The Importance of Quarantine / Adenovirus Discussion
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Author:  HadesDragons [ Thu May 01, 2008 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  The Importance of Quarantine / Adenovirus Discussion

As the summer approaches and breeding season hits full flow, more and more people will be planning to purchase new dragons, to add to the ones they already own. Recently, quarantining new reptiles seems to be "going out of fashion", with very few people doing the full, strict quarantine, and many not even making a token effort.

Why Quarantine?

The main purpose is to protect your pets!

Reptiles have much slower metabolisms than mammals, so whilst we are used to diseases showing up almost as soon as we get them, a reptile can have a disease and not show symptoms for up to a year! Most common problems show up in 2-3 months. A new reptile comes from an unknown background. It has been raised differently, has come into contact with different people, different environments, different animals. It has eaten different food (with different risks of food-borne parasitosis) and drunk different water. If it picked something nasty up before you got it, and you put it straight in with an existing dragon, whatever it has will probably be passed on. Instead of one vets bill, you now have two. Instead of one dragon that may not pull through, you now have two.

Many dragons carry parasites, which live within their guts and cause them no harm (estimates vary from around 25%-80% of dragons), as long as conditions are right. Stress can cause the levels to rise considerably, to the point where the parasites can become a problem for the stressed dragon, as well as to the point where previously non-contagious levels can become contagious. Dragons get stressed when moving homes - during the 2 weeks - 2 months it takes for them to settle in, parasitic levels are usually raised, and can be passed from the new dragon to any that you put it in with. The most common method is fecal-oral transmission, usually using a vector. In essence, this is where the new dragon poos, the poo contains a lot of parasites, a cricket eats some of the poo, and your existing dragon eats the cricket.

Putting dragons of different sexes together can make things even worse. A new female housed with an existing male will be very stressed, and will struggle to settle in. Let dragons settle in and get a clean bill of health before attempting to breed them!

How to Quarantine:

Ideally, the new reptile should be totally isolated. Mine are kept in different rooms, at different ends of the house. They have separate food, separate supplements, separate dusting bags, separate cage furnishings. I keep a high-strength alcohol-based antibacterial by all of my cages, which is used in between handling any reptiles.

Reptiles in quarantine should be fed last, and ideally shouldn't be handled except when absolutely necessary. If they are "high-risk" (see "Adenovirus", later) you might want to consider changing clothes after handling them.

Quarantine should last 3-6 months as a minimum - as stated, it can take this long for a disease to show up. Generally, the most common (and least dangerous) diseases show up after a couple of months. The rarest ones (but also the most dangerous) can take a year to show. As well as the physical quarantine, it's wise to get any new additions checked by a vet, and have fecal samples run. Generally the cost of this will be under £50.


This is a potentially lethal, highly-debated disease that's becoming increasingly prevalent in the US.

It can be considered as a beardie version of HIV - transmission is similar (plus the fecal-oral route), it can be passed on to eggs (probably via fecal traces within the cloaca when the eggs pass through). Like HIV, beardies don't die from it; they die from secondary associated infections.

It's very hotly debated in the US at present. The main questions that need answering are:

1. Whether all forms of Adeno are dangerous. Some beardies test positive and have no problems. Others test positive and die. This could be down to differences in husbandry conditions - a beardie kept under less than perfect conditions will be more stressed, and so more susceptible to the disease.

2. Whether some beardies naturally have immunity - again this would explain why some beardies can test positive and be unaffected.

3. How detectable it is - some sources say that the viral particles needed for detection are only periodically shed, and that at least 3 tests must some back negative to prove that the dragon doesn't have Adeno. Others say that traces are always there and only one test is needed. I personally only test once.

4. Symptoms. There are a lot of "claimed" symptoms that are "sure-fire" ways of detecting Adeno. Most aren't true. Apparently a baby that closes its eyes and jumps when sprayed is affected. This isn't true - all babies do it. The most reliable way is to get a vet to test for it.

With the increase in people importing dragons from the US, it's only a matter of time before Adenovirus hits the UK in more serious numbers than it has already. Currently cases are few and far between, but it is certainly in the UK. Quarantining and testing for Adeno could be the difference between very rare, isolated outbreaks, and a full-on serious outbreak. Most of the big US breeders aren't currently testing for Adeno. Some, such as the Dachiu's, have a "returns policy" where if a dragon you buy from them tests positive, they will take the dragon back and give you a refund. It's not clear whether the big breeders aren't testing because they don't consider it to be that much of a risk (afterall, they would be the most likely to see widespread death of dragons if Adeno was present in their colonies) or if they are avoiding the test because of logistical / financial reasons.

Adenovirus appears to be able to be passed to (and presumably from) many other species of lizard. Most agamids (including agamas, water dragons etc) seem to be susceptible to it, as do Bosc (Savannah) Monitors. It's important to quarantine ALL new reptiles, even if they aren't beardies!

The Adeno Test:

Finding a UK vet that actually knows what Agamid Adenovirus is can be hard - it's worth phoning up and asking to speak to the vet themselves. If the vet doesn't know what it is, ask them if they could have a look into it, and find you a lab that tests for it. Most labs don't routinely do the test, so your vet may have to look for another lab in the country that does routinely do the test.

The actual test done varies, as there are several ways to test for the presence of the virus. My vet uses a cotton bud to take a swab of the mouth and vent, which is then sent by courier to the lab. Other vets may ask for a fresh fecal sample. Some vets may not want to test very small dragons, due to the difficulty in taking a swab. Phoenix and Millie haven't yet had their tests. They are in strict, aseptic isolation for the next 3 months, and will be tested at the end of the quarantine period.

Hopefully that's cleared up a few misconceptions about why quarantine (and testing) is so important.


Author:  meina_kelly [ Thu May 01, 2008 5:38 pm ]
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thanks for the info Andy we knew about quarantine but where not sure about time frames. good to know incase we get some new babys :D

Author:  esmeralda [ Thu May 01, 2008 5:43 pm ]
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If you get a new baby beardie not breeding but just get one do you still have to put it in Quarantine?

Author:  meina_kelly [ Thu May 01, 2008 5:52 pm ]
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if you are planning on putting him/her in with another beardie then yeah but if its going to be by its self in its own viv then i dont think so :?

Author:  HadesDragons [ Thu May 01, 2008 8:07 pm ]
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If it's going to be your first reptile then it is quarantined - it's isolated from all other reptiles. If you already had reptiles, it would be a good idea to keep the new one in a separate room and to use "safe" techniques to make sure that nothing could be passed on via your hands etc.

Author:  esmeralda [ Thu May 01, 2008 10:12 pm ]
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What if you only get one not two or more?

Author:  meina_kelly [ Thu May 01, 2008 10:22 pm ]
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if you are only getting one reptile and have no other reptiles in the house then no you dont but if you have other reptiles in the house then yeah you need to quarantine the new ones


Author:  esmeralda [ Thu May 01, 2008 10:23 pm ]
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Ok noooooooooow i understand thanks!!

Author:  meina_kelly [ Thu May 01, 2008 10:34 pm ]
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np.. :lol: :lol:

Author:  esmeralda [ Thu May 01, 2008 10:37 pm ]
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What does np mean?

Author:  meina_kelly [ Fri May 02, 2008 12:18 am ]
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np means 'no problem' 8)

Author:  esmeralda [ Fri May 02, 2008 12:22 am ]
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Aaaaaaaaaah sorry im not very good at computer sayings. :D :lol:

Author:  jerry [ Fri May 02, 2008 11:27 pm ]
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Yup my friend had to birds and he didnt Quarantine them and one of them was sick then after 2 days they both died :(

So if it was me i wouldnt take any chances

Author:  luke [ Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Importance of Quarantine / Adenovirus Discussion

im only getting 1 beardie. will mine need 2 hve tests??

Author:  Webmaster [ Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Importance of Quarantine / Adenovirus Discussion

If you are only getting one beardie then there is no problem.

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