupulous sanitation, lizards frequently sit in or walk through their own droppings. To minimize the risk of needle site contamination with bacteria or uric acid, aseptically prepare the venipuncture site with an antiseptic like alcohol.
No single hospital environment can meet the needs of every exotic animal and caging systems must be tailored to meet the specific needs of each patient. Read about those caging requirements that remain constant among exotic animals as well as the species-specific needs of each taxa from birds and small mammals to fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
The paired ovaries and testes, which range in color from yellow to grayish-pink, are located dorsomedially within the coelom although their exact location is species-specific. The right gonad sits cranial to the left, particularly in snakes. Females possess a right and left oviduct, but no true uterus. The oviduct empties directly into the cloaca through a genital papillae
Among exotic animals, venous cutdown is most commonly employed in reptiles like lizards and snakes although intraosseous catheters are also placed in lizards. Similarly, when an exotic companion mammal like a ferret or rabbit suffers from severe hypovolemia, dehydration, hypotension, and vascular collapse, intraosseous catheters have largely replaced venous cutdowns but this technique is occasionally employed.
Common reproductive conditions of the reptile include prolapse of the cloaca, oviduct or copulatory organ, yolk coelomitis, dystocia or egg binding, as well as follicular stasis. This review article on twelve key facts explores clinically relevant anatomy and physiology and appropriate husbandry as well as key points of urgent care and general principles of case management.
Prolapse in reptiles can involve the cloaca, a common receiving chamber for the reproductive, urinary, and gastrointestinal tracts. Prolapses can also originate from the distal gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organ, or urinary bladder—in those species with a bladder like the green iguana and leopard gecko…
Like other shedding problems, retained spectacles or “eye caps” are a sign of an underlying problem related to patient health or husbandry. If retained spectacles are not removed, they can interfere with vision, damage the eye, and/or serve as a source of infection
The goal of this case study is to reinforce and highlight common concepts, situations, and presentations that reptile veterinarians encounter on a regular basis, while also expanding knowledge by including content not entirely available in textbooks. This case study is based on a report prepared by Veterinary Answers consultant Dan Johnson, DVM, DABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal). An 8-year old ovariectomized green iguana presents today for gradual onset of ascending tail necrosis (gangrene) over weeks to months…
The veiled chameleon is indigenous to Yemen, in the southwestern region of the Saudi Arabian peninsula. This species is found in extreme environments ranging from arid desert to seasonal “wadis” or streams that form in the desert after rain. Pets may be captive bred or wild caught and imported.
Uromastyx spp. are also known as dabb lizards or spiny-tailed lizards. This latter name comes from its thick, short tail covered with large, spiny scales. The Moroccans spiny-tailed lizard or agama is native to the deserts of northern Africa. Colorful specimens of the pet trade are often captured from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania. The range of the ornate spiny-tailed agama is restricted to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Wild-caught animals are more common than captive bred in the pet trade, this is particularly true for the…
The Savannah monitor is native to the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa. In the wild these monitors are scavengers covering large distances as they search for small prey items. Savannah monitors in the pet trade are…
The panther chameleon is indigenous to Madagascar. Most specimens in the pet trade used to be wild caught, however with changes in Madagascar’s export regulations and better understanding of the care of these exquisite lizards, most are now captive-bred.
Leopard geckos are originally from the grassland and desert regions of India and Pakistan. The vast majority of pets are captive bred and hatched. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, terrestrial, long-lived lizards that make excellent pets.
Jackson’s chameleons comprise three distinct subspecies native to the montane regions of Kenya. Large feral populations are found in Hawaii where specimens are often caught for the pet trade. Small numbers are also captive-bred.
The green iguana is native to the tropical rain forests of Latin America. Most pet iguanas are raised on farms in El Salvador and Costa Rica although wild-caught imports and domestically captive-bred lizards are also available.
Green water dragons are native to tropical forests or areas near the river’s edge in southeast Asia. Pets are primarily wild-caught and wild-caught adults can have a difficult time adjusting to captivity. Water dragons are beautiful lizards that make stunning display animals in naturalistic vivaria, however these lizards are inexpensive and imported in large numbers. These flighty lizards then end up in private homes where…
The blue-tongued skinks are represented by a variety of species, subspecies and races native to Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. Two of the more common varieties in the pet trade are the northern, Tiliqua scincoides intermedia, and Irian Jaya, an undescribed T. scincoides. These ground-dwelling diurnal skinks have tiny legs and feet, heavy bodies, and a large, blue tongue that can be bared as a warning to potential enemies.
Some blue-tongued skinks are domestically bred, however many are imported from Indonesia and New Guinea.
Native to the central deserts of Australia, the Bearded dragon’s name comes from its practice of extending the flap of skin under the jaw or “beard” in a defensive posture.
October 21st is Reptile Awareness Day. Although Reptile Awareness Day was founded with the worthy goal of exploring the ecological challenges that reptiles face, celebrate with LafeberVet by taking our quiz that focuses on clinical information. Are you aware of these reptile-centric facts that will benefit you, your staff, and of course your reptile patients?
The Savannah monitor is native to the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa.
The green or common iguana (Iguana iguana) is a tree-dwelling reptile native to the tropical and subtropical regions of central and South America and parts of Mexico. The iguana is a solitary creature
The blue-tongued skink is a stocky, cylindrical lizard with small legs and a large head, known for its deep, vivid blue tongue…
Bearded dragons are omnivores that accept a wide variety of foods. Variety is the key to good nutrition and foods offered should include…
A collection of online resources related to reptile and amphibian medicine. This list of links come from a variety of professional organizations and conservation websites.
Are you prepared to see herptiles in your clinical practice? This equipment list, created by a veterinarian board-certified in reptiles and amphibians, provides recommendations for basic equipment needs as well as tools for advanced reptile care including amphibians and even crocodilians.
Fluid therapy is an important part of supportive care, and there are several routes available for fluid support in the reptile. Subcutaneous and/or oral fluids are appropriate for mild to moderate dehydration, while intracoelomic, intravenous, or intraosseous fluids are administered to critically ill reptiles or to patients with moderate to severe dehydration.
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.
Reptile owners are routinely instructed on oral or intramuscular drug administration techniques for outpatient care. In many instances and in many species, parenteral injections are preferred over the oral route. Injectable medications can be delivered intramuscularly, subcutaneously, intracoelomically, intravenously, or…
Nutritional support is indicated in reptiles with a 10% drop in body weight, and force-feeding is sometimes indicated with a history of anorexia. Interpretation of anorexia can be difficult in some reptiles, particularly snakes and chelonians. Never rush to feed a reptile. The patient must first be warm, housed at its preferred optimal temperature zone, and must be adequately hydrated.