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Pinworms  

The iguanas may already have them when you get them. Pinworms are the most common worms found in iguanas. They have a direct life cycle and can be transmitted from iguana to iguana, or an iguana can be re-infected by contact with feces containing worms or worm eggs. Pinworms are quite common in wild iguanas but, generally, do not build up to levels which cause problems. In captivity, living in small enclosures, iguanas can re-infect themselves over and over which causes the worms to multiply much faster than if they were living in the wild. Farm raised iguanas may also contract worms from bird droppings or contaminated soil. It only takes one infected iguana to infect all other iguanas when they are kept in crowed conditions, such as in a pet store. Infected feces on the food or in the water bowl or in the enclosure in general (since igs are constantly flicking their tongues on things to taste) are full of worms and worm eggs. The worms live in the rectal region and can cause problems by producing inpacted feces and an irritated lower intestinal tract. In general for normal healthy iguanas they are not a dangerous problem and need only be thinned out on a regular basis or kept to a minimum by promptly removing feces and disinfecting. But for iguanas that are not kept warm enough the action of the gut is slowed down so that the worms are not excreted with the feces and can build up to dangerous levels. Signs of heavy worm infestation are a poor appetite, loss of weight, diarrhea or loose frequent bowl movements often containing large amounts of thick mucous and being generally lethargic. Fecal samples can be checked by your vet for worms or worm eggs and treated. Pinworms are hard to eliminate completely and it generally takes several treatments over several weeks or months. During treatment the iguana's enclosure must be kept very clean, all feces must be promptly removed and the enclosure disinfected to prevent re-infestation. There may be potential problems with some wormers as the drugs used for reptiles are usually ones developed for other species and adapted. More work needs to be done on medication for reptiles. However not all iguanas will have worms and if they are fed a correct diet only containing veggies they should not pick them up since worms usually come from eating infected meat or from infected feces. So if you get a new iguana always get it checked for worms before letting it come into contact with others.

By Shelia Hill


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