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Reptiles

  • Box turtles can make great pets if cared for properly. With proper diet and housing, captive box turtles usually live up to 20 years of age, but some have been reported to live 30-40 years. Most turtles carry Salmonella asymptomatically, in that they do not show signs of illness. Wash your hands thoroughly with disinfectant soap every time after handling, feeding your reptile, or cleaning its cage items to help minimize risks of contracting salmonellosis. Turtles have protective shells that replace many of the bones that other animals have. The shell is covered with bony plates called scutes. Turtles have strong leg and neck muscles that enable them to retract their limbs and head into their shells when they are disturbed or stressed. Turtles have a renal portal blood system. Unlike mammals that excrete urea, box turtles and other reptiles try to conserve water by excreting uric acid. Turtles have a cloaca, which is the common space inside the hind end of the turtle’s body into which the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems all empty. Feces and urine that accumulates in the cloaca is voided externally to the outside through the vent opening, found on the under surface of the tail. Within 48 hours of your purchase or adoption of a new turtle, your new pet should be examined by a veterinarian familiar with reptiles. Like all pets, turtles should be examined at least annually and should have their feces tested for parasites at every examination.

  • Ponazuril is given by mouth and is used on and off label to treat protozoal parasites in a variety of animal species. Side effects are uncommon but may include soft stools. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it. Ponazuril should be used cautiously in pregnant or lactating pets, and dogs with/susceptible to dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca/KCS). If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Prednisone/prednisolone is given by mouth or injection and is used on and off label to treat Addison’s disease, inflammatory conditions, neoplasia (cancer), and immune-mediated diseases. Give this medication as directed by your veterinarian. Common side effects include increased drinking, increased urination, and increased appetite. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, or pets with systemic fungal infections, viral infections, ulcers, tuberculosis, or Cushing’s disease. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Telemedicine is the act of practicing medicine from a distance and your appointment will be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Before your appointment, gather information on your pet’s history and your current concern. Look at a calendar and write down a timeline of your pet’s problems. Be prepared to answer questions that you would normally be asked at an in-person appointment. Write notes to help you remember everything. Most telemedicine appointments involve the use of some type of video chat. Conduct your visit in a quiet area with good lighting and have your pet with you before the call starts. Not all concerns can be addressed through telemedicine. If your veterinarian is unable to arrive at a diagnosis via telemedicine, he or she can help you determine the next step for your pet to ensure that he or she receives optimal care.

  • Having your pet properly prepared for a blood test helps to ensure that the results are as accurate and reliable as possible. Preparation for these two types of tests is slightly different. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions before your appointment. It is important that you follow these instructions exactly to ensure accurate test results.

  • Gout is a disease in which the metabolism of uric acid is defective. Uric acid is a breakdown product of nitrogen, formed when protein is metabolized in the body. Uric acid is the form in which reptiles excrete their nitrogen wastes.

  • Dystocia (difficult birth or egg binding) happens when the female reptile is unable to pass her eggs or fetus. It is a reasonably common problem in reptiles and can be life threatening. It is a problem seen with snakes, turtles and lizards. It is caused by a variety of factors.

  • The Colubridae comprises the largest family of snakes, with over one thousand species. The vast majority are harmless, although they can bite. Some colubrids are small insectivorous species while others can be larger (constrictor snakes such the racer and the indigo snake).

  • While there are many species of pythons and boas, those noted here are among the easiest to keep; however, constrictor snakes, like the very large reticulated python, can be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced keeper, while others, such as the royal python, can be frustrating because of their long periods of not eating. Therefore, if you are choosing your first pet snake, you may want to go with an easier to keep, relatively smaller snake, such as a rainbow boa.

  • You should try to provide the biggest cage possible. The type of cage you set up must be appropriate for the specific needs of the different species. Smaller species or juvenile snakes often do well in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium, or even a plastic container (cut small air holes!).