Internal Abscesses in Reptiles

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 28, 2008

Internal Abscesses in Reptiles

An abscess is a pocket in the skin or membrane, usually filled with pus. It can happen anywhere in the reptile's body, but those which are found under the skin (subcutaneous abscesses) are the easiest to identify.

Symptoms and Types

As stated earlier, abscesses are filled with pus. Because of this, the area around the abscess may show redness or irritation. And the reptile may even scratch at it because of the discomfort.

In snakes, the pus is not liquid, like in other animals, but rather of a cheesy consistency. Due to the thickness of the pus, abscesses on snakes have a harder texture that those of other reptiles.


Abscesses are due to bacterial infections. However, those which are internal (and infect multiple organs and bodily sites) are caused by septicemia – a bacterial infection in the blood.


Internal abscesses can be diagnosed by running blood tests or X-rays on the reptile. Whenever possible, the pus from the internal abscesses is also tested.


Antibiotics are given to the reptile for treatment. After the infection has cleared, the veterinarian may apply antibiotics locally (usually through injections) to treat the abscess.

Surgery is not always an option for abscesses, and should only be done under the advisement of a professional.

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