Reptile Bacterial Infection

Reptile bacterial infections are a major concern for pet owners and should be taken seriously. Bacterial infections in reptiles can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from appetite loss to lethargy and even death. Common bacteria responsible for reptile infections include Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus spp., Aeromonas hydrophila, and Escherichia coli.

The most common way for reptiles to become infected with bacteria is by contact with contaminated food, water, or their environment. Reptiles should be kept in clean enclosures and given fresh water daily. It’s also important to use separate utensils and containers when handling food and water for different reptiles to prevent cross-contamination.

If a reptile has any signs of illness, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for testing. Common tests used to diagnose bacterial infections include fecal cultures, bloodwork, and radiographs.

Symptoms of Reptile Bacterial Infection

  • Appetite loss 
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or abnormal stool
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Discharge from their nostrils or mouth
  • Blood in their feces or vomit
  • Swelling, redness, and pain in any area of their body

Diagnosing Reptile Bacterial Infection

The most common method of diagnosing a reptile bacterial infection is to take a sample of the reptile’s fecal matter and have it analyzed in a laboratory. The lab will check for the presence of bacteria and then identify which type it’s. This can help determine which antibiotics are best to treat the infection.

In some cases, your veterinarian could recommend additional tests such as a radiograph or bloodwork to get a better understanding of the infection.

Stages of Reptile Bacterial Infection

The Savannah-Monitor went hunting on a sunny day

Stage 1

The reptile is exposed to the bacteria and begins to have signs of infection.

Stage 2

Symptoms begin to worsen as the infection spreads throughout their body.

Stage 3

The reptile’s health deteriorates quickly as the infection takes hold. This stage can be fatal if left untreated.

Stage 4

With proper medical treatment, the reptile begins to recover and the infection is cured.

Treating Reptile Bacterial Infection

Once the type of bacteria responsible for the infection has been identified, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics specific to the particular bacteria. It’s important to follow the instructions closely and finish all doses as prescribed, even if your reptile appears to be cured.

In some cases, a hospital stay could be required for more intensive treatment. This can include fluids to prevent dehydration, force-feeding to ensure proper nutrition, and other supportive therapies.

Preventing Reptile Bacterial Infection

There are many steps that pet owners can take to prevent bacterial infections in reptiles. Keeping the enclosure clean and providing fresh, uncontaminated food and water is essential. It’s also important to avoid overcrowding, which can increase the spread of bacteria.

Vaccinations can be recommended for certain species of reptile. This should be discussed with your veterinarian. Regular checkups with the vet can help detect any infections early, which could make treatment more successful.