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Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 9533
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Hi Anna, my 11 month old beardie has stopped eating. The vet

Customer Question

Hi Anna, my 11 month old beardie has stopped eating. The vet says she has a nasty case of coccidia n has put her on meds for it. She was also backed up so they gave her an enema. After the first enema they got a lot out but not all. A few days later they gave her another one but got next to nothing out. She still didn't eat. They did another enema but again next to nothing came out and she still has not eaten. They now have her on a stool softener, an antibiotic, and mild pain meds. They took an ex ray but did not see an obstruction. They said the only thing left to do besides soaking her for four to six hrs per day and her meds would be surgery n that beardies don't respond well to that type of surgery as the stitches tend to rip out. The last alternative would be to put her down! Help!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.

Hello,

Thank you for requesting me. I'm sorry to hear of Sheila's problems. Some additional information will be useful.

What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the cage?

What foods have you tried feeding her?

What was she eating before all this began?

What substrate do you use on the cage floor?

What types of lighting and heating equipment do you have?

How long has she been on the Ponazuril?

Why was Questran prescribed?

 

Are the vets you've been seeing actual reptile vets?

Thank you.

Anna



Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I use 10's and 75 watts. I take her outside every day for several hours in a separate cage I have outside under the patio roof with the sun just hitting her and a half log to get under n water to soak. I had been feeding her only blue horn worms with an occasional meal worm and her veggies consisting of kale, romain, yellow squash, zuchini, etc. the substrate was ground almond shells which were removed immediately upon being instructed to do so. She has been on the Questran and Ponazuril since 10/14, the first vet visit, where she also received an enema which brought out quite a bit. On the second visit approx three days later, she was given another enema and an ex-ray. She didn't respond well to the enema as very little came out and she had still not eaten or defecated on her own. They gave her Meloxicam and I took her home to directions to soak her for several hrs each day. Still no eating and no pooping. I went back again two days later and they tried an enema one last time to no avail and sent her home with the same instructions along with Lactulose. That was Friday. Still no eating whatsoever and no defecating either. She was totally lethargic prior to going to the vet for the first time and after the first enema she wAs bouncing all over the place with joy and then slowed down again. I'm not entirely sure what the Questran was for but I recall them saying something about it binding to something. She is such a sweet and extremely beautiful dragon and I am so very worried. I haven't had her but for a few months and was following what the pet shop was telling me...big mistake. The vet specializes in exotics particularly beardies.
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. Do you mind giving me the name of the vet you're seeing?

Also, what are the temperatures in the basking area and on the cool side?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
No I don't mind. It's Broward Avian & Exotic Animal Hospital. I first saw Lauren Thielen and then Santiago Diaz. They are both young DVM's. Insofar as the temp of the cage, my thermometer is not working but when she basks her belly is warm and she has two separate hiding places to get out of the heat as well as going to the other side of her enclosure. They did blood work and her calcium was fine. She was dehydrated however, I forget to mention that as the pet shop told me not to put water in her enclosure due to humidity, another misnomer, and only to bath her instead once a week. I read online that she indeed should have water in with her and when I put it in her enclosure she was in the water all day for several days (but not eating) and then a week after the we went to the vet. The pet shop told me not to worry (yea right) that she stopped eating cuz she was going into a hibernation period. I wound up taking to the vet anyway and hopefully it's not too late!! I'm so upset!
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. (I'm not a fast typist). Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly. I appreciate your patience.
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for waiting. There are so many things wrong with this picture, I don't know where to start. I just consulted with Joan, our vet tech who has cared for and rescued beardies for over 30 years. She agrees with me on the situation. The vets you saw are not board-certified in reptiles. They are not even listed in any of the directories of vets recommended by reptile owners. I recommend that you get a second opinion from a board-certified reptile vet. Here is a link to board certified reptile vets in Florida:

http://www.arav.org/find-a-vet/#Florida

The Dr. Thielen that you saw actually specializes in birds and small mammals, I couldn't find anything on Dr. Diaz.

My concerns include the fact that they didn't recommend feeding. When a beardie won't eat, we usually go with a product called Critical Care Insectivore formula. It is available from vets and many larger pet stores. Since you can't get any tonight, you can buy some plain beef or chicken baby food. Mix in a little calcium powder. Also add some BeneBac gel (sold in pet stores) to replenish the good bacteria in her digestive system which have been killed by the medications. If you can get some royal jelly capsules from a health food store, open one of them into the slurry you are making, too. They are a natural appetite stimulant. Drop a small dollop of this on the end of her snout. Most of time, they will lick it off.

There is no reason to do an enema when nothing was found in the digestive system Of course she's not passing any droppings when she isn't eating anything. The Lactulose is something that will create the urge to pass droppings, even when there is nothing to pass. As she strains, she can develop a prolapse, which is life-threatening.

Meloxicam is a pain killer, and your beardie is probably not in pain. This drug can cause constipation. Ponazuril is not recommended for reptiles. Albon is the treatment of choice for coccidia. There has only been one test of Ponzuril on beardies. It was very small, and it was found that 2 doses completely took care of the infections. Leaving them on it longer leads to problems. It is very risky to use at all.

Questran binds bile and is used in humans as a cholesterol medication. It will interfere with digestion. It is not a gut motility drug. If the digestive tract isn't working, there will be no appetite.

Since she was dehydrated, I don't know why they didn't give fluids sub-Q. The soaks they recommended are excessive. I'll give you a better way to help with dehydration. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants).Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your dragon for about 10 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely.

It's essential that you measure the temperature. We can't judge the temperature by feeling the air or the lizard. If it's even a little too cool, appetite will be lost. A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of the cage should be 85*F to 90*F. For a youngster this age, the basking spot should be at least 105*F and up to 110*F. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, lowering t he fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights.

Because pet stores give out so much incorrect information, I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts who I mentioned above. Her care sheet is used on some reputable websites, so you may have even seen it before. I suggest that you use the care sheet as a check list to provide the best possible care for your beardie. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your dragon will reach a full recovery.

Anna

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!


Bearded Dragon Care Sheet

* Bearded dragons should be housed alone.

* Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:

1. 0-3 months- baby
2. 3-12 months-juvenile
3. 12-18 months- sub adult
4. 18 months + -adult

* Bearded dragons live as much as 10-12 years if well cared for properly.
* Bearded dragons have a very good temperament as long as they are cared for and handled.
* When you bring your baby home, it may be quite stressful to him/her to get use to new home. May not eat well the first 2-3 days. They may not need to be handled the first 2-3 days if skittish and nervous.
* Never use sand or any other type of loose substrate: Loose substrates can cause impaction (not being able to go Poop) in all ages of bearded dragons- they lick their environment to explore .It is difficult to keep germ free and clean. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non adhesive shelf liner and reptile carpet is what is most recommended. Use paper towels for the little one and as they get bigger you can change to something else.
* Be sure you keep your beardies home as clean as you can. Clean up by spot cleaning when needed. Clean & sanitize entire tank every 10-14 days. A good cleaning solution is a 20% bleach solution. If you choose to use wood climbing branches etc, these should be soaked in the bleach solution and rinsed well. Then bake in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.
* Need a climbing accessory: to bask and to warm up under basking heat light and lower branches or platforms to come down and cool off.
* A hide of some sort like a cave.
* A food dish and water dish.
* Plastic spray bottle
* Can use artificial plants when they get older- 3 months or so.
* Digital thermostat and/or temp gun
* Tank size: Minimal size tank for this age is 20 gallon long
* Minimal size for older beardie: 4 months of age: 40 gallon breeder is the minimal tank size for older dragon. Can divide a 40 gallon breeder for a smaller dragon. Must have two lights for your beardie.

1. A UVB light source-best is 10.0 Reptisun that runs the length of your tank. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. If not he will get metabolic bone disease, a serious condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. You can purchase cages or reptariums from your pet store. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
2. A basking type light that puts out heat and warmth above basking spot. Your beardie must have warmth to digest food & thrive.

* Lights should be on for 12-14 hours each day. Follow the seasons and light timers are a great luxury if you can get them. 6 dollars at Lowe's. No lights or warmth needed at night unless your temperatures get below 62 degrees. If they do, there are ceramic heat emitters that put out no light, only heat. Use these at night if temperatures fall below 62 degrees.



* Temperatures have to be kept at the following ranges during the day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 105 to 115 degrees F (43.5* to 51.5*C)
Cool side: 85-90 (29.5* to 32*C)
Adults: Warm basking spot: 105-115F (40.5*C to 46*C)

Cool side: 80-85F (27*C to 29*C)

Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun-these are most accurate. Stick on thermometers unreliable.

* Feeding a Beardie: Beardies eat live prey consisting of crickets, roaches and/or silkworms. Never feed any size of mice to your beardie. Never feed mealworms. They also must be given greens/veggies everyday. The younger they are the more live prey they should have. As they grow older the live prey decreases and the veggies/greens should be the major part of diet. Never feed anything bigger, than the space between your beardie's eyes. This includes both live prey and pieces of veggies/greens,
* A chopper or food processor is a huge help when your beardie is small. Always offer greens and veggies: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, red cabbage, fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, cactus pad. Apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe- fruits are treats only.
* What is live prey? The easiest and less expensive live prey is crickets when you have a young or first beardie. The other live preys you can feed are silkworms, and special types of roaches. You can learn to raise your own live prey. Treats can be waxworms, super worms, and tomato/goliath worms. You may find that ordering live prey from the internet is the way to go..... Never leave live prey or greens/veggies in tank overnight. . Crickets can bite your beardie when sleeping.
* Babies should get 80% live prey, and 20 % greens/veggies. But since the greens/veggies are a must when they are older, get them eating their greens/veggies very early. Give greens/veggies in small pieces everyday. You should eventually start decreasing your older dragon's protein intake when they are about a year to 15 months old. Their protein intake decreases to 20 % live prey and 80% veggies/greens.
* A baby can eat 50-75 crix a day. Never feed crix or veggies bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes. Use this guide when buying crix or chopping your greens/veggies.
* You must provide calcium dust without D3 and multivitamin dust for your beardie. You should dust the live prey with calcium one time a day, and vitamins 3 times a week. Just collect your live prey into baggie and add enough calcium and vitamin to dust them. Then pour a few at a time into your tank. Some people feed their beardie in a separate tank so that no crickets can hide. Or some take out "furniture" from tank and feed this way. As they get older, 4-5 months or so dust live prey with calcium 3 times a week.
* Feed the veggies/ greens 1st thing in morning after lights on for one hour at least. Then after 2-3 hours offer crix. Then freshen green/veggies. Then give more crix. Make sure after last crix feeding there is at least 1-2 hours of lights so that they can digest their food before night time.

*Beardies over the age of one year old during the winter months will go into a Brumation like most Reptiles and Herps. It is a form of hibernation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights should be on a shorter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available during this period. Do not feed live prey during Brumation.

Water: Mist your little one with the spray bottle 3-4 times a day. You can also offer a small dish of water in your enclosure but be sure your dragon is not too small to drown in it. It is recommended that when your beardie is 2 months old you can bathe your baby in a small plastic container with warm water- not hot. It will help them to stay hydrated. As they get older you can move up to the bathroom sink and then to the bathtub. Very important for bath enclosure to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to bath time. Clean between dragons too if bathing more than one.




I hope you have switched to a solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic slate or tile.

In summary, I recommend a visit to a board-certified reptile vet, try feeding (with supplements I recommended), start Pedialyte soaks, check and adjust the temperatures.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I didn't finish reading your answer yet I just got to the part that said since there is nothing in her digestive tract. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear in my explanation. If you go back to my first email I stated that they got a lot out with the first enema but not all! She is still backed up....that is the real problem and what they feel is keeping her from eating. They said they can feel the stoppage with their fingers but that the ex ray doesn't show anything blocking her ability to go.
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
I don't understand these vets at all. A stoppage is a blockage. And even if there is something there, if it's stuck, the enema isn't going to get it out. She still isn't going to go unless there's food in her stomach. If there's something in there, and it won't pass, she is going to die. Surgery, despite its risks, may be the only option to save her. The very best thing you can do is see a board certified reptile vet. Get a second opinion on what is going on and the medications. If surgery is necessary, it is more likely to go well with an experienced reptile surgeon.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
It's probably my terminology. She is constipated...they got a lot out the first day with an enema. She is still constipated. They said they can feel it high up in her, very high up like almost between her arms which they said is very high up where her lungs are. But there isn't anything blocking her ability to go...it's just there ...stck up there. They said if there is a blockage and they just can't see it then the add'l treatment that they cld advise could cause her intestines to rupture or it could be that from being dehydrated so badly the stool is just dried out and stuck.

Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.

If nothing is blocking her ability to go, she needs food. Without it, she'll get weaker and weaker, then die of malnutrition. The present treatment is not working. the vets seem unsure of themselves, too. They told you there isn't anything there blocking her ability to go, but then they told you if there is a blockage, further treatment could cause rupture. If the blockage is in her esophagus, an enema can't possibly reach it. If they didn't do a barium x-ray, ask for one. that will give abetter picture of what is going on. You're the only one who can make the decision, but if this were my beardie, I would seek a second opinion.

Regardless of what you decide to do, begin giving the Pedialyte soaks. As an additional step, you can gently massage her underside from snout to vent while she's in the water. Try to get her to swim, as that can get things moving. Try dropping a dollop of prune baby food on her snout to see if she'll eat it. That is very effective with constipation.

Anna

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for all your advise it is very informative and I'm sure will come in handy...if she makes it. I will make an appt at the vet on wiles road as per your suggestion...getting a second opinion is always a good idea! Thx again!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
One last question, how do I get her to swim??
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
You're welcome. As for swimming, if the water is just a little too deep to keep her feet on the bottom, she'll probably swim. But don't leave her alone at all, and if she doesn't begin swimming or seems stressed, go back to more shallow water.

Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 9533
Experience: Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
Anna and 2 other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi Anna, I'm a little confused. I called the Wiles Animal Clinic in Coral Springs which was on the link you sent me for board certified drs. They told me that they nor any dr there is board certified and never has been. They referred me to Broward Avian and Exotic which is where I already was going!
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.

Now I'm confused, too. I was going by the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) directory, which lists vets who are members. At one point on their website, they state these are board-certified, but at another point, they state that they are vets who specialize in reptiles. You can see all of those listed for Florida here:

http://www.arav.org/find-a-vet/#Florida


Neither of the vets you saw at Broward Avian and Exotic are listed anywhere as reptile specialists. However, there is supposed to be another vet on staff there who is. She is Dr. Susan Kelleher. In fact, she is active in some of the same reptile rescuer activities as is our expert here, Joan. You might want to request Dr. Kelleher. I also wanted to find some links for you on the medications you are using. That way, you'll have some information to discuss with whatever vet you see.

 

I found the published results of the original Ponazuril study. Here's what it says:

 

A single pilot study has been performed to evalu-
ate the efficacy of ponazuril in lizards. Bearded drag-
ons given 2 doses (30 mg/kg) of ponazuril by mouth
48 hours apart were cleared of Isospora amphiboluri The author reported that the animals remained coc-
cidia-free for over 1 year posttreatment.

 

You can read the rest here:

 

http://vetmed.illinois.edu/mmitch/pdf/ponazuril.pdf

Here are two other reputable sources that state it is to be given only twice, 48 hours apart. They also emphasize that if a lizard has a heavy enough infestation to justify using Ponazuril, supportive therapy, including administration of fluids, will probably also be needed.

 

http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/avhc/Veterinary+Exotics/Infectious-diseases-of-captive-reptiles-Proceeding/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/608433

http://stage.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/cliniciansbrief.com/files/DifferentiationReptilianParasites.pdf

 

Animals treated with it for longer time periods tend to lose their appetites and lose weight.

 

I could find nothing at all on using Questran in reptiles. You'll have to ask the vets for the reasoning behind it. There's some evidence that it can bind bacterial toxins, so that may be it. It can also prevent diarrhea under certain circumstances.

 

Your beardie is being treated for infection and impaction at the same time, and perhaps the treatments are not very compatible. Regardless of the reasoning behind the medications, they are not working for your beardie. His condition is deteriorating, rather than improving. This is why a second opinion is prudent.

 

Anna

 

 



Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Don't you just love when there are contradicting statements of info on the same website...:) anyway I still learned a lot from the info you provided and I do appreciate it. I am taking her tmro...hopefully there is better news but they said she will probably need surgery. Do you know anything about the risks associated with beardie surgery?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Btw, I tried to get her to swim ...she just sank n just stayed there...omg. I grabbed her n lowered the level of the water for her. I guess no one taught her how to swim. :)
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
I won't be surprised if surgery is necessary. It often is with impaction. I've never experienced surgery with a reptile pet of mine, so I can't give you firsthand experience. The risks vary depending on so many factors. A dragon that is weak, of course, is at greater risk than one that is strong. Beyond that, much depends on the skill of the surgeon. Careful anesthesia is especially important. I would ask questions. Just as with humans, the more times a doctor has performed a certain surgery, the greater their success rate. If it turns out the younger vets haven't done very much lizard surgery, you may want to request the senior vet in the practice. The highest success rates are at the state veterinary teaching colleges, where there are veterinary surgeons on staff. That often involves a long drive and is more expensive, but if you want to pursue that for Sheila, your vet can refer you and get it scheduled. I'll be hoping for the best possible outcome.

Anna

Just saw your post about swimming. She may have had trouble because she doesn't feel good. I know that what happened was scary, but beardies can actually survive for awhile under water. I'm guessing she's too impacted for swimming to make a difference anyway.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank u Anna. Will keep u posted.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi Anna. I have an X-ray. Is there any way I can email it to u?
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.
Hi,

You can send it to support@justanswer.com

Include a link to this question, which is:

http://www.justanswer.com/pet-reptile/82ej0-hi-anna-11-month-old-beardie-stopped-eating-vet.html

And request that it be sent to me. It may take a couple of days. I do want to remind you that I am not a vet, but I'll be happy to take a look at it.

Anna
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Haven't had a chance to send X-ray but was back there n this time they gave her an enema but nothing came out, including the liquid they put in her. Now she's blown up like a balloon! Btw, they do have a sr vet there but none of them are "certified"
Expert:  Anna replied 10 months ago.
I'm sorry to hear that nothing has helped. At this point, I think the only thing that will help is surgery. I wouldn't worry about a board-certified vet now, as long as it's one who is experienced with reptile surgery. With the bloating that has now occurred, Shelia is almost certainly going to die if something isn't done. I'll be hoping for a successful outcome.

Anna
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Is it normal for her to retain the enema...the vet told me she was bloated cuz the fluid from the enema didn't come out!!
Expert:  Anna replied 10 months ago.
That is not normal. It means she is in serious trouble, and needs help as soon as possible. There's no way to be sure of what happened, but it's possible the enema fluid caused a clump of something inside her to move into a position where it completely blocks the vent. In that case, nothing could pass out, including the fluid.

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