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Iguana Diseases

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Viral Infections: Though viruses probably cause disease in iguanas, only a few have been specifically identified in this capacity. With continued interest and research in iguanas, our understanding of viral infections will be enhanced. Organ Failure: Failure of vital organs often accompanies advancing age, and may also be a consequence of gout and severe bacterial infections. If possible, blood samples should be collected to allow evaluation of vital organ function. Treatment by a veterinarian is usually dictated by the results of diagnostic testing.

Bladder Stones: Minerals in the urine may precipitate and form stones within the urinary bladder of iguanas. The iguana may exhibit no signs of illness or may strain during urination and act listless. If the stone becomes very large, the abdomen may become enlarged. Droppings may contain blood. A radiograph (x-ray) is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Abdominal surgery is necessary to remove the stone.

Egg-Binding: Egg-binding can be a life-threatening condition. It results when a pregnant female cannot expel 1 or more eggs from the reproductive tract. Causes of egg-binding include malnutrition (especially mineral imbalances), various diseases, mummification of eggs, and large or malformed eggs. Physical examination and radiographs (x-rays) are necessary to diagnoses this problem. The veterinarian may select a medical and/or surgical approach to relieve this serious condition, depending upon circumstances.

Swollen Jaw (Fibrous Osteodystrophy): The most common disease of captive iguanas result from gross malnutrition. Most new iguana owners are not given proper dietary counseling when they buy their iguana. In fact, many are given incorrect information. The most common mistake is feeding lettuce (usually iceberg lettuce) to the exclusion of other important dietary items (see the section on Diet). Lettuce provides adequate amounts of moisture but is a nutritionally barren food otherwise. The problem is often aggravated by Vitamin D3 and calcium deficiencies which result from inadequate exposure to direct sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light and lack of vitamin-mineral supplementation.