Caudate Illness Part 2: Treatment Accounts


Treatment Accounts

Below are accounts of successful treatment of caudates, as contributed by various readers of this site. We hope to add more such accounts in the future. If you have an experience or treatment recommendation to add, please Contact us.

  • Treatment of inappetence and darkened skin on Triturus marmoratus
    Contributed by Matt Gage, October 2014.

    My T. marmoratus started to refuse food. They developed darkened, wrinkled skin, and where the skin shed, it appeared shinier than usual.

    The 5 terrestrial, juvenile marmoratus were being kept in a 10-gallon tank propped up on one side, with a few centimeters of spring water at the low end, and clean sphagnum moss on the other side (kept lightly moist). There was excellent ventilation, and the temperature was consistently in the 60's F (15-21 C). I had been feeding with small red earthworms, small crickets and fruitflies.

    I placed the newts in a container with a few centimeters of spring water and a few drops of Sentry AQ Maroxy anti-fungal fish medication (active ingredient: Stabilized chlorine oxides). I refrigerated the newts for 4 days in a container with moist paper towels soaked in spring water and a few drops of Maroxy, and then put the newts in a 10-gallon tank propped up on one side, with white paper towels on the dry end and a few centimeters of spring water at the low end treated with Maroxy and API Furan 2 antibacterial fish medication (active ingredient: Nitrofurazone). For the small volume of water, it was a few drops of Maroxy and a pinch of Furan 2 powder - I'm sorry I can't be more specific about the amount, but it is safe to approximate half of the dosage recommended for fish. Now they're being maintained on paper towels - no more sphagnum. I moved them to a room in the 70's F (a few degrees warmer than before) and with more light.

    Now all newts appear to have perfect skin condition, very active and eating well. I believe the sphagnum moss substrate allowed bacteria or fungi to proliferate and sicken the newts. Another possibility is that because the sphagnum can become very acidic very quickly, it perhaps weakened the newts resistance to bacteria or fungi. I believe that some combination of the following steps cured them: temperature changes, moving them onto a different substrate, anti-fungal medication (Maroxy), and antibacterial medication (Furan 2).

  • Treatment of sores on newly-imported Tylototriton
    Contributed by Andrew Baker, July 2006.

    A common problem with recently imported newts is immuno-suppression, particularly (in my experience) with members of the genus Tylototriton. There are many ways immuno-suppression can manifest, but one of the signs can be the development of open sores. These need to be treated as soon as possible. When I found myself having to treat two Tylototriton kweichowensis for this, I decided to use an antibiotic called colistin sulphate. This has different names in different countries. The actual antibiotic is polymixin, It's primarily used on farmyard animals and kills most gram negative bacteria. The dosage is 2000 IE per ml, which translates to 8 ml of the colistin in a litre of water. This mix should be stored in a fridge. The animals are placed in a small container with an inch or so of the colisin/water mix for no longer than 10 minutes. This needs to be done twice daily until the sores go away. The speed at which this works I would guess depends on the species being treated, e.g., some smooth skinned caudates may heal faster, whereas a rough skinned type like T. kweichowensis may take longer. In my case, I was treating one animal for three weeks and one for six weeks.

    After a week or so, the sores on my kweichowensis developed a slimy white substance. This is the first sign the animals are healing. The healing of the skin goes on underneath this white substance and slowly this substance dries up exposing healed skin beneath. It should also be stressed that during treatment the animals should be kept in sterile conditions and cleaned daily. I kept my animals separately on wet kitchen paper towels (Bounty) with a piece of plastic drainpipe as a hide.

  • Treatment of sores on newly-imported Tylototriton
    Contributed by Travis Dimler, September 2007.

    I received 4 Tylototriton taliangensis which were in less than ideal conditon. Two of them had sores on their feet, to the point that nearly a whole foot was missing. One of them had a sore that had eaten off the tip of its tail. The other two did not have any large sores, but had small sores on their lips. Upon arrival, I put them all into separate sweater boxes on moist paper towels with plastic hides. I was careful not to keep them too wet, just BARELY moist. They will not die if the paper towel dries out completely for a short time. T. taliangensis have a reputation for being drought tolerant. My thinking is that wounds need air and dry conditions to close up and heal. I can't see how it is possible for caudates kept in very wet or aquatic environments to heal. My next stab at treatment was to use a broad spectrum antibiotic for fish called FURAN-2. It is readily available over the counter at fish stores in the US. Each FURAN-2 capsule contains 60 mg Nitrofurazone, 25 mg Furazolidone, and 2 mg Methylene Blue Trihydrate. The dosage for fish says 1 caplet per 10 gallons. You have to keep in mind that this is constantly absorbed through the water they are in 24 hours per day. I was only planning for two short soaks per day, so I thought it important to use a higher dosage. I used about 1/3 capsule per 1 gallon of water. The capsules just had to be pulled apart and the power mixed in clean water. The water should turn a light green color. I soaked the newts in about 1/2-inch of this medicated water for 15 minutes two times per day. After I took them out of the soak and the sores dried off sufficiently, I applied triple antibiotic cream for humans with a Q-Tip. The triple antibiotic cream I used contained Polymyxin B, Bacitracin, and Neomycin. I continued this for about 12 days until the sores were healing nicely. During this time I changed the paper towels in their tubs every day and tried to keep them just barely moist. I kept feeding them heavily on waxworms and nightcrawlers. It has been about 4 weeks and the sores are completely healed and all of the newts are feeding.

  • Treatment of newly-imported Neurergus kaiserii
    Contributed by Anonymous, April 2007.

    One week ago, 13 of 20 N. kaiseri began to show signs of skin lesions. Lesions included open/ulcerated sores, red spots in association with the pores of the lateral line system, raised "bumps" which appear wet with sebum, and disintegrating toes. A swab/culture was taken from the ulcers. In the meantime, our vet began soaking them in a solution of Zephiran (Benzalkonium chloride, 12CC per 1L). This seemed to slow the very rapid onset of the ulcers, but did not eradicate them.

    The cultures did not return for 5 days. The results were 3 bacteria: Aeromonas (heavy growth), Acinetobacter lwoffi (heavy growth), and Corynebacterium sp. (light growth). It's interesting to note that the latter two bacteria are only moderately affected by Baytril. They are better treated by Amakacin (highly nephrotoxic) or Doxycyline.

    As of right now, I suspect one animal is already past the point of no return. One a scale fom 1 to 5 (0 being healthy and 6 being dead), one animal is a 4 and the rest of the 13 range from 1 to 2. The 7 which have remained aquatic seem completely unaffected. They court and lay eggs and eat normally.

  • Tea bath for axolotls
    Contributed by Daniel Weiner, August 2007.

    I mainly use teabaths for minor skin problems. It may also be used for fungal problems, but in those cases I prefer salt baths. Tea has a slight antifungal and antibacterial effects (resulting from tannins) and additionally it closes the pores in the skin a little bit (mainly resulting from tannin and caffeine). The skin tightens and gets some kind of protective layer, making it harder for fungi and bacteria to intrude on the body. On the other hand, it makes it harder for salt or medicine to reach pathogens that are already inside the body - that is the reason I do not use it on fungal infections, although some people do recommend a tea bath as a cure for fungal infections.

    The procedure is preferably done in a quarantine tank, not the animal's regular setup. I take one bag of unflavored black tea for every 10 litres (2.5 gallons) of water. It is important to use black tea because this kind of tea is fermented, so it has tannins. This tea gets covered with boiling water in a small bowl - I leave it there for at least 10 to 15 minutes, so the tannins are dissolved into the water. After the tea cools down, it is added to the quarantine water. After a week I do a large water change (60% at least), and the rest of the tea is removed over time by normal water changes. If you have to make water changes sooner (i.e., you are using a very small bowl or tank) the tea concentration can be replenished during water changes. As far as I know, there are no negative effects, even for long term treatment.

    A similar effect (although not as strong) can be produced by the addition of dried oak or beech leaves directly to the aquarium water.

  • General treatment recommendation
    Contributed by Michael Shrom, October 2006.

    I would recommend Furan 2 for a broad spectrum medicine. I use it as a harmless shotgun approach for all aquatic amphibian problems. Normally I use it at full strength, but might start at half strength for larvae.


Treatment Accounts from the Forum

The following are forum threads that discuss the topics listed. These discussions were chosen based on containing photographs, specific information about treatments, or veterinary procedures.

Topic Forum Links
Surgical/post-surgical treatment
Cloudy eye
(bacterial conjunctivitis)
External sores
Damaged jaw
Internal parasites
Swollen parotoid gland treated with Baytril
Skin sore on Paramesotriton treated with Baytril
Use of betadine
Prolapse of the cloaca
Swollen neck
(bloat or oral infection)
Black skin on salamander
Black spots on Taricha
Treatment of newly-imported Tylototritons
Amputation of injured limb
Newt with bloating, throat lump, lethargy
(systemic infection)
Dehydration, inappetance
Abdominal air bubble in adult axolotl


Related Articles

Caudate Illness Part 1 has additional information, resources and links about treating amphibian illnesses.
Caudate Illness Part 3 shows photographs of some common amphibian illnesses.

© Caudata Culture. Contributors: Andrew Baker, Michael Shrom, Daniel Weiner, Travis Dimler.



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