Respiratory infections are very common in reptiles, including the Chinese water dragon. The infection can be serious if not monitored and treated.
As a Chinese water dragon owner, you want to do the best for your reptile pet, which means getting a good understanding of respiratory infections, the signs and how to treat them.
What is Respiratory Infection?
A respiratory infection can cause mucus discharge from the nose or mouth. In most cases, the infection will need to be treated with diet, environment, and antibiotics.
Respiratory infections are very common in Chinese water dragons that live in dirty habitats or don't have access to the correct temperatures.
Diet, parasites, and illness, along with a lack of vitamins and minerals can all result in respiratory infection in captive reptiles.
The most common signs and symptoms of respiratory infection in Chinese water dragons include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Open mouth when breathing
- Wheezing, crackling and strange sounds when breathing
- Mucus discharge from nose and/or mouth
- Lack of energy
- No appetite
- Loss of weight
It's not uncommon for your Chinese water dragon to get a respiratory infection, causes include:
- Dirty habitat
- Incorrect temperature
- Incorrect humidity levels
When it comes to the treatment of respiratory infections in Chinese water dragons, there are two things you need to focus on immediately:
- Check the temperatures in the enclosure
- Visit the reptile vet for further assessment
Temperature and Humidity
The first step in treating respiratory infections in Chinese water dragons is to monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure at all times.
Any dragon with a respiratory infection should be kept in a well-ventilated enclosure with properly managed temperature and humidity levels.
Remember the basking area only has to be on during the day. With the correct temperatures, your dragon’s immune system is given a boost, helping it fight the infection.
- Day time temperature (Ambient temperature) – 84ºF to 88ºF
- Basking temperature – 95ºF
- Nighttime temperatures – 75ºF to 80ºF
- Humidity level – 80%
During this period, it is not uncommon there to be a loss of appetite and your dragon to start losing weight as a result of their infection.
If you think your Chinese water dragon has a respiratory infection, then make a vet appointment soonest.
Check your temperatures and humidity, ensure the enclosure is clean, but still make your appointment.
In most cases, the most effective way to treat respiratory infections in any reptile is with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
In some cases, if your dragon already has a chronic or advanced infection, they may require more detailed care and treatment to help them breathe easier. This can include oxygen therapy.
The technique used will vary depending on your Chinese water dragon size and the reptile veterinary specialist. Often an oxygen cage is used.
In severe cases, ventilation may be required with careful monitoring.
If you have more than one Chinese water dragon in the enclosure and one is showing signs of a respiratory infection, then you want to quarantine that one from the rest as soon as possible.
The minimal quarantine should be ninety days, after which you will want to ensure your dragon is one hundred percent healthy before introducing it back into the habitat.
Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to owning any reptile. Respiratory infections can be prevented with good hygiene practices, correct environmental factors, and a proper diet, ensuring your Chinese water dragon remains fit and strong.
Spot checks and cleaning should be carried out in the enclosure daily, removing any leftover foods, looking for mold and removing any feces.
A full clean should be carried out every four weeks and this includes cleaning the inside of the enclosure, replacing substrate, cleaning decorations and putting everything back in place.
Use a reliable reptile cleaner, such as Fluker's Super Scrub Organic Reptile Habitat Cleaner, which is an organic product to sanitize and clean the reptiles enclose.
Your Chinese water dragon has very specific temperature and humidity requirements. Follow the temperature guide above and keep monitoring your temperature and humidity levels regularly.
Keeping an eye on your levels will reduce the risk of levels changing without you noticing, resulting in respiratory infection.
Make use of a thermometer and hygrometer to ensure accurate readings. The combined digital GXSTWU Reptile Hygrometer Thermometer is a stylishly designed combination hygrometer and thermometer that enables you to monitor your Chinese water dragons temperatures and humidity levels with ease. The unit offers excellent value, Fahrenheit and Celsius reading and is quality guaranteed.
Chinese water dragons love live foods, which can be mealworms and fuzzies to crickets. They even enjoy some finely chopped fruits and vegetables now and again, though fruit and veg should only make up around ten to fifteen percent of their total diet.
If they don't want the fruit and vegetables offered, don't force them. It is not a staple part of their diet.
You can add some snacks and treats to their diet, such as the Zilla Reptile Munchines for Pet. These snacks offer the benefit of calcium to reduce the risk of metabolic bone disease. Easy to prepare, it provides necessary vitamins and minerals your dragon needs.
Respiratory infection in Chinese water dragons is very common and is treatable.
As you can see, environmental factors play a major role in your dragon’s susceptibility, therefore always keep an eye on your temperature and humidity levels to reduce the risk of respiratory infection moving forward.