First broadcast on on March 24th 2000.

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Reptiles easily get into a routine of eating, and conscientious owners keep an accurate record of dates, times and the amount and type of food consumed. Just occasionally an otherwise happy reptile will refuse to take food for a prolonged period.....what does it mean ?

When a reptile refuses food (called anorexia) there are several possible reasons :

  • The animal is under physiological stress. They often go off their food :
    • just before they shed their skin (called ecdysis)
    • during the mating season
    • during the pre-hibernation period
    • if they have recently moved to a new environment
    • if they are exposed to unusual environmental conditions
      • temperature too low
      • inappropriate humidity
      • inappropriate photoperiod (eg light on 24hours a day)
      • exposure to noise
      • excess handling
      • overcrowding
    • if there is no hiding place in the reptile's environment
    • incorrect diet being fed


  • If the reptile is ill, and there are many causes including:
    • mouth infections (called stomatitis)
    • parasites
    • nutritional deficiency eg vitamins
    • diabetes mellitus
    • any major organ system disease - respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disease, cancer etc

Fortunately, most reptiles can survive for many weeks without eating, but some of the causes of anorexia are serious so veterinary advice should be sought at an early stage so that any underlying disease can be identified and treated as soon as possible

Owners should weigh their reptile regularly so that any weight loss can be monitored.

In some cases of prolonged refusal to feed  tube feeding may be necessary under veterinary supervision.



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