Amebiasis in Reptiles

By PetMD Editorial on Oct. 1, 2008

Infection with Entamoeba

Amebiasis is one of the most serious diseases in reptiles. Due to an infection with the protozoan microorganism Entamoeba invadens, amebiasis, if not treated in time, this disease can even be fatal in some reptiles.

Meat-eating reptiles are more prone to amebiasis than plant-eating reptiles. Among these, carnivorous snakes, including vipers, rattlesnakes, bushmasters, boas, garter snakes, water snakes, colubrids and elapids, are more susceptible to the disease than their turtle or lizard counterparts. However, there are some reptiles -- garter snakes, northern black racers, eastern king snakes, cobras and most turtles -- that only become carriers of the disease and are not affected by it. Such resistant groups can then spread the protozoa through direct contact or infected droppings; this is especially a problem in snake colonies.

Symptoms and Types

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea resembling mucus or containing blood



  • Infection with protozoa Entamoeba invadens
  • Direct contact with infected animals
  • Contact with droppings of infected animals



The veterinarian will test the reptile droppings for the presence of the protozoa Entamoeba invadens.


To treat the infection, the veterinarian will prescribe antiprotozoal drugs for the reptile.

Living and Management

Since amebiasis is infectious, it is advisable to house snakes and turtles separately. Amebiasis can also spread to humans, so remain cautious when handling an infected reptile. Finally, follow any dietary changes the veterinarian might have for your reptile.


A reptile is less susceptible to an amebiasis infection if its enclosure is kept clean. Contact with infected reptiles should be avoided.


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