Bearded dragons are one of the most popular breeds of reptiles kept as pets. With a laid-back attitude and rarity of bites, they're a great addition to a household. Like most reptiles, bearded dragons do carry diseases -- most common of them salmonella -- that can be passed to humans. Learn how to protect yourself from this virus, while safely enjoying the company of this great reptile species.
Bearded Dragons and Salmonella
Salmonella is one of many types of intestinal bacteria present in bearded dragons. The bacteria can most certainly be passed to humans, but spread of the bacteria is easy to prevent. Salmonella is present in the feces of bearded dragons, but may also be on the skin. Improper handling, cage cleaning or cleaning of the dragon itself can spread the bacteria.
Bearded dragons love to interact with humans and will often dance to get your attention. While you may be tempted to cuddle up with your pet, doing so may lead to salmonella exposure. Before handling your pet, check him over for any feces that may be attached to his feet or vent. If feces is present, give the dragon a bath. Keep the dragon away from your face -- this means no kisses -- and wash your hands for 30 seconds in hot, soapy water after handling.
Cage cleaning can also lead to the spread of salmonella. Wear gloves to clean out the cage each day of feces and uneaten food. When washing basking rocks and other habitat furniture, sanitize the sink or tub thoroughly after cleaning. Clean the furniture in a large plastic container to lessen the exposure.
Salmonella severity can affect each person differently. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, chills, bloody stools, headache and muscle pain. Most cases last four to seven days, but it can take months for bowel movements to return to normal. Those most affected by salmonella are those with weakened immune systems and children under the age of eight. In salmonella is suspected, see a doctor for treatment and to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- "Bearded Dragon: Your Happy Healthy Pet"; Steve Grenard; 2008
- Mayo Clinic: Salmonella Infection
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