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Pinworms in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons, the same as any other pet, are susceptible to internal parasites.

Knowing the signs of pinworms, what they are, and how to prevent them, can be very useful in ensuring your pet remains happy and healthy.

Parasites can cause an infestation, which can be very serious if not treated effectively.

What Are Pinworms?

Pinworm

Pinworms survive in the lower gastrointestinal tract of captive and wild bearded dragons, along with many other reptiles and animals.

Pinworms are also known as threadworms in the United Kingdom and Australia.

These parasitic worms absorb the vitamins and nutrients from their hosts, which are essential to your pet’s survival.

The concern is that pinworms are not only dangerous for your pet, but for you and your entire family, as they are exceptionally contagious.

That is why you must always have a good understanding of your pet, so you can quickly identify a problem and reduce the risk of infecting everyone in the home.

How To Tell If My Bearded Dragon Has Pinworms

Getting to know your bearded dragon and its normal behavior, can help you quickly identify when your dragon isn't feeling well.

You can then identify the symptoms to identify if your pet could in fact have pinworms.

Pinworm symptoms include:

Causes

Parasites, such as pinworms, are not uncommon in captive bearded dragons, usually a result of poor hygiene, which may be from the pet shop or breeding facility.

Unhygienic Habitat

When a bearded dragon’s enclosure isn't cleaned regularly, the risk of pinworms is increased, which results in your dragon reinfecting itself.

Pinworms are exceptionally resistant to disinfectants and cleaners, which means they can survive for long periods within the enclosure if it is not spot cleaned daily with a regular thorough cleaning.

Not Hand Washing

If you have recently purchased a new reptile or pet and you now notice your dragon has pinworm, it could be due to transference and spread between the pets, usually by the keeper.

Wash your hands, any utensils, and throw away any uneaten foods from the enclosures.

Wash your hands before and after handling or doing anything in the enclosure to reduce the risk of transferring the pinworms to your bearded dragon and/or family.

Treatment

Deworming Medications

Treatment usually involves taking your bearded dragon, along with a feces sample to your vet.

There the vet will conduct a thorough examination and usually treat the pinworm with deworming medication, but this will not control the environment your pet is in, due to the life cycle of the pinworm.

All pets, family members, and reptiles in the home should be treated with a deworming medication.

Quarantine

If your bearded dragon or any other reptilian pet you have has been positively identified as having pinworm, then ensure that they are quarantines, in a different room and separate from your bearded dragon.

This will help reduce the risk of contamination.

If you are bringing a new bearded dragon into the home, consider quarantining them for a period to ensure that they are pinworm-free.

Enclosure Cleaning

The enclosure must be cleaned thoroughly.

Even though pinworms are resistant to most disinfectants, you can use hot soapy water to clean the entire interior of the enclosure.

Always rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before returning to the enclosure.

If you cannot clean any materials, such as your substrate or your decorations, it is best to throw them away and replace them with new one.

Prevention

Even with the best preventative measures in place, your bearded dragon may get pinworm from time to time, as it is so common in these reptiles.

There are many preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of pinworm, these include:

A Hygienic Enclosure

The first defense against pinworm is a clean-living habitat for your bearded dragon.

This means daily and regular deep cleaning to ensure the habitat remains clean and hygienic.

Daily

Every day you should inspect your bearded dragon’s enclosure, removing any feces, and washing dishes with soapy water.

Always remove any uneaten food from the enclosure.

Bi-Weekly

Every second week, you will want to do a thorough clean.

Removing everything from the enclosure, washing it with disinfectant or soapy water, rinsing, and allowing it to dry.

This includes replacing any substrate, washing decorations, and anything else in your pet’s habitat.

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hand before and after handling

Even when you have a healthy bearded dragon and other pets in the home, it's best to wash your hands before and after handling your pet to reduce the risk of transferring any parasites to them.

Quarantine New Reptiles and Pets

Always quarantine any new reptiles or pets you bring into the home, keeping them in a separate room to your bearded dragon until you know they are pinworm-free.

Know Your Pet

Regular handling and monitoring of your bearded dragon will help you understand its normal behaviors, which can help you quickly identify when there is or could be a problem, such as pinworms.

The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner a treatment plan can be put in place.

Summary

Pinworm is common in captive and wild bearded dragons, but with good hygiene, quarantining new pets, and hand washing you can reduce the risk of your pet being infected with these internal parasites.

The most common cause of pinworms is an unhygienic enclosure, daily spot cleaning and regular deep cleaning can help kill the pinworm and reduce the risk of your pet being infected.