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New Reptile- Quarantine, and signs of Illness


     According to Dr. Craig Mosley DVM, the number one disorder that he, and many other reptile veterinarians see regularly is poor husbandry! During his lecture at the Toronto Reptile Symposium in 1997 he also went on to say "Most breeding and diet related (anorexia) symptoms and disorders are the result of heating and or lighting problems." i.e. improper temps or improper photoperiod. I knew that- but perhaps some of you didn't.

     He started his talk by discussing quarantining new animals- sound familiar? :) If you've ever corresponded with me at all regarding keeping multiple animals this topic should be familiar to you, because I've been recommending periods of quarantine for new animals for years.

     He suggests a quarantine period of 6 months (minimum 2 months!) because some disease take much more than a month to become apparent. Apparently Inclusion body disease (IBD) in Boas and Pythons, in one study, took 28 days to incubate in the snakes. The snakes were infected on purpose to see how long it took the retrovirus to start making the animal ill. If a person with either of these types of snakes were to quarantine for only 1 month (or not at all) the risk of infecting the rest of the collection would be much higher!

     He suggests giving the new animal an enclosure in a separate room, separate air space if possible. Give it the simplest of cage furnishings as well. Craig suggested that only newsprint be used as substrate, and that stainless steel dishes be used for food and water- much easier to clean and disinfect. Rubbermaid dishes could be used as hideboxes- easy to clean again.

     Also, while the animal is in quarantine parasite testing, and deworming if necessary, should be done during this time. External parasites should also be eliminated at that time too.

     Cleaning of dishes, care, and cleaning of cages of quarantined animals should be done last so as to prevent the spread of possible contamination to the healthy animals in your collection.

Signs of illness in any animal, but in particular new specimens:

  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • regurgitation,
  • respiratory discharge,
  • anorexia (low appetite or no appetite),
  • external parasites or visible internal parasites in the stool,
  • and neurological signs such as twitching.

     Sick, dying, and even dead animals should be examined by a vet. If the animal has died tissue samples can be taken for examination to determine the cause of death. This could be important if it was an infectious disease that could affect your other animals.

How to Clean the cage properly:

     Cages should be thoroughly cleaned once a week to once a month- depending upon size and I suppose how dirty your reptile makes the cage. :)

     Disinfectant and Soaps should be used when cleaning cages and pool areas.

     The area to be clean should first be scrubbed with a soap- dishwashing soap is fine. Scrub well to remove all dirt. If dirt remains when you use a disinfectant that area may not be disinfected properly. Once done soaping and scrubbing the area should be thoroughly rinsed with water. After that a disinfectant can be applied on a sponge.

     The disinfectant should be left in place for 15 to 20 minutes to let it do it's job. Dr. Mosley suggests using a quatricide disinfectant or a bleach. He says both are effective. There are many products that are quatricide- ascend is one. You can get these products through your vet, pharmacy, or through mail order houses like Big Apple Herp. These solutions have to be diluted according to direction. Bleach solutions should also be diluted 1-32 as in 30 ml of bleach to 1 litre of water.

Water Dragon Books

Green Water Dragons, Sailfin Lizards and Basilisks (General Care and Maintenance of Series) by Philippe De Vosjoli

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      Basic but detailed information about the care, diet, and health of green water dragons, sailfin lizards and basilisks.

Anoles, Basilisks, and Water Dragons Anoles, Basilisks and Water Dragons : A Complete Pet Care Manual (More Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett (Contributor)

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     Discussion of the general care of many species of anole, basilisks and water dragons. Excellent information regarding enclosures, cage building, and insect care and breeding.

Eat this Bug Eat This Bug : A Guide to Invertebrate Live Foods for Reptiles and Amphibians by Lynn Davis

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      This book is a guide for owners of reptiles and amphibians who feed insects and other live foods to their pets. Advice is offered for selecting , ordering and raising your own supply of live invertebrate foods. More than a dozen species of live foods are discussed. The book includes instructions on keeping cultures of insects, and recipes & diets for insects.

Last updated
Mar, 19, 2010

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