Impaction is a condition where a bearded dragon’s digestive tract is blocked by a solid or semi-solid object.
In moderate impaction, you will see other symptoms before you realize they are not defecating. Some are slight leg trembles, regurgitation, dragging one of both the back legs, not walking properly and you may also see a slight bump along the spinal area.
The paralysis you are seeing is because the stomach empties out into the intestines lying right along the mid/upper spine. It puts pressure on the spine, as they do not have disc between the vertebras that protect the spine like other animals.
In the case of a major impaction, the dragon will not be very mobile, one or both back legs may appear paralysed. If the impaction is higher in the digestive track, the front legs may also be paralysed. A lower impaction that is only affecting the back legs can continue to grow until the front legs are also affected.
Causes of Impaction.
Impaction can be caused by several things. One possible cause is if a beardie ate food items that are too large to properly move through their digestive tract.
Bearded dragons needs high temperatures to digest their food. The surface temp of the basking spot must be at a temperature between 100 to 115 degrees, in order for them to digest their food properly. If a bearded dragon is fed food that are difficult to digest and they are not kept at the correct temperature to digest it then it can also cause impaction.
Particulate substrates are one of the major reasons for impaction. Calci-Sand, pellets, pebbles, play sand and every other loose substrate in the cage can cause a risk if ingested regularly.
Many calcium-based substrates claim that their substrate is digestible and they also claim that it is beneficial for your dragon’s health if they do ingest it, because it is a source of calcium for them. These products are not digestible as they claim.
People will argue that Dragons live on sand in the dessert so why not keep them this way. The problem with this is that your dragon is NOT in the desert but in your home, locked up in a cage. There is absolutely nothing natural about that! Secondly they are found in a variety of habitats, ranging from wet forests to deserts, these lizards are most commonly seen in open woodlands and similar habitats.
If there is 1% chance of impaction then it is 1% too much. Your dragon’s life is in your hands, not by choice, but forced and it is your responsibility to protect him from ALL harm.
This dissection is of a juvenile dragon that died due to impaction in late 2003. An owner brought the dragon in long after the damage was done. Problems with the cloaca were noticed by the owner approximately one month prior to getting help. Even after warm baths to loosen the blockage, there was really nothing that could be done. The dragon passed away within 12 hours of being brought in.
1% Chance of Impaction is 100% too much!