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Snout Rubbing- Effects of, and Prevention


What do the effects of Snout Rubbing look like?

      I'm frequently asked- "What does the effects of nose rubbing look like on a WD nose? Is it a pus-filled bump that I should be looking for or discoloration? Maybe it's flesh degradation?"

      It can be as mild as slightly darkened skin on the snout, slight bruising, or more moderate such as a scab, skin and tissue scraped off, reddened areas, swelling, or severe- damaged tissue accompanied by cheesy white pus, reddened areas and swelling ... Of course even a slightly darkened area on the skin can have a raging infection going on underneath. :(

     Once the dragon actually starts to lose tissue from it's snout you can count that damage as permanent. :( Unless it's very mild damage to a scale, the tissue will not grow back.

      If infection sets in and you can't control it with neosporin or an antibiotic ointment then the next step is prescribed antibiotics from the vet.

     If damage and infection isn't taken care of properly (usually by a vet with prescribed meds) the infection can get into the bone and cause bone death. That's why you see so many dragons missing part of their upper or lower jaw, or worse - parts of both!). The infection can get into the blood stream and become a systemic infection causing your dragon to become very ill and perhaps even die.

How To Prevent Snout Rubbing

     The behaviour of snout rubbing, and the potential damage that it causes is serious! Abrasions and infections can be treated but if the underlying cause of the snout rubbing isn't fixed the problem will repeat itself over and over again. :(

Some suggestions

      Don't use a glass tank if at all possible. Water dragons do not and will not ever recognize glass and will repeatedly bang and rub their snouts on the glass, probably thinking "I can see through this so I have to be able to get through this somehow if I just keep trying" ...

     Water dragons do best in large enclosures that are made of non-transparent sides ... such as wood or melamine. Even screen sides can cause major problems. The front of the cage can be glass, plexiglass or even screen ... but all of the rest should be a solid non transparent material.

     If you must use a tank please:

  • Make sure the tank really is large enough for your dragon! I recommend nothing less than a 50 gallon tank- and that is for a baby! Adult dragons need 100 gallon or larger tanks. Period.
  • Take the time to adjust the angles of your basking lights so that they don't cause too much reflection on the inside of the tank. If a dragon walks up to the side of the enclosure and there is a reflection there it sees itself ... but it doesn't realize that it's only seeing it's reflection, it thinks that the dragon it sees is a strange dragon trying to get into it's territory... so it runs up to the glass and tries to fight it's reflection or scare it off by arm waving and bobbing ... and head butting the glass! Even with some paper around the outsides lower edges of the tank the reflection may still be there ... so please adjust the lights!
  • Go out and buy some nice background paper from the pet store ... the kind with scenes on both sides is nice because both the dragon and you will have something nice to look at on the lower edges of the tank ... just bear in mind that this paper is usually glossy and can cause more reflections ... so you might just want to use plain paper, or a latex paint perhaps ... Cut the paper so it's about 6 inches in height. Then tape it along the outside bottom edges of the tank. Now the dragon will have to either sit nice or stand up against the glass to see out. It still may rub it's snout a bit ... but not nearly as much as it did before.
  • A thick wall of plants along the inside edges of the enclosure ... you can do this along with the paper or instead of the paper on the outside ... only problem is without the paper, if the plants aren't thick enough the dragon might still be able to see openings and get at the glass and start rubbing. The plants will also hide some of the reflections on the inside of the glass. The only major problem with this method is that if the plants are thick enough to make an effective border they might also be thick enough for the dragon to climb on top of and get at the glass above the plants ... and rub it's snout again. :( Same thing with climbing branches that are too near the glass walls ... dragons will repeatedly jump at the glass from the branch or lean over and rub their faces against the glass from a branch.

      There is no sure way to completely eliminate snout rubbing unless you let your dragon free roam ... but that has it's own set of problems (heating and lighting for a whole room for example) and if the dragon can still get to a window or glass object it might rub it's snout. :(

     The next best thing, again, is a large enclosure made of non translucent materials.

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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