bearded dragon impaction surgery postmortem
Note how grotesquely swollen this bearded dragon’s intestines are — they are packed with wood chip bedding. Photo credit: Pet Hospital of Penasquitos


  • lack of appetite
  • no poo
  • lethargy
  • partial paralysis in hind legs


  • dehydration
  • low basking temperatures
  • low quality heating
  • poor diet
  • excessive food intake
  • insufficient UVB
  • illness


You can loosen a mild impaction by massaging your dragon’s belly and soaking him or her in lukewarm (not hot!) water. Do this for 30 minutes every day until s/he passes stool.

If this does not help after a week, contact an experienced reptile veterinarian.

Funny story: My bearded dragon, Nabooru, once got mild case of food-related impaction after eating way too many roaches. I was freaking out because it partially paralyzed one of her hind legs, and I was afraid she had broken a bone or was developing MBD. One gigantic poo later, she was back to normal. Sometimes these things just take time and a calm approach.

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding impaction, especially relating to bearded dragons. Read our article, Does Loose Substrate Cause Impaction in Bearded Dragons and Other Reptiles?, for more information.

Other bearded dragon health topics: