UQ vet school seeing improved diagnostics for reptiles
13 October 2015
The inland bearded dragon is universally accepted as the world’s most popular reptile pet, replacing the South American green iguana because of its placid nature and prolific reproduction. In the last 10 years their numbers have exploded across the globe, and with this rising population they are being increasingly presented to veterinary clinics for care and treatment.
It’s not just bearded dragons though. Non-venomous reptiles and turtles are almost as popular, as are other lizards such as blue tongue skinks. Vets seeing a lot of reptiles, such as Bob Doneley at UQ Veterinary School’s Small Animal Hospital, are even seeing the occasional venomous snake.
But how do you work up a sick reptile? Characterised by thick, leathery skin, reptiles are renowned for been difficult to examine. But a work up is not impossible if modern diagnostics are used.
Haematology and biochemistry are a mainstay of reptile diagnostics. Blood is usually readily collected from the tail (in lizards and snakes) or the jugular vein (in turtles). Fresh blood smears should be submitted, as well as blood in lithium heparin and Na EDTA. Interpretation can be challenging, but several new texts are available to assist clinicians.
Ultrasound is an incredibly useful tool, even in thick-skinned reptiles. Sex identification, the presence of eggs, heart disease and gastric neoplasia are just some of the cases the UQ VETS has used in reptiles.
Radiography can be utilised, and is particularly useful for detecting bone problems such as metabolic bone disease or fractures. Its use in soft tissue problems can be a little limited however.
Occasionally, they will use CT to work up some complex problems. This is not a common procedure in reptile medicine, but UQ is finding that many clients are willing to pay for this diagnostic service.
So, although reptile medicine can be challenging, the use of diagnostic technology can make a huge difference!
UQ Bachelor of Veterinary Science
The veterinary science program at the UQ Veterinary School is one of the most sought after in Australia, attracting the very best students and producing veterinarians that are in high demand, both domestically and internationally. UQ’s vet program provides the broadest base in the biological sciences of any undergraduate course and provides a very wide range of career options as well as its professional qualifications, enabling graduates to practice veterinary medicine and surgery. Program: Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honours) Location: Brisbane, Queensland Semester intake: February Program duration: 5 years Application deadline: UQ has a general application deadline of November 30; however, late applications may be accepted. It is strongly recommended that students apply a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.
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