Reptile research

Photo: Reptile

A bearded dragon lizard receives laser therapy as part of a study of wound healing in reptiles. Click image for larger image

Wound healing in reptiles

Skin wounds are a common clinical presentation in reptiles. Reptiles have a very low metabolic rate and heal slowly; wounds often require extensive and long-term medical treatment regardless of the initial cause. To gain more understanding of reptile wound healing and provide a model for systematic evaluation of therapies that may improve healing, CZAR researchers have developed a technique for creating and monitoring wounds in healthy bearded dragon lizards. Our method is based on a similar technique used in mice, which provides a basis for comparison of mammalian and reptilian healing.


  • 2012 CCAH Resident Grant: Cutaneous wound healing in the skink and evaluation of therapeutic agents.
  • 2012 AAZV Wild Animal Health Fund: Cutaneous wound healing in the skink and evaluation of therapeutic agents.


  • Keller KA, Paul-Murphy J, Weber EPS, Kass PH, Sanchez-Migallon Guzman D, Park SA, Raghunathan V-K, Gustavsen KA, Murphy CJ. Assessment of platelet-derived growth factor using a splinted full thickness dermal wound model in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps). J Zoo Wildl Med. In press. 
Photo: Snake 3-D

This image is a 3-D reconstruction of a CT scan showing the bones of the snake’s skull (white) and the lacrimal duct which drains tears from the eye into the nasal cavity (green). Click image for larger image

Snake ocular anatomy

Where other animals have eyelids, snakes have a clear scale or “spectacle” that is fused in place and covers and protects the surface of the eye. The snake produces tears, but they stay in the small space between the spectacle and the cornea. CZAR researchers have collaborated with the Murphy/Russell Vision Research Laboratory to study the unique anatomy of the snake’s eye in great detail, using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and high resolution computed tomography (micro CT) in 10 different species of snakes.


  • Souza NM, Maggs DJ, Park SA, Puchalski SM, Reilly CM, Paul-Murphy J, Murphy CJ. Gross, histologic, and computed tomographic anatomy of the lacrimal system of snakes. Vet Ophthalmol. 2014; doi: 10.1111/vop.12184.
  • Tusler CA, Maggs DJ, Kass PH, Paul-Murphy JR, Schwab IR, Murphy CJ. Spectral domain optical coherence tomography imaging of spectacular ecdysis in the royal python (Python regius). Vet Ophthalmol. 2014; doi: 10.1111/vop.12176.
Photo: Field Research

Basilisk lizards are native to Central and South America and are famous for being able to “walk on water” by running so quickly across the surface that they don’t sink! Surveys of healthy lizards serve as a baseline for future health assessments in conservation and captive breeding programs. Click image for larger image

Field research


  • Dallwig RK, Paul-Murphy J, Thomas C, Medlin S, Vaughan C, Sullivan L, Sladky KK, Ramirez O, Herrera G. Hematology and clinical chemistry values of free-ranging basilisk lizards (Basiliscus plumifrons) in Costa Rica. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2011; 42(2):205-213.