Spay-Water Dragon

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Chinese Water Dragons are fun pets that require very specific environmental conditions. When these conditions are not met problems can occur, in this case the pet was unable to lay its eggs and was feeling ill.

This page shows graphic pictures from an actual surgery.


Husbandry

These animals originate from Southeast Asia so they require high humidity with plenty of water and a temperature range of 82-97 degrees F. They are tree climbers so make sure their cage has plenty of branches.

They need large cages to feel secure. If the cage is too small they will constantly rub their noses to the point that they will rub the bone raw. Male Water Dragons are territorial, so only one male should be in a cage. Two females can be kept with each male.

Insects and other arthropods, along with small mice, fruits, and vegetables are good foods to give them. Always use a multipurpose vitamin powder in their food several times per week.


Reproduction

Approximately twice per year they lay 8-12 eggs. They should be incubated in vermiculite at 78-80 degrees F for approximately 3 months.

This is what we normally want to see, eggs laid on vermiculite.

vermiculite

In the case that follows the Water Dragon was unable to lay its eggs, which caused it to become ill. Surgical intervention was needed to correct the problem.


Surgery

An x-ray reveals the extent of the eggs in our patient. The coelomic cavity (reptile equivalent of the abdomen) is filled with eggs.


Anesthesia is very important, especially in such a small patient. To minimize the risk of anesthesia we insert a flexible breathing tube into the windpipe of our patient. This tube allows us to give oxygen and anesthesia in very refined quantities. It also allows us to inflate the lungs since reptiles commonly do not breathe on their own when anesthetized.

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After the breathing tube has been placed and our patient anesthetized it is prepared for surgery. On the right side of this picture you can see a probe placed on its tail. This probe goes to a Pulse Oximeter, an instrument that measures oxygen saturation in the red blood cells. It is instruments like this, along with our extensive expertise with reptiles, that allows us to safely anesthetize such a small patient.

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Great care must be taken when making an incision into the coelomic cavity. There is a large vein that lies just under the scales, if punctured, can cause extensive bleeding. Such a small animal can not tolerate blood loss that would be acceptable in other animals.

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The coelomic cavity is filled with eggs that literally spill out when we make our incision. Each ovary with its associate eggs is isolated, and the shell gland with eggs is removed.

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A special instrument called a hemoclip is used to clamp the blood vessels that lead to the ovary and shell gland. The hemoclip is used because it minimizes surgical time, so there is less risk of anesthesia. This instrument uses a small metal clip to stop the blood flow. The clip can be vividly seen on an x-ray because it is metallic.

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This surgery prevents this Water Dragon from laying eggs in the future, so it will not encounter this illness again.