A male ball python (Python regius) and a female blue tongue skink (Tiliqua spp.) of unknown age were evaluated for anorexia, lethargy, excessive shedding, corneal opacity (python), and weight loss (skink) of approximately three weeks' duration. These animals represented the worst affected animals from a private herpetarium where many animals exhibited similar signs. At necropsy, the python had bilateral corneal opacity and scattered moderate dysecdysis. The skink had mild dysecdysis, poor body condition, moderate intestinal nematodiasis, and mild liver atrophy. Microscopic evaluation revealed epidermal erosion and ulceration, with severe epidermal basal cell degeneration and necrosis, and superficial dermatitis (python and skink). Severe bilateral ulcerative keratoconjunctivitis with bacterial colonization was noted in the ball python. Microscopic findings within the skin and eyes were suggestive of ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage or of photodermatitis and photokeratoconjunctivitis. Removal of the recently installed new lamps from the terrariums of the surviving reptiles resulted in resolution of clinical signs. Evaluation of a sample lamp of the type associated with these cases revealed an extremely high UV output, including very-short-wavelength UVB, neither found in natural sunlight nor emitted by several other UVB lamps unassociated with photokeratoconjunctivitis. Exposure to high-intensity and/or inappropriate wavelengths of UV radiation may be associated with significant morbidity, and even mortality, in reptiles. Veterinarians who are presented with reptiles with ocular and/or cutaneous disease of unapparent cause should fully evaluate the specifics of the vivarium light sources. Further research is needed to determine the characteristics of appropriate and of toxic UV light for reptiles kept in captivity.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4