Recognizing Stress and Illness in Your Reptile

Since reptiles tend to be far less vocal than cats or dogs when stressed or in pain, reptile owners need to be aware of the physical signs of discomfort or illness. Here, a Grandview vet breaks it down into several categories.

Overall Appearance

Look at your reptile from a short distance away. Does the skin seem to be a different color or shade? Is it more dull than usual? What about the folds in the skin? If there are more folds than normal, or if they appear different or unusual in any way, it could be a sign of illness.

Behavior Changes

If your pet seems lethargic, spending more time in one area or another of the cage than usual, something could be wrong. If you think your reptile is spending an unusual amount of time in the basking area or soaking for too long in the water bowl, call your veterinarian. If your pet is suddenly aggressive, pain could be the cause. Any strange behavior like scratching, head-banging, or gazing off blankly could indicate a problem.

Feeding Changes

Sudden drastic changes in food intake is a sure sign of some sort of illness or stressor. If your reptile suddenly stops eating, or if they suddenly seem famished and eat a lot more than usual, call your veterinary professional.


A change in your reptile’s shedding schedule could indicate a health concern. If your pet usually sheds his skin in once large piece and it is suddenly broken into many smaller pieces, something could be wrong. Also, if you think shedding is taking much longer than it normally does, contact your Grandview veterinarian to get his or her opinion.


Regularly monitor your reptile’s fecal matter and urination. Is there less or more of it? Is it drastically thicker or thinner? Is the feces smaller, harder, or darker? Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice any drastic changes.