Diagnosing Disease Among Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians make excellent pets, but just like all animals, they can be at risk for some common diseases and illnesses. Before you purchase a reptile or an amphibian as a pet for the family or your children, it is important to understand what types of diseases these animals can be prone to and how to avoid them.

Here are some of the most common diseases among reptiles and amphibians, so that your pets can have long, enjoyable lives while living under your care.

reptiles and common diseasesIridovirus

Iridoviruses are non-enveloped DNA viruses that can affect amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish. This type of virus can cause necrosis of tissues in the kidney, liver, and spleen. It can also cause anemia if the virus attacks the pet’s red blood cells.


Herpesvirus is a large, enveloped DNA virus that has been shown to affect many reptile species, including lizards, snakes, and alligators. The most common signs of this virus include weakness, loss of appetite, regurgitation, nasal discharge, oral plaques, and swollen eyelids. If the virus isn’t treated, it can result in pneumonia and neurological problems.


Poxvirus is an enveloped DNA virus that has been linked to lizards, tortoises, and crocodiles. The signs of this virus will include skin lesions scattered all over the body although they are most commonly found on the head.


Adenovirus is a medium-sized, non-enveloped DNA virus that is most commonly found in bearded dragons and king snakes. This virus causes lesions on the liver and the intestines and if left untreated, it can cause neurological diseases. The most common signs include weight loss, loss of appetite, and elevated liver enzymes. When a reptile is diagnosed with adenovirus, the prognosis is usually negative.


Ranavirus is similar to iridovirus, but it is most commonly found in box turtles, flat-tail geckos, and green tree pythons. This virus causes lesions to form in the mouth, on the tongue, and in the liver. It can also cause ulceration of the nasal mucosa and liver necrosis, especially in pythons.


Reovirus is a non-enveloped RNA virus found in several species of lizard, snake, and tortoise. This disease causes lesions similar to those seen in herpesviral, iridoviral, and picornaviral diseases so it can be difficult for a veterinarian to diagnose.


Flavivirus is a single-stranded RNA virus and it usually transmitted to reptiles and amphibians through the consumption of infected insects. West Nile virus is one of the most common flaviviruses to affect reptiles and it can cause encephalitis, stomatitis, liver disease, and death.

With Reptiles and Amphibians, Hygiene Is a Must

Because of the above and other viruses that can affect reptile and amphibians, good hygiene is a must if you want to have one as a pet. This means washing the hands thoroughly before and after touching the pet, cleaning out the cage, and so on.

If your reptile or amphibian pet starts showing signs of disease, you should take her to the veterinarian immediately because there are treatments that may be able to help. If your veterinarian prescribes any medications or supplements for your pet, you can receive a free quote for the medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on all of your pet lizard’s or amphibian’s medications.


Author: Giano Panzarella