Mountain horned dragon: red pigments on his skin

Discussion in 'General Lizards' started by monodelphis, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo

    Hi everybody,

    My mountain horned dragon has red pigments on his skin (see pictures, attached)... Does anybody know if it is common? Or is he lacking of some vitamins, lighting...? Is he stressed? I don't handle him much, I only feed him by dangling crickets or worms in front of him.

    Thanks for your help and advice,


    Attached Files:


    JEFFREH Administrator

  3. teiryklav

    teiryklav Member

    hi. i think mountain horned dragon might have been able to have red pigments. look at exo terra pics on the watering section product and you'll see a reddish brown MHD. from the enclosure i think its big enough and he's healthy enough. wrom when has he got the red pigments? when you got him?
    also look for more caresheet on google etc :D

    hope this helps.. :)

    JEFFREH Administrator

  5. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo


    Hi, thanks for answering. I am not sure it is normal because it looks like secretions, it is ON the skin rather than in the epidermis layers. He seems healthy but as i could not find any mention of that kind of pigments on the skin... I was wondering! If anyone has an answer... :) It appeared a month ago not when i got him (a year ago).


    JEFFREH Administrator

  7. bruno

    bruno Moderator

    I dont know anything about Mountain horned dragons and their pigmentation so could be totally off track here.
    My first reaction was to think of a bacterial infection on it's skin, if it only appeared a month ago.
    It could of course be a natural change as it grows older.
    My advice would be, seek out a good herp vet and have it checked out as a precaution.

    JEFFREH Administrator

  9. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo


    I first thought of kinda mold, or fungus. Anwyay, I took his shedding, there is some of the curious pigment on it, I'll mount it on a slide tomorrow. I'll try to take pics as well to show you.


    JEFFREH Administrator

  11. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo

    OK, here's what I found... The pictures are bad because the prep' is really thick. First picture is magnified 40x, the others are magnified 200x (same spot). I guess it is some species of acarid... maybe ticks, but I'm not sure, as I cannot see any adult form. What you can't see on the third picture is that the legs bear thin and long claws. I took a small part of his shedding, this is the only larva i found hatching. All the others were in their eggs.
    After determining exactly what species it is , I'll go and ask for a vet's advice :) But I don't want to let him out with all this. This is really nasty... Maybe I should lower the temperature and humidity but I don't know if it can harm my dragon.

    Have you ever faced acarids infection on any of your reptiles? How did you treat it? Bathing in acaricide solution? How do you do for the head?

    Attached Files:

  12. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo

    Picture of hatched larva ! 6 legs...

    Attached Files:

  13. bruno

    bruno Moderator

    Thank you for posting those pics.
    I personally have never come across them before but you are right it's nasty.
    I doubt if any one on this forum has had to deal with them or treat them.
    It really needs specialist vet treatment, either by injection or topical cream application.
    I did a Google search and it appears them are some sort of skin mite, there are several types and only a vet test will determine which they are.
    According to some sites, those with long legs are the females.

    Just curious, do you keep rabbits? The reason I ask is that certain forms are the "canker mite" often found in ears of rabbits and could possibly be the source of infection.

    I would take all your findings and if possible pics along with a fresh sample, to a good vet.

    Sorry I cant give you any better answers.
  14. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo


    No, I do not keep rabbits :) but I am breeding my own crickets and mealworms. Maybe the eggs came with the batch of crickets I bought a month ago (from the pet shop...). You never know. Temperature, lightening, moisture, everything can be responsible for that. All I hope is that I am not the final host of this nasty parasite!
    I think it is possible to bath it with a diluted solution of iodine product, I've send the pics to a friend of mine, who is vet, she'll ask to an herp specialist if she can.
    I've put the eggs and specimen in alcohol... I'll see what I can do with that.


    Any suggestion may help :)
  15. monodelphis

    monodelphis Embryo

    Ok guys, i think I've got something here... I found a scientific article (ref: Harkewicz HA (2002) Dermatologic problems of reptiles. Seminar in Avian and Exotic medicine, Vol. 11, issue 3, pp 151-161).

    "Lizard mites (Ophionyssus acertinus) are larger
    than snake mites and are orange in color. These
    mites tend to congregate in skin folds, especially
    in those folds around the legs and neck of the
    . They are easily seen, especially when large
    numbers of them are present
    . An animal frequently
    soaking in water or attempting to rub
    itself against objects in the cage can also indicate
    the presence of these mites. Lizard mites cause
    localized irritation that may eventually result in
    superficial bacterial and/or fungal infections if
    left untreated for a period of time
    . Frequent
    ecdysis is not usually observed in lizards with a
    mite infestation.
    Ticks and mites must be removed from both
    the infested animal and its enclosure, including
    all cage "furniture" such as stones and sticks, to
    prevent reinfestation
    . In addition, all substrate
    should be removed and replaced with fresh, uninfested
    material. A 1% ivermectin solution (Ivomec,
    Merial. Inc.. Athens. GA) can be used to
    safely remove mites on both snakes and lizards.
    Note that ivermectin should never be used on or
    around chelonians
    because st can cause coma
    and death. A treatment of 200/xg/kg ivermectin
    injected intramuscularly and repeated in 2
    weeks is usually effective in removing mites from
    infested snakes and lizards. Alternatively, an ivermectin
    spray can be made with 5 mg/L ivermectin
    in water and applied to both snakes and
    This spray can be applied weekly to both
    the animals and their environment for a period
    of 3 to 4 weeks.
    Because the spray solution is not
    very stable, it should be mixed before each use,
    and should be shaken frequently during use to
    keep the ivermectin in solution. There are also
    several commercially available products available
    for removing ticks and mites on reptiles.
    These products are either desiccating agents or
    insecticides and are generally safe to use as long
    as the directions are followed. A dilute bleach
    solution (1:20 with water) can be used to clean
    an infested enclosure and furniture (but should
    never be used on the animal itself
    ). Thoroughly
    rinsing the bleach solution off all surfaces is
    necessary before reintroducing the animal to its

    I also found another source: S Paterson (2007) Skin diseases of exotic pet, you can find it in Google books, reference pp 108-109. Same story.

    This is a page from a belgian vet website,, it says that with a temperature higher than 55 degrees Celsius or humidity lower than 20%, you kill all the mites stages. Maybe I should burn my dragon?! :D

    I'm trying to translate the most interesting part: mites activity lies on 6 factors: temperature, humidity, gravity, contact, smell and light.
    T° : 23-30°c : maximal activity
    T° : 20-23°c : mites aggregate
    T° :+/- 10°c : mites "freeze"
    T° : 50-55°c : death of all stages in 5 seconds (i like that!)

    H< 50% : no egg hatching
    H> 95% : mites stop moving

    Mites have a negative geotaxis, they like to climb. They stop when they are on the top of the terrarium...

    The anterior part of the mite should be under a scale or the mite won't feed... During shedding, mites are starving because they do not know where to go, and their is no skin to feed on...

    -SMELL (yummi)
    Mites won't stay on a dead animal... don't kill you pet to get rid of them! ;-)

    They are seeking for darkness to lay eggs.

    Now all i need is to get this ivermectin solution...!

    Hope this will help.
    But remember: pls make sure you are able to do the right diagnostic, don't put any product or solution you don't know on your reptile, it can harm them hard, burn them, or kill them. I'll still ask for a vet advice.

Share This Page