Bearded Dragon Prolapse – Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Bearded Dragons are social, friendly, energetic, and gentle pets. They enjoy human company and are quick learners. Seeing your friendly dragon pet suffering from a pink bulge growing at the rear is very frustrating. This pink bulge is cloacal prolapse. Prolapse in bearded dragons is something that requires your immediate attention and you not be lazy with getting or performing the treatment.

Prolapse in bearded dragons can occur due to many reasons. In this article, we will discuss each reason along with remedies as well as prevention.

In layman’s language, a prolapse is when some organ slips out of the body. When your pet dragon suffers from it, it is called cloacal prolapse. It is a painful sight when digestive and excretory waste tissues are protruding out of the cloacal opening of your bearded dragon.

There are several causes of prolapse in bearded dragons which are as under:

  • Lack of Calcium.
  • Intestinal Parasites.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Laying Eggs.
  • Impaction.

For better understanding, we will discuss each cause, one by one.

One of the main reasons for prolapse in bearded dragons is lack of calcium. Weak bones due to lack of calcium cause their cloaca to prolapse. Since calcium is necessary to make bones strong and also allows muscle contractions to move and retract, so, low calcium in bearded dragons can lead to prolapses of internal organs outside of the body.

Read “How Do I Give My Bearded Dragon Calcium?

Not having enough calcium can be caused by many reasons.

To overcome calcium deficiency, it is important to give proper calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation to bearded dragons, gut load crickets (Read “Bearded Dragon Crickets – Everything you need to know“), provide proper living temperature in a tank, dust the crickets with a multivitamin supplement that contains calcium in 1:3 or 2:3 ratio, and provide appropriate UVB lighting and basking point for your pet bearded dragon.

The second most common reason for bearded dragons to strain and prolapse their cloaca prolapse is your pet dragon is suffering from an abundance of parasites. You need to take your bearded dragon to an exotics vet, who will test their poop or fecal sample. If the test results are positive, the vet will recommend a treatment for your bearded dragon to lessen or clear the parasite infection and help you stop the prolapse of your bearded dragon.

Another reason for prolapse is your bearded dragon is suffering from diarrhea. It can happen due to over-hydration caused by water or food that is watery e.g. cucumber. If the prolapse is due to diarrhea, you have to shift your focus toward a bearded dragon’s diet. You need to provide them with a diet that is less watery, high in fiber, nutrient-rich and has a good concentration of vitamins and calcium, i.e. dark leafy greens, etc. It will help your bearded dragon to overcome diarrhea and consequently, stop prolapse.

If you have a female bearded dragon and she is undergoing the process of laying eggs or she has recently laid eggs, then prolapse can be caused by this. The strain of eggs caused prolapse to pop out from the back of a bearded dragon. Another reason for prolapse is dystocia which is a condition that happens when an improper egg-laying position is followed. This also causes strain and has the same results, i.e. prolapse.

To help your female bearded dragon, you need to provide them with adequate calcium in her diet and proper UVB lighting. To stop it from happening again in the future, you to speak with an exotic vet about a spay procedure.

Impaction is the building-up of material in the digestive system of a bearded dragon and blocks his tract for poop. This is the most common reason for prolapse in bearded dragons in captivity. This can happen due to many reasons:

  • Poor sand substrate is eaten by bearded dragons.
  • Unbalanced diet.
  • Dehydration.
  • Even the hard skeleton of insects e.g. exoskeleton of mealworms.

If your bearded dragon is suffering from prolapse, then you need to replace it. It is recommended to visit the vet and let the experts do their job. But if you think you can do it by yourself, here is the step-by-step procedure to replace the prolapse from the back of your bearded dragon.

  • Carefully remove your bearded dragon from its enclosure.
  • Place them in a lukewarm bath.
  • Clean substrate from them.
  • Clean prolapse site of bearded dragon.
  • Remove sand and other particles from the prolapse site.
  • The prolapse site is weak and prone to infections, so do it carefully and try to remove all particles.

Give your bearded dragon a sugar bath. This will help to absorb all unhealthy material from prolapse.

  • Take a fifth cup of hot water in a large container.
  • Dissolve sugar in high concentrations in hot water.
  • After dissolving the sugar, fill the container with water.
  • The water level should be suitable according to your bearded dragon’s height. He should not be drowning in it, i.e. under his neckline.
  • Place your bearded dragon in a sugar bath for around 20 minutes

After cleaning the prolapse and bearded dragon, the next step is to secure the prolapse with sugar paste. The sugar paste will help to reduce the swelling and moisten the area. Before applying sugar paste, you need to make sure that all the sand, dust, or extra particles are removed from the prolapse and you have shifted your bearded dragon into a clean tank.

  • Take hot water in a container.
  • Add sugar in very high proportions and mix it.
  • Let it cool down.
  • The mixture will become pasty and somewhat hard.
  • Carefully apply it to the prolapse of the bearded dragon.
  • It will moisten the area and stop the prolapse from drying.

You can also use Petroleum Gel or Vaseline for the same procedure but sugar paste has more favorable results.

You need to follow the above procedure before taking your bearded dragon to the vet. Once you think your dragon is ready to replace the prolapse and prolapse is clean and the swelling vanishes, then you need to take your bearded dragon to the vet.

The vet will again give the sugar bath to your bearded dragon, clean the prolapse, and examine the swelling. He will then gently push back the prolapse in bearded dragon skin and stitch the area. You must take your dragon again to the vet to remove the stitches in about 5 days.

Prolapse is a very life-threatening disease for bearded dragons and if it occurs once, there are high chance that it will occur again and again. So, you need to follow certain precautions for your bearded dragon.

If the prolapse in the bearded dragon is due to calcium deficiency, you need to add calcium and vitamin D3 powder to its diet. Calcium and vitamin D3 go side by side as vitamin D3 helps bearded dragon to absorb calcium. Without vitamin D3, calcium has no use in bearded dragons.

Besides prolapse, calcium deficiency can lead to many health complications, i.e. Metabolic Bone disease or MBD, muscle contractions, etc.

Read “Metabolic Bone Disease 101: Keep Your Bearded Dragon Healthy and Strong

To use a calcium powder supplement, it’s best to sprinkle it on the bearded dragon’s food and then feed him.

Read “How Do I Give My Bearded Dragon Calcium?”.

Your bearded dragon needs water to absorb nutrients from their meal. Although they get plenty of water from the food they eat but still they need access to fresh water for their good health. You need to place a shallow bowl of water in their tank all the time.

You can also give them warm baths to ensure that they remain hydrated.

To prevent impaction in bearded dragons, you need to keep them hydrated, use a recommended substrate, and feed them a well-balanced diet.

You can read about substrate in “A Complete Guide to Bearded Dragon Tank Setup“.

You can also read “A Well-Balanced Bearded Dragon Diet Plan for Health and Vitality“.

You can help your bearded dragon by stopping the infection and swelling due to prolapse. In that way, you can reduce their pain. Follow the above-mentioned steps to clean the bearded dragon and prolapse from particles of dust as well as substrate and give him a sugar bath followed by applying sugar paste to prolapse. The last step is replacing the prolapse, it can be done by a professional vet or by you. But you need to be very careful.

No, prolapse is not common in bearded dragons. It can happen to any bearded dragon, both male and female.

Yes. A bearded dragon can survive as well as fully recover from the prolapse. You need to treat the prolapse in time, if you delay the treatment, it can become very dangerous and your bearded dragon can die due to bearded dragon prolapse.

No, the survival rate of bearded dragons is very high. Very few deaths of bearded dragons occurred due to prolapse. All you need to do is to start the treatment in time. You can follow the above-mentioned to reduce the pain and swelling in bearded dragon prolapse.

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