Infections in Reptiles

Infections and Wounds

Symptoms and Types

Skin and shell infections in reptiles have many different names depending on their location and characteristics:

  • Cavities containing pus in or under the skin are called abscesses
  • Fluid-filled pockets within the skin are the hallmarks of blister disease
  • If the blisters rupture or red/raw sores, which are slow to heal, develop, the disease is called scale rot
  • The shells of turtles and tortoises affected with shell rot will often have soft or pitted areas that may lift away from the rest of the shell and reveal underlying bony structures
  • Septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease (SCUD) is a form of shell rot that also spreads into the blood stream and internal organs


  • Gently scrubbing the affected area with a dilute povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine solution
  • Topical antibiotic ointment two times a day
  • Keep in a very clean terrarium or environment
  • Some veterinarians recommend newspaper or paper towels as flooring as they wont contaminate wound
  • Any underlying problems such as inadequate sanitation, improper humidity levels, or sharp or excessively rough objects in the terrarium must also be dealt with or the infection is likely to return
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