Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot – Cause, Symptoms, Treatment

Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot

Although, hardy animals, a common health problem in Blue tongue skinks is scale rot. Usually, Blue tongue skink scale rot is the result of infection due to dirty habitat. Scale rot is treatable and easily preventable.

This article will help you establish the cause for your Blue tongue skink scale rot and pick the best course of treatment. To help you with this, we are discussing the following topics:

  • What is Blue tongue skink scale rot
  • Blue tongue skink scale rot – causes
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • Prevention

What Is Scale Rot?

Scale rot is a common health problem in reptiles and Blue tongue skink is no exception.

Scale rot is also known as Ulcerative/Necrotic Dermatititis, Ulcerative dermatitis, Bacterial abscesses. And in some cases, Blue tongue skink scale rot can be referred to as burns or abrasions aswell.

Blue Tongue Skinks Scale Rot – Causes

Both treating and preventing scale rot, depends on establishing the cause. So, let’s take a look at all the possible causes and factors that can result in Blue tongue skink scale rot.

The cause for Blue tongue skink scale rot is bacterial infection or in less common cases vitamin deficiency. However, the factors that lead to the bacterial infection are all somehow connected. Therefore, it can be a combination of any of the following:

  • Dirty habitat – If your skink’s tank is dirty, then bacteria will start growing and can result in many health problems, one of them being scale rot
  • Incorrect substrate – The wrong substrate can cause many problems for your skink. However, the substrate that can cause scale rot, is the one that retains moisture. If the substrate is wet most of the time, it creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria
  • Incorrect temperature and/or humidity levels – If the tank is too wet and cold, the substrate never fully dries. Again, this creates a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that can result in Blue tongue skink scale rot
  • Injury – If your skink gets injured on a branch or something else in their tank, the wound can get contaminated and result in scale rot. This is especially true if the tank is not kept as clean as it should be

Indirect causes for Blue tongue skink scale rot include:

  • Vitamins deficiency such as A or C – As mentioned earlier, this is less common cause for scale rot. However, if your skink is suffering from vitamin deficiency, it will  lower their immune system and ability to fight off infections such as scale rot
  • Poor diet – If your skink’s diet is not providing them with the nutrients they need, their immune system will not be strong enough to fight off infections

Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot – Symptoms

Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot
Scale Rot In Reptiles

It’s as important to know what causes scale rot, as it is to know the symptoms. Catching this disease early is the key to quick recovery and avoiding further complications.

The symptoms for Blue tongue skink scale rot to regularly check for include:

  • Brown, red or other dark colored scales. Check around the tale and belly area. This is usually one of the first symptoms
  • Skin or scales appear cracked and/or crusty
  • Swelling of the scales
  • Flaky skin
  • Losing scales
  • Blistering and/or open lesions
  • Loss of appetite

In more severe cases, symptoms of Blue tongue skink scale rot include:

  • Blisters on the skin, filled with fluid. This can be either clear or bloody
  • Abscesses, and/or ulcers after shedding

If any of the severe symptoms appear, you should take your skink to the vet immediately.

Blue Tongue Skink Scale Rot – Treatment

Skink Enjoying A Soak

As long as you catch Blue tongue skink scale rot early on, you’ll be able to treat it at home. As mentioned before it’s equally important to treat the symptoms as it is to eliminate the cause of the disease.

If left untreated, scale rot can result in serious complications that extend to your skink’s internal organs.

If you are uncertain about treating Blue tongue skink scale rot, the best thing to do is consult a specialized vet, also known as herp vet.

Antibiotics

The quickest and safest way to treat Blue tongue skink scale rot is through the use of antibiotics that need to be prescribed by a vet. The antibiotics might be administered through an injection by the vet and the infection should clear up within few weeks.

Whilst taking the antibiotic, you should also work to improve your skink’s immune system and overall health. This can be achieved through combination of good hydration, nutritious diet and supplements such as probiotics – NutriBac df or ProBio+

In really severe cases, the vet will have to sedate the skink and do a full scale removal, followed by cleaning the infected areas.

Both treatment and prevention have one factor in common and that is cleaning! Cleaning the tank and the affected skin areas.

With that said, to help your skink’s recovery, do the following at home:

Quarantine

Separate all tank mates and place each one in quarantine. Each new enclosure must be stripped down to paper towels for substrate. The quarantine should continue for up to 3 months until the skink has completely healed and is not displaying any symptoms.

Remove Soiled Substances

When treating Blue tongue skink scale rot, the first thing you’ll need to do once your skink is out of the tank is to throw away the following:

  • Disposable substrate
  • Anything made of a porous material such as wood
  • Any organic compounds

Clean The Tank

After removing the mentioned above, now it’s time to thoroughly clean the tank with Chlorhexidine or F-10SC solution. To treat Blue tongue skink scale rot, you must keep their tank at a hospital-level of cleanliness until the skink has fully recovered.

In addition, you should thoroughly clean any dishes, bowls, and accessories in hot, soapy water.

It’s important to note that the disinfectant you buy needs to be strong enough to kill harmful bacteria and fungi, but safe enough not to harm your skink.

If you rather use what you have at home, you can create a cleaning solution by using household bleach, diluted with one gallon of water for every half-cup of bleach. Rinse thoroughly after you’re done disinfecting.

When you move your skink back to their tank, ensure everything is fully dry.

Increase The Temperature

As mentioned earlier if the temperature and humidity levels are incorrect, it can result in health problems. For instance, if the tank isn’t warm enough, this can contribute to the damp substrate and result in Blue tongue skink scale rot.

By raising the temperature slightly, you’ll be decreasing the risk of mold and bacteria growth and it also increases the antibiotics effectiveness.

The basking area should be kept at 105ºF and the cool area – 80ºF. Whereas, during the night the temperature should be between 70ºF and 80ºF.

You can achieve higher temperatures through the use of a ceramic heat emitter or even a space heater that’s placed in the same room.

Ensure you are using a thermometer to track the temperature and a hygrometer for the humidity. Tracking it is important as you don’t want to cause them unnecessary stress by making it too hot or too humid.

Clean The Infected Skin

Now that you’ve cleaned their habitat, it’s time to look after the actual skin infection. You can do this by using a topical disinfectant in combination with:

  • Betadine bath – Regardless if the scale rot is mild or severe, these baths are highly beneficial in treating the wounds. For betadine bath, fill a large container with lukewarm water, enough for the skink to fully submerge without the risk of drowning. Then, mix one part betadine for every ten parts of water. Lastly, put the skink inside by covering them with a lid that has holes for breathing and let them soak for 30 minutes. Once the soak is complete, dry them thoroughly but gently with a towel
  • Antimicrobial spray – Once the skink is all dried up, use an antibiotic spray on the wounds. A good option is Vetericyn’s – non-toxic, antimicrobial spray. This way the open wounds will stay moisturized and it will speed up the healing process. For best results, spray the affected skin areas 3 to 4 times a day

The best way to treat Blue tongue skink scale rot is by consistently treating the wounds whilst ensuring the tank is kept hospital-level clean. 

Preventing Scale Rot

Not only is Blue tongue skink scale rot treatable, it’s easily preventable! To avoid your skink developing scale rot in the first place and to also prevent re-infection, apply the following preventive measures:

  • Robust cleaning schedule The main way to prevent Blue tongue skink rot and other infections is to ensure their habitat is cleaned regularly and thoroughly. This is achieved by doing a daily spot clean of any spilled liquids, shed skin, or eliminated waste. Followed by a weekly deep clean which consist of the cleaning and sterilization routine we outlined earlier in the article
  • Adequate water dish – By providing a sturdy water dish for your skink, you’ll be preventing unnecessary spillages that can result in damp conditions and bacteria growth
  • Correct temperature and humidity levels – 90°F to 100°F (warm side of tank) 75°F to 82°F (cool side). On the other hand, the humidity should be kept between 40% to 60%. Too much humidity can result in Blue tongue skink scale rot and other infections. To reduce the humidity, you can increase the ventilation
  • Correct substrate – ensure the substrate you choose for your skink’s tank doesn’t retain too much moisture as that can result in bacteria and fungi growth. Check out what’s the best skink substrate and overall tank setup here Blue Tongue Skink Tank Setup – Step By Step Guide
  • Nutritious diet – By feeding your skink a well-balanced and nutritious diet alongside the right supplements, their immune system will be strong enough to fight off most infections

The preventive steps listed are important to keep your skink healthy and to also avoid other disease such as respiratory infection. To learn more about the symptoms and treatment for respiratory infection, read the full guide here Blue Tongue Skink Respiratory Infection – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Final Thoughts

In most cases, Blue tongue skink scale rot is caused by dirty living conditions. However, sometimes even if you keep your skink’s habitat clean, they can still develop this skin condition. Don’t beat yourself up!

If you suspect scale rot, the first thing you need to know is how to identify the condition. By knowing the symptoms, you can catch the infection early on and start the treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment for skink scale rot is antibiotics in the more severe cases. However, mild cases can be treated at home. This is done by thoroughly cleaning the skink’s tank whilst treating the skin wounds.

It’s always important to apply preventive measures to not only avoid scale rot in the first but also to avoid re-infection. In addition, it’s recommended to prepare a first aid kid that contains cleaning products, betadine, and a multi-purpose antimicrobial spray. This way you’ll be ready in case your skink gets sick.

Related Topics Q&A

First-Aid Kit For Blue Tongue Skink?

When keeping a reptile pet such as Blue tongue skink, accidents can happen and there is always the chance of them getting sick. Even if we do everything right, sometimes we can’t control what happens. However, what we can control is how prepared we are.

To be ready for any situation, one of the being skin infection such as Blue tongue skink scale rot, you will need to have a first aid kit on hand that includes the following:

  • Silver ointment
  • Disinfectant such as Betadine, povidone iodine
  • Chlorhexidine solution such as Nolvasan
  • Gauze for wounds
  • Vetrap – elastic wrap for securing gauze
  • Non-spermicidal condoms for bandaging the skink’s tail
  • Cotton swabs
  • Tongue depressor for looking in your skink’s mouth
  • Tweezers and nail clippers
  • Magnifying glass for locating mites
  • Nix lice treatment for mites and preventative treatment
  • UniHeat shipping warmers — not heat packs — in case of power cut
  • Unflavored Pedialyte for when your skink is dehydrated
  • NutriBAC or Bene-Bac Plus probiotic supplement – this can be given alongside antibiotics to improve immune system
  • Digital scale for tracking weight
  • Phone numbers for emergency vet

References

https://www.kellyvillepets.com.au/pages/blue-tongue-lizards

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