Lizards are relatively hardy animals, but can still end up with bite wounds, crushed or broken toes, broken tails or cuts and scrapes. Minor wounds can be treated without a visit to the vet, but precautions must be taken to prevent the injury from becoming infected. Serious injuries require professional attention. Taking the time to learn how to treat your lizard's wounds is an important step in providing appropriate care.
Pet lizards may receive wounds from a number of sources. Other lizards in the same cage may cause bites or scratches. Prey animals, such as mice, can damage meat-eating species. Lizards can also injure themselves on objects in their cage, causing scrapes, cuts and crushed limbs. If your lizard escapes its cage, it may be injured during the recapture process or by another household pet.
Reptile owners commonly believe that their pets require no veterinary treatment, since reptiles so rarely show pain or illness. Untreated wounds stand a significant chance of becoming infected, and your lizard will need to see a vet for proper care of large wounds. Lizards left to heal naturally may heal poorly, get substrate in their wounds or develop life-threatening bacterial infections.
Ordinary reptile enclosures present a hazard to a wounded animal. Cage mates could aggravate the injuries or out-compete the wounded lizard for food. Place your lizard in a separate, sterile enclosure while it heals. Use paper towels, clean paper or similar materials for bedding and avoid sand, wood shavings and other small bedding that could become caught in the wounds. Wash your hands before and after handling the injured lizard.
Reduce the chance of injury to your lizard by removing all unstable heavy objects (like stacked stones) from the cage, and housing other reptiles separately at the first sign of aggression. Stun live prey before offering it or feed only prekilled animals. Never hold your lizard by its tail or legs, and keep cats and other household pets out of the room where the lizard is housed to prevent accidents.
Wounds should be disinfected and bandaged as soon as possible. Irrigate the wound with a Betadine/saline solution or iodine solution, or place the lizard in a soaking container filled with the solution. Always leave room for the lizard to breathe when soaking. Minor wounds can be coated in antibiotic ointment and allowed to heal or wrapped in a bandage and secured with Vetrap or a similar product. Do not use tape on reptiles, as it can damage their scales. For treatment of serious wounds, contact your vet immediately.
- Photo Credit lizard image by Andrii IURLOV from Fotolia.com
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