I got to do a really fun surgery the other day on a Bearded Dragon. The Beardie in question was Kahleesi, a single orange female who decided to form lots and lots of large follicles on her ovaries but not turn them into eggs. This condition, called follicular stasis, is not a good idea. Eventually the follicles start to break down and the critter develops a whopping peritonitis. It’s a medical problem that doesn’t seem to happen to Bearded Dragons in the wild, just to those Beardies inhabiting our living rooms. Clearly, there is something about keeping them healthy in captivity that we haven’t quite figured out yet.
Anyway, Kahleesi’s owner brought her in to see me because she was suddenly getting huge around the middle. Which was true – her belly looked very, very full. It felt very full too. On x-ray we could see that she had lots of rounded masses in her abdomen.
I was concerned that Kahleesi wasn’t going to turn these large follicles into eggs and lay them, but we gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited a few weeks. Unfortunately despite lots of calcium and good care she refused to cooperate, and we had a surgical case on our hands.
After an altercation where she didn’t want to be anesthetized and I had to find a Band Aid, we got our Beardie asleep and ready for surgery. As soon as I looked inside her belly I could see what the problem was. Actually it was two big problems, in the form of two huge ovaries so full of follicles that they looked like large bunches of orange grapes. She lost quite a bit of weight with their removal, a full fifth of her body weight!
Our much slimmer and happier Bearded Dragon went home that afternoon a bit sleepy but feeling much better. The next day she gobbled down 35 crickets and hasn’t looked back since. She is back to her happy self, with the added bonus of no more girl troubles in her future.
Hilary Stern DVM 2014