Injured Tail Advice

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Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:16 am

So, like many of us, I'm isolated at home. My beardie usually lives in his 105 gallon tank at my office, but as I'm cooped up in my apartment, he's cooped up in his 40 gallon "weekend cottage" on my desk. This isn't a big deal in itself, since he gets plenty of time out and about, except for the fact that the tank has one of those piano-hinged mesh lids. A couple of days ago I was taking him out to feed him when, unexpectedly, the lid came slamming down and sliced about halfway through the end of his tail, maybe 2-3cm from the very tip.

Putting aside how sickened I was with myself that I could let this happen to my beloved pet, I determined that the tail tip was still somewhat connected and immediately washed the injury with antibacterial soap, daubed it with triple antibiotic ointment, and attempted to bandage/splint the tail with gauze and medical tape in the hope that with enough time the torn flesh will knit itself back together.

At first he seemed completely unfazed about what had happened. He promptly gobbled down his lunch and spent time out of the tank exploring and playing. The next day I removed the first bandage and repeated the wash/ointment/bandage cycle. Again, he seemed fine as he chased his feeders around on the floor and spent some time glass surfing on the sliding door to my balcony.

Immediately after I placed him back in his viv, however, he vanished into his hide, stuffed up the entrance with paper towels, and hasn't come back out. Now, he does this very often when he doesn't get his way (ie, put back in the tank when he wasn't done exploring the living room or basking on the windowsill or whatever), so in any other circumstances I wouldn't be worried. But I noticed he pulled off his bandage and kicked it out through the hide entrance, and so for the last two days I've done my best to just get in there and apply ointment to the tail break by feel.

I know that the odds favor him losing the severed portion of the tail, and for my own part I'm prepared to accept that. I am vigilant for signs of infection but I'm not overly worried about it in this case, given the attention I'm paying to keeping the wound clean. I'm just curious to know if anyone else has even seen something similar and managed to get their dragon through it with all parts intact. I'll follow up with another post shortly including some photos.
Last edited by SirBeardie on Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:31 am

Photos:

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Two views of the wound after a day under wraps, just before applying a new bandage.

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View of the wound now, taken as closely as I could manage with my little guy still sequestering himself below his rock. The dark patch around the wound, near as I can tell, is a scab that's holding everything together. After three days, the tail tip still appears a healthy color, and there are no signs of necrosis on either side, which makes me think that blood is still perfusing the tissue beyond the break. But without a bandage to help maintain shape, I imagine the tail will heal with a kink, if it does at all.
(Green reflections in the image are smears of antibiotic ointment on the glass)

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Bonus photo of him enjoying himself, bandage and all, just moments before I put him back in his viv and he decided to hide from me. Indication that he was otherwise completely healthy and capable of enjoying his out-of-tank time. I'm still 99% certain he's unaffected by the tail and is hiding to spite me for taking him away from his window.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby CooperDragon » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:03 pm

It sounds like you were on top of keeping it clean and disinfected which should be a great help. Keep that up. I've found it difficult to keep bandages on them as well so that may be a futile chore but keep trying. Hopefully the area will heal over and the damaged tip will eventually fall free without further issue. Once it is healed over the infection risk decreases and it shouldn't cause a long term problem. Just keep an eye out for signs of infection above the cut area.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:50 pm

Appreciate the comments, thank you. I've seen so many dragons with truncated tails that I assume they must be rather resilient to this form of injury. When the lid came down on the tail, he didn't even flinch, or seem to notice. He showed no interest at all in what was going on while I cleaned it and wrapped it, and every time I've handled it since he's seemed either oblivious or mildly curious, at most.

That said, should I stop holding out any hope that the tip will reattach? For, as little as my beardie seems to care about it, I'm distraught about what happened. I know accidents happen and that I've definitely learned my lesson. But after the adrenaline rush while first tending to his injury subsided, my first introspective moment about it had me feeling physically ill, literally. I had a bout of dry heaves thinking that I'd managed to inflict this sort of thing upon an innocent, trusting little creature who depends on my care. He's my little buddy, the one other being on this earth who's spent the last six years in the same room as me for nearly every waking moment. I think I'm desperately hoping to save the tail tip as a salve for my own sense of guilt at what I've caused.

Also, having three days' worth of practice, I'm getting more adept at bandaging the tail. I've found that if you really stretch the gauze to maybe 3-4 times its length when not under tension, then wrap it, the fibers catch and hold fairly well where they overlap. A few pieces of medical tape on the ends to cinch the whole thing together and I think I've finally come up with a wrap that he can't peel off, which nevertheless remains breathable and supportive.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby AHBD » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:32 pm

Hi there, sorry you + your beardie had this accident ! You're doing a good job with it but I'd like to suggest using raw honey if you have some. It is a natural antimicrobial and promotes tissue granulation. Just a little dab instead of the neosporin or you can use both at the same time. And yes it's true, beardies do not feel much pain at all in their tail.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:51 pm

AHBD wrote:Hi there, sorry you + your beardie had this accident ! You're doing a good job with it but I'd like to suggest using raw honey if you have some. It is a natural antimicrobial and promotes tissue granulation. Just a little dab instead of the neosporin or you can use both at the same time. And yes it's true, beardies do not feel much pain at all in their tail.


Thank you for the advice. I have heard of Manuka honey used medically for wound care, so I would like to give it a try. That said, I don't have any personal experience with the stuff nor know of any reputable brands. The last thing I want to do is put something on his tail that exacerbates the injury in any way, obviously, so I'm apprehensive about just picking something at random off a shelf or from Amazon. Do you have a recommendation for a specific product that I could follow?
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby AHBD » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:00 pm

Any raw honey is good, even from a local beekeeper or health store. One of the mods. here [ Tracie, username Drache613 ] sells Manuka on her site, www.bug-de-lite.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:20 pm

Understood. I'll don my PPE and venture out to a shop tomorrow to find some, unless Tracie can offer FedEx or UPS next-day shipping. I'd be glad to support a member of this community, but I'd rather not wait several days or a week for delivery if this stuff can boost my little guy's chances of healing up properly.
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Re: Injured Tail Advice

Postby SirBeardie » Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:15 pm

So, we're over a week into this and I figured I'd post periodic updates until something of note happens. I've gotten something called MediHoney and whenever I clean and bandage the tail, I apply a smear of that mixed with the Neosporin all the way around the tail. I managed to gently straighten out the tail before the wound itself became encompassed entirely by a scab, so if it does heal it'll presumably not be kinked.

There are no visible signs of necrosis or infection at all, and the tail tip has continued to retain its normal color, so I'm still holding out hope that the uninjured tissue around the wound is permitting sufficient blood flow to keep the severed end oxygenated.

I have this intuitive sense that, now that my dragon's natural healing processes seem to have kicked in, the less I mess with the wound, the better the end result will be, so I'm limiting my bandage changes to once every three days now. I'm confident enough in the overall cleanliness of his environment that this is a satisfactory interval with regard to possible infection risks, especially since I've leveled up my bandaging skills to expert.

As for him, he seems entirely unchanged. Still eating, basking, pooping, demanding frequent playtime - everything a healthy adult dragon should be doing. So, all things considered, we're in a good place.
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