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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11544
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My name is ***** *****, I have a 2 year old Mertens Water

Customer Question

Hi my name is ***** *****, I have a 2 year old Mertens Water Monitor. I am concerned as recently he has stopped eating completely, more than 3 weeks now. Prior to this he has been very active and eating every day. He grew dramatically at the beginning of the season but is now very inactive. He feels weak and is losing weight. Last thing he ate was a fresh piece of chicken thigh but half an hour later he vomited it up and has touched nothing since. He is also doing this weird thing of opening his mouth wide and twisting his neck and head around at the same time. Is it possible he has something stuck or a blockage somewhere? His tank is in our longe room. He has been eating mice, crickets, and fresh chicken thigh pieces and necks. He has always been fairly timid and would struggle when picked up. Now I can just lift him up with no resistance at all. I'm really worried about him. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, ***** *****
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: He is behaving very differently to this time last season where he never stopped eating.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Reptile Experts generally expect a deposit of about $18 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be useful. Has your monitor been passing no normal droppings? What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the enclosure? What brand and size of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb? Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No droppings at all for ages. Temperature under the basking light is 35 degrees on the rock. The water is 25 or 26. Globe is a Reptiglo, about 0.8m long and is a few months old. Since I first contacted you this morning he has actually eaten some fresh minced beef and has kept it down. I took him outside to climb on a tree and he seemed to come to life a bit. He ate after I put him back in the tank. Thanks Anna. Do you think it's just normal slowing down behaviour for start of autumn? Almost 4 weeks is a long time without food.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh he did do a dropping when I got him out of the tank. Runny white and green.
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. I apologize for the delay - we are dealing with a large time zone difference since you are in Australia and I am in the States. We'll just have to work around the delays that causes.

The symptoms you're seeing do not sound like a normal slowing down. Vomiting is never normal, and weight loss is cause for concern. You are suspicious of a blockage, and based on what you have described, so am I. Classic symptoms include appetite loss, vomiting, and passing no or watery droppings. Watery droppings can get past a partial blockage, while more normal ones can't. As for the head movements and mouth opening, that can signify some discomfort in the throat or mouth, or difficulty breathing.

There is no way to be certain of what is going on without a hands on exam and x-ray. He may have accidentally swallowed some substrate or some food may have caused an impaction. He may have an infection or parasites causing the symptoms. Because of these possibilities, I recommend that you see a reptile vet for a certain diagnosis and proper treatment. These links will take you to directories of Australian reptile vets:

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope this will turn out to be something easily treated.


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!

Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about Marty. How is everything going?