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Animal Care Hospital

1146 Blairs Ferry Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Caring For A Senior Reptile

May 2 2022

Do you have an aging lizard or snake? For the most part, elderly reptiles need the same type of care as their younger counterparts. However, there are a few things you may want to do differently. You’ll pick up some great senior reptile care tips in this article from me, your local Marion, IA area veterinarian.


Do Your Research

Reptiles’ life spans vary widely. Some lizards may only have a few years, while certain turtles can live to be well over 100. Be sure to know what your pet’s expected lifespan is, so you know when to start looking for changes. 


Tweak The Menu

It’s not uncommon for older pets to have a reduced interest in food. You may want to feed smaller, more frequent meals. Your veterinarian may also recommend additional supplements. (Calcium and Vitamin D3 are especially crucial for many reptiles.)


Offer A Senior-Friendly Habitat

Want to make your pet’s habitat a reptile retirement home? Small changes, such as decreasing the slope of their inclines, can go a long way here. Making sure your pet’s basking area is easy for them to get to is also important. You may also want to add more bedding and/or hides. Ask your veterinarian for specific advice.


Offer UVB

Older reptiles often have weaker immune systems. Proper lighting is crucial for keeping these guys healthy! UVB lighting is a must for many types of reptiles. Remember to change your bulbs out regularly: they weaken long before they stop working. 


Watch For Warning Signs

It’s important to know what to expect as your reptilian pal ages. Just like people, older reptiles often get cold easily. Your pet may spend more time basking than they used to. Weight loss is also quite common, as are sunken eyes and decreased interest in breeding. Your reptile’s claws or beak may get long, as they won’t get worn down like they used to. You may also notice changes in pigmentation and/or reduced muscle mass. Slower reflexes are also not uncommon. 


Take Care With Falls

As with people, reptiles get more fragile as they get older. This means that falls can be very dangerous for them. Be extra careful when holding or transporting your pet, and make sure their habitat is set up to prevent falls.


Do you have questions about reptile care? Contact me, your Marion, IA area veterinarian, today!

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