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Impaction in Bearded Dragons
What is Impaction?
Impaction is when a bearded dragon’s digestive tract has become blocked. It is a very real hazard that is brought about when the beardie has either swallowed something that is too large, or something that it cannot digest properly.
The following are potential causes of impaction;
- Feeding your bearded dragon food that is too large – As a general rule, do not feed your beardie food that is larger than the space between their eyes
- Type of substrate – The type of substrate used in a vivarium is always sure to create a debate. Substrate is arguably the most common cause of bearded dragon impaction and is a heavily debated topic among bearded dragon owners.
Bearded dragons will eat anything, and it is not uncommon to hear of beardies swallowing substrate along with their locusts or crickets accidentally
Many producers of substrate claim that their substrate is digestible. My local reptile shop owner swears by calcium sand. However, there have been many reports of beardies eating the sand and it causing impaction
It seems like everyone is an expert in picking the correct substrate for a vivarium and wants to share their opinion. Speak to experts from your local reptile shop, fellow owners on forums or even a vet and form your own opinion.
- Basking area temperature – The temperature of the basking area of the vivarium should be between 100-115 degrees. Beardies require this temperature in order to efficiently digest their food. Inadequate basking temperatures can put your dragon at risk of impaction
- Feeding too many mealworms – Mealworms, crickets and some other insects have hard chitinous shells. It has been known for a bearded dragon to have trouble digesting the shell if not chewed properly first
- Dehydration – Regularly bath or spray your bearded dragon with warm water. Some beardies drink water but it is very rare. By bathing or spraying your dragon they will absorb the water through their pores
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of impaction include;
- Beardie has stopped going to the toilet – Bearded dragons normally poop once a day
- Partial paralysis, normally affecting the hind legs
- Lump on the back near the spine
Impaction can be avoided with good bearded dragon care. However, if it is too late and you fear that your bearded dragon is suffering from impaction, there are some action that you should take;
Take your beardie to the local reptile vet – there are some techniques that can be used to remove the cause of impaction, and in time it is possible for your dragon to pass it naturally.
However the best thing you can do is to get your reptile to the local reptile vet. An experienced veterinarian with knowledge in the treatment of bearded dragons will be able to confirm or appease your worries and provide expert treatment and advice.
- Give your bearded dragon a nice warm bath and gently massage their abdomen working towards the vent. This has been known to help a beardie pass the impaction
- Give your beardie a few drops of vegetable oil using a syringe prior to bathing them. This can assist the movement of the impaction further
- Take your beardie to the local reptile vet – It really is the best thing you can do and deserves a second mention. Your dragon might need to have an enema to clear them out
Other Bearded Dragon Health Issues
- Respiratory Disease
Bearded dragons have specific environmental requirements which if not provided correctly can result in disease.Respiratory disease as its name suggests is when your dragon has difficulty breathing.
- Metabolic Bone Disease in Bearded Dragons
MBD is made up of a group of disorders brought about by nutritional deficiency. The most common type occurs due to an imbalance of calcium in the body.