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Bearded Dragon Internal Parasites

 

Bearded Dragon Internal Parasites

There are various types of Bearded dragon endoparasites (endo- referring to internal Bearded dragon parasites), some much more common than others. The definition of an parasite is an organism which lives of its host, to the advantage of itself and the detriment of the host. Bearded dragon internal parasites are more specific in that they live inside the host. The Bearded dragon endoparasites mentioned on this page are mainly intestinal parasites or so-called gut parasites, i.e. they live in the gastrointestinal tracts of these hosts.

The most important Bearded dragon gut parasites include Bearded dragon worms (Oxyurids), Bearded dragon Coccidiosis and flagellated protozoans. Less common internal parasites include Hookworms, Roundworms, Cryptosporidium, Microsporidium, fungal- viral and other bacterial infections.

Bearded Dragon Internal Parasite Signs

Most infected Bearded dragons only show general clinical signs (not specific to internal parasites Bearded dragon endoparasites). These include the following:

  • Partial or complete anorexia (lack of appetite)

  • Weight loss & poor body condition

  • Dehydration (wrinkled skin & sunken eyes)

  • Weakness (lying flat)

  • Lethargy or dullness (unaware of its surroundings)

More specific Bearded dragon gut parasite symptoms include:

  • Diarrhoea (abnormal or runny faeces and / or cloacal soiling)

  • Blood tinged stool

  • Vomition

Bearded Dragon Internal Parasite Tests

When any of these clinical signs are observed, all Bearded dragons in the same cage (sick or healthy) must be presented to a reptile friendly vet as soon as possible. Remember to collect multiple / pooled fresh stool samples sealed in a plastic ziplock or similar bag.

Your veterinarian will use these faecal samples to do a faecal flotation and a faecal wet preparation. A faecal flotation will identify worm eggs and coccidia oocysts. Faecal wet preparations will identify moving protozoans and bacterial infections.

Bearded Dragon Oxyurids

Pinworms probably occur in most Bearded dragons and are commonly seen on faecal examinations, but do not always cause disease. These Bearded dragon parasites have a direct life cycle and are acquired by exposure to faecal contaminated food and water.

Bearded Dragon Coccidiosis

Bearded dragon coccidiosis is a very common, highly contagious / infectious protozoal disease. Although moderate to severe infections are more related to clinical signs some dragons tend to show severe disease, even with lower oocyst numbers. Not all animals with coccidians have clinical signs of disease (sub-clinical).

Bearded Dragon Flagellates

Flagellated protozoans, also called falgellates are also a relatively common endoparasite of Bearded dragons. There are numerous species and as with the previous two groups of endoparasites the ability to cause disease is questionable.

Low numbers are considered normal in healthy individuals, but treatment should commence if moderate to severe numbers are present. Significant / large numbers have been showed to cause gastrointestinal disease. The flagellates are acquired by exposure to infected cysts in contaminated food and water and during copulation.

Bearded Dragon Internal Parasite Treatment

Upon a definitive diagnosis internal parasites can be treated with an expected prognoses. Some Bearded dragons veterinarians prefer to treat tentatively, meaning they will treat weather they did tests or not. Other vets prefer not to treat certain infections because of their commensal nature. Severe internal parasite treatment will also include parenteral fluid administration (drip), tube feeding and antibiotics.

 
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