Unfortunately, tail rot in bearded dragons is extremely common and most likely something you have not even been made aware of.
While purchasing your bearded dragon, you may have been told to keep an eye out for tail rot with no further explanation as to what it is, what it looks like, or how to prevent or treat it.
So, what is tail rot, and what does it look like?
Tail rot results from trauma to the tail and, ultimately, becomes an infection. The condition is most noticeable by the blackened color of the tail and the overall dehydrated and decaying look.
This article will give you the exact steps to identify the symptoms of tail rot, and how to treat it.
What exactly is tail rot?
Tail rot is a dire situation and can be deadly for your bearded dragon and expensive to treat. Medical intervention will be necessary to one degree or another.
It is highly possible to overlook if you are unsure of what you are looking for or if it is your first time caring for or owning a bearded dragon.
Some owners may not even notice until their bearded dragon’s tail has completely fallen off due to the necrosis of tissues in the damaged tail.
To prevent the further spread of the infection throughout your bearded dragon, you must contact a herp vet as soon as you notice the signs of tail rot.
Once the infection spreads throughout your bearded dragon’s tiny body, organ failure can occur, causing a shutdown of your bearded dragon’s main organs, ultimately resulting in the death of the lizard.
So, what are the signs of tail rot, and what can you do for it?
When it comes to tail rot, there are several common and physical signs you can look for and some behavioral symptoms that may also occur.
It is important to remember that at the first sign of tail rot that you notice, you need to contact your local herp vet for further advice and a possible treatment plan.
Some physical signs of tail rot will include:
Symptom 1: Tail discoloration
Tail discoloration occurs from infection in that region of the tail and necrotic tissue, causing the tail to appear black.
Once you notice any “bruising” or discoloration to your bearded dragon’s tail, you need to contact your local herp vet for advice and treatment.
Symptom 2: Dehydration
Dehydration of the tail will cause it to feel extremely dry and possibly result in some scales to flake off.
Symptom 3: Decay and separation
The necrosis in the tail will eventually progress to a point where the tail will completely separate from the body.
Unfortunately, some owners do not notice that their bearded dragon has tail rot until the tail completely separates and falls off.
Symptom 4: Loss of appetite
Tail rot is a harrowing experience for your bearded dragon. Although physical symptoms may be easier to notice, behavioral symptoms can tell you just as much if you know what to look for.
If your bearded dragon is suffering from tail rot, he or she may begin to refuse meals or eat very little during meal time.
Symptom 5: Aggression
Bearded dragons are highly docile creatures that love hanging out with their owners, so an onset of aggression or irritability can be easy to spot and concerning.
However, it is understandable to have bad moods if you are wearing a painful and rotting tail all day.
Symptom 6: Withdrawal
As noted above, bearded dragons love to hang out with their owners and socialize, so if you notice your bearded dragon spending a lot of time hiding in their enclosure, this could be a signal for you to check the tail.
Symptom 7: Discomfort
While this one is behavioral, it can also be a physical sign. If you notice your bearded dragon showing apparent signs of discomfort or pain whenever its tail bumps or touches something, it could be a sign of trauma or tail rot.
It is crucial that once you notice signs of tail rot on your bearded dragon, you should contact your local herp vet as soon as possible to get a treatment plan for your beloved companion.
Nothing will beat getting advice or treatment from a veterinarian as your bearded dragon may require antibiotics or other medications due to a possible infection.
However, if there is a short wait before you can reach a vet, there are home treatment that you can offer your beardie for contingency.
Betadine and water
If you are set on trying an at-home remedy before you take your bearded dragon to the vet, you could try a Betadine and water soak for your bearded dragon’s tail.
You will start by filling a shallow dish with 3 parts water and 1 part Betadine, stirring the mixture until it resembles a dark tea.
Submerge the affected tail area in the solution and allow it to soak for 5 minutes.
Once you have reached the 5-minute mark, dispose of the solution and gently dry your bearded dragon’s tail by dabbing a soft cloth along their tail.
Be especially cautious as their tail will be extremely fragile due to the tail rot and could potentially break.
Once the tail has completely dried, apply a small amount of Neosporin to the affected area, but be sure to use an ointment without pain relief ingredients such as Lidocaine.
This remedy can be performed 2 to 3 times a day for at least 1 week, preferably 2 weeks.
If you have reached the end of the 2-week mark and see no change in the condition of your bearded dragon’s tail, immediately contact your local herp vet for further treatment and assistance.
Veterinarian treatment for tail rot
Suppose you have tried the at-home remedy and noticed little to no change or feel that the tail rot has progressed to the point that veterinarian assistance is needed.
In that case, it is essential to contact your local herp vet as soon as possible to immediately start treatment for your bearded dragon.
Once you have reached the point of contacting your local herp vet, there is not much that can be done outside of two options:
It is important to note that due to the delicate nature of your bearded dragon’s internal organs, antibiotics can cause damage to its kidneys; so be sure to ask for tests that can pinpoint the infection instead of using generalized antibiotics.
Tip: be sure to keep your bearded dragon very well-hydrated while on antibiotics to assist their kidneys with proper filtration.
Depending on the severity of the tail rot, amputation may be the only choice moving forward.
Your vet will perform an x-ray of the tail to determine the amount of the tail that needs to be removed.
Generally, they will amputate a half inch to a full inch above the rot to guarantee complete removal of the affected tail.
It is essential to contact your local herp vet as soon as you notice signs of tail rot to give your bearded dragon the best chance at keeping his or her tail and life.
Tail rot is a serious ailment that can befall your bearded dragon and should be treated with urgency.
If you notice any signs of this disease, contact your local herp vet for advice and treatment details as soon as possible.
Your bearded dragon depends on you as their owner to take care of its well-being, and tail rot could potentially result in death for your bearded dragon if not treated at the first sign of the disease.