Surgery in reptiles… (Day 560)

Vet Student Reptile Surgery

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

As much as you can read nothing will prepare for you to actually do stuff until you do it. Today I was given the opportunity to do something that I had thought about and wondered about a lot. We have a very good reptile doctor here who had a tail amputation this morning in a bearded dragon.

Now generally with reptiles (as with many other species) there is the survival instinct to reproduce, and many times males will fight with each other to be the superior male and hence get the chance to mate. The problem is when they are taken from the wild and kept as pets it can mean injuries. There is never really a cause to keep two males together, and generally it is not recommended. Doing so can cause aggression between them and lead to some severe injuries. Whilst its fine to say this, sometimes it is difficult to sex females, especially when young and it is a skill that takes time to learn and is usually specific to the species.

Vet Student Reptile Surgery

Now the gender of today’s patient had been mistaken and it was mistakenly believed that a male and female were kept together within the enclosure. There had been aggression between the two males that were kept together and this guy had received wounds to this tail which then had become necrotic. Whilst some lizards can “drop” their tails the bearded dragon isn’t one of them and so this tail required surgical amputation.

Now tail amputation is a pretty simple procedure, incisions are made to leave a flap to close the end of the tail. When doing this procedure one of the things to look at is to make sure that the tail is separated between the vertebrae so there are no jagged ends. After this the skin and muscle layer is closed over the end of the tail.

The doctor today let me close the skin and muscle layer, this was interesting as it is the first time I have ever done any suturing on a reptile. The skin here is a lot tougher than other species with the scales being extremely strong. Now I closed this wound with 4 stitches that will be left in for around 28 – 30 days to give the skin time to close.

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