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bearded dragons and salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that causes an infection called Salmonellosis in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and other animal species.

Salmonellosis infections are contagious, meaning they can spread from one organism to another, especially when another animal comes into contact with the host’s fecal matter.

According to scientists, there are two species of Salmonella—Salmonella bongori and Salmonella enterica. The latter has six additional sub-species that can cause serious health complications in animals.

It is common for humans to get Salmonellosis infections. What about bearded dragons are they susceptible? With this comes the question below:

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Best Products for Treating Bearded Dragon Salmonella:

Do Bearded Dragons Carry Salmonella?

Bearded dragons are known carriers of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella Muenster is one of the sub-species that is commonly found in bearded dragons. The CDC reports that bearded dragons can spread salmonella germs to humans. As such, you should be cautious when handling your lizard.

Moreover, some bearded dragons will not appear sick even if they have Salmonella, so you should not take any chances.

However, Salmonellosis infections can be life-threatening to bearded dragons if the bacterial load is high. If the lizard is not given proper medical care, it could die.

Salmonella germs are mostly found in bearded dragon droppings because the infection mainly attacks the intestinal tract.

When bearded dragons poop, the germs can easily spread inside the lizard’s enclosure, body, and in their surroundings. Other animals, including humans, may get infected if they come into contact with the germs.

Therefore, it is your responsibility as a pet parent to ensure that nobody in your household gets Salmonella. Besides, prevention is always better than offering a cure.

Salmonella Bearded Dragon Symptoms

In most cases, bearded dragons don’t get sick from Salmonella germs. They can carry the bacteria for an extended period without showing any visible symptoms of infection.

During this period, beardies can shed Salmonella in their poop regularly or intermittently.

It is not easy to tell whether your bearded dragon has Salmonella. Like all strains of bacteria, Salmonella germs are microscopic, so you can’t see them with the naked eye.

A visit to the vet is the only sure way that you can get the correct diagnosis. Veterinary doctors have been able to identify the common symptoms of Salmonella in bearded dragons.

All you have to do is check for any of the signs listed below:

Diarrhea

This is probably one of the common symptoms of intestinal bacterial infections in bearded dragons.

Diarrhea can result in severe dehydration in bearded dragons, thereby causing other health problems.

Moreover, bearded dragon poop can tell you a lot about the lizard’s health. With that being said, you should be able to differentiate normal poop from the rest.

A healthy bearded dragon will excrete brown and white poop. If the poop is too runny, it could mean the lizard has a bacterial infection. Parasite infestations may also cause diarrhea in bearded dragons.

Lack of Appetite

Loss of appetite is a general symptom of most bearded dragon diseases. Beardies love eating bugs and worms, but this may not be the case when they are sick.

Bearded dragons that have a high bacterial load of Salmonella may go for days without eating food. This will not only result in weight loss but may also cause other serious health complications.

If you notice that your bearded friend is not eating properly, you should schedule an appointment with the vet.

Lethargy

Most reptiles become lethargic when they are sick, and bearded dragons are no exception. Nonetheless, lethargy can also occur during brumation.

As such, one can easily conclude that their lizard is sick while it’s not. If you aren’t sure of the cause, a veterinary doctor can help.

Vomiting

This is yet another common sign for most bearded dragon diseases, including Salmonella. Since Salmonellosis infections mainly attack the intestinal tract, the host may have a hard time processing its food.

Consequently, your bearded dragon will be unable to hold food in its stomach. Beardies that have Salmonella are more likely to vomit after eating.

As a result, the lizard will become weak over time since its body is not getting enough nutrients.

Note: The clinical signs of Salmonella in bearded dragons are somewhat variable and general. Additionally, most of the symptoms are poorly understood.

This means that your bearded dragon may or may not have Salmonella even if they display the above symptoms.

Salmonellosis infections in bearded dragons can only be detected by testing the lizard’s fecal cultures under a microscope.

Bearded Dragon Salmonella Treatment: Is Salmonella Treatable In Bearded Dragons?

As mentioned earlier, bearded dragons that carry Salmonella are less likely to get sick from the bacteria. As such, there is no need to offer treatment.

Moreover, veterinary doctors report that the treatment procedures used in eliminating Salmonella in bearded dragons and other reptiles often turn out unsuccessful.

The best that you can do is to prevent the carrier from spreading the germs to the uninfected. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about anything provided that you give the infected lizard a healthy diet.

Research shows that Salmonellosis infections can greatly impact the health of hosts with weak immune systems.

By providing your bearded dragon with a varied and balanced diet, the lizard will get all the nutrients that it needs to fight the infection. It may carry the germs for a long period, but it will never get sick.

In addition to providing your lizard friend with the right type of food, ensure that the bearded dragon is properly hydrated.

However, keeping a lizard that has Salmonella can be a bit challenging since you have to contain the bacteria and prevent it from spreading.

How to Prevent Salmonella in Bearded Dragons

The best way to control Salmonella in bearded dragons is through prevention. Salmonella bacteria are very resilient and can live on surfaces for up to four hours.

This means that there is a high chance that other animals can easily get infected if they ingest the germs. If one of the dragons in the enclosure is infected, there is a likelihood that it will infect the others.

Below are some of the most effective preventive measures that can help you curb the spread of Salmonella in bearded dragons.

Proper Hygiene

This is the best prevention strategy against Salmonella in bearded dragons. Salmonella germs are mainly transmitted through contaminated fecal matter, so you should start by cleaning the lizard’s enclosure.

You can use disinfectants when cleaning as this will kill all the bacteria. For the safety of your bearded dragon, you should only use mild disinfectants since they are less likely to harm your pet lizard.

Ensure that you remove the feces daily to prevent the build-up of bacteria inside the bearded dragon enclosure. Also, you should change the substrate regularly after cleaning the vivarium.

Proper hygiene does not only entail cleaning but also how you handle your bearded dragons. You should also use disposable gloves when handling carriers to limit transmission.

In case the infected beardie leaves its food, you should not give it to the healthy bearded dragons.

Quarantine

If one of your bearded dragons has Salmonellosis infection, you should consider separating it from the other lizards.

This will greatly lower the chances of it infecting the healthy bearded dragons. As such, you should place the carrier in a separate enclosure.

That way, you will be able to provide the infected bearded dragon with the right care that it needs. In addition to this, quarantine is essential for observation purposes.

When the infected lizard is kept separately, you will have an easy time observing its behavior. This will allow you to apply the most appropriate countermeasure in case the beardie gets sick.

You can also quarantine bearded dragons when introducing a new member to the colony.

This will not only prevent the spread of Salmonella but also other contagious diseases in bearded dragons.

Lizards that are in quarantine should not share feeding dishes with the healthy batch since this can cause the bacteria to spread further.

What Are the Chances of Getting Salmonella from a Bearded Dragon?

Salmonella is a zoonotic bacterial disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Moreover, scientific reports from the CDC show that bearded dragon-associated salmonellosis infections are on the rise.

Young children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. Those with weak immune systems also have a high chance of getting Salmonella.

Humans can only get salmonellosis from bearded dragons if they ingest germs shed in fecal matter.

This can happen if you come into contact with contaminated enclosure equipment and other surfaces.

Salmonella germs may also be on the lizard’s skin, so you should practice hygiene after handling your bearded dragon.

Is It Common To Get Salmonella From Bearded Dragons?

If your bearded dragon has Salmonella, there is a slim chance that you may also get infected. This will only happen if you handle the lizard poorly.

Also, you can get salmonellosis even without coming into direct contact with infected lizards. Infections can occur directly or indirectly.

Direct infections occur when you get Salmonella germs from the bearded dragon, while indirect infection applies when you get the bacteria from contaminated surfaces.

Bearded dragon keepers should be cautious when handling feeding dishes, décor items, and any other equipment that is in the enclosure.

This will help you avoid possible cases of infections when handling beardies. Children under the age of five should not be allowed to handle bearded dragons and other lizards.

How to Prevent Salmonella in Humans

If you are keeping bearded dragons, there are several ways through which you can protect yourself from salmonellosis.

Wash Your Hand Thoroughly

After feeding or handling your bearded dragon, ensure that you wash your hands with soap. Regular hand washing can kill Salmonella germs, thus preventing possible infections.

You should also wash your hands after cleaning or handling the items inside the lizard’s enclosure. Additionally, you shouldn’t touch your mouth or face when handling bearded dragons.

Keep Everything Clean

Proper hygiene is paramount when it comes to keeping bearded dragons. As stated earlier, the beardie’s enclosure should be disinfected regularly to prevent bacteria build-up.

Bearded dragon feeding dishes and water bowls should not be washed in kitchen sinks.

Instead, you can use laundry sinks or any other separate area where food is not prepared. Once you are done, ensure that you disinfect the cleaning area to prevent contamination.

Take Your Bearded Dragon for Regular Checkups

Frequent checkups at the vets can help you detect Salmonella in bearded dragons. This will enable you to apply the necessary safety measures to avoid more infections.

If your beardie exhibits any of the symptoms highlighted earlier, you should take them to a veterinary doctor immediately.

Do All Bearded Dragons Carry Salmonella?

Bearded dragons can only become carriers when they are exposed to Salmonella germs. As such, not all beardies carry Salmonella bacteria.

With proper husbandry and hygiene, you can keep your beardies healthy without worrying about salmonellosis.

It’s also important to purchase a bearded dragon from a trusted breeder. Breeders oftentimes take extra precaution to ensure their animals are clean, healthy, and free of any diseases such as Salmonella.

Décor items should be properly disinfected before you place them inside the enclosure to prevent new infections.

Also, you should not let your beardie play with other bearded dragons (i.e. the neighbor’s) since the lizards can exchange parasites and bacterial infections such as salmonella.

Can Bearded Dragons Get Sick From Humans?

Most bacterial and viral infections can spread from animals to humans and vice versa. Bearded dragons, in particular, can easily infect humans with different Salmonella serotypes.

However, does this mean that bearded dragons can acquire certain diseases from humans? Not much research has been published about reverse zoonosis in bearded dragons and humans.

Since strains such as Salmonella Muenster can be spread from beardies to humans, it is safe to conclude that the reverse is true.

Additionally, certain species of Campylobacter, Aeromonas, and Pseudomonas bacteria are common in both humans and reptiles, so there is possibility bearded dragons can acquire them from humans.

Most of these strains don’t cause illnesses to bearded dragons. Once infected, the lizard will carry the germs, thereby infecting other animals.

Can I kiss My Bearded Dragon?

As a loving pet parent, you may be tempted to kiss or snuggle your beardie from time to time. For your safety and that of your family, you should never kiss or put your bearded dragon anywhere near your face or mouth.

Doing so can spread Salmonella and other bacterial infections that may affect your health. Plus, bearded dragons are good at hiding diseases, so you can never tell that they are sick.

Salmonella bacteria can live in the lizard’s intestinal tract for several months, so you should always be cautious.

When feeding your bearded dragon, ensure that you handle the lizard correctly while avoiding unnecessary contact. You can use long feeding tongs as this will prevent you from touching the bearded dragon’s mouth.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t touch your beardie. You just need to be careful to prevent bacterial transmission.

Disinfecting your hands before and after handling your bearded dragon can protect both you and the lizard from common zoonotic diseases.

If the lizard makes contact with your face, you should consider cleaning your skin with soap and water.

Do Bearded Dragons Carry E. coli?

Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is bacteria that is commonly found in the lower regions of the intestines in humans and other animals.

Like Salmonella, E. coli can affect lizards and human beings, thus making it one of the zoonotic diseases that you should worry about.

Bearded dragons can get E. coli infection when they ingest Escherichia coli bacteria. In bearded dragons, E. coli can cause health complications if there is a high bacterial load.

Nonetheless, most lizards don’t get sick when they are exposed to E. coli. Instead, they become carriers and may spread the bacteria to humans, lizards, and other animals.

The symptoms of E. coli infection in bearded dragons are somewhat similar to those of Salmonella.

E. coli can be spread through contaminated fecal matter in bearded dragons. As such, you should make it your goal to ensure that you clean the lizard’s enclosure thoroughly.

In addition to this, you should not touch your bearded dragon when you are eating because you can easily get E. coli, especially when handling infected lizards.

Can My Bearded Dragon Die From E. coli?

Bearded dragons that have E. coli can be carriers of the disease, but that does not mean they will die from it. However, this will depend on the bacterial load.

Beardies who have a high bacterial load are more likely to get sick and may also die if the infection is not treated in good time.

Also, E. coli can cause serious complications in bearded dragons if the lizard has underlying health conditions.

Like most intestinal infections, E. coli can trigger diarrhea in beardies. Aside from that, it can also cause the lizard to vomit. Both reactions may result in dehydration, weight loss, and lethargy in bearded dragons.

How Do I Know If My Bearded Dragon Has E. coli?

If you have been keeping beardies for some time, then you must be aware that they exhibit general symptoms when they are sick.

As such, it can be difficult to know what the lizard is suffering from just by observing the visible symptoms.

Nevertheless, a veterinary doctor can provide you with a diagnosis by analyzing poop samples and running other tests on your bearded dragon.

What Diseases Can Bearded Dragons Get?

Bearded dragons can suffer from different diseases, some of which are curable while others are not.

When it comes to bearded dragon diseases, the earlier the diagnosis, the better. Some beardies succumb to diseases because the complications are detected when it is already too late.

That being said, you should know some of the common diseases that affect bearded dragons.

Upper Respiratory Infection

Upper Respiratory Infection, commonly abbreviated as URI, is a type of bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs of bearded dragons.

It causes serious breathing complications and can result in death if left untreated. Beardies mostly get URI when they are kept in an environment that has too much moisture.

Common Symptoms of URI in Bearded Dragons:

How to Prevent Upper Respiratory Infection in Bearded Dragons

Keep the humidity levels between 30 percent and 40 percent. Additionally, you should practice proper hygiene.

Cancer

This is also another disease that you should be worried about in bearded dragons. Cancer can cause lumps in any part of the beardie’s body, so you should always be on the alert.

The common symptoms of cancer in bearded dragons include lack of appetite, weight loss, formation of lumps, lethargy, etc. Unfortunately, there are no treatment strategies for cancer in beardies.

Atadenovirus

Atadenovirus is highly contagious and can spread from one lizard to another through direct and indirect contact. This disease spreads very fast, making it even more dangerous to beardies.

Common Symptoms of Atadenovirus in Bearded Dragons

Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD is very common in bearded dragons and is caused by calcium deficiency and a lack of Vitamin D3.

However, the good news is that you can treat MBD if it is diagnosed early in beardies. The common signs of MBD in bearded dragons include lethargy, loss of appetite, constipation, and stress.

Common Diseases in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons can suffer from a wide range of diseases, including Salmonellosis. It is, therefore, your duty to ensure that your beardie is healthy at all times.

In as much as bearded dragons are resilient to most diseases, they can succumb to some infections.

Getting an early diagnosis can greatly help your lizard. As such, you should consider taking your bearded dragon to the vet for regular checkups.

Through this, you will be able to prevent most of the common diseases that may affect your lizard. Also, you should practice proper husbandry and hygiene as this can prevent diseases from spreading to the rest of the colony.

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