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Coprophagy in reptiles


Herpetology is engaged in the study of reptiles. And the veterinarian involved in the treatment of reptiles is a herpetologist. It is important to understand that for any disease, the correct diagnosis of an ill reptile can only be made by a qualified specialist. Self-medication and untimely treatment, in most cases, only worsens the situation and can lead to death.

Further in the article, we will consider common reptile diseases.

External parasites in reptiles

External parasite disease is found in all reptile species. Currently, there are more than 250 species of ticks parasitizing on reptiles. The most common ixodic and snake. Frequent accumulations of parasites are observed around the animal’s eyes, near the ear canals and under the jaw.

For treatment in reptiles, the affected areas are treated with ether, alcohol or oil. A mixture of castor oil with 90% ethyl alcohol in a ratio of 1: 1 can be applied to the skin of the animal. Lubricate the body with fish oil, and after 2 hours, wipe with a napkin. Slight damage can be greased with olive oil.

Mechanically, parasites on reptiles are not removed. In advanced cases, herpetologists recommend the use of Ivermectin 0.2 mg per 1 kg of animal body weight. Also treat the terrarium with a solution of Bromciclean.

It is highly recommended to conduct a parasitological study of the terrarium and pet. Specialists use the preparations "Neguvon", "Arpalit", "Reptipur" to combat external parasites.

Internal parasites (helminthiases)

Helminthiasis, parasitizing at reptiles, can affect the brain, muscles, subcutaneous tissue, as well as the respiratory system and the reptile's oral cavity. The first sign that the animal is infected with internal parasites is a refusal of food and a lack of coordination.

Parasites located under the skin of an animal can be seen with the naked eye. Such parasites can be removed by surgery. The main method of removing internal parasites is chemotherapy. The procedure is carried out by a herpetologist taking into account the sensitivity of parasites to the drug.

Abscesses in snakes

They arise as a result of injuries of the skin of a cold-blooded one. Abrasions, scratches and other injuries lead to foci of infection and become inflamed. The initial stage of the abscess looks like a dense tumor.

If treatment is not started on time, inflammation progresses and can lead to tissue necrosis. In this case, surgical intervention will be required. After surgery, damaged areas of the body are treated daily with a special solution.

In addition to local treatment, antibiotics are required. Most often, abscesses are found in the squamous squad - snakes.


With a lack of vitamins in the reptile's nutrition, they have hypovitaminosis of the group A, B, D, E. Also, hypovitaminosis can occur against the background of other diseases - infection, intoxication, diarrhea, and digestion.

For treatment, foods rich in the required vitamins are added to the animal’s diet. Vitamin A contains eggs, carrots, and liver. You can give it in its pure form - in the drug "Retinol acetate", or in combined versions.

The use of antibiotics can lead to a shortage of B vitamins. The use of feed without heat treatment also leads to it. For the treatment of group B hypovitaminosis, injections of a vitamin B1 solution are performed. Add fruits, vegetables, greens to the diet.

If the reptile has a spasm of chewing muscles, it is artificially fed. Use the drug "B-Complex." With convulsions, a 10% solution of calcium gluconate 1 ml per 100 g of mass is administered.

If the natural process of formation of vitamin D is disturbed, hypovitaminosis D, or rickets, occurs. The animal has a deformation of the lower jaw and spine. In this case, chalk, bone meal, eggshell are added to the diet. Often used ultraviolet rays.

Fungal diseases

These fungal diseases most often affect weakened reptiles, with overpopulation of the terrarium, with high humidity. On the skin of reptiles, and most often on the head, you can see a white coating. These are spores of mushrooms.

You need to know that the disease is contagious by contact. Most often occurs in aquatic turtles. For treatment, infected areas are sprayed with a solution of brilliant green at the rate of 0.2 grams per 3 liters of distilled water. The procedure is carried out 1 time per day for 3 days.


So, to whom it is disgusting, let it not come here. I would like to discuss the phenomenon of coprophagy among animals. My friend once “studied” chimpanzees in a zoo. Some of them ate their litter. He says it’s from stress.
My previous dog once also ate its excrement. I noticed this for my rabbit.
My current dog sometimes (rarely) strives to lie in someone's shit! But he doesn’t eat, thank God. Lions sometimes wallow in elephant droppings to extinguish the smell of a predator. Does my dog ​​have a genetic memory?


A fungal disease of the skin of reptiles resulting from a violation of the conditions of detention. Dermatomycosis at an early stage responds well to treatment. Often found in snakes, turtles and lizards.

A sick pet should be bathed in a solution of malachite green at the rate of 0.15 milligrams per 1 liter for 15 minutes. The procedure is carried out 3 days in a row. After swimming, you need to lubricate the affected areas with the drug "Kanesten".

If the disease is started, the areas affected by the fungus will need to be removed and the surface of the wounds treated with Betaisodonar ointment. In lizards with dermatomycosis, Nystatin ointment is used for 2 weeks. An experienced veterinarian-herpetologist is required to perform these procedures.


Salmonellosis is caused by bacteria of the genus Salmonella. It must be remembered that the salmonella bacteria are dangerous to humans. They can cause typhoid fever. And salmonella toxins from reptiles are the most dangerous. Most often, the carriers are snakes and turtles.

Signs of illness in reptiles are liquid fetid stools, possibly with blood and mucus, refusal to feed, apathy, weight loss. In these situations, it is necessary to urgently call a veterinarian in order to properly prescribe treatment and protect home from infection.

Use antibiotics - Ampicillin, tetracycline and others. In the treatment of aquatic reptiles use "Neomycin." The drug is added to water - 200 milligrams per 20 liters. Depending on the severity of the disease - from 4 to 8 days. Running salmonellosis is not treatable; the animal should be euthanized.

Causes of coprophagy in dogs

Usually coprophagy is normal behavior in nursing bitches, allowing you to keep the den and puppies clean. This behavior is also found in puppies, possibly as a way of forming the intestinal flora. Coprophagy is also associated with a lack of attention, a stimulus-poor environment, hunger, play, and stress. Coprophagy is a self-reinforcing behavior, and often begins by mimicking the behavior of other dogs. Dogs purchased at pet stores are more likely to exhibit this behavior than dogs from breeders. Despite the fact that experimentally caused thiamine deficiency caused coprophagy, dogs that eat commercial dog foods receive a well-balanced diet, which makes nutritional deficiency a very unlikely cause of coprophagy.

What is coprophagy?

Literally, a coprophage is an organism that feeds on feces, most often mammals. The word is of Greek origin. “Interrogation” translates as “feces” or “litter,” and “phagos” means “devourer.”

The causes of coprophagy can be different: it often develops against the background of a lack of animal nutrients and trace elements in the body of animals. In some individuals, under certain conditions, this is the norm. There are species of insects that are natural coprophages.

Some worms, certain types of insects and ticks belong to the group of natural coprophages, for which the described phenomenon is just a way of feeding. For some representatives, the food is litter itself, and microorganisms rapidly developing in it.

Food method "coprophagy" - what is it?

Some butterflies, ants, and bees eat the sweet stool of aphids, mealybugs, and the like. Their secretions are almost a third composed of various types of sugars and are also called “honey dew”.

Autocoprophagy stands out as a separate concept: it is typical for arthropods devouring excrement exclusively of its kind. Waste from the life of the uterus and drones absorb the working bees of the hive. Larvae of a particular wax moth are able to digest up to several times the wax contained in their own excrement.

Coprophage is an organism that is actively involved in the natural cycle of substances. Their representatives contribute to a more intense destruction of organics, the return of nutrients to the soil, and significantly increase the fertility of the land. Their use for nature is obvious.

Coprophage Specialization

Coprophagus is an organism that uses elements that have already passed through the intestines. Some representatives of the fauna are distinguished by a fairly clear specialization in the type of excrement used for food. Some dung beetles, for example, only absorb cow feces, while others only absorb horse feces.

Food, bypassing the digestive tract, is not completely released from nutrients. Poorly soluble and assimilable particles remain almost unchanged. It is for this reason that many true coprophages are equipped with a long intestine that promotes more intensive digestion of food, which is feces.

Many species of rodents also sometimes eat their feces, thus increasing the digestibility of food, which is not completely digested for the first time. In captivity, almost all rodents exhibit coprophagy due to poor dietary balance.

People and coprophagy

In humans, this phenomenon is usually associated with various mental problems. This may be auto-aggressive behavior, bulimia against the background of dementia, iron deficiency or encephalopathy of various etilogies. In some cases, it may have the character of a particular sexual perversion.

Coprophagy in the form of a kind of fetishism can be attributed to the form of coprophilia. Eating feces or coercion to this process can be considered as a certain element of sadomasochistic perversions. Coprophagy of this kind is not an obvious sign of a mental disorder.

But coprophage is not necessarily a deviation. Eating excrement is often observed in infants and young children. Most often, this process is one-time in nature and takes the form of an experimental action.

Interesting fact. The well-known elite variety of expensive coffee is made from beans that have passed through the intestines of palm civet. They are collected together with excrement, cleaned, washed and dried. The effect of intestinal mammalian enzymes gives it a special, exclusive touch. A cup of such a drink can cost about $ 50.

Diagnosis of dogs with coprophagy

In dogs with coprophagy, it is necessary to take a fecal analysis and conduct a general examination. Since chronic pancreatic insufficiency, malabsorption, and starvation can contribute to the appearance of coprophagy, it is necessary to examine the functioning of the tract and pancreas.

A complete medical history should include: information about the diet, method of acquisition (e.g., pet store, breeder), development of unwanted behavior, frequency, owner during coprophagy, source of feces consumed (e.g., wild animal, other dog), health status of other animals in the house and the place where the feces are eaten (for example, backyard, for walks). It is also necessary to obtain general information regarding other pets, because, in some cases, the stool consumed may be from a specific pet. There is an assumption that the most interesting is the feces of dogs with accelerated transit of intestinal contents, the presence of undigested food in feces.

Although coprophagy is common enough, the health effects of a dog are usually minimal.

Treatment of dogs with coprophagy

As a rule, after catching a dog for eating feces, the owners run to her and scream for the dog to stop doing this. The dog responds by eating feces very quickly before the owner can act on it. Since the dog perceives eating feces as a reward, any attempt at punishment can lead to confusion and fear in the dog.

It is always necessary to establish medical causes of behavior and prescribe appropriate treatment. For example, if a dog that uses feces has exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, appropriate treatment can significantly reduce the manifestations of coprophagy.

To get rid of this unpleasant habit, various products can be used that cause taste aversion in dogs. Depending on the type, they need to process feces or add to the dog’s food, the feces of which are attractive to other dogs. These treatment options for coprophagy are often ineffective in the non-systematic use and dominance of a dog's sense of smell to determine the suitability of food. To avoid the situation with variable reinforcement (a very strong reinforcement variant, when behavior is reinforced through an unpredictable number of attempts) of coprophagy, the dog should not eat raw feces until its behavior has been completely modified. Owners should treat all dogs whose feces are eaten by other dogs. If there are a lot of animals in the house, this can be a very difficult task.

Behavioral strategies for dog owners with coprophagy

In many cases, various behavioral strategies can be applied to make life easier for owners, even if the coprophagy in dogs is caused by medical reasons. The most effective ways to modify behavior:

  1. prevention,
  2. reassignment
  3. reaction substitution.

With prevention, the owners eliminate the dog’s very ability to eat feces. For example, a dog may be kept indoors or on a leash until all other dogs in the house go to the toilet and the yard is cleaned. A muzzle can also be helpful in the initial stages of treatment.

Reassignment means using a toy or goodies to redirect the dog’s attention if the owner sees that the dog is about to start eating feces.

When replacing a reaction, the owners teach the dog an alternative behavior (for example, the “sit” command while maintaining eye contact) when the dog detects feces. Consistently reinforcing new behavior, you can replace undesirable behavior with a more comfortable host. The environment of the dog should be interesting and rich in various pleasant stimuli, especially oral ones (for example, toys with snacks).

Despite the fact that coprophagy often does not harm the dog’s health, such behavior can greatly annoy the owners, which worsens the relationship between the dog and the person. Once medical reasons have been diagnosed and / or excluded, behavioral modification techniques become the most effective approaches.


Dysbacteriosis is a violation of the normal intestinal microflora. The disease most often occurs after antibiotic treatment.The correct diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian, according to symptoms. Usually, in reptiles, dysbiosis does not require treatment, and after a while passes by itself, after transferring the pet to special nutrition.

Necrotic dermatitis

This disease is caused by the presence of bacteria under the guards of reptiles. More often affects snakes. Sometimes this disease is called rotting of the scutes. The main causes of this disease are low temperature, high humidity and poor sanitary-hygienic content of the terrarium.

Visible symptoms - damage to the scutes, discoloration, the appearance of small bleeding. To eliminate the disease, it is recommended to transfer the animal to another warmer and drier terrarium. Lubricate the affected areas of the pet's body with special antibiotic ointments.

Osteomyelitis in turtles

This disease most often affects turtles. It is characterized by a bacterial lesion of the carapace as a result of his injury. The first sign of the disease is pink spots with a rough surface on the shell. With severe damage, the upper layer of the shell may die.

For treatment, you must always consult a veterinarian to accurately calculate the dosage of medications. Special subcutaneous injections are carried out based on the body weight of the animal. To prevent re-infection, it is recommended to remove all hard and sharp objects from the terrarium.

Reptile Tumors

Modern veterinary medicine has well studied all types of tumors in reptiles - benign and malignant. No evidence of disease in reptiles is detected, which complicates the treatment and makes it ineffective.

Easily diagnose superficial tumors, they are easily distinguishable from an abscess. An exact herpetologist can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment, based on a special study.

Penophthalmitis - an eye disease in reptiles

This type of disease is often found in reptiles. The disease is characterized by inflammation of the eye membranes. The characteristic signs of this disease are opacification of the eyeball, its increase in size.

If the disease is started, then the destruction of the eye and its loss is possible. Therefore, urgent antibiotic treatment is required. There are times when an operation is required, with a strong stretching of the eyeball. With complete damage to the eyeball, it is necessary to remove the eye. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian at the slightest sign of a disease.

Reptile Respiratory Disease

Respiratory diseases include the common cold and pneumonia. Diseases arise as a result of overcooling of a reptile, being in a draft, high humidity in the room, or a sharp change in climate. Bacteria activated under such conditions easily penetrate the body of the animal.

The first signs of a respiratory disease in reptiles are hoarse breathing and mucus in the oral cavity. If the disease is not immediately treated, a runny nose and shortness of breath appear. Treatment should be approached correctly, based on the type of animal. Veterinarians use subcutaneous injections of antibiotics once a day.

Reptile stomatitis

Stomatitis is usually compared to rotting mouths of reptiles. This is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. It is found in all types of reptiles - lizards, snakes, turtles. The reason most often is poor or poor nutrition, lack of vitamins, the consequences of colds. Stomatitis can also occur as a result of trauma, especially in snakes that feed on rodents.

Stomatitis is divided into 2 types - primary and secondary. Primary stomatitis is an independent disease. In this case, the vessels in the mouth are dilated, have a blue color. A plaque is visible on the mucous membrane, which can be easily removed with a cotton swab. For treatment, special ointments are used - "Polisporin", "Neosporin", for a week.

Secondary stomatitis occurs against a background of previously transferred or existing diseases. This type of stomatitis can have ulcers, necrosis, purulent discharge. Perhaps even tooth loss. Treatment of this type of stomatitis is carried out only by a specialist - herpetologist.

Reptile injuries

Among reptiles, various injuries are also common. For their treatment, the size of the affected area and the nature of the injury should be considered. If the coordination of movements is impaired in the animal, then spinal injury is possible. By palpation, bone fracture and dislocation can be determined.

Currently, new methods of treating injuries in reptiles have been developed. Now it is possible to treat injuries that have not previously been cured. All that is required from the owner of the animal is to seek the help of a veterinarian in time. Sometimes a terrarium man himself can provide simple help to his pet.


eating excrement by dogs can be caused by several reasons: perverted appetite as a result of illnesses, metabolic disorder, lack of digestive enzymes, or a “habit” associated with getting pleasant sensations from eating litter. Those. when a bitch instinctively eats a litter of puppies or puppies can eat their feces (which is also basically normal) and get some kind of pleasant feeling for them - this becomes a habit.

And all these factors strengthen their influence in captivity.

Edited by Jura (25 January 2009 18:07:03)