Symptoms Of A Sick Blue Tongue Lizard To Look Out For
In the wild, Blue tongue lizards have learned to hide when they are hurt or sick if they don’t want to become prey. When kept as pets, they will also try to hide any signs of sickness. That’s why it’s so important to know your lizard’s normal and healthy behavior compared to when something is wrong. The most common symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard include lethargy, not eating, not pooping and weight loss.
By understanding the symptoms and diagnosing the problem, you’d be able to quickly treat your lizard and bring them back to health.
This article will teach you how to recognize, prevent and treat the most common symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard.
Common Symptoms Of A Sick Blue Tongue Lizard
All reptiles, including the various types of Blue tongue lizards, will have different living requirements such as temperature, humidity, light, nutrition.
As an owner, it’s essential that you know and provide your Blue tongue lizard with the care they need. Otherwise, it can result in health problems.
If your lizard’s care is not up to standards and their health begins to suffer because of it, you should keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard:
- Not eating
- Not pooping
- Unhealthy looking poop
- Weight loss
- Curved/swollen limbs
- Abnormal breathing noises
As most lizards have a slow metabolism combined with their natural habit of hiding illnesses, makes it especially difficult to detect a disease until it has progressed. Therefore, it’s essential for owners to not only understand the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue skink but also to know what a healthy normal behavior looks like.
Most health problems in Blue tongue lizards are a result of something wrong in their day to day care. This is good news as it means most problems are easily corrected and even better – prevented.
As already mentioned, keeping an eye out for symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard is an important part of providing them with good care. The first common symptom we’ll be looking at is your lizard not eating.
In this wild, Blue tongue lizards are opportunistic eaters. Their omnivore diet consists of plants and animal protein.
Your lizard not eating can be very worrying. However, before panicking, it’s important to establish if not eating is actually a symptom of a health problem.
Your Blue tongue lizard not eating can be down to any of the following reasons:
- You’re overfeeding them – if you’re feeding your lizard too much or too often, they might stop eating for awhile
- Your lizard has become an adult – lizards will eat significantly more in the first 12 months of their life
- Brumation – when the temperature drop and your lizard starts bromating they will not eat to save energy
- Breeding period – during the breeding period, your lizard will be more interested in finding a mate than food
- Shedding – during the shedding process, your lizard won’t be interested in eating. This is normal and they should get their appetite back once the shed is finished
- Tank temperature is too low – if your lizard is too cold, they won’t have appetite or be able to digest their food properly
All of the causes listed above are either a natural process or easily corrected (overfeeding). However, if none of the causes above looks like the reason for your Blue tongue lizard not eating, you should investigate further as it can be one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard.
To learn more about the causes and solutions for Blue tongue skink not eating, click here Why Is My Blue Tongue Skink Not Eating? 10 Causes & Solutions
If not eating is one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard, you’d want to know what health problem that might be. The health conditions that have not eating as a symptom include:
- Internal parasitic infection
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- Metabolic bone disease
Although, your pet’s poop might not seem important, it can tell you a lot about your lizard’s health. For instance, no poop can be one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard.
So what are the possible causes for no poop? Your lizard will poop as often as they eat. Every lizard will have different pooping habits. For instance, some Blue tongue lizards might poop 24h after they eat and others can poop only few hours after they eat. Therefore, it’s important to know what’s their normal behavior in the first place.
In most cases, no poop as one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard can mean either constipation/impaction or stress.
To learn more about Blue tongue lizard’s poop and what’s healthy and what not, read the full guide here Blue Tongue Skink Poop Guide – Healthy vs Unhealthy Poop
Unhealthy Looking Poop
Similar to no poop, abnormal poop can be a cause of concern and one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard.
What is healthy looking poop? Normal Blue tongue lizard poop is firm, elongated, light/dark brown, with no or little odor. Whereas, unhealthy poop can be any of the following:
- Too large
- Green poop
- Chalky hard urate
- Runny poop
- Bloody poop
- Mushy or fluffy
- Foul smell
So what diseases are associated with unhealthy poop? Abnormal poop can be a sign of a improper diet, parasites, dehydration, too much calcium, impaction.
To read the full guide on unhealthy lizard poop and how to treat it, click here Blue Tongue Skink Poop Guide – Healthy vs Unhealthy Poop
Healthy lizards will be active and moving around in their tank when awake. If they are lethargic and suddenly not moving, it can be one of the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard.
If your Blue tongue lizard is sick, a common symptom is weakness and lethargy. That would look like – staying still for hours, hiding, too weak to even push off their feet and will slither around like snakes instead.
However, in some cases lethargy is due to natural processes and nothing to worry about. Some of these processes are shedding, brumation, female reptile is gravid.
Symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard such as lethargy and weakness, can be a sign of any of the following diseases:
- Metabolic bone disease
- Nutritional deficiencies – To avoid this, you must learn about the supplements that your lizard needs to stay healthy
In terms of weight loss, the first thing you need to checking if you’re feeding your Blue tongue lizard enough. A simple explanation can be – not enough food.
Whereas, rapid weight loss combined with being less active than normal are symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard that definitely need to be further investigated.
As lizards can go for long periods without eating, it’s not always obvious straight away that something is wrong. Good practice is to weight your skink once a week and record it in a diary. This way you’d be able to tell if your skink’s is actually losing weight.
If they lose more than 7% of their body mass, including thinning of the tail and prominence of the ribs, you should take your skink to the vet.
It’s important to find out what’s causing your Blue tongue lizard’s weight loss. If you don’t find the root of the problem, it can lead to death from malnutrition and starvation. With that said, some of the diseases that weight loss is a symptom of include:
If your lizard’s limbs are appearing curved, swollen or kinked (mainly the tail), it’s a always a sign of an illnesses such as Metabolic bone disease, also known as MBD.
As already mentioned symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard such as curved/swollen limbs are the result of Metabolic bone disease. The good news is that in most cases this disease is easily preventable through a good standard care.
The causes of Metabolic bone disease include:
- Lack of UVB
- Improper diet
- Lack of calcium and vitamins
Other symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard when it comes to MBD include:
- Soft jaw
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle spasms/twitching
If all the symptoms are pointing to a Metabolic bone disease, the best course of action is to take your lizard to the vet to be treated as it’s not something you can do on your own. Unfortunately, the damage can’t be undone but you can prevent it progressing further.
One of the more confusing symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard is breathing noises. Some noises are perfectly normal such as hissing and huffing. On the other hand some noises are more concerning such as wheezing and clicking.
Hissing and huffing can just mean that your lizard is annoyed, threatened or telling you to back off.
As already mentioned the breathing noises that should be of a concern include wheezing and clicking. These noises combined with open mouth breathing are usually a symptom of respiratory infection.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Excessive salivating
- Heavy breathing such as huffing noises and open mouth breathing
- Lack appetite
- Mouth bubbles such as mucus and froth. In some cases, eye bubbles
- Puffy appearance, swollen body (check picture above)
- Raising head to be able to breathe and open mouth breathing
- Scabby lips
- Watery eyes
To learn more about how to diagnose and treat respiratory infection in Blue tongue lizards, read here Blue Tongue Skink Respiratory Infection – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
How To Prevent Blue Tongue Skink Sickness
In order to be able to recognize the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard, keep a diary of the following:
- Weekly weigh ins
- Normal behaviors
- Feeding habits
- Pooping habits such as how often they poop, how quickly after eating they poop and the appearance of their poop
In addition, you should also have a reptile first-aid kit. This way you’ll always be prepared if your lizard becomes sick or injured.
As any pet, your Blue tongue lizard can get sick. Therefore, being able to recognize the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard is as important as knowing what a healthy lizard looks like.
Some of the most common symptoms to keep an eye out include not eating, not pooping or unhealthy poop, lethargy, sudden weight loss, etc.
In order to correctly diagnose your lizard’s illnesses, it’s important to take into account all the symptoms that are present. However, it’s always recommended to take your reptile to the vet for an accurate diagnosis and the best course of treatment.
Related Topics Q&A
What Does A Healthy Lizard Look Like?
For you to be able to recognize the symptoms of a sick Blue tongue lizard, first you must know what a healthy lizard looks like.
A healthy Blue tongue lizard is active and moving around in their enclosure; bright-eyed and basking under their light.
Furthermore, if your lizard pushes off their bellies using all four legs when they hear or see something, means they are alert and responsive.
What Are Common Blue Tongue Skink Health Problems?
- Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
- Parasites such as mites
- Respiratory Infection (RI)
- Scale Rot
- Spinal Deformity
- Stuck Shed
What Natural Processes Blue Tongue Skinks Go Through?
The following processes are completely natural for your lizard to go through:
- Breeding period
You should keep in mind that with these natural processes can come symptoms such as not eating, less active, irritable moods, etc. Although, it might seem concerning these are normal side effects and are not permanent.