Spiders and Scorpions Harm Reptiles
©1999 Melissa Kaplan
Herpers tend to look at creepy things differently than non-herpers. Even if we started out being squeamish about bugs and other icky crawly things, we eventually lose the creeped-out reactions and view them more as just another part of life. We let spiders hang out in our homes, and other things roam around or scoot them outside when we find them where we would rather than not be. Unfortunately, this laid-back attitude can have serious repercussions on our reptiles.
Spider bites, and bee stings, and scorpion stings can cause serious allergic reactions in reptiles, just as they can in humans. I have heard from a couple of iguanas owners through the years whose lizards suffered what turned out to be spider bites.
Another woman called me one day, frantic about her iguana, Archie, who had been perfectly healthy the day before, but was suddenly acutely lethargic and showing all the sides of advanced kidney failure. Since he lounged around outdoors on a roof eating nasturtiums during the day, we thought he might have ingested a bug that didn't agree with him, one that had been on a leaf or flower when he ate. Two days later he was fine. A couple of months later, she was giving him his bath. Due to rain damage, there was some reconstruction work being done on the bathroom and there was a crack open to the outside. Archie suddenly launched himself out of the tub when a small scorpion came through the crack and into the tub. In retrospect, Archie's keeper now believes that he may have been stung by a scorpion when soaking one day.
When you have tiny neonate herps, such as froglets or chameleons, spiders pose a double threat, as Kathyrn Tosney, bearded dragon, frilled lizard and chameleon breeder found out:
Other bugs can cause excited or terrorized responses. I had, as is usually the case, carried my 12 lb., 18" SVL (46 STL) Cyclura iguana into the bathroom and began unloading him into the bathtub. Instead of assisting the transfer, as he usually does, he kept trying to scramble away from the tub. This wasn't his sometimes "No, no, I won't go!" scramble, but a frantic, eyes-wide-pupils-whirling "Get me outta here!" Instead of trying to take off across the room, he climbed up on me, held on tight, and peered over his shoulder at the tub, sides heaving from his labored breathing.
What was in the tub that was so scary? What I took to be a skinny short piece of fallen shed skin turned out to be an earwig who measured about 3/4 inch overall. Once the earwig was removed, he went back into the tub without further fuss.
Biocontrolnet: Scorpions & Spiders
UC Davis: Spiders
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