It’s scary to see a pink bulge growing from the back of your pet bearded dragon while they’re struggling. Prolapse of the cloaca can occur due to a number of reasons.
This post will cover bearded dragon prolapse, its causes, prevention, and treatment.
What is Prolapse?
In a nutshell, a prolapse is when organs slip out of the body. In bearded dragons, it is called a cloaca prolapse. The cloaca is a site where the digestive and excretory waste is expelled from the body in both reptiles and amphibians.
In humans, we don’t have a cloaca. Instead, we have a urethra for excretory waste and an anus for digestive waste. So humans have the potential for a rectal prolapse instead.
What Causes A Prolapse in Bearded Dragons?
There are several causes of prolapse in bearded dragons.
- Lack of Calcium
- Intestinal Parasites
- Laying Eggs
- High Fiber Diet
The most common cause of prolapse in bearded dragons is probably impaction, which results from material building up in the digestive system. In impaction, the digestive system is being clogged.
Impaction can occur due to sand located in the environment that your bearded dragon may eat or even the exoskeleton of mealworms.
The second most common cause of prolapse in beardies is dehydration. Bearded dragons do not generally get water by drinking out of the water dish. You want to give your bearded dragon a nice lukewarm bath at least once a week and mist the cage daily.
3. Lack of Calcium
One primary reason for prolapse in bearded dragons is the lack of calcium in bones. A poor diet and a lack of UVB light in their natural environment can contribute to a lack of calcium in beardies. Since calcium makes bones strong and helps muscles move and relax, not getting enough calcium can cause internal organs to prolapse out of the body. It’s essential to gut load crickets, dust them with a multivitamin with calcium, and give your pet bearded dragon the proper UVB lighting.
4. Intestinal Parasites
Another common reason your pet bearded dragon strains and prolapses its cloaca is that they have parasites. Your vet should look at a feces sample to ensure they don’t have parasites. If the feces test is positive, deworming may be needed to reduce or eliminate the parasitic infection and help stop more prolapses.
Your bearded dragon can also prolapse from diarrhea from overeating watery food. If the prolapse is due to diarrhea, providing more vitamin and fiber-dense foods, such as dark leafy greens, should help prevent it.
6. Dystocia and Laying Eggs
If your female bearded dragon has just laid eggs or is in the process of laying eggs, she may be straining to pass the eggs and so prolapse. Providing adequate calcium in the diet and UVB lighting in the cage will assist her body in having regular contractions. Consider taking your beardie to your vet to discuss a spay operation to eliminate the potential of recurrence of kof prolapse from egg laying.
7. High Fiber Diet
The third potential cause of bearded dragon prolapse is a high-fiber diet. So if you’re feeding your bearded dragon too much lettuce in relation to protein, such as from mealworms or mice, then this can happen.
What to DO When Your Bearded Dragon has Prolapse?
If you’ve established that your bearded dragon is, unfortunately, going through prolapse, what do you do?
Step 1. Clean the Site of the Prolapse
The very first thing you need to do if your beardie has prolapse is to clean the site of the prolapse. Make sure there is no sand or substrate still stuck there. Because that area will prone to infections.
Step 2. Remove Your beardie From Enclosure
You want to remove your bearded dragon from its enclosure and place them in a lukewarm bath. If your bearded dragon has been living in a sandy environment, you will want to clean that area because the prolapse will be prone to infection.
Step 3. Creating a Sugar Water Bath
Take about a fifth cup of hot water and place it in a large container. You then want to dissolve table sugar in that hot water so that the solution is highly concentrated with sugar – relative to water. Fill the container up with cold water to a height that will not drown your bearded dragon but rests just under his neckline. This way, they can hold their neck above the water, but if they do bring it down, it doesn’t go under. Place your bearded dragon in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes.
Read more about this solution in this video.
Step 4. Create a Sugar Paste
Put the bearded dragon in the newly cleaned cage. Make sure you have removed all the sand and other loose particles that you possibly can. Create the sugar paste by mixing a solution that has a higher proportion of sugar relative to water. The solution should be really pasty. Apply that paste to the prolapse. It will help reduce the swelling and moisten the area because you don’t want that prolapse to get dry.
Alternatively, you can use Vaseline if you don’t want to make a sugar paste.
Step 5. Visit a Vet
Just keep repeating steps one through three until you can go visit the vet. The vet will likely place your bearded dragon in another sugar bath for about 15 minutes to reduce the swelling. The vet will then gently push the prolapse back in and will simply stitch the area. In about five days, you will need to return your beauty to the vet to have those stitches removed.
Preventing Bearded Dragon Prolapse
Keep in mind that once a prolapse has occurred in your beardie there’s a high probability of a reoccurring. It’s like kidney stones; once you get it, it just keeps coming back. Like kidney stones, you need to take certain precautions to lower the probability of it occurring again.
Add A Calcium Powder Supplement To Your Beardie’s Diet
If the reason for your bearded dragon prolapse is a calcium deficiency, adding calcium powder to your beardie’s diet can help prevent it from occurring again.
Besides prolapse, calcium deficiency can lead to many other health concerns in beardies, such as MBD, muscle contractions, and egg development.
To use a calcium powder supplement, it’s best to dust the food with it before feeding it to your bearded dragon.
Keep Your Bearded Dragon Hydrated
Your bearded dragon needs to be hydrated at all times. They fulfill most of their water requirements from the food they eat. However, they must have access to fresh water. A water bowl must be present in their enclosure at all times.
Another way to ensure your beardie stays hydrated is by giving them warm water baths.
To prevent impaction that sometimes leads to prolapse, make sure you use a recommended substrate. Never use any loose substrate. Instead, use something smoother, like a reptile carpet, paper towels, or even a newspaper.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I help my bearded dragon with a prolapse?
Keeping the damaged organ moist is the first and most crucial step in treating a cloacal prolapse in bearded dragons. Remove your beardie from its cage and place them in a lukewarm bath. Apply a sugar paste or vaseline to the prolapse and mist it. A sugar paste and water can all assist to keep the essential tissues healthy while you or a vet replace the prolapse.
Can a bearded dragon survive a prolapse?
Yes, a bearded dragon can fully recover from a prolapse. But if the prolapse is not treated soon, the affected organs will die. Once organ necrosis occurs, it is typically fatal for your bearded dragon. Remember to keep the affected area misted with water or a sugar paste.
Is prolapse common in bearded dragons?
Prolapse is not very common but can happen to any bearded dragon. Both male and female bearded dragons can have a sexual reproductive system prolapse as well as a gastrointestinal tract prolapse.
Prolapse is not a good sight to see. Once you notice that your bearded dragon is straining, take your pet to a vet as soon as possible. If for some reason you cannot take your beardie to a vet immediately, follow the treatment steps above. A sugar and water solution works really well in reducing swelling in beardies. Make sure you give your beardie the best care possible by giving them a balanced diet, keeping them hydrated, and providing proper heating and lighting.