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Worms and Your Reptile

Worms are actually surprisingly common in our reptiles. Knowing the signs to look out for can help you make sure your reptile gets treatment quickly if they pick up any of these nasty parasites.

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How Can I Stop My Reptile From Getting Worms?

As reptiles are rarely made unwell by a worm burden, unless there is a specific reason to do so, routine worming is not usually recommended in pet reptiles. Instead, the best way to protect your reptile is to reduce their chance of exposure to parasites in the first place. 

The main way to protect your reptile is with good husbandry. This includes keeping the cage or environment clean and washing your hands between handling separate reptiles. If you are worried about parasites being transported in on bedding, putting bedding the freezer overnight can kill off most parasites. It is also worth considering screening any introduced reptiles for parasites before mixing them with any current residents, and getting a faecal test on your reptiles done once a year to screen for any parasites.

Help! My Reptile Has Worms!

If you do think that your reptile has worms, getting them to your local vet for a check-up is the best course of action. If your reptile does have worms, then usually a simple deworming program is enough to combat the problem. In advanced or serious cases, reptiles may need more supportive case, especially if they have had an upset tunny or gone off their food.

Although most pet reptiles do not need regular routine worming, if you think your reptile may be at a higher risk of picking up worms, your vet will be happy to talk to you about what preventative treatments are available. 

What About My Health?

You are very unlike to contract any worms from your reptile, but it is good practice to always wash your hands after handling your reptile. This will get rid of any risk, and will also protect you against other diseases that can be transmitted by reptiles, the most common of which is salmonella.

If you have any concerns about your health, always speak to your local healthcare practitioner.

Read more about other pet parasites 

Reptile 1

Roundworms

Every species of reptile has its own ideal temperature range, so place a few thermometers around the vivarium to make sure the environment is right for your pet. Either provide a heat mat below or a lamp above the vivarium, and connect it to a thermostat. Whichever you use, it should be safe for your pet, so make sure the animal can’t come into direct contact with it.
Reptile 2

Pinworms

In order to thrive, reptiles need light that mimics natural sunlight, as otherwise they can become deficient in vitamin D3 and not receive all the visual stimulation they need. So use a special reptile light appropriate for your species – with a timer – and make sure the light source’s distance from your pet’s basking spot is correct. All fluorescent lights should be replaced after six months.
Reptile 3

Tapeworms

Tapeworms have an unusual lifecycle, in which the vast majority of species have to spend time within an ’intermediate host’ before they can infect their target species. These intermediate hosts can range from species as small as fleas to as large as cows! This complex lifecycle is actually good for our housed reptiles, as it helps reduce the chance that they will be affected by tapeworms. 


Nevertheless, reptiles can be affected by tapeworms, and it is important to be vigilant. In many cases a tapeworm infestation can be noticed by segments of tapeworm in the faeces – these are often described as looking like moving grains of rice. 


Affected reptiles may show weight loss, but many infections are mild and your reptile may not show any physical signs of infection at all.

Reptile - Water

Flukes

Also known as trematodes, flukes spend most of their time in the intestines of reptiles, but can also travel to other organ systems such as the lungs, liver and kidneys in some species such as turtles. These are very uncommon in captive-bred reptiles.