Imagine slowly losing a limb that you can no more use. While it might sound a bit harsh, this is something that many bearded dragons go through. In this article, you will learn about the causes, signs, and other useful information related to bearded dragon tail rot.
Many bearded dragon’s owners report about noticing a dark patch of skin on their pet’s tail. This is a scary thing to observe, as that means that your pet might be going through a painful experience.
Being a caring owner, you would always want to take all measures to ensure that your pet remains pain-free. Bearded dragons are highly fragile creatures and they can develop serious health complications if not raised properly. Whether you are planning to purchase a dragon or currently own one, you should know about this health issue. This way you would be able to identify the problem from its initial stage.
Tail rot should never be taken lightly. Many people unknowingly purchase bearded dragons from local pet shops that have an existing tail rot problem. For first-time beardie owners, it can get quite difficult to take care of a beardie that isn’t healthy. This is the reason you should be able to recognize this issue without having any doubt.
What is Bearded Dragon Tail Rot?
Tail necrosis is highly common among various lizard species. When your beardie suffers from this issue the blood pressure to the distal end of their tail would slow down. This loss of blood circulation would gradually cause the live tissues in the tail to wither away. Before you know, your bearded dragon might end up losing its tail forever.
The distal end of the tail starts getting dark patches of skin tissue when your beardie suffers from necrosis. If it is not treated at the right time, then it can even spread to other parts of the body. This means that the infection can affect the internal organs if medical attention is not given within the initial stage.
What Causes Tail Rot In Bearded Dragons?
This infection can occur due to various reasons. Necrosis usually occurs during the skin shedding process. When the dead skin layer doesn’t properly fall off from the tail this restricts the passage of blood flow. This mainly happens because of the greater distance between the heart and the tail. The supply of blood becomes less until it reaches the farthest end of the body.
While you might think that it would only occur due to bacterial infection, it can also because of other triggers. Some of the typical reasons for tail rot disease are discussed below.
Trauma or injury
Bearded dragons usually prefer solitude in their original habitat. They seldom come across another specimen of the same species. They only come in close vicinity with each other during the breeding season. You would only see male and female bearded dragons come face-to-face with each other during the mating rituals. Once the deed has been done, they would part their own ways.
The short-term nature of the union of bearded dragons tells us that they prefer to be left alone. Most captive bearded dragons don’t get to maintain their privacy, as the tanks are filled with many other specimens. When you put a large number of beardies in the same enclosure they are more likely to fight. This exposes them to trauma, as they can easily bite each other’s tail off.
Your beardie’s tail can also get damaged if it falls down from an elevated position. Because of the vulnerable nature of the tail, it is the first thing that becomes affected in such situations. The tail can also get stuck in protruding objects placed in the vivarium. This is the reason you should carefully place new accessories in the tank.
Lack of nourishment
If you don’t provide a nutritious diet to your pet dragon, then it would be at a higher risk. The daily food should consist of all the essential elements like vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Growing bearded dragons are in a greater need for calcium. You can dust the feeder insects with calcium supplements before feeding them to your pet lizard. A healthy diet would ensure proper blood circulation throughout the body.
Tail necrosis is mainly caused due to problematic shedding. When the dead skin layer doesn’t entirely come off this can cause it to affect blood circulation. The placement of the tail makes it more susceptible to this issue during the shedding process.
If the new layer starts growing on the old layer, then this can greatly affect the blood flow. In order to ensure that the shedding process happens properly, you can give your beardie a bath. There are also some special lotions that are designed to promote healthy shedding.
Bearded dragons highly rely on direct exposure from sunlight for the regulation of basic functions like digestion. If they don’t get exposed to UVB rays on a daily basis they cannot absorb nutrients from food. This can cause malnourishment, which in turn creates complications during the shedding process. Make sure that you have set up heat lamps at the right place in the tank. This would allow your beardie to lie down conveniently in the basking spot after each meal.
What Does Tail Rot on a Bearded Dragon Look Like?
There are various symptoms that can indicate the tail rot disease in a bearded dragon. Some of the common symptoms include:
Just like your toe’s color changes when it goes numb your bearded dragon’s tail would become darker. The dying part would start becoming darker day by day. This would indicate the poor blood flow in the affected region of the day. No matter what the original color of your beardie, its tail would become dark in color.
Dry and shriveled
The dryness of the tail should always be taken as a red flag. When a certain part doesn’t stay moisturized, it can indicate that it is numb. Your bearded dragon’s tail would become dehydrated before it dies out.
If you notice any decaying signs in the tail region, then you should immediately take your beardie to a vet. Before the infections start spreading, it would first cause the tail to decay.
How to Prevent Bearded Dragon Tail Rot
You must have heard the saying “prevention is better than cure”. This is highly true when it comes to ensuring proper health and wellbeing of your pet dragon. Rather than those monthly vet visits, you should pay attention to the health of your dragon.
There are some things you can do to prevent the tail rot problem from occurring to your beardie.
Buy a Healthy Bearded Dragon
You should only purchase a dragon that is in tip-top shape and health. This would reduce the chances of further health complications later on in the future. Some local pet stores might sell pets that are already carrying some contagious disease. You should make sure that you don’t end up adopting a sick dragon from your local breeder.
Maintain the tank
When setting up the terrarium, make sure that there are no items that are precariously stacked on each other. Before you introduce your beardie to his cage, you should remove all such items. This would reduce the chances of tail rot, as your beardie would not be at risk of getting physically injured.
Provide nutritious food
It is highly important to pick foods that are packed with all the essential nutrients for your pet lizard. This is highly important for baby dragons, as they are in their growing phase of life. You need to make sure that they are getting their daily calcium and mineral intake. This would reduce the chances of improper shedding.
Keep them in separate tanks
Many first-time beardie owners make the mistake of raising several bearded dragons in the same enclosure. This not only affects their growth potential but it can increase the chances of rivalries.
Bearded dragons live alone in their natural habitat and they don’t come in close contact with each other. Even if you have babies, you should provide a separate terrarium for each dragon. The larger males might bully weaker dragons, which can affect their health.
How to Tell if My Bearded Dragon Has Tail Rot
There are various signs that would indicate that your beardie might suffer from a rotten tail. If you notice any of these signs, then you should give your beardie immediate medical attention. This would ensure that the infection doesn’t spread to other parts and organs of the body.
Some of the signs are mentioned below:
Beard getting dark
If your pet’s beard starts getting black in color, then it might indicate that it is in great stress. The coloration of the beard of a bearded dragon can tell a lot about their overall health. If it gets discolored frequently, then this can indicate an underlying health issue.
If you notice that your friendly pet has been lately behaving oddly, then it might reveal about a health issue. You might notice that it hides away whenever you approach the tank. He or she might try to bite you when you try handling them. All these are signs that it might be at risk of getting an infection in the tail.
Lack of appetite
This is very typical for almost all the animals to abstain from eating any food whenever they become sick. If you notice that your beardie doesn’t seem inclined to feed properly, then it might be a red flag.
How to Treat Bearded Dragon Tail Rot
Most herp experts recommend taking your pet reptile to the vet whenever they suffer from a disease. This ensures that they get treatment without any risk of making the situation worse. Because of your lack of experience, you might end up doing something that might exacerbate the issue. Your veterinarian might run some tests to see how far the infection has spread. This would increase the chances of gradual recovery for your beardie.
You can also try out a home remedy to treat the tail rot condition of your pet dragon. Put about 2 tablespoons of betadine in a bowl of lukewarm water. You would then have to place your dragon in the container in a way that its tail is completely dipped. Make sure that the tail stays there for about 5 minutes. After this, you can dry him out with a piece of cloth or towel. You can then pour some non-analgesic Neosporin on the affected part. To get the best results, you would have to perform the same steps for at least twice a week.
Bearded Dragon Tail Rot Surgery
If the infection seems to spread to nearby parts of the body, then your beardie might have to undergo a surgery. By lasering off the infected areas, the other healthy parts of the body would be saved. For surgery, you should have an estimate of about $100 to $300 in mind. If you visit the vet in the earlier stage, then the price of the surgery would be less.