Treating Crypto in reptiles

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Disclaimer:

I’m undecided about whether I should publish this post. I believe in providing as much information about the treatment of our scaley friends as possible… but it seems like this info could be harmful. Therefore, I urge you to always consult your vet first. I will not say this works. In fact, it did not save my snake’s life. After visiting the vet myself and having many tests performed and forcing a ridiculous amount of medications onto my snake, I felt this was my last and only option… So I’m posting it online with the hope that maybe, maybe, it can save one life.

Please do not let this deter you from taking your reptile to the vet.

There can be many things that cause similar symptoms to arise in your pet and some of them can easily be treated by a professional (at little expense). Please let this be your last option, reserved only for when you’ve exhausted every other possibility.

About Crypto:

I will be using the term “crypto” as a shorthand of the infection Cryptosporidiosis. For more detailed information about this infection, please visit these links: RichmondVets and Arizona Exotic.

Crypto is dreaded among reptile enthusiasts because of it’s ability to wipe out entire collections. It is usually transferred through fecal matter and anything that comes into contact with an infected area (to include water and food bowls, hides, or other decor). The infection is difficult to detect through regular fecal tests because the crypto organism sheds only intermittently. Because of this, any new animals should always be quarantined immediately and strict hygenic processes should always practiced when caring for your reptiles.

Symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite or interest in food
  • Weight loss
  • Regurgitation (often looks like it’s covered in mucus)
  • Change in stool (it has been described as similar in appearance to cottage cheese)
  • Lethargy
  • A firm bulge or swelling in the middle of the body

The cure:

My label “the cure” is misleading. There is no cure. Many vets will resort to euthanasia to prevent loss of quality of life. But please, take your pet the vet anyway. Follow their advice. They are the experts. They can rightfully diagnose crypto in your pet. If you have other pets, you need to consider their safety as well. Quarantine your sickly animal as soon as humanly possible or you may infect the others and risk losing your entire collection.

If you’re like me, and can’t bear to part with your pet, then follow these steps only after you have discussed them with your vet.

  • Separate the reptile from the rest (which you should have already done but I’m going to reiterate my point). Put the infected animal in another room.
  • Clean the entire tank with bleach. Do not redecorate. Throw away fake plants or unnecessary decor. Do not use it for other animals. If you can’t bear to part with it, bleach those items and leave them outside in the sunlight for a few months. You have to wait for the parasite/oocysts (eggs) to die off, which can take quite a while.
  • Lay down paper towels so that the tank will be easier to change and clean. This is going to need to be as close to hospital sterile as we can get it.
  • Soak you reptile in a pedialyte (or Gatorade at the very least) solution (I used 1/3 pedialyte and 2/3 water) to allow for rehydration. You’ll probably need to start doing this daily, depending on the severity of the infection.
  • Buy what is called “hyperimmune bovine colostrum” (I purchased mine from Synertek, but that was a few years ago).
  • Quoted from the study that I supplied below as a source: you can treat the reptile with “six gastric [hyperimmune bovine colostrum] treatments of 1% snake weight at 1-week intervals each.”
  • There is a little more research available than I had years back, but what I did was this: I filled a syringe (a small one like these) with the required 1% of body weight, attached a rubber tube (aquarium tubing works well), carefully pried open the snake’s mouth (by pressing on either side of the jaw), inserted the tube to just past the snake’s neck (this is a good pic for reference; I aimed for the spot just past the person’s hand), and slowly empty the contents of the syringe. Once empty, hold the reptile’s mouth closed for a minute to prevent regurgitation.
  • Put the snake back into it’s cage on a heat source so he can digest the colostrum.

Even if your reptile shows signs of improvement, you can never reintroduce the reptile to other companions. You will always have to keep him separated from the rest. This may suppress and manage the crypto parasite, but he will always carry it.

Source:
Therapeutic efficacy of hyperimmune bovine colostrum treatment against clinical and subclinical Cryptosporidium serpentis infections in captive snakes

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My newest addition

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It’s hard to keep up with this blog, my social media, and all of my pets so once again: I’m sorry for disappearing! I promise that I’ll try to do better. I really feel like this blog is important because there’s so much information I want to get out there. I keep hoping that I can make a difference for at least one animal. In the end, that’s my only goal.

Anyway, it’s been a busy couple of months. I found forever homes for some of my rescues and ended up with a new little bunny, too! Normally I would oppose the “rescue” of a petstore animal because it only perpetuates the problem of petstores… but sometimes exceptions have to be made. (Please note that my view on petstores is only my opinion. I would never condemn a person that rescues an animal who is suffering from improper care because, even though you’re giving that petstore your business and thus “rewarding” their bad practice, you are making a huge difference for that animal. It just depends on the situation, your views, and the animal in question!).

I had to go to the store to get some more supplies for the critters and this little guy happened to catch my eye. She (presumed she, not certain yet) seemed so sad and afraid. My heart went out, so I asked the store employee about her. This is the same petstore that I frequent so they know me well and immediately started pressuring me to buy her. They said that a man had come into the store earlier to buy a rabbit for his red tail boa to eat and that he was coming back to pick her up. Apparently, they didn’t want this little bunny to be eaten, but the store policy wouldn’t permit them to tell him “no.”

They were in such a hurry to save her that they even offered me an employee discount if I could take her. I’m a bleeding heart, so of course I said yes. Thanks to those store employees, this little girl will not be eaten by a snake! And she’s proving to be an amazing little addition to my clan. She happily sits on my lap and lets me pet her while I play games or watch TV. I thought at first she may be sickly because she was so content to be lazy but after a few minutes, I saw her ears perk up and she started sniffing around. If I stop petting her, she goes off to explore her new surroundings. She paws at the carpet, hops around (they’re called binkies), and even tried to play with my bathroom mat.

It’s only been a day, but I’m in love. I think she knows what that petstore did for her and I think she’s grateful that I took her away from certain death. Maybe it’s presumptuous on my part to personify her like that, but she seems smart enough to understand that her life has improved dramatically. ❤ I’m thinking of calling her Judy (after Judy Hopps in Zootopia) or perhaps Hazard (because her fur is orange and gray and reminds me of a hazard sign).

Rescue an animal; don’t buy

Everyone has heard the mantra celebrated by rescues everywhere: “save a life.” It’s an ubiquitous chant among dog and cat enthusiasts, and it’s true! I don’t want to detract from their statement. There are so many animals that need loving homes… but those animals aren’t limited to dogs and cats. Yes, dogs and cats are easier to adopt. They’re easier to train because they have generations of domestication behind them, but I promise that they’re not the only lives worth saving.

Many times, I hear people insist that rescued parrots are difficult to deal with. Rescued reptiles comes with too many problems. There are behavioral issues, bad habits, and aggressive tendencies that come with an animal who has been abused and taught to expect the worst from people. Many times, these same animals have expensive hospital bills to go along with them. There’s a lot of repair and work and healing that goes into rehabilitating an animal who has never really been cared for… but many times, it pays off.

I will not make you a promise that every single animal is capable of being a terrific pet. Every single animal is worth saving, but not every one can be the cuddle-bug that you’re hoping for. But, that’s just my disclaimer. Personally, I haven’t experienced what I call a “failure” story. One of my green cheek conures came to me as a fragile, malnourished, and terribly frightened little guy. He was petrified of hands. People haunted his nightmares. He had night frights. He used to shake, violently, when I would move too quickly.

It took a lot of time and effort, but two years later, I can flip him onto his back. He comes to me when I call him. He steps right up, gives me kisses, and will nestle into my hair just like my hand-raised green cheek. He’s one of the “gang” now and when he’s in distress from a loud movie or an unknown noise, he flies immediately to me for comfort. This is the kind of interaction that made those two years of work worth it. It’s amazing, to me, to see how far he’s come. To see how much he trusts me. To know that he accepts me as his protector. That’s not something that can be bought.

Another parrot of mine was given wine on a regular basis. His last owner thought it was funny to see him drunk. She fed him seeds for 17 years of his life. He came to me with two bacterial infections, a respiratory infection, and fatty liver disease. It cost me in the ballpark of $1,000 worth of vet trips to get him stable. He would pluck himself bald. He even, on occasion, would mutilate himself. He came to me with a bite so hard and a hatred so deep that I thought he would be a lost cause. I remember once, when he bit me, the pain was so red-hot and intense that I threw him just to get him off of me. I know that was wrong. I know I could have hurt him severely. I know I was no better than the person who had abused him. But wow, did that hurt!

He took a few months of work and training and excess caution. I was terrified of him. He was terrified of me. He would chase my brother with the intention of destroying him. He wanted us eliminated. He wanted us to be punished for every time he could not fight back before. And now he’s a delightful handful of cuddles and clinginess. He has to wear a sweater that I replace frequently because we’re still working on the plucking, but his aggression has stopped. I trust him enough now to clip his toenails and he trusts me enough now to let me.

This post isn’t meant to be a promise. I can’t promise you that every rescue will turn out how you want them to. But every rescue has potential. Every life is worth rescuing. And those that realize what you’ve done for them will never, ever, let you forget it. They demonstrate their gratefulness every time they make new progress. Every time they step up for you when they didn’t once before. Every time they take a treat from your hand without giving you a bite in exchange.

So please, make this a consideration before you choose a buy a pet. There are so many in need of a good home. And there’s a huge support network out there for all kinds of animals: reptiles, parrots, rodents, everything. You don’t have to go through the process alone.

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My little rescue. ❤