Reptile Skin Infections

a doctor holding up a sign that reads Reptile Skin Infections

Reptile skin infections are caused by a variety of things including bacteria, fungi, and parasites. 

It’s important to identify what’s causing the infection in order to treat it properly. Common bacterial skin infections in reptiles include Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, and Mycobacterium species. Fungal infections are most commonly caused by the genera Aspergillus and Fusarium. Parasitic skin infections are usually the result of mites, ticks, or lice.

Symptoms of Reptile Skin Infections

Reptile Skin Infection Symptoms can vary depending on the type of pathogen present. Common signs include:

Other symptoms can include:

  • Excessive scratching or rubbing
  • Increased shedding
  • Skin crusting or scabbing
  • Malodorous discharge from wounds
  • Changes in behavior such as lethargy or listlessness

Diagnosing Reptile Skin Infections

Diagnosing reptile skin infections can be difficult because the signs are often subtle and can be mistaken for other conditions. A sample of the affected area might need to be taken for laboratory analysis, such as culturing bacteria or examining under a microscope for parasites. Blood tests could also be necessary to rule out other underlying medical conditions.

Stages of Reptile Skin Infections

Reptile skin infections can progress through three stages of severity: mild, moderate, and severe.

The Savannah-Monitor trying to climb a rock

Stage 1

In the mild stage, the infection is localized and can only have skin discoloration or swelling. If left untreated, the infection can progress to a more severe state which can involve open sores or lesions as well as other symptoms such as excessive scratching or rubbing.

Stage 2

In the moderate stage, the infection is more widespread and can have open sores or lesions. These lesions could ooze a malodorous discharge or have skin crusting or scabbing. Your reptile might also have behavioral changes such as listlessness or lethargy.

Stage 3

In the severe stage, the infection is most widespread and has caused significant damage to their skin. This stage will require intensive treatment, including antibiotics or antifungal medications, and supportive care such as fluids and nutritional support.

Treating Reptile Skin Infections

Treating reptile skin infections depends on the type of pathogen present and the severity of their infection. Mild bacterial or fungal infections should be treated with topical medications, such as creams or gels. More severe infections may require systemic medications, such as antibiotics or antifungal drugs, which are administered orally or by injection. 

In addition to medication, supportive care is often necessary to promote healing and prevent further complications. Supportive care can include giving them a clean, warm environment; proper nutrition; and fluids as needed.

Preventing Reptile Skin Infections

Preventing reptile skin infections is key to keeping your pet healthy. Good husbandry practices such as regularly cleaning their enclosure and providing access to a basking area can help reduce the risk of infection. Proper diet and regular check-ups with a veterinarian are also important for maintaining overall health.

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of reptile skin infections so that they can be caught early before they become more severe. Keeping your pet’s enclosure clean, having a warm basking area, and feeding them a balanced diet are all important steps in preventing infection from occurring in the first place. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help identify any potential health issues early.