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Lizard With Swollen Leg And Red Dots

My reptile has little pinkish dots on his ankle and his rear leg was swollen. What is wrong with him?

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We have a Mali uromastyx, and about four days ago, we noticed his rear leg was swollen. There seems to be little pinkish dots on his ankle. He lives in a 30-gallon, 3-foot-by-2 foot, clear plastic container with Calci-Sand in the bottom about 1 inch deep. There is a heat pad under one side and a basking lamp on the other with a temperature around 80 degrees F. He eats bird seed and greens mixed with calcium dust, has plenty of sunlight and a UV bulb. He defecates regularly and usually gets mealworms once a week usually. Now his leg is swollen, and he hasn’t eaten four days.

I have several concerns about your uromastyx and its care. You are definitely not keeping it warm enough. The daytime temperature range should be from 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the basking area should be between 100 and 120 degrees. The nighttime temperature can be about 70 degrees.


Are you soaking the bird seed prior to offering it to your lizard?

The red spots can indicate a bacterial infection. The swelling can be from trauma, infection, articular gout, parasites or other problems. Please don’t hesitate any longer. You need to take your lizard in to see a herp vet to try to ascertain what is causing the swelling and red dots.

Your vet will likely draw blood from a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel, and may recommend taking radiographs to especially examine the bones and soft tissue structures of the affected leg. Because you obviously have access to the Internet, as you have contacted me, please go to a couple of reliable Web sites and check out husbandry and nutrition information for Mali uromastyx, as you can definitely do better when it comes to its care.

I hope this helps. Please have a herp vet examine your lizard and perform appropriate diagnostics so that you can get it treated effectively. Keep in mind that if you need to administer antibiotics, you will need to keep it at the high end of its temperature range for the antibiotics to work most effectively. So be sure to correct its environment as soon as possible.

Margaret A. Wissman, DVM, DABVP has been an avian/exotic/herp animal veterinarian since 1981. She is a regular contributor to REPTILES magazine.


Need a Herp Vet?
If you are looking for a herp-knowledgeable veterinarian in your area, a good place to start is by checking the list of members on the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarian (ARAV) web site at www.arav.com. Look for DVMs who appear to maintain actual veterinary offices that you could contact.