Reptile Health Exam

Reptiles, like all pets, require a regular examination, usually annually or semi-annually, by a veterinarian who specializes in such creatures. For many species, short-term anesthesia may be necessary, either because the animal may bite the veterinarian or because, in the case of turtles and tortoises, the animal may withdraw into its shell, making examination impossible. It is also possible that the vet will choose to anesthetize the reptile to reduce possible stress since stress is a major contributing factor to premature mortality in captive reptiles.

The components of a reptile health exam will include some or all of the following:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Fecal analysis
  • Microbiological tests
  • X-rays

During physical examination, the reptile is weighed and evaluated for general appearance and mobility. A medical history is taken and the pet's diet and home environment are evaluated. The veterinarian palpates various parts of the animal's body to check for abnormalities. If any unusual lumps, swellings or protrusions are discovered, the doctor may want to do further testing.

Blood tests during a regular reptile examination include a complete blood count and a check of enzyme levels. Microscopic examination of the reptile's stool is performed in order to detect any internal parasites. In addition, skin scrapings are taken. These are stained for better microscopic visualization so the doctor can discover any abnormal yeast or bacteria. In most cases, an infection or infestation can be successfully treated with prescribed medication.

If any abnormalities in bones, joints or organs are detected during the examination, the veterinarian may order X-rays to check for tumors, abnormal accumulations of fluid, fractures or other conditions.

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