iguana sick

Iguana Health Issues And Diseases

Iguanas live long lives but can also become sick or die at young age. In this post, we will talk about iguana disorders and other health issues. The best way to care for your iguana is to prevent any diseases or treat them early. We will discuss diseases such as MBD, respiratory infection, parasites, fungal infections, abscesses, gingivitis, broken tail, limbs or toes and many more.

  1. Metabolic bone disease (MBD) in iguana

Metabolic bone disease is one of the most common health issues in iguanas. MBD presents group of different disorders that cause demineralization of iguana’s bones. Different disorders, for example kidney disease, severe deficiency in calcium, electrolyte disturbances and parathyroid issues lead to decrease in calcium levels in iguana’s body.iguana health disorders mbdDemineralization occurs also due to imbalance or improper levels of phosphorus, vitamin D and even magnesium. In our post about iguana supplements we discussed importance of Phosphorus: Calcium ratio in iguana’s diet. Your iguana should consume twice more calcium than phosphorus.

Lack of any of these minerals or vitamin D contributes to the problem. Vitamin D is important for absorbing calcium, so provide artificial UVB lighting, vitamin D3 supplements and unfiltered sunlight when possible.

Also, foods high in oxalic acid bind calcium and prevent its absorption by iguana. Make sure to minimize consumption of these foods by iguana. Read about foods high in oxalic acid in this post.

When calcium blood levels drop too low, iguana’s body will take calcium from bones to sustain itself. Low calcium levels cause soft bones in the jaws and limbs.

You can notice your iguana having this disorder by touching its limbs and jaws. Legs (especially back ones) will look swollen. They will be chubby and pliable.

Iguana might be in pain and will be mostly inactive. There is a big risk of deformations and broken bones. Iguana’s appetite might be also reduced and if the disease has been ignored for a long time, the jaw will lose its shape and look rather flat.

If you notice any symptoms, start the treatment as soon as possible. Sometimes, adding more minerals to the diet can solve the problem in a short period of time. But if you delay the treatment, there will be irreversible damage.

  1. Respiratory infection in iguanaiguana health disorders respiratory infection

If you notice your iguana is being lethargic and is sneezing, it might have a respiratory infection. Other symptoms might include throat enlargement and rapid breathing. Your iguana might also refuse food/water and breathe with an open mouth. You can also notice froth in the saliva. Respiratory problems in iguanas are not common if they live in optimal conditions.

To help your iguana, raise the temperature in the basking area by 5-10 degrees, as soon as possible and offer lots of water. If the symptoms don’t disappear within 5 days or iguana seems too lethargic, see your vet immediately.

  1. Kidney (renal) disorder in iguana

There can be different causes of renal disease in iguanas. These include drug overdose, dehydration, gout, too much supplements and protein in the diet. Your iguana might also lose weight and be more tired than usual. It can be hard to detect renal disease at early stages, so proper diet and care are very important to help prevent this problem.

But if you suspect a renal disease in your iguana, take it to the vet as soon as possible. Renal disorder at late stages will be impossible to treat. At early stages, it is possible to save your iguana with treatment. Your vet will perform blood tests, X-Ray and other examinations to check if your iguana has a renal disorder.

  1. Internal parasites in iguana

While most wild iguanas carry internal parasites, captive iguanas might carry them too. To check for internal parasites, you must take your reptile to the vet as soon as you buy and bring iguana home.

Internal parasites might include ringworms, nematodes, tapeworms, roundworms, pinworms, hookworms or protozoans. While low number on internal parasites might not interfere with normal body processes, high number of parasites will. Too many internal parasites will disturb vitamin absorption, food digestion and can cause gastrointestinal disorders and weight loss.

Symptoms of internal parasites are abnormal stools (strong smell, different color), bad appetite and iguana which seems uncomfortable after food.

If you suspect your iguana having a parasitic infection, take it to the vet for medication administration. Another way to prevent or speed up the recovery is to clean iguana’s enclosure and change the water in the bowl more often.

  1. External (skin) parasites

Iguanas are prone to skin parasites – mites or ticks. Mites – red or black, attach themselves to different parts of iguana’s body and feed on blood. They hide is spots that can be hard to see, like between limbs and crest scales. iguana health disorders mitesIguana will be very uncomfortable with ticks and will try to rub them off by bathing and moving around.

If you suspect any mites, examine your iguana and its enclosure (especially water). Mites are very small but your can see them if looking closely. Use the reptile mite spray like this  on iguana’s skin and when cleaning the cage.

After applying the spray, wait for 5-10 minutes and remove the ticks with a tool. Be careful not to leave their heads in the skin. Even better, using the special tool for safe tick removal is highly recommended.

If you don’t treat mites on iguana’s skin, it will start peeling and shedding. Shedding skin will cause discomfort to your reptile. At later stages, skin becomes dark and needs special ointments and antibiotics for treatment. Needless to say, it will be itchy, painful and can cause transfer of an infectious disease!

  1. Internal organ mineralization in iguanas

Mineralization of internal organs in iguanas happens when you give your iguana too much calcium or vitamin D3. Over supplementation will cause calcium or vitamin D3 being stored in internal organs. If you notice the problem early, it is possible to save iguana from death with a lengthy treatment.

  1. Broken tail in iguanasiguana health disorders broken tail

Most lizards lose their tails in stressful or dangerous situations. While iguanas rarely lose their tails completely, it can happen if you pull iguana’s tail with force. Higher the breaking point, more time it will take for a tail to regenerate.

If your iguana also whips its tail a lot, it can cause low circulation and dying off a tail tip. Dry and dead tail tip is common, and you should break the tip, apply antibiotic ointment and wait for it to heal. Regeneration will be faster in younger than older iguanas.

  1. Broken toes in iguanas

Iguanas might also break their toes or limbs when falling in the cage or even while walking around the house. Broken toes can seem very serious, but iguanas get over it pretty well.iguana health disorders broken toe splint  If you let your iguana walk around the house or a room, make sure to check there is nothing stuck in its toes afterwards.

Different clothing pieces or fibers can get stuck between iguana’s toes and cause reduced blood flow. In this case, iguana might lose a toe. Dead toes become black and stiff. If your iguana has a broken or black toe, show it to your vet as it might need to be amputated.

You can help your iguana with a broken toe by placing a splint (toothpick or something else short and sturdy) to the toe.

  1. Egg-bound female iguana

Even though female iguanas mate with males to produce offspring, they can also produce eggs on their own without mating. In healthy and mature female iguanas, hormonal maturity causes formation of follicles inside of her ovaries.

If the female iguana is breeding with a male, she will be able to produce eggs. But if she doesn’t mate, she can still iguana health disorders gravid pregnantcarry eggs – but they might be with shells or without. Normal eggs with shells will be laid (and you need to prepare an egg-laying nest to prevent egg-binding).

But sometimes, female iguanas are not able to form eggs from follicles, and they get stuck inside. In this case, she becomes depressed, lethargic and will refuse food. The vet will need to perform a surgery to remove the follicles, or iguana might die from follicle rupture.

If your iguana becomes gravid without mating, take her to the vet to perform an X-Ray and see if she is carrying eggs or follicles.

  1. Swollen gums in iguanas – gingivitis or stomatitis iguana health disorders gingivitis

Your iguana might develop gum inflammation – gingivitis. It is characterized by red swollen gums and corners of the lips and mouth. There can also be bleeding. Stomatitis is a more serious gum inflammation.

If you suspect gum inflammation in your iguana, show it to your vet. Untreated gum inflammation can cause infection in the mouth. Abscesses can also cause gum inflammation and they need to be removed as soon as possible.

  1. Fungus in iguanas

Fungus infections are very common in iguanas. They are caused by fungi. Young iguanas and those with weak immune system are more prone to fungal infections. Fungal disease causes a lot of discomfort to your iguana.

You can tell your iguana has fungal disease by looking and examining the skin – it becomes crusty, darker in color, and sometimes has scars. At early stages – fungal disease presents with lots of small black dots.

iguana health disorders fungal infection

Mild form can go away on its own – provide your iguana with a good diet and supplements, and they will go away after the skin sheds. But more serious cases need treatment with antifungal solutions and other medications.

  1. Abscess in iguanas

Abscesses can appear on different parts of iguana’s body. Show iguana to your vet. Abscesses are often round, red, bumpy and swollen.iguana health disorders abscess iguana health disorders abscess

There can be an abscess on the leg, toes, in the mouth, under the skin on the face – which can also cause pus formation behind the eye sockets (eyes will look swollen).

All abscesses need to be surgically removed and the pus flushed out. Your vet might also prescribe your iguana some antibiotics.

  1. Crooked toes in iguanas

If your iguana has a crooked toe or toes, it can mean that the ligament or tendon is torn inside the toe. There is no much you can do about it, and often the toe will die off and will have to be amputated. Your iguana can live without one of few toes.

  1. Dislocation or broken bones in iguanasiguana health disorders dislocation

If your iguana started dragging the limb, it might mean that it is broken or fractured. Iguana might also be inactive and reluctant to move around. Appetite loss is also usual. Take iguana to the vet for X-Rays and examination. Surgery or splinting usually deal with the problem.

Hopefully this article helped you to learn about iguana diseases and issues. If you have any questions, post them in the comment section below and make sure to read more articles on iguana care!