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Scale Rot and My Alligator Lizard

Discussion in 'Alligator Lizards' started by JambiG, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    Hello All,

    I have been having a scale rot issue that has caused me to re-think the way I maintain my habitat. I am feeling responsible because I knew nothing about the possibility of such a thing. I believe the cause was too much moisture in substrate. I was using wood based material I bought at the local pet store. Package said it was okay for lizard. I found this to be untrue. I was paying attention to the humidity level in the enclosure, but not the moisture level in the substrate. It got too wet.

    Also, when feeding crickets, I would buy large ones and eventually the crickets laid eggs and soon there were hundreds of little crickets. I fed the crickets and the crickets were food for the lizard. I thought this was okay. Again, I was wrong. Bottom line: I was a bad parent.


    The lizard developed the scale rot on its back right above the hind legs. I noticed that small crickets were on him in the area of the infection. I did not notice any wound at first. After a few days I noticed what looked like water on his back. I thought he had been in his water dish, shallow though it was. I was mistaken, as the water was still there the next day. That is when I panicked. I got online and googled the heck out of terms: watery blister, lizard, weeping sore, etc.

    I found a few pages on scale rot and realized that this is what I was dealing with. By this time the wound was an open sore that was weeping. There were a lot of opinions on what to do. I read as much as I could and made a list. Betadine, latex gloves. cotton balls. and paper towels.... (lots of paper towels with no printing.). I also bought wound healing ointment at the pet store.

    FIRST: Eliminate Cause. I dumped the habitat and thoroughly washed and sanitized it using soap and lots of hot water. Wiped it dry, COMPLETELY. I lined the tank with paper towels and put the water dish in (Empty). I used a shot glass to fill is with a little water at a time. (Don't want anything to get wet.)

    SECOND: Clean. I put the lizard back in the cage and immediately gave him a betadine bath. I soaked a cotton ball in diluted betadine. (20 to 1 with warm water) I liberally applied the betadine on as much of him as he allowed. He was okay with it.

    THIRD: Treatment. I herded him onto a dry paper towel and made sure there was no excess betadine dripping from him. I then applied the wound healing agent. I used a couple of drops. I didn't want to use the swabs that came with is as the wound was raw and I didn't want to hurt him further. After the wound healing agent, I changed all of the paper towels that got wet and crumpled up a few so he could hide if he wanted. I turned on his heat lamp to a medium setting to keep the temp constant. There is almost no insulation in his new hospital room so I wanted to keep him comfortable. I repeated the treatment ritual a couple of times a day.

    After a couple of days I noticed the wound was improving. He was healing. I bought some super worms to feed him. I was pleasantly surprised to see him eat. I shouted out loud because I knew that if he didn't eat, he would die. He ate well. In just over a week, the wound was no longer open. It had begun to cover over. It did drain pus off and on for a day, but looked good. The wound is now covered over and he is eating and drinking, and pooping, I might add, like a healthy lizard.

    I wanted to share this experience since I was helped by so many. I am looking forward to sharing his progress as he gets better. I will no longer use wood based materials. I am going to research what is best for him before I put anything back in his enclosure. For those who want to criticize me for allowing this to happen, I am all ears. I deserve it. I was ignorant. I feel very bad that I allowed this to happen.

  2. missabrat

    missabrat Elite Member

    I don't think you will get that here, we have all made husbandry mistakes, and leared from them, the important thing is you have corrected the issue and are doing your research to give your little guy a happy future
  3. rlayna

    rlayna Elite Member

    What was the name of the material?

    Was it coco husk? I know with that it holds moisture well, but your supposed to let it dry out a bit.
  4. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    It was Repti Bark by Zoo Med. I was told that it retains moisture and is too coarse to keep properly cleaned. The coconut husk material, I was told, is supposed to be better. I was thinking of a dirt based material. Maybe natural dirt, baked sterile. Any thoughts?
  5. Dragonscalestudios

    Dragonscalestudios Elite Member

    Being a native reptile, natural dirt, baked sterile would be great. You are going to want to keep the temps up, 85-95f, humidity low, under 30%, and be sure to provide UV. Plenty of wood or rock hides also. You'll find, Alligator Lizards are pretty hardy.
  6. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    UPDATE! Wound looks GREAT! He shed yesterday. The bad skin over the wound is gone and there is no moisture or bad color. Wound doesn't have much color but is gaining color daily. I can see his stripes coming through. Continuing treatment though. Not going to be happy until he looks perfect.
  7. rlayna

    rlayna Elite Member

    Glad to hear, you'll have to show us some photos of his new lookin skin.
  8. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    These are the first images I have taken of this wound. I wanted to keep him as stress free as possible. He is doing very well so I thought it was okay to take these.

    This is a good image of the extent of the wound. It was very bad looking in the beginning. It looks great now. Though it looks wet, it's not. It is just flash reflection.

  9. JambiParentSisser

    JambiParentSisser New Member

    Jambi looks great! Thanks for the pictures. I hadn't heard in a while. Sisser
  10. Frognut

    Frognut Subscribed User Premium Member

    What a beautiful lizard!! I'm very glad you were able to care for him and get him healing.

    Don't kick yourself too hard, we've all made mistakes in husbandry -- what matters is you immediately took actions necessary to correct it and the wound does look good (based on your description of it earlier).

    And by sharing that information, you have helped others from making similar mistakes. I have a skink, and I'm pretty sure he is on that Repti-bark. I'll be looking for the bag and changing it if that's what I got. I can't say that it has ever gotten wet - but if it holds water like that it would be bad if he knocked over his water dish or something.

    Again -- he is beautiful. I love his coloring!
  11. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    Another update: Wound is looking great. I am very pleased that he is active and eating very well. Saw him drinking water too. Here are the latest pictures.

    Here you can see the wound as it is today. 12-12-2009.


    Here you can see that the indentation is almost gone.


    Thank you to everyone for your support.
  12. Frognut

    Frognut Subscribed User Premium Member

    Good Job - it does look to be healing well. I'm glad he had someone who cared enough to do all you could to make him well!!

    He really is a beautiful lizard!!
  13. JambiG

    JambiG Member

    December 25, 2009. Merry Christmas. Jambi has healed well. The wound is completely covered over. His natural color is slowly coming back to the area. I bought coconut husk bedding. He seems very content. I have been feeding him Super Worms from tongs. Gave him 5 crickets. Let them run amok. I think he missed hunting them. He was all over them. Take a look at my albums for a great stare down picture with crickets. Going to get more foliage for him He hasn't been burrowing. Wonder if the coco husk is not to his liking......

    Here is an aerial view of Jambi. He looks great.


    Happy Holidays.

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