A commercial reptile dealer presented a green anole (Anolis carolinensis) with a lesion involving the left lateral aspect of the head including the eye and the entire length of the maxilla to the Exotics Service at Tufts University Veterinary School. The lizard was bright, alert, and responsive, and did not show any signs of poor-husbandry induced disease such as oral lesions, metabolic bone disease, or stunted growth. The attending clinician gently cleaned the affected area to evaluate its severity. The lesion appeared superficial and the veterinarian started the lizard on systemic antibiotic (enrofloxacin at 5 mg/kg PO SID × 30 days) and analgesic (meloxicam at 0.4 mg/kg PO SID × 14 days) therapy.

Because the animal was part of a large breeding colony of anoles that the reptile dealer housed in a large terrarium, the clinician suspected the lesion on the head was a fight wound. To avoid further fight wounds, he recommended housing the anole alone until the wound healed. The reptile dealer followed the recommendation and kept the anole in a 10-gallon glass terrarium with cage furniture (e.g., hiding places), natural bark as a substrate, an under-tank heater, and a full-spectrum light source. A caretaker medicated the anole daily and fed it one live common house cricket (Acheta domestica) 2-3 times a week. The caretaker saw significant improvement in the wound on the head. How-ever, three weeks after the first evaluation, the caretaker noticed the sudden appearance of a second, more extensive lesion in the mid-body area (Fig. 1). Despite the severe appearance of this lesion, the animal appeared bright, alert, and responsive. Consequently, the reptile dealer took no immediate action to evaluate the cause or severity of the new lesion, instead hoping it would heal while the anole was on the systemic antibiotic therapy.

Figure 1: A green anole (Anolis carolinensis) with a large open communicating lesion to the coelomic cavity.
figure 1

The ribs and the surrounding tissue appeared necrotic.

The reptile dealer eventually brought back the animal to the Exotics Service for further evaluation because it was anorectic and the lesion was not healing. The caretaker knew the anole was not eating because the isolation cage had about six live crickets in it. On presentation, the animal was surprisingly bright, alert, and responsive, but the lesion was a large open communication with the coelomic cavity, and the ribs and the surrounding tissue appeared necrotic. Due to the severity of the lesion and poor prognosis for healing, the veterinarian recommended euthanasia.

At necropsy, the veterinarian obtained samples of the lesion and other tissues for a complete histopathological evaluation. All tissues examined were unremarkable histologically and the sections of the lesion failed to show any indication that an infectious agent (e.g., bacteria, fungi) might have been the cause. The appearance of the lesion grossly and microscopically suggested a traumatic origin. What do you think was the cause of the lesion on the dorsolateral area of the mid-body? What's your diagnosis?

What's your diagnosis?