Blue-Tailed Lizard Toxicity

In our mysterious world, we are always looking for explanations. Sometimes, there isn’t enough research about a particular topic, making it difficult to reach a proper conclusion. The toxicity of the Blue-Tailed Lizard, one of the commonest lizards in the Southeastern United States, is a disputed topic. The topic has been a mystery for years and is still hotly debated. Whether the Blue-Tailed Lizard is toxic to cats or dogs is uncertain, but science surely has some answers.

The Blue-Tailed Lizard

The Blue-Tailed Lizard, also called the Five-Lined skink and the Western skink, is a black lizard covered with yellow stripes. Its typical habitat is in the Southeastern United States, including Florida, Alabama, Georgia. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It’s hard to miss this lizard due to its bright blue tail. These are diurnal creatures, meaning they stay active during the day and rest at night. Blue-Tailed Lizards basking in the sunlight are a common sight in the Southeastern United States.

The lizard has distinctive color patterns, including narrow stripes. These stripes run along the length of their body and fade as they age. Although their blue tail is a characteristic feature, there are other ways to recognize them in the wild as well. Since their color fades with age, you might have seen a Blue-Tailed lizard without even realizing it. To identify a Blue-Tailed Lizard, look for a dark band that originates from the side of their head and extends to their hind legs.

Blue-Tailed lizards can discard their tails when caught by a predator. Their tails do grow back but are gray rather than the bright blue tail they had before.

Are Blue-Tailed Lizards Poisonous?

Humans

The Blue-Tailed skink is not poisonous to human beings since it contains no venom. Although they tend to bite when caught or provoked, the bites are harmless. According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, there is no scientific record of a long-lasting injury to adults or children through the Blue-Tailed lizard’s bite.

These lizards actually make great pets. They enjoy being held and interacting with humans. Many children catch and play with Blue-Tailed lizards. The lizards only bite when they detect a threat. Although these bites are painful, they don’t cause any harm. Since these lizards feed on small insects, they actually make a great pet in any household.

Dogs

To date, there is no scientific evidence that blue-tailed lizards are poisonous to dogs. Dogs that have a high prey drive or are curious will likely encounter a blue-tailed lizard and try to eat it. If the lizard bites your dog, this isn’t something to worry about. This will just result in a small wound that will heal in no time.

However, if your dog eats the lizard, that is a different situation altogether. There isn’t enough evidence to suggest that anything serious will happen to your dog other than a bacterial infection. Blue-tailed lizards, like most reptiles, carry Salmonella bacteria in their digestive tract. Salmonella infection can cause acute gastroenteritis in dogs with symptoms such as fever, nausea, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

If you suspect your dog has eaten a lizard and is showing the above symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately. Salmonella infection requires prompt treatment, or your pet’s health could be at risk. If left untreated, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and cause Sepsis (bacterial infection of the blood). This is a serious condition that can even lead to death.

Cats

Many people in the Southeastern United States believe the blue-tailed lizard is poisonous to cats. While a highly debated topic amongst scientists, veterinarians, and the general public, there are no conclusive answers. Some locals native to the region report their cat falling ill soon after discovering a blue-tailed lizard in their home. Many claim these tales are just urban legends. While the species itself poses no dangers to cats, they harbor certain parasites or bacteria that can cause sickness in cats.

Liver Flukes

Like other lizards in the Southeastern U.S., the blue-tailed lizard contains liver flukes (Opisthorchis felineus). These parasites live in water, and the lizard usually serves as an intermediate host for this parasite. When cats eat blue-tailed lizards, they become infected with the organism. The fluke travels to the biliary tract and liver, resulting in illness.

Most cats and wild carnivorous animals have liver flukes in areas of the Southeastern United States, such as Florida and Hawaii. Approximately 15-85% of cats who have access to lizards contract the parasite. While most of these animals show no symptoms, younger cats are more susceptible to falling ill. Cats between the ages of 6 to 24 months can show symptoms such as weight loss and lethargy. Liver flukes can also cause jaundice in cats. In comparison to dogs, liver flukes affect cats more.

Salmonella

As discussed above, lizards such as the blue-tailed skink harbor Salmonella bacteria in their digestive tract. Cats generally have a high prey drive and enjoy hunting. Even if your cat explores a lizard’s living space, she can contract a Salmonella infection since the lizard’s feces also contain the bacteria. The symptoms of a Salmonella infection in cats are similar to the signs in dogs. A mild infection usually has an asymptomatic presentation. In contrast, severe infections have symptoms such as high fever, low appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Toxicity

While most animals have a skin color that helps them blend into nature, some poisonous reptiles have evolved to have brightly colored skin. Their brightly colored skin is a warning to predators about their toxicity. Sea snakes, coral snakes, and poison arrow frogs are all examples of poisonous reptiles with brightly colored skin. When predators eat such reptiles, the poison is so foul-tasting that they learn to avoid eating brightly colored animals entirely.

The blue-tailed lizards also follow this simple rule of nature. While not venomous, they can certainly be toxic if eaten when they still have bright blue tails. Their bright tails warn predators, such as cats, who try to consume them. If your cat eats a blue-tailed skink after it has lost its bright blue tail, it is no longer poisonous. Cats that eat young blue-tailed lizards can be affected by the toxins present in the tail. They cause symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, or paralysis.

What You Can Do

It is uncertain whether the blue-tailed lizard is poisonous to cats, so it is best to avoid eating them entirely. To ensure your cat does not come in contact with a blue-tailed lizard, keep her indoors and supervise any time she spends outdoors.

Since lizards are small creatures, they usually make their way into our homes easily. You might think your cat won’t come into contact with a blue-tailed lizard indoors, but they can easily hide in your house and yard. In this case, you must ensure that lizards cannot enter your home or yard. To keep lizards out of your home, use the following tips:

  • Fill in any entry points the lizard may have access to. Their small, flexible bodies can fit into small cracks, so seal those with caulk and use weather-stripping to fill the spaces underneath doors and windows.
  • Use natural repellants to deter lizards. They hate the smell of hot sauce and cayenne, so make a spray using these ingredients. Shake it well and spray alongside access points such as windows and doors.
  • Keep your garbage disposal, home, and kitchen sink clean. Lizards can enter your house looking for food, so clean up food scraps properly.
  • Use plants that lizards dislike in your yard to keep them away. They don’t like the smell of peppermint and eucalyptus plants, so they effectively deter lizards without hurting them.

Consult your vet immediately if your cat shows any signs of toxicity, such as excessive drooling, foaming mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lost appetite, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, and excessive thirst. If your cat has eaten a lizard before showing symptoms, mention this to the vet as well.

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