Pet Bearded dragons commonly experience some sort of tail injury. Because of the fragile nature of the tail, tail injuries are mostly due to biting, fractures from falling, and tail tip necrosis.
Tail injuries due to biting
Tail injuries due to tail biting are usually due to inquisitive and/or greedy Bearded dragons biting each other. Aggressive males during the breeding season can also bite females on their tails. Also, see mating behaviour in Bearded dragons.
A high incidence of bite injuries occurs when too many Bearded dragons are housed together, or when smaller groups are not fed adequately. ‘Bullying’ is also seen between different sized Bearded dragons, where the tail and other bite-related injuries are common. Also, see biting behaviour in Bearded dragons.
Tail injuries due to fractures
Because of the long and fragile nature of a Bearded dragon’s tail, the individual bones in the tail (called caudal vertebrae) are at risk of breaking apart when too much pressure is applied. Fall injuries can also lead to other bone fractures. Fractures in the tail often lead to blood loss to further parts of the tail which will lead to ischemia. Also, see falling injuries in Bearded dragons for more information.
Tail tip necrosis
Tail tip necrosis is a common consequence of any injury to the tail that prevents blood flow. Apart from biting injuries and injuries due to fractures mentioned earlier, it can also be spontaneous and due to constriction from residual old skin.
Spontaneous tail tip necrosis happens due to the fact that the tip of the tail has less blood supply than the rest of the body. This is because of the distance of the tail from the heart.
When a piece of old skin is not sloughed properly and remains on the tail, it can constrict the blood flow to the tail even more. It is usually seen in growing and adult Bearded dragons.
Common consequences of tail injuries in Bearded dragons
Tail injuries in Bearded dragons are rarely serious. Except for the small chance that there is active bleeding, tail injuries in Bearded dragons can most often be treated with daily soaks and an antiseptic ointment to prevent the spread of possible infection. The injured part of the tail will very likely fall off with time with little or no ill effects to the Bearded dragon.
In the rare instance where bleeding occurs, physical hemostasis can be obtained by holding the bleeding site closed with a clean piece of toilet paper or cotton wool for five to ten minutes. It will rarely start to bleed again.
Tail injuries in pet shops & breeding facilities
These injuries are often a sign of overcrowding or malnourishment. Refrain from buying from these sellers until they rectify the problem.