Tail Injuries in Reptiles

Blue Tounge Skink

Most reptiles rely on their tails for balance especially when climbing. When injuries occur, whether accidental or otherwise, it is cause for concern as it may limit the reptile’s ability to function normally.

Tails are sometimes damaged when another creature bites or chews on them, a heavy object falls on them or a door closes catching the tail. The injury can be temporary or permanent. If infection occurs or the injury is too great to repair, surgery may be necessary resulting sometimes in amputation of the tail.

Depending on how serious the injury is, you may be able to treat it at home. Separate the injured reptile from any others. If possible and if it doesn’t stress your pet too much, wash the area with warm water. Keep your injured pet in a separate enclosure. Make sure to use flooring such as paper that won’t get into the wound and cause further harm. Keep him/her warm.

Contact your vet and describe the injury. Your vet may prescribe an antibiotic ointment and give you further instructions. Your vet may want to see the injury to better assess damage and recommend treatment.

Reptiles, with their slow metabolism, heal slowly and can take weeks or even months to improve. If you are treating your pet on your own and fail to see any improvement or if the injury worsens, call your vet immediately.

Some reptiles have the ability to grow new tails although they may not be as long as the original. If your pet is not injured but drops its tail, give it the same care as for an injury.

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