Impaction in Bearded Dragons

Written by Alex Sleeis and Denise Bushnell on July 7, 2006
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What can I do about it?

Well, I am not a medical expert on this topic, so I am hesitant to offer any extreme guidance on how to properly deal with impaction. What I would suggest is that with the earlier stages of a mild impaction, you may be able to offer your bearded dragon some relief by giving him a warm bath and gently massaging his abdomen. Massaging gently down towards the vent may assist your bearded dragon in moving an impaction down through his digestive tract, so that he can pass it. Another thing that may help is to dose your bearded dragon with a few drops of vegetable oil, prior to bathing him, to help move things along more easily.

I would also strongly recommend that you get your pet an appointment, as soon as possible, with a knowledgeable vet who is experienced in the treatment of bearded dragons. If you cannot locate an experienced reptile vet in your area, you may be able to get some assistance by logging onto, which is a site that lists veterinarians experienced in treating reptiles, by state.

Another good source of information is an article entitled "Impaction in Bearded Dragons" which is available at, written by Cheri Smith. She goes into much more detail about what you can do yourself to help treat the issue.

So what happens when your bearded dragon is impacted?

ImageImpaction has been explained many times. I frequently see it discussed in numerous forums on this site. In fact, we recently (at the time of this writing) had one discussion in particular, in which the poster provided the X-ray image of their pet's impaction. It was a severe case. The bearded dragon was kept on play sand covered with a layer of Calci-sand. The beardie managed to eat the sand (a lot of it). This X-ray image was probably the most astounding illustration that I've ever seen to make people truly aware that this is a very real and dangerous issue, and not just an exaggeration.

Yes, all those bright areas in the belly are sand! As one of our forum members commented, this beardie was more like a "Rock with a tail" than a normal, healthy beardie. In this particular case, this picture really is worth a thousand words, and illustrates the seriousness of the problem much more effectively than words ever could.

But there's good news

ImageAnd just to illustrate that, in some cases, with proper medical care, impaction does not have to be a death sentence, the following photo is the same bearded dragon, feeling much better now, and well on his way to a complete recovery.

The owner of this bearded dragon said of the medical treatment, "They gave him an enema, some laxitives, and a shot of calcium, and he passed it that next morning, and he is doing awesome now."

It is nice to hear that this particular episode had a happy ending! Special thanks go to "Hoth" for authorizing us to use these images of their little beardie, "Draco".