Exotis ISSN 2398-2985



Synonym(s): Pinworm

Contributor(s): Sarah Pellett, Robert Johnson


  • Oxyurids are a common finding in chelonian and lizard fecal samples.
  • Reptiles hosting oxyurid infestations are often asymptomatic. Some sources suggest that they are beneficial, preventing constipation by improving passage of ingesta through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Some reports suggest that excessive numbers can cause adverse effects such as anorexia or intussusception.
  • Cause: commensal organisms (may be a normal finding). May be a high burden due to reinfection by ingesting eggs as transmission is via the fecal-oral route. Animals housed in a suboptimal environment may be predisposed due to immunosuppression.
  • Signs: often there are no clinical signs. High burdens may cause anorexia, intussusception and death.
  • Diagnosis: fecal analysis: direct smear, fecal flotation to establish whether there are large numbers present and the McMaster egg counting technique to obtain a quantitative value.
  • Treatment: anthelmintics. Fenbendazole most frequently prescribed. Oxfendazole may be used as an alternative. Topical emodepside and praziquantel may be considered especially for larger reptiles.
  • Prognosis: generally good.
Print off the Owner Factsheets on Parasitic and infectious diseases in chameleons, Parasitic diseases in geckos, Parasitic and infectious diseases in lizards, Parasitic and infectious diseases in snakes, Parasitic and infectious diseases in terrapins and/or Parasitic and infectious diseases in tortoises to give to your clients. 



  • Oxyurids (pinworms) are frequently observed on routine fecal screening.
  • Reptiles are usually asymptomatic. 
  • Stressful or suboptimal environments are likely to exacerbate the outcome of infection.

Predisposing factors


  • Suboptimal environment resulting in immunosuppression.
  • Stressful environment resulting in immunosuppression.
  • Suboptimal environment, eg lack of space or infrequent cleaning, resulting in re-infection by ingestion of eggs from the fecal-oral route.


  • Oxyurids may have beneficial effects in preventing constipation Constipation.
  • It has been speculated that high burdens may predispose to rectal prolapse, obstruction, anorexia Anorexia and death. 
  • There are many species of Oxyurid worms within the genera Tachygonetria, Spauligodon, Aleuris, Thelandros, Mehdiella, Ortleppnema and Thaparia. There is lack of published studies in the pathogenicity or anthelmintic susceptibility between the Oxyurid species.
  • Direct lifecycle and host-specific.
  • Oxyurids inhabit the lower intestinal tract.
  • There is a rise in oxyurid eggs observed in the feces after hibernation in chelonians. This shows the parasites ability to survive the hibernation Hibernation period.


  • Prepatent periods are highly variable between Oxyurid species.


  • Direct lifecycle and host-specific.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Tang P K, Pellett S, Blake D & Hedley J (2017) Efficacy of a topical formulation containing Emodepside and Praziquantel (Profender® Bayer) against nematodes in captive tortoises. J Herpetol Med Surg 27 (3-4), 116-122 VetMedResource.
  • Pellett S, Mackinlay C & Pinborough M (2016) How to collect and analyse reptile faecal samples. Companion. 16-21 VetMedResource.
  • Machin R A (2015) Common gastrointestinal parasites in reptiles. In Pract 37 (9), 469-475 VetMedResource.
  • Bunkowska K, Okulewicz A, Perc-Matysiak A & Hildebrand J (2011) Preliminary coproscopic examination of tortoises in the City Zoological Garden in Wroclaw, Poland. Wiadomooeci Parazytol 57 (4), 249-251 VetMedResource.
  • Martinez-Silvestre A (2011) Massive Tachygonetria (Oxyuridae) infection in a Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni). Consult J (Special Edn), 409-412 pdf.
  • Rataj A V, Lindtner-Knific R, Vlahovic K, Mavri U & Dovc A (2011) Parasites in pet reptiles. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 53, 33 ActaVetScand.
  • Brames H (2008) Efficacy and tolerability of Profender in reptiles: spot on treatment against nematodes. Exotic DVM 10 (3), 29-34 VetMedResource.
  • Giannetto S, Brianti E et al (2007) Efficacy of oxfendazole and fenbendazole against tortoise (Testudo hermanni) oxyurids. Parasitol Res 100 (5), 1069-1073 PubMed.
  • Mehlhorn H, Schmahl G, Frese M, Mevissen I, Harder A & Krieger K (2005) Effects of a combination of emodepside and praziquantel on parasites of reptiles and rodents. Parasitol Res 97 (Suppl 1), S64-S69 PubMed.
  • Neiffer D, Lydick R, Burks K et al (2005) Haematological and plasma biochemical changes associated with fenbendazole administration in Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni). J Zoo Wildl Med 36 (4), 661-672 PubMed.
  • Klingenberg R (2000) Diagnosing parasites in old world chameleons. Exotic DVM 1, 17-21.
  • Innis C (1995) Per-cloaca worming of tortoises. Bull Assoc Rept Amphi Vet 5, 4.
  • Satorhelyi T & Sreter T (1993) Studies on internal parasites of tortoises. Parasit Hung 26, 51-55 VetMedResource.
  • Holt P E (1982) Efficacy of fenbendazole against nematodes of reptiles. Vet Rec 110 (13), 302-304 PubMed.
  • Telford S R (1971) Parasitic diseases of reptiles. J Am Vet Med Assoc 159 (11), 1644-1652 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Šlapeta J, Modrý D & Johnson R (2018) Reptile Parasitology in Health and Disease. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery in Clinical Practice. Eds: Doneley R, Monks D, Johnson R & Carmel B. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 425-439.
  • Innis C (2008) Clinical Parasitology of the Chelonian. In: Proc North American Veterinary Conference. pp 1783-1785.
  • Schneller P & Pantchev N (2008) Parasitology in Snakes, Lizards and Chelonians. Edition Chimaira. Frankfurt Am Main. pp 105-172.
  • Wright K M (1997) Common medical problems of tortoises. In: Proc North American Veterinary Conference. pp 769-77.
  • Frank W (1981) Endoparasites. In: Diseases of the Reptilia, Vol 1. Eds: Cooper J E & Jackson O F. Academic Press, UK.