Pet Health Articles

Reptiles

  • Gout is a disease in which the metabolism of uric acid is defective. Uric acid is a breakdown product of nitrogen, formed when protein is metabolized in the body. Uric acid is the form in which reptiles excrete their nitrogen wastes.

  • Dystocia (difficult birth or egg binding) happens when the female reptile is unable to pass her eggs or fetus. It is a reasonably common problem in reptiles and can be life threatening. It is a problem seen with snakes, turtles and lizards. It is caused by a variety of factors.

  • A wild reptile may spend many hours a day basking in the sun, absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light; these wavelengths of light are necessary for the body to manufacture the vitamin D3 it needs for proper calcium absorption from the intestines. Vitamin D3 is manufactured in the skin.

  • The Colubridae comprises the largest family of snakes, with over one thousand species. The vast majority are harmless, although they can bite. Some colubrids are small insectivorous species while others can be larger (constrictor snakes such the racer and the indigo snake).

  • Boas are a group of medium to large sized, non-venomous snakes found in South and Central America, Madagascar, Papua and the Pacific Islands. Pythons are a group of non-venomous snakes found in Africa, Asia and Australia. Some members of this family are amongst the largest snakes in the world.

  • Common conditions of pet snakes include infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, blister disease, inclusion body disease, respiratory disease, and septicemia.

  • There are NO vegetarian snakes; all species are carnivores. The diet depends on the species. Some will specifically eat warm blooded prey (rodents, rabbits, birds), while others eat insects, frogs or amphibians, eggs, other reptiles, fish, earthworms, or slugs. Snakes swallow their food whole.

  • You should try to provide the biggest cage possible. The type of cage you set up must be appropriate for the specific needs of the different species. Smaller species or juvenile snakes often do well in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium, or even a plastic container (cut small air holes!).

  • There are approximately 2,500 of different species of snakes. Several species of snakes are commonly kept as pets. These include king snakes, rat snakes, garter snakes, corn snakes, various pythons (particularly the lovely Royal Ball Python) and various boa constrictors (especially the common Boa constrictor).

  • Snakes have several unique problems and understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems.