Everyday I surf through various social networks and reptile related websites both national and international. No, I don’t read or write in any other language except for English; Google Translator is a great tool. At least once a week, often times more, I receive questions or read someones question about reptiles that are ill or might be ill. Even worse the reptile may have become injured in some way physically as in maybe amputated tail, burn, or even a broken limb in the case of some lizard species.
For me this is commonplace, as any animal can; reptiles can become sick or ill. What I find so offensive is the fact, within about three comments there is someone who suggests how to treat the animal. Some of you may be wondering what I have against someone else suggesting a treatment for a sick or injured reptile.
We are after all a community aren’t we? Is that not what we are supposed to do is help one another out when our reptiles have an issue?
Sharing Information and Medication
Here’s my point of contention. Reptiles like humans are not all the same. You wouldn’t take a friend or relatives high blood pressure medication after stopping at the local pharmacy and getting a high reading from the blood pressure machine would you? Let’s say the doctor tells you you’re borderline diabetic, do you immediately run out and start dosing insulin that a relative is taking? This of course goes without mentioning the fact that no one except the owner of the reptile has placed hands on the animal to examine it.
I would say that about 90% of the reptile ailments I come across are instigated by husbandry issues.
Reptile importers often deworm reptiles with various products and that’s fine, I have no contention with that by any means. When I come across these comments of someone seeking treatment I will direct them towards a local reptile qualified veterinarian; sometimes even going so far as to look one up in the owners area where they live.
When reptiles first began being kept in the public sector there wasn’t much knowledge on their immunological systems, much less how to keep them properly in a captive environment where they could thrive. Reptiles when first introduced into public keeping were typically imported. With them came varying forms of bacteria and worms previously unknown to animal keepers I am sure. Through the loss of several animals, we humans identified things such as proper husbandry and began to learn about the diseases and ailments afflicting our new scaly charges. Veterinarians and zoo keepers began to publish and share papers about their experiences with their captive reptiles. Sometimes these papers made it into the public awareness and over time a new sector of veterinarian medicine opened up for exotic pets.
Reptiles and Exotic Veterinarians
Today we have reptile veterinarians world-wide there is even a directory for reptile and amphibian veterinarians. The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians is a resource of not only names of veterinarians world-wide but also newsletters and other publications. Here is the actual member directory if you need a reptile veterinarian check this directory. As you can see there is absolutely no reason to not take a sick or injured reptile to a properly qualified reptile veterinarian.
I have spoken with numerous veterinarians over the years about both mammals and reptilian species and the fact is this.
You should never treat or diagnose any animal without proper examination or at the very least a consultation by qualified veterinarian.
The reason I say consultation is sometimes the ailment can be identified by a conversation over the phone. Not a conversation over the internet with someone more experienced; while their diagnosis maybe completely valid, the fact is how are you to know what the proper dosage is for a given species? Is the dosage based on weight? What if there is an underlying cause to the issue that wasn’t revealed because the other keeper didn’t ask the right questions?
Let’s put it another way, would you as a parent, spouse, or lover, feel 100% confident in treating your significant other for a life threatening ailment you diagnosed through an internet search? I would hope not. Don’t treat your reptiles any differently. Have the foresight to recognize something is wrong and consult a properly trained reptile veterinarian you really have no excuse now. I have given you the resources, what will you do with them?
We would love to hear any stories or comments where you have either experienced this or seen this happening on the internet. What are your thoughts on self diagnosing and treating reptiles? Let us know on our Fanpage Robert Kilpatrick also recommended this site for information Herp Vet Connection