Monsters Inside Me?

According to Dr. Byron de la Navarre, Past-President of the Association of Reptilian & Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), intestinal parasites are one of the most common ailments affecting reptiles.  “In captivity, the concentration of parasites may be much higher (than in the wild) and therefore more dangerous.”  He elaborates on the danger saying, “In general, parasitized reptiles and amphibians have a shorter life span, tend to be more susceptible to disease, and have a generally unthrifty appearance. So it is for these reasons that it is strongly recommended to accurately diagnose and treat for all observed parasites in captive reptiles and amphibians.” (DVM360.com)

What are these monsters within?

Reptiles can contract over a dozen different types of intestinal parasites. “The most common intestinal parasites we see at Argyle Animal Clinic are pinworms, roundworms, protozoa and flagellates.”  explains veterinary technician Reeci Hill. Reptiles can be easily infected and the parasites can cause serious, even life threatening. Husbandry plays a critical part in protecting your pet, so please be sure to ask us what specific card is needed for your situation.

How do I know if my reptile has them?

Not all intestinal parasites can be seen with the naked eye.  Some, like roundworms, may be seen in their poop as little white worms.  Most, however, can only seen under a microscope.  It is important to follow recommendations such as Dr. de la Navarre’s and have your reptile routinely tested for parasites.

Collect a fresh sample of their poop (fecal sample) in a re-sealable plastic sandwich bag (you can use it inside out to pick up the sample). It will be diagnostic for up to 24 hours if kept in the refrigerator.

Drop the sample off at our office anytime during business hours and we’ll call you with the results.

Fecal exams should be done at least twice a year or anytime you see symptoms that could indicate infection. These could include:

  • Lethargy
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Abnormal appearing stools/diarrhea
  • Constipation/bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting/”belching”

Be sure to watch out for symptoms and contact us right away if you see anything unusual.

How did my reptile get them?

Captive reptiles can become infected with parasites from other reptiles, contaminated objects in their environment and some of the food they may eat.  Crickets and mice are primary culprits that can carry parasites that can be dangerous for reptiles. If you feed your reptile either of these we recommend having a fecal test run every 3 months.

Resource: http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Reptile-Parasites/