Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center

5166 Monroe St. Suite 306
Toledo, OH 43623

(419)843-3137

www.birdandexotics.com

Reptile Corner

This section is all about REPTILES! Reptiles can be very rewarding pets but take a large amount of time and very specific husbandry needs. Click through the side links for fact sheets, the leading UVB lighting systems in the market, and links to other great reptile sites. Also, if it is your first time to our clinic with your reptile, feel free to print and fill out the "Reptile History Form" to save time at your appointment (Located on the main page under this tab).

 

Salmonella Bacteria and Reptiles
by Teresa Bradley, DVM and Frederick L. Angulo DMV, PhD.

Most, if not all, reptiles carry Salmonella bacteria in their intestinal tract and intermittently or continuously shed these bacteria in their feces. Salmonella bacteria usually do not cause any illness in reptiles, but can cause serious illness in people.

Salmonella bacteria can be easily spread from reptiles to humans by ingestion of the bacteria. Humans may become infected when they place their hands or other objects, including food items that have been in contact with the stool of reptiles, in their mouths. For example, infants have become infected after drinking bottles of infant formula that became contaminated during preparation. Individuals who prepared the formula had not washed their hands after touching a reptile or because reptiles were allowed to walk on kitchen counters.

Unlike other pets, just petting the reptile can result in transmission of the bacteria because of the way reptiles are housed. Fecal material may be anywhere on the body of a reptile. Therefore, a person handling a reptile without washing their hands immediately afterwards could become infected with Salmonella if he or she then puts his or her hands in their mouth, eats, drinks or smokes.

Most Salmonella infections in humans result in a mild self-limiting illness characterized by diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. However, the infection can spread to the bloodstream, bone marrow, or the nervous system, leading to severe and sometimes fatal illness. Such severe infections are more likely to occur in infants and in individuals whose immune system is compromised (for instance, bone marrow transplant recipients, persons with diabetes mellitus, persons infected with the human immune deficiency virus, and chemotherapy patients).

Unfortunately, Salmonella bacteria cannot be eliminated from the intestinal tract of reptiles. Administration of antibiotics to eliminate these bacteria has been unsuccessful and may result in emergence of Salmonella bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Attempts to raise or identify reptiles that do not carry Salmonella bacteria have also been unsuccessful; therefore, bacterial culture of stool samples in an attempt to identify reptiles that are not carrying Salmonella bacteria is not recommended.

Fortunately the spread of Salmonella bacteria from reptiles to humans can be easily prevented by using the following routine precautions:

  • Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water after handling reptiles, reptile cages and equipment, or the stool of reptiles.
  • Do not allow reptiles to have access to the kitchen, dining room or any other area in which food is prepared. Also, do not allow reptiles to have access to bathroom sinks and tubs or to any area where infants are bathed. Consider keeping your reptiles caged or limiting the parts if the house where reptiles are allowed to roam free. Always wash your hands after coming into contact with any area where reptiles are allowed to roam free.
  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while handling reptiles, reptile cages, or reptile equipment. Do not kiss reptiles or share food or drink with them.
  • Do not use the kitchen sink, kitchen counters, bathroom sinks or bathtubs to bathe reptiles or to wash reptile cages, dishes or aquariums. Reptile owners may wish to purchase a plastic basin or tub in which to bathe or swim their reptiles. Waste water and fecal material should be disposed of in the toilet instead of the bathtub or household sink.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children less than five years of age avoid contact with reptiles and that households with children less than five years of age not own reptiles. The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians encourages reptile owners with young children to discuss steps to minimize risks associated with owning reptiles with their reptile’s veterinarian and their physician. Children should be supervised when they are handling reptiles to ensure they do not place their hands or objects that a reptile has contacted in their mouths. Reptiles should not be kept in child care centers.
  • Immuno compromised persons should avoid contact with reptiles.
  • Follow instructions from your reptile’s veterinarian concerning proper diet and environment for your reptile. Healthy reptiles living in proper environments may be less likely to shed Salmonella bacteria, however to prevent transmission of Salmonella to humans, all reptiles should be handled as though they are shedding the bacteria.

Information in this handout is not meant to discourage reptile ownership. With a few exceptions (for example, infants or immune compromised individuals), most people have a low risk of acquiring salmonellosis from reptiles, but this risk can be reduced even further by following simple precautions. Reptiles can be safely kept as pets, but reptile owners should be aware of the methods for reducing their risk of acquiring Salmonella bacteria from their reptiles.

Handout distributed by: Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. P.O. Box 605, Chester Heights, PA 19017 www.arav.org  

This handout was developed by the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians in collaboration with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention and is intended for informational purposes only; please seek advice from your physician and your reptile’s veterinarian if questions or problem occur. 

 

Toledo Herpetological Society

The purpose of this organization is to educate the general public and the organization's members regarding the ecological role, proper care and breeding, and legal issues pertaining to reptiles and amphibians; to provide an open forum for the exchange of resourced, information and ideas concerning herpetology; and to adopt guidelines for the proper care and breeding of reptiles and amphibians.

This group is great for anyone interested in herps and or would like more knowledge on their pet. They meet the third Thursday of every month (September - May) at the Toledo Natural Science and Technology Center - 5561 Elmer Drive, Toledo. For Map Click Here. 

For more information about this group and about membership registration Click here.

All members that are able to show proof of membership can receive a $15 discount on all full priced yearly physical exams at our office.

 

Herpetological Care Sheet Sources

One of the most important topics for your herp is their husbandry needs. Without proper lighting, diet, and enclosure set up, they can have a multitude of health issues and or illnesses. When they have their enclosure set up properly they can live a healthy happy life. Below are some sites with good websites for information.

Toledo Herpetological Care Sheet: They have a great variety of quick care sheets: Click Here

Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care Collection: A great variety with plenty of Information: Click Here

Or Google:  Eileen Underwood for Care Sheets on Bearded Dragon, Iguanas and other reptiles of interest.

 

Not All Bulbs Are Created Equal

One of the most important husbandry cares are the quality of your herps UVB lighting source. Reptile, like humans can not absorb calcium with out the use of Vitamin D3 from a UVB source. When reptiles eat food with calcium and when you apply calcium to their food source, the calcium stays in their system until the vitamin from the UVB pulls it out to be absorbed into their body for various functions and bone growth. This is why having a high quality UVB is so important for ALL reptiles. Not all bulbs are created equal though, some bulbs do not last as long as other and some UVB is not as strong as others. Most bulbs that are bought in a pet store only have usable UVB for about 6 months from when you buy the bulb, even if the bulb itself still works. So every 6 months you should buy a new UVB bulb. The two good quality bulbs that are sold at pet stores are ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 and 5.0 LF and ExoTerra ReptiGlo 5.0 LF.

The leading UVB bulb in the whole industry is called the Mega Ray. You are only able to purchased it on-line. (Below is the link to the website) This bulb is more expensive on the front end but the bulbs UVB lasts for 1 to 1.5 years, which is two to three times longer then the ones you can buy from the stores. In the end it comes out to be about equal.

The other important UVB source comes from sun light when it is warmer outside. Once the warmer weather of spring comes and through till the early part of fall, owners of reptiles are able to take their herps out into the direct sunlight for 20 - 30 minutes for as little are 3 times but up to everyday. This allows the reptiles to absorb the best form of UVB from the sun light. Cautions: Make sure your reptile is always securely in your hands or on a leash. Also, never let them out in the sunlight with out supervision since other animals can enter your yard and harm them.

Along with UVB, in order for reptiles to absorb calcium they must eat calcium. There are many great calcium sources from the dark leafy greens and other veggies they eat, however, they can not get enough calcium from food alone. Owners of reptile must use a Calcium Carbonate powder to dust their food with. We recommend a straight Calcium Carbonate powder with nothing else added to it of a human grade source. We sell a large container for under $10 that will last for a few years, if you need an easy way to locate some.

Check out one of the leading UVB lights in the industry currently at Reptile UV.

Article Index

Reptile Corner - Salmonella - Toledo Herpetological Society - Herpetological Care Sheets - UVB Lighting - All Pages (Reptiles)