Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Signs of Ingestion of Toxic Substances

©1999 Melissa Kaplan


Signs of ingestion of a toxic substance (plant or chemical substance) include:

  • respiratory changes (rate of breathing increases or decreases, breaths become shallower or deeper, breathing becomes labored or difficult)
  • increased salivation
  • dry heaves
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • significantly decreased or increased activity levels
  • rubbing mouth on ground or other surfaces
  • scratching at face or mouth
  • diarrhea or other alteration of feces.

Some of these same signs can occur as a result of envenomation from a spider or scorpion bite.

Don't wait to see if the signs will abate - call (or have someone call) your regular reptile vet or emergency reptile vet (have these numbers and locations on hand before you need them) and let them know what the animal ate, what the signs are, and that you are on your way. Regular poison control hotlines may be useful, but their experience and expertise is mostly with humans, dogs and cats. The National Animal Poison Control Center may also be able to offer information, but in a potential emergency, time is of the essence and you should get your reptile to a vet who can institute antidote and supportive therapy as quickly as possible.



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