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Coccidiosis and Your Reptile

Coccidiosis is caused by a single-celled parasite, or protozoa, and can be especially dangerous to Bearded Dragons.

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Treatment is usually well tolerated, especially in adult reptiles, although acutely infected or young reptiles can struggle to recover from severe infection. 

While treatment is quite simple, disinfection can be a big job, and full disinfection is critical to prevent reinfection.

Read more about common reptile diseases

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What is Coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoa – a single-celled organism – of the species Eimeria (also known as Isospora). Members of all orders of reptiles can harbour coccidian parasites. 

Coccidiosis is spread through contamination with faeces – the coccidiosis parasites reproduce in the intestines and create infective eggs, which are passed out ready to infect the next animal. Young reptiles, and breaded dragons in particular, are especially susceptible to developing signs of an infection. 

A subspecies of coccidiosis is cryptosporidium, which can also be seen in reptiles.

What Are The Signs?

The signs of coccidiosis vary depending on the reptile and the severity of the infection. Signs include: 

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Depression/lethargy 
  • Blood or mucous in their faeces 
  • Dehydration (may be seen as wrinkled skin or sunken eyes) 

It is important to note that some reptiles can show no signs of an infection at all, and

If your reptile is experiencing any of these signs then make an appointment with your local Vets4Pets as soon as possible.

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How Can I Stop It?

  1. Keeping clean. Reptiles can be at risk of coccidiosis even in a clean environment, but keeping everywhere fresh and dry is the best step to protecting your reptile against coccidiosis.
  2. Monitoring. If you see any changes in your reptile’s faeces, appetite or behaviour, always get them checked over by a vet who will be able to help diagnose and support them. 
  3. New friends. If you want to introduce a new reptile to your group, consider a quarantine period before the new friends are allowed to mingle. 
  4. Keep calm. Reptiles that are carrying coccidiosis may have no signs, and the may flare up with an infection if they are stressed or otherwise unwell. Keeping your reptiles free from over-crowding, on a high quality diet and in appropriate conditions is the best way to keep them healthy.

Noticed Signs?

If you think your reptile might have coccidiosis, the best thing to do is to go to your vet. They can do a full physical examination, and check your reptile all over! If there is a risk your reptile may have coccidiosis, your vet may recommend faecal tests to try and identify the parasites, although this can be tricky.

Your Health

Thankfully you can’t pick up coccidiosis from your reptile.