some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

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some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sat May 18, 2013 9:28 pm

with a few of the medical type posts of late,some may have noticed my dont rush to vet straightaway type comments

theres method to my madness,lol

so i should try to explain, this is just my belief, so dont just go off this, some circumstances avet is unavoidable and should be sought asap

prevention is better than cure


ideally you dont want to see your vet

most issues with reptiles are born from incorrect husbandy,conditions not right,poor diet,social stress ect ect
now medicating may fix the problem in the short term,but its a band aid remedy if what led to issue in the first place isnt addressed

they generally dont fall ill if they are in ideal conditions,they can live happilly even containing parasites,bacteria ect ect,but the more we as there keepers get things wrong,the more we expose them to,the harder the immune system has to workto try combatting that

often its said wildcaughts though are riddled with issues,they all should be vetted straight away,NOT TRUE in my eyes,if they are in reasonable condition to begin with and put in ideal conditions,theres zero need for them to ever see a vet,and i assure you ,many a wild caught has lived a long life in captivity with out ever seeing vet care,theres a few in my collection ,pop them next to captive born and breds,including there own offspring and its hard to tell them apart,if they need medicating,how do these animals thrive?

take respitory infections for instance,if u treat animal and it clears up,chuck it back into its enclosure without fixing the cause,be it temperature related or humidity related,the animals going to be exposed to same issues again,back to vets,and cycle continues yadda yadda yadda

now,what if we find the cause and make changes,eg offer a bigger thermal gradient by raising basking temps,or even just bringing back ground temp up a bit,or in the case of desert animals,removing humidity from the air,perhaps as simple as not leaving water bowl in the cage,all these things are of more importance than putting medicine into your animals,all doing medicine does is try to repair the outcome,it doesnt fix it if conditions are out,it just predisposes them to the same issue again that they were taken to the vets in the first place

most good vets will ask questions,to try and figure out how this happened in the first place,but often they just give a little speil and are more interested in the treatment of the animal,my personal experience with a vet,maybe they assumed i knew the basics,i will point out hes a great vet,and thisis no attack on vets,as they are invaluable

i often see members come on here with a possable issue with there animal,and the majority of the time theyare replied to with,take it to a vet,sometimes given possabilities of what it could be,followed by but take it to a vet,which is fair enough,asits next to immpossible to diagnose over the net,even for a vet,but its rare to see possible causes explained or ways it could be rectified,with or without seeing a vet,that doesnt sit well with me,aseven with vet care,most are likely going to go back into conditions that led to issues in the first place,so even with meds,hardly classed as a cure if its very likely to re occur
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Scotts1au » Sat May 18, 2013 9:44 pm

I suppose that generally when people come here, we don't really have much to go on regarding their experience, skills etc, so the pitch is invariably to the lowest common denominator, in the hope that a vet might identify some of the husbandry issues. Also there are cases where people bring home a rescue that is already ill even before they have understood husbandry issues. I share some of same frustrations. I suppose there are a few combinations regarding outcomes, but one common one is, poor keeper+no vet intervention=dead skink. I believe that there are a lot more dead skinks associated with this or most websites than we ever hear about.

Why is often unsaid is that antibiotics and/or anthelmintics and reptiles are generally not a good mix,they are toxic substances in their own right and probably reduce the life expectancy each time they are used.
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sat May 18, 2013 10:18 pm

HERES A FEW COMMON MISTAKES OFTEN SEEN JUST FROM MEMBERS ON THIS FORUM

not a personal attack,we all make mistakes,just for learning,i hope people get something out of this,even if only one person does,thats still a win,anyways backto examples

1,what temps are your blueys kept at

um err arrrrgh,there hot enough as hotrock/basking spot feels hot enough to me


wrong answer,with out checking temps accuratly its very easy to be way below par with temps
a thermometre half way up your wall on hot and cool end isnt going to tell you what ground temps are either,blueys are generally classed as terrestrial,ground dwellers,so a vertical temp gradient is not in there best interests


2, i have my blueys under uv light so dont need calcium with vitamin d3,i just use calcium,or worse dont use calcium at all

BAD BAD BAD,uv lights may be of benefit but they are far from substitutes for lack of supplementation,thats fact

feed an unsupplemented diet even with uv lighting and your bound to run into mbd issues plus other dietry related ones,the fact people do really well with zero uv lighting but supplement diet/feed good diet shows this,dont rely on uv lighting as a fix for improper diet/supplementation schedules if u do your asking for trouble in the long run

3,ive read this that and this isnt good for blueys

dont always take what you read or hear 3rd hand as gospel,theres a heck of a lot of misinformation out there,alot based on old school thoughts that are still circulating,for example blueys eat predominantly vegetation in the wild so that should be mimicked in captivity,dogfoods bad ect ect ect

alot of these old wives tales have been put to the test over decades and have been found to be false,yet some still dont take these findings in and prefer to listen to old wives tales

4,my hot end is 38 and cold end 32,my lizard never basks

if u keep them sohot they haveno needto bask as preffered body temp or higher is already attained,suggestion,make a cool end thats actually cool,some species really need it,indoor cages,compared to the wild are like beef jerky cabinets,in the wild in even tropical climates they still have access to cool retreats,humid retreats ect ect


5,my bluey is losing condition,its reasonably active but doesnt seem to want to eat and spends most of its days lazing under basking light

warm your cage up,they have a preffered body temp they need to reach to operate,usually mid to high 30,s,if basking temp isnt higher than that how can they reach preffered body temp,let alone maintain it,offer basking spot up to 40 degrees,but only basking area as they need cool areas to escape heat to,ideal is a big temp gradient,as it gives them the option of choosing,keeping them to warm removes there choices

6,ive done this,added that and heated them to this but they arent behaving how id like with that or using it

thats u telling them what to do,doesnt work,choices,offer them many and they will choose what they want to do,neglect to offer them those choices and they cant do it

we supply them choices to choose from,and they do all the choosing,we cant tell them what to do,all we can do is try to offer them lots of choices and see what they do,read what they do

if they are always basking,often cage is to cool,adjust that and see if behaviour changes

they always curl up and hide down cool end,adjust temps again but this time cooler,see if they change behaviour again,or if its winter where you are,they could just be trying to brumate

7, ive got a 100 gallon aquarium,what wattage bulb do i need

how long is a piece of string?

its different for everyone,many variables tocontend with,is air temp hot or cold in your area,or in room where cage will be located,someone in the tropics barely need heating compared to someone in the alps,get a thermometer and try differernt bulb wattages out until you find one that suits,relying on someones reply as to what you get is bad,as it could be way to cold or the oppasite,way to hot,and then u have things like seasons that come into it,that size may suit in the heat of summer,but will be inadequate when the cooler seasons come,hence only way to know is invest in a thermoeter and check yourself


read what your animals do,they are the best source of what to do,believe it or not they show you if you spend the time to look and more importantly offer them choices,as its hard for them to show you if u restrict there options
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sat May 18, 2013 10:23 pm

good points scott,im not trying to say dont goto vet,its more of a case of as well as vet,you need to look into the cause in the first place to eventually try to fix it

beginners especially need to look further than the just going to vet alone if that makes sense

some reptiles fall ill even with good conditions,so its not just a poor husbandry issue

more just offering a different take on husbandry to the norm,i guess,from someone whom probably thinks to much,lol
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sat May 18, 2013 10:35 pm

whilst vets do try to work on keeping conditions that couldlead to this,they are very busy andwith the multitude of causes alot would get overlooked

more to the point,we humans often dont like to admit to fault,and look for other causes that must have caused this

eg oh it must be because i fed dog food for a month

must be because i didnt use uv lighting

couldnt be because i fed mince meat with lettuce as a staple,meat and veg was reccomended by so and so and to steer clear of that ghastly dogfood

or joe blow in darwin said for me touse a 25 watt globe in my 100 gallon cage,surely that i live in tassie and use same heatbulb and cage setup couldnt be the issue with my lizzie getting an ri

the ifs nots and maybes are often not the cause,and dont help much with a recovering animal,or worse the replacement animal

treatment is alot more than just medication,hence my feeling on getting conditions right is of way more importance,as it helps with recovery,sometimes without meds to,and more to the point hopefully prevents them having the illnesses/complications in the first place

remember,vets always say,PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 12:34 am

another couple of examples on heat often overlooked but something ive been seeing more and more of

first up blotched bluetongues(the cold weather specialist)

most people keep them to hot in the long term,something ive noticed is even on cool days,air temp very low 20,s,they are able to function at full preferred body temp,mid 30,s

but air temp is say 21 degrees,how is that possable?

simple,air temp is measured in the shade,some areas of outdoor enclosure are sheltered and the sun can provide quite hot basking areas allowing them to bask and warm up,outdoors theres choices,most blotcheds kept indoors dont get that option,kept in a narrower thermal gradient on thge hotter side

hence why theres been alot of issues getting healthy babies over seas,sure its easier outdoors,but ive done it indoors as well with actually betterresults healthy babieswise,offering a large thermal gradient,which is giving them options

you can read up on average temps from different locales,but all that gives you is average air temps,temps measured in the shade,not what basking spot temps can provide in different circumstances,some areas may be cloudy more often,stopping those elevated basking spots for instance

giving them a wide variety of options helps cover alot of short comings of keeping them indoors in our seat box beef jerky making enclosures
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 12:56 am

continuing on with blotchies,and stumpies to,indoors most cool them then turn heatback on and they are done and dustedwith mating in around 6 weeks,in blotchies cases,males are woken first,so they shed first,which they need to do before females are done cycling,its believed males wake from brumation first,something that i havnt seen in mine

indoors when i kept the blotchies indoors and now with the stumpies,they are cooled start of june,heat returned mid to late july,usually 6 weeks cooling but as long as 8,they didnt start mating till oct november even with heat returned,i didnt wake male blotchies early either,both at same time,but with big temp gradient and cool back ground temps they held out till back ground temp average had risen, they wernt rushed,andthats what happens in nature,they follow what the blotchies do outdoors now

i see more females up early outdoors,every year,the last 14 years now,im not sure where males wake up early comes from,perhaps the fact males are found more in spring in the wild,but der,its because they travel far and wide in search of females,but maybe more based on captive breeding success in cages kept at the higher spectrem of temps and the need under those circumstances to get males in sync with shedding when females are cycling,as males generally have toshed before they mate in blotchies

reading animals,alot of still borns and deformed babies have occured with breeding blotchies indoors,i never had any of that indoors,now when incubating reptile eggs,what are common causes of deformities anddead in egg full term hatchlings?

to high an incubation temperature,a gravid female bluetongue is like a walking incubator,if there to hot whats growing inside them is to,just like with incubating eggs,live bearers can have issues to

simply offering a big temp gradient,hotter than they need at one end to cooler than they need at the other gives them options,with the added benefitof covering some common husbandry flaws of keeping them indoors
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 1:23 am

sorry for blabbing on,lol

case 2 EASTERN BLUETONGUES

this is something ive always been frustrated with,and tried to get my head around,scott may have similar frustrations

basing off local wild easterns plus ones ive kept outdoors in a cool climate zone of there range,southern victoria

ive always had issues with them being kept outdoors,they are shyer than blotchies and possably get bullied a bit,but winter seems to be there issue and the fact they are susceptable to ri,took me years to work it out,pretty silly to miss it really and part of reason they thrive in urban development

whereas my blotchies,the majority just curl up in dirt or grass for over wintering,exposed to the elements and come out non the worse for doing it,an eastern from same locality will likely perish,at best wake up with a ri

one winter years ago,i watched a wild one in a vacant paddock next door that over wintered,5 months that is here,under an old window frame that still had a glasswindow attatched,on sunny days the green house affect ofthat caused it to move out from glass,to cool off in the cool grass,cloudy days itjust stayed under,think back to air temp thing,cool days often still provide hot basking areas,the eastern chose a spot that offered winter warmth,if it got to warm,warm enough to use up fat reserves it actually popped out to cool off,to prevent using up fat reserves, it didnt click to me back then<slaps head

now in the year 2000 we moved house,only 5 mins away from that observation,but onto an acerage surrounded by market gardens,there were easterns everywhere,lots of wood piles left by previous owners,to cut a long story short,the old lady hates ride on mowers,so catches all the grassandhas made big compost piles down the back,which in winter attractthe easterns,compostinggrass creates heat,alot hotter than the air temp and the smart buggers use it to over winter like the under glass window one did,ive seen as many as 14 using it during the onewinter,some do it every year to,andsame principal as the window one,on days when suns out,andwind chill factor is down,they have to leave compost piles to cool off,when u see up to 14 lethargic easterns sitting exposed and quite lethargicly at one time you start putting 2 and 2 together

they need to find places that offer alot more warmth than what blotchies do over winter,probably explains why they are so common in human disturbed areas,probably explains why they mate earlier than blotchies from same locale and have babies earlier,and shows how my lack of options outdoors has prevented offering them that choice,i offer dry hide boxes,rockpiles,logs,but they have found that unsatisfactory,this year i have a piled up clump of grass clippings in there,which ill have to continue adding to, to offer more choices there,as it breaks down pretty fast,but so far results are looking good,early spring wake up time i shall report back on that

just another example of watching them,luckily we can watch wild ones in australia as well and that by not offering enough options can lead to issues,oh and those pesky easterns are smart buggers,and are quite interesting to watch,that is a remarkable use of objects in a cool climate to survive long cold winters,further north they wouldnt need to be so adaptable i wouldnt imagine
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 2:25 am

i should point out these are observations i see im my area and under my care in a cool temperate locality,harder to mimick in warmer areas,so different measures would need to be taken if for say your in a tropical and subtropical area,even a warm temperate zone
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 2:46 pm

With these temperate species mentioned,add in westerns to,i aim for more open enclosures,more ventilated,i want coolness in them to,westerns and and stumpies i try to not leave water in there,being a humid area goal being to keep humidity low

Now i keep the tropical northern bluetongue as well,and centralians,both found in northern half of australia,the northerns havr same heat srt up as my temperate species,but more enclosed cage

None of them get night heating,and even thr northerns have a large temp gradient,6 x 2 x 2 enclosures with heat up one end only,no night heating,the northerns get day heat year round,back ground temps fluctuate and winter nights get really cold,background temp in room can get as low as 6 degrees,the northerns have day heat if they want it,but they slow right down often spending days in cooler areas,again they have choices

The back ground temp dropping and overnight lows allow them to cycle,brumate,get active,even have a bite to eat over winter,no need to drop them to 20 degrees and brumate them,which can be quite successful to,but easier for me to just leave them as is,plus in darwin,a 20 degree day would be ultra rare,its pretty much in 30S year round

Conditions vary to how they can be kept,theres not one way fits all,sure theres conditions you need to give them,but it varies hugrly how you offer said conditions,depending on where u set up cagrs,where u live,if its climate controlled ect ect

Alot of people dont think about that,they might read a book,by a reptile breeder and try to mimick what they do,but big breeders often have climate controled buildings,compared to me with an uninsulated tin shed in a cool climate,theres not one way fits all,no manual to follow that works for everyone,depending on conditions you have to adjust to suit,more heat,less heat,more ventilation,less,bigger temp gradients,perhaps smaller,do i need overnight heating or dont i

Many many variables to sort through and suprisingly often overlooked

Not to mention there are many ways of doing things,i do it differently to alot of folks,partly as i have to in my climate,partly because i over think things and experiment,but loom at different ways,see if they suit your keeping conditions,and dont be scared of offering them choices,they have survived for years making there own choices,if we offer them those choices in the first place we shouldnt need to make choices for them,nor tell them what to do
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 5:39 pm

Sometimes its good to think outside the square,not just go with whats classed as the norm

With alot of keepers,they think they are doing everything right,so when vets ask about certain things,eg temps,they give vet impression that they have all that covered

Just like vets needing to see in person,not guessing with ailments,they cant know for sure if conditions are right for certain species,just going off someones reply

Eg alot come asking questions here about things like that,get some great ideas given to them,but often ignore good advice over something they would prefer to hear

That often equals sick lizard still at best,often dead lizard
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Scotts1au » Sun May 19, 2013 8:22 pm

Richard, what are your thoughts on growing babies in relation to temperatures. I find with Alpine Blotchies that if the temp gets below low 20s C at the cool end in Winter - they go off their food, into brumation and putting them at risk of infections in their first year. I think that there are "horses for courses" and in my opinion there are situations where it isn't desirable to have as large a temperature gradient - depends on what you are trying to manage. I haven't had any cases of sudden death in my Alpines since I have been doing this, or had that feedback from anyone who has bought them.

And yeh - RIs in Easterns are a terrible problem in outdoor enclosures and for that reason I've disposed of mine - I'm happier to encourage them in my garden. I even put some dog food out for the wild ones over summer :-). I have some piles of grass cuttings - which end up being used by garden skinks to lay there eggs. They ate the apricots that fell on the ground at my house over the summer.

My personal experience in treating RIs in Easterns however is that keeping in a sustained higher temperature gives better results than allowing them a bigger gradient. I haven't seen that this creates additional stress that has a negative impact. Drugs I regard as "supportive therapy" and not the solution to the problem. That lies in all of the other aspects of their husbandry. So, I chose not to keep them here for that reason.
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Sun May 19, 2013 10:17 pm

With regards to easterns outdoors,its all about offering them ways of staying warmer in a cold climate,kind of increasing available temp gradient,be it grass clippings/compost affect,sheets of glass plastic/green house affect,not so much making them to hot,thats extreme case,and they have to move out to actually maintain coldness,but they like a warmer coldness so have adapted to using such things,that we mustnt be providing them in outdoor cages,indoors they thrive as we have better control,and usually not as cold

With warming babies i agree with what you do,but have a slightly different take on it,but i brumate some as well

With blotchies ive had same issues in the past with infection,i used to use open top aquariums,4 footers with heat up one end,whopping temp gradient,what i got was 3 things

1,they went to cool end and brumated,no issues

2 the stayed active up warm end,ate and grew

3 they stayed somewhere in between,slept in cool zone,got active in warm zones but more inbetweeners,didnt eat alot and that i saw was the issue,the inbetweeners,its like keeping warm but not warm enough to function properly,they use up fat reserves,if they eat then rest again food will not digest properly exposing them to issues,but they were always the ones that succumbed

In a sense i do what u do if i keep them active,though still lower in back ground temp,but try not to let it get to low,to stop them trying to brumate,otherwise i shut heat off and just let them brumate,cut out the middle ground option by lowering temp gradient to
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Richard.C » Mon May 20, 2013 3:31 am

I also let some cool down over nite,gets very cold,last couple of years ive kept warmth on them over nite to,they grow better with overnite warmth,health wise cold nite ones do ok to if day warmth has been up enough,they just dont have same growth potential

With juvie northerns,i heat 24/7,but same bulbs year round,the natural room temp drop in winter drops there cage temp right down,where in warm weather it gets into 30s easily,in winter it drops right down to around 20 and they shut down,last year i left them like that till spring,then transfered them into bigger cages with better basking lights(hotter basking spots) and they were active again,something ill do with this seasons babies sooner,perhaps,or just leave them be to have a break,im in no rush to grow them and they handle the shut down well
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby kl » Mon May 20, 2013 7:30 pm

Scott, are there any studies that were done by medical researchers that would verify that treating reptiles with antibiotics reduces life expectancy? I tried googling the subject but came up with nothing. I certainly would hope this would not be the case though, especially if using proper dosages and not for over extended periods of time.





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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Scotts1au » Tue May 21, 2013 1:22 am

Some drugs have a very low therapeutic index, other drugs say Ivermectin or similar anthelminitics can simply cause death outright. I have personal experience of a vet giving one of my blueys 10* a lethal dose of Baytril by accident. It eventually died "suddenly" several months later. It was cured of the bacterial infection but I suspect died from organ failure.
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Re: some thoughts on not over medicating reptiles

Postby Lea » Tue May 21, 2013 1:16 pm

kl wrote:Scott, are there any studies that were done by medical researchers that would verify that treating reptiles with antibiotics reduces life expectancy? I tried googling the subject but came up with nothing. I certainly would hope this would not be the case though, especially if using proper dosages and not for over extended periods of time.





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Inadequate therapy, or under medicating, can be just as detrimental with antibiotic therapy, but there are many influencing factors. The length of time from onset of infection to first dose, timing of therapy, use of combination therapies, or drugs to combat infection as well as the presence of comorbidities or pre existing conditions. Most of the time renal or liver function is assumed to be normal, or within range, prior to onset of infection, therefore prior to therapy, so it's difficult to determine adverse effects following treatment.

(I do have a lot more on this subject, based in mammals, but I'll have to post when not working!)

My papers are from clinical studies in people or mammalian subjects, not reptiles, so reptile specific information is not known. Again, we can assume similar patterns occur I. Reptiles, but until an animal is sick, most clinical studies or bloodworks are not done/known, so unless healthy animals are subjected to resisting, there will always be little in the way of evidence based literature, I would think.
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