Reptile Scale Rot

Reptile scale rot, also known as Dysecdysis, is a skin infection that causes scales to become discolored, lose their sheen, and sometimes fall off. It’s caused by a combination of factors including improper husbandry and nutrition, inadequate hygiene, and underlying health problems. Reptiles suffering from scale rot can have discomfort and may be at risk for secondary infections.

Symptoms of Reptile Scale Rot

Symptoms of Reptile Scale Rot can vary, but commonly include:

  • Discolored scales that appear faded
  • Cracked or crusty scales
  • Raised or swollen scales
  • Appetite loss

The affected area can also be swollen, have a soft texture, and feel warm to the touch. In more serious cases, the scales could become raised and even detach from their skin. Other signs of scale rot include:

  • excessive shedding in the affected area
  • presence of pus or a foul odor.

Diagnosing Reptile Scale Rot

Diagnosing Reptile Scale Rot can be done through physical examination and observation, as well as laboratory testing. Your veterinarian will examine the affected area, looking for any signs of infection or discoloration. They could also take a swab sample to test for bacterial and fungal infections. In some cases, further testing such as blood tests or radiographs will be necessary to rule out other potential causes of their symptoms.

Stages of Reptile Scale Rot

Reptile scale rot is typically broken down into three stages: early, middle, and late.

Stage 1

In the early stage, affected scales will appear faded or discolored and can be slightly raised.

Stage 2

In the middle stage, the scales become thicker and begin to detach from the skin as they are replaced by new scales; this process is called sloughing.

Stage 3

The late stage is associated with thickened scales that have completely detached from their skin and form a crust-like layer over the affected area. In this stage, the risk of secondary infections is increased.

Treating Reptile Scale Rot

Treating Reptile Scale Rot will vary depending on the severity of the infection and any underlying causes. Treatment typically includes a combination of antibiotics, antifungals, and other medications to reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and fungi, and promote healing. In some cases, the surgical removal of affected scales could be necessary.

Proper husbandry and nutrition is an essential part of treating scale rot.

Preventing Reptile Scale Rot

Preventing Reptile Scale Rot can be done through proper husbandry and nutrition, as well as good hygiene. It’s important to maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels for your reptile, because these can cause scale rot. 

Making sure your reptile has a balanced diet with appropriate vitamins and minerals is key in preventing this condition. Proper cleaning and disinfecting their enclosures and equipment is also important to prevent scale rot.