Reptiles in the pet trade are prone to being very stressed and sometimes ill, especially if they have not been cared for optimally. There are some specific things to watch out for when choosing a pet reptile to help ensure your reptile isn’t sick before you even get it home.
1. Look at the overall body condition – reptiles should be well-fleshed and not emaciated looking. Avoid lizards that appear skinny or bony (watch for prominent hip bones, or visible tail bones), or that have abnormal swellings on the legs. Snakes should have a well rounded body and the backbone should not be visible. Turtles should have ample flesh between their neck and front legs.
2. Look at the skin (and in the case of turtles, the shell). If the skin is excessively wrinkled and dull in appearance, the reptile is probably dehydrated. The skin should be supple and free of bites and scratches (these could form abscesses later on) and you should also check the belly for burns. Turtles should have firm shells with no defects; soft shells or shell defects are signs of serious illness.
Consult a Tulsa veterinarian and have annual exams for your exotic pets.
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