Bearded Dragon Behavior, Health Care, Diseases and Illness
Bearded dragon behavior provides clues to the their health and well-being. Providing environments that allow bearded dragons to express natural behaviors and interpreting those behaviors is an important part of care.
Keeping reptiles in captivity requires consideration of not only anything that can impact their immediate health (such as burns, impaction, attacks from other animals and poisons) but also health issues that build up slowly over time (such as kidney disease, gout and periodontal disease). The best means to prevent and control any illness or disease is through providing the correct care.
Other health considerations are those which impact reptile keepers and potentially even their family, such as Salmonella.
Burns – Heat Rocks and Other Heat Sources
Reptiles are prone to burn injuries with one of the culprits being heated rocks. While there are some who sell these products claiming that this is no longer an issue with the latest heated rocks and that they are safe there are still vets who are having to treat the resulting burns reptiles. The heat rock does not need to malfunction to cause burns, it can simply have hot spots and mixed with the sensory deficiency of the bearded dragons belly.
Douglas R Mader (MS, DVM, DABVP) delves into sensory deficiency in reptiles and possible causes in an article Understanding thermal burns in reptile patients (Proceedings). This article goes further into the ways that reptiles receive heat naturally, burn injuries, types of burns and treatments.
Fecal samples for parasite testing
As more and more online services become available, vets have competition for parasite testing. While this does appear to be quite attractive, it is not necessarily effective and could lead to incorrect results.
Tests are best performed on stools less than 24 hours old to minimize development or destruction of parasites which will inhibit testing. Samples kept between 4 to 8°c will reduce the development or destruction of some parasites, however others, i.e., flagellates are best kept alive at room temperature.
A teaspoon sized sample is sufficient from two or more stools as evidence of parasites can be intermittently shed and may not be apparent in a single stool. Seal the sample in a zip lock bag or sample. If obtaining a sample is not possible prior to visiting the vets, the vets will be able to extract a sample.
1 Fry, Bryan. (2105) Venomous Reptiles and Their Toxins: Evolution, Pathophysiology, and Biodiscovery.
Oxford University Press
2 Laboratory Diagnosis Of Protozoal Infections In Reptile Feces: Status Quo And Visions Conference: 2012 International Conference On Reptile And Amphibian Medicine, At Cremona, Italy (reviewed by Hnizdo and Pantchev 2010)
Research Articles on Parasites
Diagnosis of gastrointestinal parasites in reptiles: comparison of two coprological methods
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 2014, 56:44
Denis Wolf, Majda Globokar Vrhovec, Klaus Failing, Christophe Rossier, Carlos Hermosilla and Nikola Pantchev