Lizard Handling and Restraint
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Lizards should be held with a light touch since they tend to struggle more violently the more firmly they are restrained. They should not be picked up by the limbs or the tail which can result in shed tails (autotomy) and disarticulated or broken limbs. Also, gecko skin tears very easily.
- Initially, it is best to capture them with a towel unless they are presented in a bag, in which case they can be restrained before being removed from the bag.
- The pelvic limbs should be restrained with one hand, making sure to keep them stretched back parallel to the body, while the other hand holds the upper body and head.
- If the lizard is quite large, then the tail should be kept under one arm.
- Small lizards can be caught and examined in a small net.
Take care handling very small lizards, hatchlings and sick animals, especially those with metabolic bone disease.
For further information on the handling and examination of lizards, see Lizard Physical Examination.
Restraint can be induced by parenteral injection of a variety of sedatives. Ketamine is a commonly used dissociative. To facilitate intravenous induction, ketamine can be administered by intramuscular injection at 10mg/kg.
Non-chemical restraint - the oculovagal response
When digital pressure is applied to the eyes of iguanids for a short period there is a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure which results in a state of torpor. Minor procedures such as radiography can then be performed. Noise or physical stimulation will arouse the iguana.
Use these links to find recent scientific publications via CAB Abstracts (log in required unless accessing from a subscribing organisation).
Dealing with venomous herps...! Paré, J. A.; The North American Veterinary Conference, Gainesville, USA, Small animal and exotics. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference, Volume 21, Orlando, Florida, USA, 2007, 2007, pp 1605-1607 - Full Text Article
An overview of pet reptile species and proper handling. Paré, J. A.; The North American Veterinary Conference, Gainesville, USA, Small animal and exotics. Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference, Volume 20, Orlando, Florida, USA, 7-11 January, 2006, 2006, pp 1661-1664 - Full Text Article