The problem with treating constipated reptiles with a laxative of some type is that constipation is a symptom and not the primary condition. Added laxatives can be harsh on an animal’s system and we are talking about us humans too.
Using a laxative developed for mammals on a reptile, especially an herbivorous lizard, who has a very different digestive system and metabolism, may result in a ‘cure’ that is worse than the condition scenario which prompted the curative in the first place.
Humans typically use laxatives because their diets do not include enough fiber and. or they do not drink enough water during the course of the day. If we boost the fiber and water intake, then laxatives are no longer necessary.
It is much the same with reptiles and why good husbandry is so important. When we feed them right, heat them right, house them right, provide sufficient room and incentive for exercise, regularity is not as big of a problem.
Common reasons for a reptile not defecating include:
- it is too cold
- its digestive system has shut down due to metabolic bone disease
- it is impacted with “iguana-approved bark” or “lizard litter” or similar substrates
- it is clogged with parasitic worms
- it is dehydrated
- it is impacted by a foreign object
Laxatives are rarely needed when reptiles are too cold. Bowel movements will come when their temperatures up to where they need to be are enough to get the digestive tract functioning again.
However, bathing the animal in warm water and massaging the belly gently while you are waiting for the temps in their enclosure/room to rise does help things move along more quickly.
Note that some foods may cause mechanical constipation by indigestible matter failing to break down or otherwise cluttering up, and clogging, the gut: whole-kernel corn, fig seeds, whole peas, whole grapes, and whole berries such as blueberries. Corn, of course, isn’t a great food to feed anyway.
Pumpkin is reputed to be a natural effective laxative because it contains an α-amino acid from citrulline that is easy to administer because ( not surprisingly ) it has a flavor that most animals seem to enjoy.
Feeding large quantities of the orange veggies, such as several meals of all squash or all carrots, will give any animal loose stools. Figs, prunes ( reconstitute by soaking in hot water), and honey have all been recommended as stool softeners, too.
In recent times, herbalists have discovered that the seeds of the pumpkin also work as an effective deworming agent against tapeworms and other intestinal parasites in dogs and humans.
Pumpkin seeds contain triterpenes from cucurbitacin, which paralyzes and eliminates the worms from the digestive tract.
Raw, organic pumpkin seeds have been used to treat a variety of parasitic and other ailments since the colonists first came to the New World and discovered the benefits of this Native American crop.
The flesh and seeds of the pumpkin were used by the Native American tribes to:
- heal wounds
- cure kidney ailments and urinary problems
- as a parasitic treatment on humans.
Pumpkin seeds can be fed whole. Don’t feed the salted seeds from the grocery store; find some raw, organic seeds instead. If you do not give them as a treat, you can grind them in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet and add them to meals. Give a teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight once or twice a day until rid of the parasites.