Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
  Issue 8 August 2008
Wellness Exams for Reptiles and Amphibians In this Issue

Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.


We all know that preventing disease or catching it in its early stages is far better than treating it once it has had time to progress to a more severe stage. Preventive health care on a regular basis will help you do just that, and save you and your pet needless suffering and a larger financial burden. Just as annual physical exams are recommended for humans, they are recommended for our pets as well.

Each herp should be examined and their husbandry and diet reviewed by a veterinarian at least once a year. Juveniles, geriatric animals, and those showing signs of disease often need more frequent exams.


During the annual physical exam you should review these aspects of your herp's husbandry, diet, and health with your veterinarian: Keeping your reptile's cage clean and sanitary will help prevent disease

  • How long you've owned the animal
  • Where you purchased the animal
  • What other animals you have in your household; if they are cagemates; and what is their health status
  • Housing, including cage size and type, bedding, cage furniture, and presence of cage plants; if and how often the herp leaves the cage; if the herp goes outside; cage hygiene
  • Heat sources, locations of thermometers, and temperature gradients
  • Light sources and frequency of bulb changes
  • Relative humidity of the cage, and water/humidity sources
  • Typical diet including brand names, if applicable; what and how much is offered and what and how much is eaten; feeding frequency
  • Description of the herp's feces and urates - color, amount, and consistency
  • Use of medications - type, brand name, and dose
  • Use of nutritional supplements (vitamins, minerals, gut loading) - type, brand name, and dose
  • Use of pesticides or any other treatments - type, brand name, and dose
  • Exposure to other herps (at shows, boarding, traveling)
  • Exposure to potential toxins (cleaning supplies, second hand smoke, heavy metals, pesticides)
  • Reproductive history
  • Any behavioral changes
  • Shedding history
  • Any medical problems noted (color changes, history of ingesting foreign objects, injuries, etc.)

Do not be surprised if your veterinarian spends more time talking with you than he/she does examining your herp. Most diseases in herps are related to husbandry and nutritional problems, so it is vital that these be reviewed with you carefully. During your discussions, be sure to ask any questions you may have regarding your herp's health and care. Now is the time to learn from your veterinarian's expertise.

Veterinary examination and testing Veterinarian examining a turtle

Usually the veterinary examination will include:

  • Recording of the weight and length of the herp
  • Observation of the animal's posture, movement, and attitude
  • Physical examination including eyes, tympanic membranes (ears), nose, mouth, skin, limbs, vent, and tail
  • Palpation of the abdomen and cloaca
  • Ausculation of the heart and lungs
  • Fecal examination for parasites
  • Complete blood count (and chemistry profile, depending upon the age and species of herp)
  • Radiographs (x-rays) if the herp laid eggs in the past year or a potential problem is identified

By providing your veterinarian with as much information as possible, and having your herp examined regularly, you can help your pet remain in top condition, healthy, and happy. Remember, prevention is key!


  1. Wellness Exams for Reptiles and Amphibians
  2. Creating Fake Rocks in your cage
  3. In the News
  4. Get Paid to write an article
  5. Tell Us What You Think
  6. Feedback and Updating

Other Issues

Other Articles & Resources

Creating Fake Rocks in your cage

I recently was contacted by Andy of Now, while I offer instructions when you purchase the plans, Andy has taken it one step further by producing free videos and some fantastic looking structures you can build in your cage. The materials are almost the same, but his ideas raise the bar on your pet's landscape. Have a read through this and check out his site!

Have you ever wanted to create a realistic natural looking landscape for your pet lizard? can show you how to create a landscape that will please your eyes
as well as your pet's.  The process of creating what's called "fake rock" can be rather easy and quick; or you can let your imagination get carried away and spend weeks if not months creating a complex fake rock wall that reintroduces a slice of the "wild" to your pet lizard. provides in-depth articles taking you through the process step-by-step with examples of beginner level fake rock structures as well as complex fake rock structures. 

fake rock walls for your reptile cage

Learn better with video?

There are also lengthy instructional videos that provide a helpful -voice over- to guide you

through your creation. Cure your lizard's boredom by creating something for him or her to climb on, hide under or bask upon!
Here is the link:

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In the News

Cold blooded smuggling

Cold blooded snuggling

Aged cold blooded snuggling

Too small to snuggle

Of interest...

World Herp Congress - Abstract Papers


Get Paid to write an article

Keeping Reptiles will pay you to write and article. Ideally it will be 500-1500 words. These can be care sheets, funny stories, herp hunting trips, hints and tips or anything herp related.

Payment will be based on the number of words and published at editors discretion.

Tell Us What You Think!!

We would love to hear what you think of this (or any other) issue of Keeping Reptiles.

And of course, if you have any suggestions, photos, links, care sheets or whatever for upcoming issues that you'd like to share with us, please send those, too!

These could also include:

  • Great herp web-sites
  • Why you pet reptile is fantastic
  • Funny things that happened
  • Dumb**s things that happened
  • Images you'd like to share.

Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

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