Feb 06 2019

Not Just for Mammals:  Fecal Exams for Birds and Reptiles

blue bird

Whether you have fur, feathers, or scales, poop is important. Paws, Purrs, & Exotics Animal Hospital recommends regular fecal screenings for all of our patients no matter the species. Fecal exams for birds and reptiles are even more essential when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. Read on to learn why routine fecal screenings are so important.

The Power of Poop

Trust us, we wouldn’t ask for that sample of feces if it weren’t important! Gastrointestinal parasites are one of the most common causes of illness in avian and reptile species, and it is important to diagnose and treat them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

When looking at feces, we are typically gaining a wealth of information. We consider:

  • Stool color and consistency
  • Presence of blood, mucous, or other abnormalities
  • A microscopic examination for parasites and their eggs
  • Assessment for the presence of abnormal quantities or types of bacteria or yeast organisms.

Fecal exams for birds and reptiles should be performed several times a year as part of a wellness routine, whenever the pet has signs of illness, or whenever introducing a new animal into your home. Proactive examination are the best way to ward off trouble.

Fecal Exams for Birds and Reptiles

When bringing in a sample for fecal exams for birds and reptiles, there are a few rules to follow. Always use gloves and wash hands when handling feces, as many parasites can also infect people (zoonotic). Please also remember that the sample should be as fresh as possible for best chance at diagnosis.

For reptiles especially it is important to be sure that you are submitting the feces rather than urinary waste. Yellow uric acid balls will not give us the information that we need. Birds and reptiles both excrete brown fecal waste that should be evaluated.

Frequent exams are recommended because the life cycles of many parasites make them hard to catch on just one sample. This means that “no parasites seen” on a fecal exam is not the same as “all clear”.

Some of the more common fecal parasites and pathogens identified include:

  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Giardia
  • Trichomonas



  • Pinworms
  • Hookworms
  • Cryptosporidium
  • E. coli



Affected animals may suffer from diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, feather plucking in birds, and vomiting in reptiles. If caught quickly enough, most parasites are quite treatable.

Caring for less traditional species requires a little extra attention to be paid to animal husbandry. Routine fecal exams for birds and reptiles are an important part of this. Please remember that we are here to help you create the best home possible for your pet! Make an appointment online or give us a call at 703-549-7297 so we can help you to be sure that you are doing what is needed for your species of choice!

pawspurrsandexoticsah | For the Birds, Pet Health & Wellness

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