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Reptiles/Black and red blisters/bumps on my iguana


black bumps
black bumps  

under his belly
under his belly  
I've had my iguana for almost two years and he has recently become more ill. He is around 1 yr and 3 months old and is a male. Before he became more ill in this state (pictures are attached), I took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with dermatitis. I took him to the vet for around 6 times (starting in October) and spent more than $500 getting him treatment with no sign of him really getting better. They prescribed him the following: Tobramycin ophth drops, silvadene cream, and cefazidime injections. When I first took him to the vet, he had excessive accumulation of shedding under his belly, tail and eye, which was removed most of it by the vet and I followed up with warm baths twice a day (10-20 minutes each) and rub the silvadene cream on the infected parts. He was on the cefazidime shots for about 2 months, I gave it to him every 3 days and switch arms every time I did it, supposedly that was to prevent any kind of bacterial infection in the blood but I'm not sure if it worked. Eventually after all those visits I stopped taking him to the vet this month, but the shedding left over came off to reveal this new problem on his skin! :( He started getting the bumps around a week ago and I honestly don't have any more money to take him to the vet again, especially when all they could tell me is that they aren't sure on what he has and even if they run more tests they still won't know for sure what illness he might have. I stop putting the silvadene on him recently because the bumps are "watery" and every time I touch near them he will get really agitated and run away from me.

As for his husbandry he is on a 150 watt light bulb on a spot/flood light, he has a green repti-carpet, he is on a 30 gallon tank, he has a heating pad under his tank (i only turn it on at night to keep temperature up), thermometer, humidity gauge, a bowl to fit in if he wants to soak in, and i try to spray his tank at least 3 times a day to keep humidity to at least 60 and temperatures are usually at 78-85 F since his tank is in the basement. I live in Chicago, so winters can get pretty cold that's why I also got a 50-60 gallon heating pad to try to keep temperatures up. I also try to cover him up with a clean t-shirt at night to hopefully keep him a little warm to at least 70-65 F. :( Also, i try to feed him at least three different greens/fruits on his plate for his meals:cilantro, strawberries, grapes (without skin), lettuce, melon, mustard greens and fruit bits that I moist with water that i got at pet smart. I change his food two-three times a day to prevent him eating dry food. Lately, I've only seen him eat at least once a day and he's still pooping fine. He still sheds as well but very little on his head, some tail part and arms.

I've been doing some research, trying to figure out if there's something I can do without resorting to putting him down if the disease spreads more, but I'm really not sure what to do. I've been thinking of giving him baths with some providone on the water to help clean the wounded blisters. Also I've consider rubbing on him tolnaftate antifungal cream, yet I'm not sure if this looks like a fungal infection. Also, I've considered neosporin ointment to help with his wounds, but I haven't applied any of these yet because I'm not 100% sure and I don't want to hurt him. I know the best thing would be to take him to the vet again, but I honestly don't have the resources to do so anymore. I really feel helpless right now, especially when all my efforts to help him have been pointless since he's only gotten more sick. :( I've considered finding him a foster home where they could give him the proper treatment, but so far the organizations I have found only take typical domestic animals like cats and dogs and I can't seem to find a place for my iguana. I really want him to live a proper happy please help me. Is not that I'm trying to get out of paying the vet, I already took him to the vet many times and I really don't know what to do now. I apologize if this question will make you angry, but I would truly appreciate your help...If you have any more questions please let me know. Thank you so much in advance.

First of all, giving him ceftazidime injections for 2 months is asinine and malpractice as far as I am concerned, especially if you spent $500 and yet no cultures were done. Where the hell did this guy get his DVM degree? Did you check credentials that he had any exotic or reptile medicine education before you went to this vet? This is the kind of situation you need to contact me by email to provide the name of this clinic, and preferably copies of the invoices you have. I need to see exactly what was given and how much. You can email those to

Secondly...I honestly can't see spending $500 at a vet, yet the setup you have him in is so shitty and you put no money into that! Your tank size in woefully inadequate, as it the temperatures and the overall environment you have him in. You can put a heat mat under him all you like and you are just likely to cause burns. It won't do anything to help him in a cold basement. Ambient temps must be raised, not spot temps that cause focused heat. Focused sources of heat without proper ambient temps in the rest of the environment is nothing but a recipe for disaster. You didn't give humidity, the info on your UVB lighting, etc, etc.

You are also feeding him too many fruits it sounds like, which messes with iguana flora and can lead to fungal infection, and it's made worse by stupidly giving 2 months worth of antibiotics without cultures and clear evidence of a systemic bacterial infection.  

This is dermatitis, but as to the type, and origin, and whether there is other involvement internally is unknown. You would have spent far less money if in the beginning a little money was spent on culturing whatever was found on his skin. What I can tell you about dematitis though is that this is almost certainly due to poor husbandry.  

You need to follow directions if you want help. Answer all my questions as I clearly laid them out in my instructions, or I'll just pass on this. I currently have about 70 residents and patients myself in rescue that I am treating, and I'm not very tolerant of people who can't follow instructions. I had specific questions that are MANDATORY if you want help from me. Follow up with that information or see the vet again is all I will tell you. I don't have time to waste on questioners who won't put an effort into the background I ask for when you are expecting a long range diagnosis from me. Clear enough?  

Lastly, don't do anything until on your own without providing me the full background info first, especially using iodine baths, and without and getting an OK to do so. All this crap you're reading on some reptile forum is going to do more harm than good. Those people aren't vets, and they aren't rehabilitators. The little bit of knowledge they have in those places is a lot dangerous.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research & easily find the answer yourself. My standards are that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me any question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer each of those questions to provide that background, will result in your question being rejected. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,, educational content contributor to, and a Dept of State Health Services accredited animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house, including minor surgery and necropsy. I am most experienced in Chelonia with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes FIRST with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer, despite how it might make you feel.


I am a non-academic herpetologist with 25+ years reptile experience, and I am an accredited Texas Dept of State Health Services Animal Control Instructor for Reptiles (CE). I am a reptile rescuer, reptile wildlife rehabilitator, and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service, wikivet, and article/journal content contributor to Lafebervet. I have medical and scientific resources available, and I perform in house reptile veterinary care for my rescues. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct quite a few in the past. The average vet is not well versed with reptile physiology and medical treatments.

Animals that I am currently caring for, or have significant rehabilitation and husbandry experience with: Horned Lizards (5 species); Eastern and Western Box Turtles; Painted, RES, YBS, Soft-Shell, and Cooter aquatic turtles; Russian Tortoises; Fire Bellied Toads; Fire Bellied Newts; Ornate Horned Frogs; Green Iguanas; Desert Iguanas; Spiny Lizards; Long Nosed Leopard Lizards; Anoles; Racerunners; Collared Lizards; Bullsnakes; Eastern Ratsnakes; Great Plains Ratsnakes; Kingsnakes; Gartersnakes; Cornsnakes; Boas; Pythons; Bearded Dragons; Water Dragons; Massasauga Rattlesnakes; Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes; Leopard, Mediterranean, Golden, Indo-Pacific, African White-Spotted Geckos; Savannah Monitors; Jeweled Curly-Tailed Lizards; Long-Tailed Grass Lizards; Fox Squirrels; Deer Mice; Hispid Cotton Rats; Merriam's Pocket Mice; Eastern Cotton-Tails; Blue Bar racing pigeon; Budgies; Asian Forest Scorpions.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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