Whenever you bring home a new pet, whether they are old or young, from a known breeder or the street, always take your pet for an initial veterinary visit. The veterinarian can make sure your pet is healthy and identify any potential health problems. During the initial vet visit, your doctor will conduct some more in-depth tests to get a baseline for your pet's health. For example, with reptiles, a veterinarian may do tests to examine calcium, phosphorous and other indicators of bone health since this is one of the most common health issues they face. Your veterinarian can also help you with periodic grooming activities, like trimming claws on lizards.
Most animals must also be vaccinated, both to maintain their own health and to prevent spreading diseases to people. Your veterinarian can explain which vaccinations are required for your pet.
Most pet owners don't breed captive reptiles and amphibians. However, spaying or neutering could have a negative effect on these animals' endocrine systems. Generally, unless an animal is experiencing a health-related problem associated with reproductive organs, spaying and neutering are not necessary procedures. However, if you do expect to breed your pet, be sure to read about the specific courting behaviors, reproductive processes and infant care for your species.
Animals are susceptible to many of the same kind of diseases humans face, such as cancers, gastrointestinal diseases and kidney failure. Among herptiles, metabolic bone disease can be a common problem. That is why it is important to supplement their diets with the vitamins and minerals needed to strengthen bone development and balance calcium and phosphorous intake.
Each species has its own health idiosyncrasies. For example, some iguana species can lose their tails and regrow them. In some herptiles, changes in skin color can be normal, while for others it may indicate an illness. It is important for you to learn about the conditions that apply to your chosen pet. However, if you observe any bleeding, paralysis or bone penetrating the skin, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
A zoonotic disease is one that originates with an animal but can spread to humans. Most animals have the potential of spreading zoonotic diseases. Some of your pets required vaccinations are designed to prevent zoonotic diseases. However, there are never any guarantees. Among reptiles and amphibians, salmonella is the zoonotic disease to watch for. Regular veterinary visits and testing will help ensure your pets continuing health related to zoonotic diseases.
Most importantly, always wash your hands before and after handling a reptile or amphibian. In addition, after handling food be sure to wash your hands before you touch your pet.