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Reptiles

  • A 20-gallon aquarium is usually adequate to begin with, depending on the size of the turtle, but as your turtle grows, you may need to provide it with a 60-100-gallon aquarium. Newspaper, butcher paper, paper towels, or commercially available paper-based pelleted bedding or reptile carpet is recommended. Cedar wood shavings should never be used. Rocks and hiding places should be provided. Provide a shallow water dish or pan with a ramp to help the turtle climb in and out of the dish to soak and drink. Turtles are ectotherms and therefore require a heat source in the tank to establish a temperature gradient within the tank. Hot rocks or sizzle rocks are dangerous and should not be used. UV light is essential for turtles to manufacture vitamin D3 needed for proper calcium absorption. Failure to provide UV light can predispose turtles to metabolic bone disease. If you house your turtle outdoors, it should be contained within an escape-proof enclosure. Make sure a shaded area is provided to enable your turtle to cool off from the sun, as well as a hiding area to provide seclusion and escape from rain.

  • As an iguana grows, it must be moved to a larger enclosure, with accommodation for both horizontal and vertical movement. Glass or Plexiglas® enclosures with good ventilation are ideal. The cage bottom should be easy to disinfect and keep clean, with a screened top to prevent your pet from escaping, while still allowing some ventilation. A source of heat and UV light must be provided for iguanas. All reptiles require a heat source, such as a ceramic heat-emitting bulb, in their tanks to provide warmth. Ideally, the cage should be set up so that a heat gradient is established, with the tank warm on one and cooler on the other. The cage temperature should be monitored closely. For UV light to be effective, it must reach the pet directly, without being filtered out by glass or plastic between the pet and the bulb. The bulb should be approximately a foot away from the animal and be on for 10-12 hours per day, mimicking a normal daylight cycle.

  • If your pet had an emergency crisis, how would you manage it? Ask your veterinary hospital how they handle after-hour emergencies. Use this handout to help you plan ahead and be prepared in the event of a pet-health emergency.

  • Iguanas are generally a very hardy reptile under that proper conditions. There are a number of common ailments that affect iguanas. Early communication with a reptile veterinarian about changes in your iguana's health status is critical.

  • Iguanas make fairly good pets for the right owner. Since they can live up to 15 years and can grow up to 6 feet, proper housing and space must be considered for the long term care. Proper care, housing and nutrition is essential to help your iguana live a healthy life.

  • Iguanas face several health problems that will need veterinary intervention for treatment or resolution. Cystic calculi, dystocia, avascular necrosis and dysecdysis are all common problems that will need medical attention sooner rather than later.

  • Itraconazole is given by mouth in the form of a capsule, tablet, or liquid to treat fungal infections in cats and for off label treatment in dogs and small mammals. The most common side effects are anorexia, vomiting, liver toxicity, skin lesions, or limb and vessel swelling. It should not be used in pets with liver disease or low stomach acid production, and used with caution in pregnant, lactating, or pets with heart disease. If a negative reaction occurs, call your veterinary office.

  • Ketoconazole is an antifungal given by mouth in the form of a tablet, used off label to treat fungal infections in dogs, cats, small mammals, and reptiles. The most common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it, and use severe caution when using in cats or pregnant pets. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Leopard geckos make great pets for the children and adults. They do not require elaborate set-ups and have a 10-15 year life span with good health care, a clean environment, and proper feeding.

  • A wild reptile typically spends many hours a day basking in the sun, absorbing ultraviolet (UV) light; necessary for the manufacture of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is manufactured in the skin and is required for proper calcium absorption from food. Failure to provide UV light can predispose a pet reptile to nutritional metabolic bone disease, an overly common condition of pet reptiles that is fatal if not recognized and treated. Bulbs should be replaced every six months or as directed by the manufacturer. Regular exposure to natural direct sunlight outside is encouraged and recommended whenever possible. Most reptile owners are advised by veterinarians to keep light exposure and temperature variations consistent in their pet’s enclosure to help reptiles maintain appropriate body temperatures and feeding cycles and to stimulate proper immune function, thereby helping keep pets healthy.

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