Your vet may need to hospitalise your lizard either for a short period of a day or two whilst investigations are underway or for longer periods whilst treatment is undertaken.
We have a designated exotics room (our ‘hot ward’) which contains facilities to optimise your lizard’s environment, providing the conditions essential to recovery.
As with all reptiles, lizards are ectothermic, or cold- blooded, relying entirely on environmental conditions and warmth to drive their metabolism.
Correct environment is the most influential factor in raising a healthy happy reptile.
Whilst in hospital your lizard and it’s environment are frequently monitored and treatments are provided by our team of British and Australian qualified veterinary staff.
We carry a large selection of food items. If however your pet has unusual dietary preferences that your vet still sees as suitable, you may be asked to bring some in for the duration of its stay.
We recommend health checks for your newly acquired lizards and, from then on, yearly health checks.
Our health checks aim to create awareness of optimum feeding and home care as well as diagnose andtreat any existing health problems early in the disease process.
Our health checks include a full physical examination where your vet will examine your lizards from nose to tail for outward signs of disease. At additional cost further tests are available such as;
You will be asked a series of important questions about your snake including:
It is a good idea for you (or your representative in the consultation) to have thought about these issues and checked that you know as many details as possible before your visit.
Yes, it is possible for your lizard to get fat!
In fact, it is quite common for lizards in captivity to be overweight owing either to being fed too much, too often or simply eating the wrong type of food items – particularly being fed on high fat items.
The good news is we can help you with advice to try and get your lizard in more appropriate condition.
To help avoid obesity issues we recommend regular weighing and measuring of your lizard so that your vet can determine his/her BODY CONDITION SCORE – that is, a quantitative assessment of weight to size and body fat to muscling)
This can be done by our veterinarians during a physical examination.
Husbandry is essentially the ‘care’ that you provide for your pet and includes housing, bedding (substrate), hides (caves, plants etc.), humidity, heating and lighting.
Each species of lizard (and there are approximately 5,600 recorded) has very specific husbandry needs and it is essential that you know these requirements.
We see vegetarian iguanas, insect eating chameleons, sun loving bearded dragons and nocturnal geckoes. All need totally different environments and diets.
Don’t worry, we can help!
If you don’t know the species the vet can help you identify in the consultation. If it is an unusual species we may have to take some photos and do some research after the consultation.
The vast majority of problems we see are related to problems with husbandry.
Areas you need to consider, and which can be discussed further with your vet are:
Housing – Is he/she tree dwelling, a desert species, ground dwelling, a burrowing lizard?
Substrate – this is the ‘bedding’ used. Some types can look nice but actually be quite irritating or even poisonous to your lizard. Your pet may eat bedding material which can cause internal blockages. This is something we see quite often.
Hides – most lizards do not like being out in the open or exposed. They need to be able to choose from a selection of hides or resting places on branches in areas of appropriate temperature and humidity. If they cannot hide/rest then this can lead to stress associated and reproductive diseases.
Heating –Lizards are ectothermic; they are almost completely incapable of generating body heat and require appropriate environmental temperatures to achieve body temperatures necessary for metabolism (movement, digestion). A range of temperatures (the preferred optimum temperature zone or POTZ) is desirable so that your pet can chose a comfortable area. Again, it is important to know the species you have in order to determine what temperature range to provide.
Lighting – Diurnal lizards (those active during daylight) need exposure to full spectrum UV lighting (UVA = 400-315nm, UVB= 315-280nm) to support vision and crucial physiological processes such as calcium absorption. Not all UV bulbs are created equally – recent studies have shown that many bulbs on the market do not meet minimum requirements for UV emission. We recommend regular replacement of UV bulbs, every 6 months, as well as monitoring of UV output with a UV meter if possible (we have one, your bulb can be checked during the consult)
Humidity – Is your lizard from a desert or rainforest environment? Humidity requirements will vary drastically. Inappropriate levels can effect hydration, skin health and shedding.
Each species of lizard has very specific diet needs and it is essential that you know these requirements.
We work with insect eating geckos, omnivorous bearded dragons, and leaf eating iguana. There are even lizards that eat other lizards and Komodo dragons will even eat people!
Obviously this subject is very species dependent; you must know and research your species. Do not trust what the pet shop owner told you, or what the one forum you read claimed. Extensive research is important.
It is important not to take the easy route and just feed one or two items that you know are acceptable and your pet likes. In the wild they would have to take many types of insect, or plant, and this makes for a balanced diet.
We often see owners who explain that their iguana only likes romaine lettuce, or their gecko only likes crickets. It the wild the animal would not have this luxury, and this form of ‘spoiling’ is not good for their health.
Captive diets often need supplementation to provide balanced nutrition (for example, calcium and vitamin D3). This can be discussed in detail during your consultation – it is important to understand that, whilst supplementation is often necessary, it needs to be done under veterinary guidance as overdoses are possible and potentially very serious.
Food items used depend on what size and species of lizard you have. They need to be of good quality and free from disease and fed on healthy food (or ‘gut loaded’)
We usually do not recommend feeding of live prey for many reasons, one of which being the potential for injuries to your lizard, which could caused by live prey items such as mice. There are also welfare considerations for the poor prey!
Knowing the sex of your lizard is important – it has an influence on how you need to care for him/her and well as determining certain disease process he/she is susceptible to (for example female lizards may develop follicular stasis or egg binding)
Males will often fight and may need to be kept separate.
Many species of lizard are sexually dimorphic, this simply means that males & females look different. These differences are not obvious as hatchlings and should become more obvious as the lizards grow up.
The males may have bigger broader heads and necks, more muscle and may have more obvious ‘pores’ on the underside of their hind legs. Some males will have bulges behind the cloaca where the two hemi penises are (yes, lizards and snakes have two half penises! )
If the species does not have this visual difference, (or if you only have one animal it can be difficult to tell) then our vets may be able to help.
We have more experience, may be able to evert, or “pop out” the hemi penises or probe the cloaca.
DNA sex testing so far has been developed for iguanas and Komodo dragons (we hope none of our clients are keeping these!) and more species will be added as more research is done .