Photo: All of these eggs and ovaries were removed from a single bearded dragon!
Reptiles are not immune to issues associated with their reproductive tracts, in fact they are quite common as we head into springtime.
One of the most common reproductive diseases we see is pre-ovulatory follicular stasis, usually in bearded dragons. This condition occurs when the ovary starts growing follicles in an attempt to lay eggs. Under normal circumstances the follicles develop and then ovulate into the oviduct to be formed into eggs. Unfortunately it is not that uncommon for something to go wrong and the follicles don’t ovulate and instead remain attached to the ovary. These balls of yolk are then very prone to becoming infected, or rupturing into the body cavity. These sets up significant inflammation and can make an animal very unwell. This issue requires surgery to remove the follicles and clean out the coelom. This condition is particularly common in bearded dragons, which is why elective desexing is recommended in non-breeding animals. Surgery is much less risky as a preventative procedure in a healthy animal, than as a treatment in a very sick patient.
Another condition we often see in reptiles of all species (lizards, snakes, turtles) is ‘egg binding’ also called post-ovulatory follicular stasis. This occurs when the follicles develop and ovulate into the oviduct, the shell develops around the egg and then the eggs become stuck and are not laid properly. This can occur for a number of reasons including low calcium levels and infection. Sometimes these patients can be treated with various medications, after determining the cause. However, sometimes these eggs also require surgical removal. What treatments options are available will depend on the cause and how an animal is coping.
Reptiles can also develop a range of other reproductive diseases including bacterial infections and cancer. We suggest reptiles get a general health exam every 6 – 12 months, this will allow us to monitor for any health issues and we can discuss desexing if this is applicable to your pet. Please call us on 3217 3533 if you have any questions or to book an appointment today!