Owner’s Guide to Impaction in Bearded Dragons

Impaction in bearded dragons occurs when something blocks their digestive tract.  Although usually caused by a solid mass, the digestive tract can also be obstructed by a semi-solid indigestible mass.  A blockage in the digestive tract is a very serious situation and can be fatal if not treated in time.  So, what exactly causes this condition?

Causes

Impaction usually occurs because your beardie ate something too large for him to digest properly.  Also, certain insects have hard exoskeletons or shells that aren’t very easy to digest.  This is commonly a problem with juvenile dragons.

You should also know that these lizards require proper temperatures in order to digest their food properly.  Therefore, improper temperatures can also cause bearded dragon impaction.  Another very common cause is using problematic substrates in the vivarium.  Some of the most dangerous include calcisand, corncob, walnut shell, and wood shavings.

Signs

Your dragon will display various signs if he becomes impacted.  At first, he will stop using the bathroom regularly.  You may also notice he trembles his legs slightly or walks irregularly.  Another sign to look for is a small bump in the spinal area.  If the condition becomes very serious, your bearded dragon may even develop partial paralysis.

Treatment

It’s important to treat impaction in bearded dragons promptly, especially if paralysis has set in.  Less serious cases can sometimes be resolved by bathing in warm water.  While bathing, you can gently massage his abdomen in an attempt to get the blockage along the digestive tract.  However, it’s always best to seek veterinarian treatment in all cases of impaction.

Prevention

There are a few things you can do to prevent this condition.  First, you should never feed your dragon food that’s too large for him.  Insects shouldn’t be bigger than the space between his eyes.  Also, you should avoid potentially dangerous substrates that can be ingested.  These substrates are particularly dangerous with juveniles as they can easily ingest items accidentally.