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Having a sick reptile is very stressful as few veterinarians are skilled in reptile medicine and surgery. At Pittwater Animal Hospital we are fortunate to have Dr Juliet Smithyman  who has a special interest in reptiles.

All of our other veterinarians are trained in general reptile medicine and first aid. This means when your reptile is sick they can be seen straight away, stabilised and treatment initiated. They may then be reassessed when Juliet or Bryn are available.  Sadly Juliet and Bryn can not work every day.

When should I bring my lizard or snake to the vet?

It is useful to have a health check of your lizard or snake when you first acquire your pet. An appointment can be booked with Dr Juliet Smithyman where your pet can be

  • weighed
  • examined
  • diet and housing discussed
  • general care routine reviewed

This gives us a baseline assessment of your pet and can often prepare your pet for a healthy start in your house. The cost will be a standard consultation plus any pathology charges which Juliet will explain fully.

How can I tell if my lizard or snake is sick?

Reptile owners need to be very attuned to their pets, as the signs of a sick reptile can be subtle. We would recommend a consultation if

  • your lizard or snake has lost weight
  • feeding habits change
  • faeces change
  • decreased movement around it’s enclosure
  • breathing becomes more noticeable
  • limping or lameness 
  • swellings or lumps

Simply make an appointment online or phone 9913 7979. 

How can I tell if my lizard or snake is very sick?

If your lizard or snake is noticeably unwell it is a very sick reptile. Signs include

  • not moving around much with eyes partly closed
  • not eating
  • difficulty breathing – increased effort with breathing 
  • weakness – unable to lift their body off the ground (lizards) or unable to lift their head or turn themselves over (snakes)
  • regurgitating food
  • obvious weight loss

How should I bring my lizard or snake to the vet?

Pets can be brought in a secure container.  Snakes can be brought in a bag or pillow case, secured closed with a cable tie, rope or clip. Lizards are frequently brought in boxes or plastic tubs (ensure they have air holes) or pet carriers. 

It can be useful to your veterinarian to see the enclosure you keep your lizard or snake in so environment can be discussed. Taking a photo of the enclosure is an easy way to do this.

My lizard or snake has a skin problem, what should I do?

One of the more common problems in reptiles is skin disease. It is well worth consulting with your veterinarian if this happens. Problems with shedding, retained scales, parasites and skin infections are all commonly seen in reptiles.



My lizard or snake has a growth, is this a problem?

Lizards and snakes can get swellings or growths under the skin. These can develop quickly and grow rapidly .


Your veterinarian can give you advice on how to treat these lumps in a consultation.



or call us on 9913 7979

How do I give medication to my lizard or snake?

Sometimes your veterinarian will prescribe medication.  This is often in small amounts of liquid that needs to be carefully measured. Many reptiles will take small amounts of medication inside their food. Other medications may need to be given directly into the mouth, or injected under the skin or into the muscle. Injections may be given at home if this is something you have been trained in and feel comfortable doing. Otherwise, our friendly nurses have been trained to give injections to reptiles and you can bring your pet into the clinic for this to be done (usually 3 times a week).

What should I do if my reptile is sick?

Make an appointment straight away. It is best to call on 9913 7979 as we will make room for you as soon as possible.


All our veterinarians  are trained in reptile assessment, medicine and first aid.

Our regular vets can try to stabilize your reptiles’ condition, then it’s treatment can be reviewed and adjusted later by one of our veterinarians with a special interest in reptiles.

Should I take my lizard or snake to a specialist?

Some complex problems are best addressed by a specialist. For immediate care however it is best to have your reptile assessed by one of our veterinarians as specialist appointments can be delayed, and often early intervention is needed.

Dr Izidora Sladakovic  up at The Pet Specialists at Terrey Hills is our closest bird and reptile specialist.

Does it cost less to have my reptile examined at the vet?

Reptile diagnosis and handling is a complex and skilled veterinary area. Often reptile consultations are prolonged as gentle patient handling is required and extensive history is needed.

To see a veterinarian at Pittwater Animal Hospital a standard consultation fee is charged. For rechecks, discounted fees usually apply.


Some complex problems are best addressed by a veterinary specialist. For urgent care it is best to have your reptile initially assessed by one of our veterinarians. It can be difficult to get a specialist appointment immediately, and early intervention is often needed.


Dr Izidora Sladakovic  (Izzy) up at The Pet Specialists at Terrey Hills is our closest exotic pet specialist.


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