Thermoregulation Emergencies Part 2


  1. the condition of having an abnormally low body temperature, typically one that is dangerously low.

Different species of reptiles live best at different temperature ranges.  This is determined by the geographic location the reptile species originated and what type of terrain (e.g., desert vs. rain forest vs. temperate forest, etc.) the species typically inhabits. Often new reptile owners do not research the husbandry requirements for the species of reptile they are purchasing or adopting. Husbandry is the care, cultivation and breeding of animals or crops.

Symptoms of Hypothermia
  • Hypothermic reptiles become less active and move less. When reptiles stop moving, they often stop eating and drinking, and as a result, they become dehydrated and lose weight.
  • Eyes appear sunken. This can be a result of both dehydration and loss of fat that normally sits behind their eyes.
  • Reptiles may close their eyes and keep them closed more than usual.
  • Abnormally wrinkled skin. This is usually from loss of water and fat, and both snakes and lizards may have more prominent spines and ribs as they lose weight.
  • Dehydration. Snakes and lizards can stop shedding their skin properly and they will retain the patches over their eyes. Turtle and tortoise skin also may appear dry and cracked.
  • Hypothermic and dehydrated reptiles stop shedding the tile-like keratin protein plates (scutes) on their shells that normally come off as they grow. Scutes pile up on top of each other on the surface of the skin when new scutes grow in under the old retained ones, a condition referred to in reptiles as pyramiding.
  • Immediately measure the temperature in the pet’s tank (both at the warmest and the coolest areas) to determine the temperature range in the enclosure. Place the thermometer down to the bottom of the environment where the pet usually is. There can be temperature changes in different areas of the animal’s environment.
  • Mist or soak the reptile in a shallow pan of warm water to both warm it up and better hydrate it.
  • It is recommended to have the reptile seen by a reptile veterinarian.
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