Home | Reptile and Amphibian Health | Amphibian and Reptile Emergencies – Prolapsed Cloaca

Amphibian and Reptile Emergencies – Prolapsed Cloaca

A prolapse of the cloaca (the organ into which the digestive and excretory systems empty, and which houses the penis) is a situation that most herp keepers face at one point or another.  I have observed it most commonly in frogs, less so in salamanders and reptiles.  In a prolapse, the cloaca protrudes through the anus, and is dragged about behind the animal.  If untreated, the tissue dries out and becomes necrotic (basically, the tissue dies).  A veterinarian may be able to remove the organ, but often the animal cannot be saved at this point.

A cloacal prolapse should be treated immediately upon discovery.   A long-established and often effective measure that you can take is to place the afflicted animal in a shallow bath of sugar water.  The amount of sugar is not very important – go with 1 tablespoon per 3 ounces of water if you prefer to measure.  The sugar will draw fluids from the cloaca, allowing the animal to withdraw the organ.  You can assist with a Vaseline-coated cotton swab.

If this does not help within 20 minutes, your pet should be taken to a veterinarian (a follow-up visit is a good idea even if you are successful).  It is important that you then look at the conditions that may have led to the prolapse – dehydration, constipation, straining to expel eggs and trauma caused by scent marking (rubbing the cloaca along the substrate) – are most common.  Of course, environmental conditions must be evaluated with each species’ biology in mind – conditions that are suitable for a White’s Treefrog may cause dehydration in a Budgett’s Frog, for example.


You can read an excellent article on other amphibian emergencies at the web site of the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital:

Until Next Time,



  1. avatar

    Thank you very much for your help but I am from Santiago de Chile and its hard to find a vet who specializes in these creatures . Now my problem is that the axolotl doesn’t move around it just move the mouth a little bit I’m very worry and sad about it. is that normal. Wil it feel better in a week? Or is another illness

    • avatar

      Hi Jason,

      Not really possible to diagnose based on those symptoms, unfortunately. High water temps and ammonia can cause lethargy, so try a partial water change, check filter; but any number of infections or parasites can also be at work. Please send details re temperature, ammonia levels etc if possible. best, Frank

  2. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    I posted back in April, and just wanted to let you know that my red eye tree frog Lola has healed and has had no complications, and no other prolapses! Thank you so much for your help.


    • avatar

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks very much for taking the time to write in with the update; congrats on a fine job! There are often lingering problems, even following surgery, so you obviously have taken great care. Please keep me posted, enjoy, Frank

  3. avatar

    hi.. I have a spotted turle and it has cloacal prolapse coming. It could be male organ but putting jelly has not helped. We are unable to take to the vet. Any suggestions except the sugar remedy..

    • avatar

      Hello Alex,

      If it is the male organ it may be withdrawn, but unfortunately there are no options other than a vet visit for a prolapse or extruded male organ that will not resolve. if untreated, the animal will contract an infection, which will be fatal in time. Pl let me know if you need help in locating a vet. Best regards, frank

  4. avatar

    how much time does turtle take to retract male organ. As precaution we are not keeping the turtle in its tank…

    • avatar

      Hi Alex,

      It should retract within a few minutes…if still extruded, this is a problem that should be checked by a vet, Keep the animal on clean damp paper towels or in shallow water without gravel until it can be checked. Best, Frank

  5. avatar

    Green treefrog has a rectal prolapse. never had this before with any of my little frog children. Seems a small one. What to treat him with. Daily activities seem normal still despite this problem.

    • avatar


      If the treatment described does not work, it would be best to see a vet; do not feed in the meantime. Even if the animal acts normally, the tissue will become necrotic and bacterial/fungal infections will take hold. Please let me know if you need assistance in locating an experienced vet, Best, Frank

  6. avatar

    Dear Frank, my retf developed a prolapse last night. I did a sugar soak yesterday and it retracted a bit and am a honey soak right now. It has retracted slightly, but not all of the way. I can try to use the gentle qtip method. I’d like to have it stitched. Do you know any good vets near Erie, pa?

    Thank you kindly!

  7. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you kindly. The prolapse actually started Saturday night. I found it when I got home late Saturday evening after work. I was quite sleepy last night as I worked 13 hrs sat, stayed up until past midnight to monitor him after the soak, and then worked 13 hrs Sunday. I apologize for any confusion with days. Last evening after work I came home to him hunched over looking as though he was in pain. The prolapse was dripping serosanguinous fluid. He looked very bad. There are no herp vets here. The nearest I heard of was 2 hrs away. I knew I had seen your article prior so I searched for it. The prolapse went it easily though I took my time bc I was afraid it would hurt him. He actually looked better after that. Could stand up straight and his overall color improved. The prolapse was still pink/red and I could see the capillaries. It looked ok. This am I found he had passed. My presumption… Shock? Obstruction or ischemic bowel? Electrolyte overload? What are your thoughts. He was my first rescue 2 1/2 yrs ago. He was very special to us. We will miss him :(. Thank you kindly. I think it was just too late, progressed too long. I wish I had a good herp vet here. I’d have certainly taken him. We love our little Twigs!

    Thank you again!!!!!
    Sincerely, Heather

    • avatar

      Hi Heather,

      Sorry to hear your news but you acted appropriately. Even with specialized care, i.e. vets at the Bronx Zoo, we frequently lost animals after a prolapse. No way to say what may have been the actual cause of death, as so many factors can contribute to a prolapse. Bacterial and other infections often set in very quickly, and can progress rapidly, but the prolapse itself could just have been the end result of other health problems…autopsies often reveal unexpected underlying conditions.

      If the vet lists do not prove useful re planning for future problems, you might try contacting the reptile department of the nearest zoo..may have useful contacts.

      Sorry I could not be of more help, good luck with your work and please keep me posted, Frank

  8. avatar

    Thank you again!
    Twigs was very well loved. He is at peace now. I will be sure to find a vet closer than my vet in Michigan. I appreciate the guidance. I will be treating the rest of my retf’s to be safe. I always appreciate your assistance and teachings and would just like to say we at the forums do also. Thank you kindly!!! We’re lucky to have you!

    Thanks so much!

  9. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I just thought I’d send an update.

    As we still miss our special “Twiggy”, we are happy to say that our other 5 red eyed tree frogs have remained healthy and without any signs of parasitic infection. We did preventatively treat with Panacur for the full recommended dose of a dusting one day a week for for weeks on their feeder insects.

    Thank you, again!


  10. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    I wish I had found your blog a few days ago. I have been babysitting, actually iguana sitting for my granddaughter. Her green iguana is 1-2 years old and has a prolapsed rectum. She noticed it last Friday and today is Tuesday. I picked him up on Sunday to come stay with me. It looked like a pinkish grape coming and I had no idea what it was until I started searching on the Internet. I thought it might heal itself, but when I read that he should be taken to a vet, I took him on Monday. The vet said he had blackened areas on his tail and black spots on his body which meant he had a bacterial infection. She gave him a shot of doxycycline and sent anti-inflammatory meds home with me. She said that surgery would cost $2500 and it wouldn’t be advised as his chances were pretty slim. I took him to another vet today and she was very honest and compassionate (actually both vets were). She said she could try to reinsert the prolapse, but that it had been damaged (he put his toenail through it when I was putting him in his cage). It had shrunken also and looked like a large raisin, but whitish color. She didn’t know whether she would amputate it and then stitch the remaining organ inside to the wall so that he could use it to eliminate waste. She said she wouldn’t know why he had the prolapse unless she did the surgery. It could have been dehydration or another reason to cause it to be pushed out. Although she has never done this particular surgery, she would consult with others who had and because of that, it would be $500. It is still expensive as I am retired, but I left him there and she will be performing the surgery tonight or tomorrow. In the meanwhile, she is giving him fluids by injection and calcium to try to build him up. He was very energetic and moved around in his tank, but he wasn’t eating at all. I gave him the sugar baths and misted him and the cage. I put a cut paper bag on the floor of the cage, rather than the woody litter that my granddaughter had gotten at the pet shop. I think that is what caused the infection in the tail. The woody litter was damp and I removed it as soon as I got him to my house.
    I hope I am doing the right thing by having the surgery. I told the Dr. to not try to resusitate him if his heart stops during the surgery. I really think he probably has an infection or parasite causing the whole problem in the excretory system. I just can’t just sit and watch him die without trying to help him. The Dr. agreed with me. I would like your opinion as you really know this branch of veterinary medicine and I’m just a retired science teacher. I hope he survives the surgery, but I keep thinking maybe I shouldn’t have put him through it and should have just had him put to sleep. What do you think? He’s a very nice iguana and my granddaughter loves him and asked me to please try to help him.

    • avatar

      Hello Peggy,

      I understand your situation and concern. Unfortunately, there’s no right answer as the second vet’s opinion is accurate..no real way to predict the surgery’s outcome. Even under ideal circumstances, this is a difficult problem to address. I have seen some amazing recoveries following injury to the prolapsed area, but the prognosis is not good in most cases. If the animal continues to decline or re-prolapses after the surgery, I would advise euthanizing.

  11. avatar

    hello! I just spent half an hour working with my American Green Tree frog who had a prolapsed cloaca. I didn’t realize that there was a problem until he had been that way for at least a few hours, if not half the day while I was at work. I reinserted it using a qtip and confined him to a small cage with wet paper towels in a heat pad in a dark corner. I’m starting to think that the end of the tissue may have had some darker discolorationa nd I’m very co deemed that it was dead tissue…..if it was is there any way that he ccould survive with the dead tissue reinserted? I cannot afford to take him to a vet but I love my frog! Please help with any advice you have! Thank you in advance.

    • avatar

      Hello Rachel,

      Best to remove the heat pad, immune system does not work well at high temperatures. Unfortunately, if dead tissue was present, or if the cloaca prolapses again, the animal will not survive without veterinary attention. Re-inserting is a good emergency procedure, but vet follow-ups are needed. A local reptile/amphibian club or zoo may have contact with a veterinarian who specializes in amphibians..please let me know if you need help in locating one. Best, Frank

  12. avatar

    I have owned turtles literally all my life and have never had this particular problem. I rescued a baby box turtle who has grown well over the last 3 years, excellent eating habits, and lives in a clean large habitat. However when she has a bowel movement her entire rectum comes completely out and then quickly retreats back. She does have a constant pucker but it’s not horrible. What is this and can it be corrected? Thank you

    • avatar

      Hello Melina,

      It’s not very common or well-studied but could be a weakness in the clock area (musicales associated etc); I wouldn’t try to treat since the turtle is doing well. You might consider cutting back on hard-to-digest items if these are offered. mealworms, adult crickets, waxworms are high in chitin, which main ly passes through the turtle undigested, for example. Please keep me posted, best, frank

  13. avatar

    Hi Frank
    I have just noticed my wtf has a prolapse, im not sure how long its been there but it is fairly large. I have arranged to the visit the vet who specialises in exotics and I have took your advice, bathing him in shallow sugar water. He is 3 years old and generally healthy with good husbandry care. Im not confident enough to try and push it back inside but he keeps straining and trying to push it out. Is there anything I can do to assist him in the mean time? IM very worried about the little guy.
    kind regards, Zoe.

    • avatar

      Hi Zoe,

      Best not to try if you’ll be seeing vet soon…keep on clean, damp paper towels as described, cooler area of home better than warmer for now. I hope all goes well, pl keep me posted, Frank

  14. avatar

    hi I was wonder my partner have a Chinese water dragon and he was sleeping but as he was sleep his eyes were really puffy and red. I’ve checked a bunch of sites and there ssaying it could be from shedding this is the first time we’ve seen this happen. any thoughts???….

    • avatar


      Swollen , red eyes can arise from quite a few unrelated causes…bacterial infection, trauma, dietary problems, eye disease…no way to diagnose other than via a vet visit; please let me know if you need help in locating an experienced vet, best, Frank

  15. avatar

    hey so are water dragon. seems to be doing fine this morning but we are keeping a close eye on him. cause they were pulsing when they were red and swollen but as soon as he opened his eyes after we misted his tank his eyes looked normal.

  16. avatar

    Hi, this article was recommended to me by a FrogForum member. sHEila, my young White’s tree frog (uncertain of exact age, frog croaks and has visible nuptial pads, so estimate 9 months) prolapsed on 11/7/14. I followed treatment advice and used sugar on the tissue and the problem resolved itself within a couple hours or so. I started feeding again within 2 days, starting with one wax worm… this because sHEila and his 3 companions are being treated for coccidiosis by feeding a wax worm with oral suspension Metronidazole injected into it one day a week. The next day I fed him 1 more wax worm, the day after that 2-3 small crickets (much smaller than what they’d been getting– been feeding daily because I was told I probably should while they are being treated). Everything seemed fine, he had a normal poop last week with no sign of a relapse, but on the 18th I heard a squeak from the frog room. When I went to look I saw a perfectly normal looking frog poop, I looked for sHEila under his leaf (artificial) and saw he had prolapsed again. I tried sprinkling sugar on the area but he wouldn’t leave it alone and kept kicking at it, making the swelling worse. Both pairs of my frogs are each still in 5 gallon quarantine tanks since I purchased them and have been treating them for cocci– damp paper towel substrate, minimal decor, temps 75F-80F and humidity appx 50%; lighting is T8 grow lights (I have African violets in the same room) and 60 watt blue and red incandescents for warmth. Last time sHEila prolapsed I moved him immediately to a small critter keeper, but he seemed distressed in there, so this time I opted to leave him with Jelly Bean. The prolapse did not resolve itself by the next morning this time, however, so I moved him to the small keeper– he wasn’t happy! I kept sprinkling sugar, he kept kicking it off, so finally I followed a suggestion to soak him directly in sugar water in the keeper… he climbed out, I nudged him back and didn’t let him get out again, so he puffed up until he floated on the surface and stuck his butt out of the water! So I sprinkled yet more sugar on top of the prolapse and made him stay in the water for appx 20+ min. He started to get agitated so I submerged paper towels in the water, making a big soft sugar water mattress for him to sit on, and I left him that way for the day. When I checked 2-3 hours later the prolapse had completely withdrawn. I switched him to another small keeper with a fresh mattress of wet paper towels, dish of fresh water and 3 fake silk leaves, and left him there until late this morning, when I returned him to his regular 5 gal quarantine tank (I was worried the super humid conditions in the small keeper would cause a respiratory problem). He has been sleeping comfortably on his favorite leaf ever since. He has not been fed since Monday night, prior to the prolapse, and I have no intention of putting him back on crickets for quite some time, as I feel getting those too soon might have exacerbated a return of the prolapse. The strange thing here is that sHEila is the only one of the 4 frogs to have normal poop, the others still having runny feces (not sure how well the treatments are going since it’s hard to get the right amount of med injected into the wax worms), but no one else has prolapsed either. sHEila has been an otherwise healthy, robust and active frog with a voracious appetite and great hunting skills… he jumped at and tried to eat a water droplet when I sprayed his keeper during his confinement, and I think he also jumped at a tiny flying insect that got in there (we’ve been invaded by these things this fall, not sure what they are). He also started croaking after I fed the other frogs and he didn’t get any crickets (calling me out maybe!) He is not a full grown frog, however, so I wondered, being young, and being medicated with Metro once a week (Sundays) how long SHOULD he fast… should I not feed him until Sunday when they get their medicated worm? or should I go ahead and give him a wax worm (they’re pretty small) tonight or tomorrow? I’m looking for night crawlers, which have been highly recommended by other FrogForum members, and give him no more than a one inch piece every other day until…? If I had to take him to a vet it would unfortunately only be able to be the Companion clinic up the street, as the closet herp vets are an hour away either direction and I have a malfunctioning car heater 🙁 that and sHEila freaks out so much being in the small keeper that I worry the stress would do him more harm than anything. So far I have not had to manually assist the retraction either time.

    Any advice on feeding/fasting is much appreciated!


    • avatar

      Hi Lisa,

      Best to feed only when medicating for now…fasts do no harm…frogs seem well able to metabolically adjust to variable amounts of food, and will suffer no harm even with much longer fasts (assuming the animal is not already emaciated, etc). It’s common for prolapses to re-occur once the animal feeds and digests..in most cases, a stitch is necessary…this sometimes works after a week or so, although it can be a very difficult problem. Covering the transport container so that the frog cannot see out is useful when transporting to vet. I hope all goes well, pl keep me posted, best frank

  17. avatar

    Thanks much. I’m wondering something though, how do they urinate when stitched up? And these guys pee a lot!


    • avatar


      Frogs are able to recycle water taken in via the skin, store water (the fluid they release when stressed/handled is mostly stored water, not urine); ant when they are fasting, little ammonia is produced, lessening the need for excretion. Best, Frank

  18. avatar

    Good deal. I’m learning a lot. 🙂



  19. avatar

    Hello, My grass lizard is In a home with 2 tree frogs and an Brown anole. I use cocofibre as the bedding, moist at all times, 75-80 degrees , 65 at night. cleaned at all times. Fed medium crickets, however my grass lizard seems to have a prolapsed Cloaca, im soaking him now in sugar water, but what are the chances its the substrate or the crickets?

    • avatar

      Hello Aaron,

      Cocofiber readily sticks to insects and can cause impactions…this may or may not contribute to a prolapse. Crickets alone are not adequate, even if supplemented..please see this article. When using crickets, select small individuals..to half grown size only. It’s difficult to house grass lizards with frogs, unless you have a very large tank – basking site should be 90-95 F for most species (I do not know which you have), which can make the ambient too high for most frogs. 65 F at night can be tolerated, but 70 is preferable. If the prolapse does not respond, a vet visit will be necessary. Let me know if you need more info, frank

  20. avatar

    Also! I have reptisun 5.0 tropical, a 15 watt incandescent aquarium bulb a 50 watt EXO TERRA Daylight Basking Spot . is this too much UVA? and could this also be the issue?

  21. avatar

    he has passed. thank you so much for the help. I have learned a ton !

  22. avatar

    Hi, my sons bearded dragon just had this yesterday, my 12 year old called me panicked because there was red protrusions with veins coming from the lizard while trying to go potty. I came home and read on the internet some since it was a Friday night, soaked him several times with sugar water. Changed water each time it got too cool, he tried to poop and was successful a couple times a little then a pretty good one while I was holding him and petting him. I emptied his cage and put towels down so he wouldn’t hurt himself and I put lubricant on the protrusion. I caught him trying to bite it so I took him out and soaked him again and then held his tail high and kinda helped it back in. Not forceful and he helped some with his movements. Then he slept on me while I rubbed his head so he stayed relaxed. So far he has gone an entire day without it coming back out and he has been active, I’m scared to death if he tries to go to the bathroom again it will happen, is there more i can do or just wait this out and see if he is healed. He is comforted when I hold him and rub his head and talk to him so that has helped, he ran around the house today which was a good sign. Is this usually something that the vet needs to do more or is it possible he could recover from this without the vet? Is it a watch and wait thing……

    • avatar

      Hello Stephanie,

      There’s a chance it can heal on it’s own….you’ll need to withhold food for a week or so as bowel movements will likely cause a recurrence. However, the best option would be to have the animal seen by a vet…stitches are often needed to secure the area while healing takes place. Do not feed until a vet checks the animal, and do not handle or let it run around the house; otherwise, all that you’ve been doing is ideal. please let me know if you need help in locating a local reptile vet, Best, Frank

  23. avatar


    My Leopard tortoise got a prolapse this past Saturday. My mother used sugar to reduce the swelling. Now it’s half the size that it was. After lubricating the prolapse, she tried to push it back in, but my torotise, Luzbel, was pushing against it. My mom is afraid it’ll burst. She thinks that Luzbel is just extremely backed up and needs to poop. If she pooped, would the prolapse go back in easier? Would giving Luzbel aloe help? I’m not sure how she would poop if there’s something coming out of her.. I’m not sure what to do. I’m 17 and can’t afford taking her to the vet. If there’s anything I can do to help her, I really need to do. I don’t want to give my tortoise up, but if she needs to see the vet, she needs to.

    • avatar

      Hi Ailey,

      Unfortunately there’s no option but a vet visit…if the animal passes waste again, the prolapse will worsen, not get better. Aloe is of no use. Infections usually set in if the cloaca remains out of the body for any length of time, so it’s important to see a vet soon. Please let me know if you need help in locating a vet.

  24. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I have a tiger legged monkey frog who has a small prolapse. I have done the sugar-water treatment and it looks like it’s pretty much all back inside and have set up a small cricket keeper with moist paper towels and a small bowl of water as a temporary hospital for him. Is there anything else I should be doing? I know I am not supposed to feed him for 7-10 days but he is so little I’m afraid he’ll starve! Is it still safe to not feed such a little guy? I know if he poops things will only get worse and so I really do not want that either, of course. Also when I do begin feeding him again is it ok to start on crickets or should I consider another food source?

    Thank you for your help,


    • avatar

      Hi Nicole,

      A weeks fast will do no harm unless the frog is emaciated etc…otherwise don’t worry. Use a small cricket and remove the rear legs (pinch at the “knee”..leg will fall off); vets sometimes tube feed a soft food for the first meal..a bit safer, but not something to try /o experience. Small earthworms are a bit easier to digest, or lab reared houseflies. Watch after first meal..if prolapse returns, a vet visit is needed. I hope all goes well, Frank

  25. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the reply! Just a quick follow up question – how long would you recommend leaving him in the hospital set-up for? It is quite cramped but from what I have read here and elsewhere it seems that it will be easier for him to heal in there.


  26. avatar

    One of My bearded dragon eggs hatched today, there is something burst through its stomach like an organ, looks bloody, not sure what to do

    • avatar

      Hello Emma,

      You are seeing the umbilicus with the remains of the yolk sac attached. This is usually absorbed, are almost fully absorbed , at hatching, but problems such as you describe are common. Keep the lizard warm and on damp paper towels…they sometimes absorb the yolk but unfortunately most do not survive if a great deal is protruding. Best to consult an experienced vet if you do not see improvement in a day or so. best, Frank

  27. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I recently fount this to be the case with one of my young (4 month old) dwarf monitors, varanus acanthurus brachyurus (yellow ackie). She appeared normal otherwise, and has been eating regularly. She’s eating large crickets at this time, which i feed from a plastic container with a hole cut out of the top, which the monitors enter freely when they so choose.

    Earlier, I noticed she was rubbing her cloaca across the top board of her retes stack, and i found faint traces of blood so i inspected closer and noticed that it was indeed prolapsed. I have since removed her and placed her in a container with a shallow sugar water bath.

    In the time it’s taken me to write this, her prolapsed cloaca has since receded and is appearing outwardly normal. Do you believe this to be caused by scent marking, or could the size of the prey be a problem. I order the crickets at 3/8″ by the 1000 count, and the crickets last me a month or so, but by the end of the 30 days or so, the crickets have grown to full size 3/4″ to 1″ – and this is the stage Im at with the crickets being full sized at this time of the issue.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks, Joey S.

    • avatar

      Hello Joey,

      Adult males may scent mark, but the cloaca would not be extruded. Adult crickets contain a good deal of indigestible/hard to digest material, which could add to the problem. Hydration and calcium levels of the monitor also play a role…calcium assists in muscle contraction, and may lessen the need fro straining when passing waste. In any event, I would vary the diet a good deal (I’m not sure if crickets are the sole diet?) as crickets alone, even if supplemented, are not adequate. Can you possibly keep the crickets in a cooler location? They will feed and concentrate nutrients down to 62-65 F or so, but any dip in temperature will reduce growth rate. Best, Frank

  28. avatar

    thanks for the quick reply. at this time, crickets are the staple/sole diet, as i have tried a number of others prey items and none have enticed the monitors to date. I’ve tried wax worms, mealworms and superworms. They don’t even give it a second look when i offer it. Roaches are out of the question in this house. I will give your suggestion a shot, and see if i can find a cooler spot for the crickets, and up the dosage on the calcium/vitamin supplements.

    • avatar

      My pleasure. Wax and meal wormsshould only be offered sparingly in any event…poor CA : phosphorus ratio etc. Perhaps order roaches and freeze, then offer via tongs? Silkworms and hornworms are also available online in many places. Consider also canned grasshoppers, or live locusts (if in UK), hard boiled egg, fuzzy mice, ZooMed Monitor diet; Unlikely that you’ll be able to maintain health long term on supplemented crickets…keep them hungry when offering new foods; will do no harm at all…almost all come around and take most items mentioned when hungry enough, best, frank

  29. avatar

    Hi, I have a North American green tree frog,all the conditions are correct in her tank and I feed her a healthy diverse diet of repti-worm, gut loaded crickets, springtail and wax worm. She forms a prolapse almost every week, I’ve treated it with the sugar water method several times though yesterday I noticed it as worse then ever,I’m wonder if it happening so often is a sign of a larger problem, also I cant afford a vet, and I’m not even sure a vet could help such a small species.

    • avatar

      Hello Jacob,

      When a prolapse continues to occur, expereinced vets generally stitch the cloaca closed for a time, to allow for healing. If a vet visit is not possible, try the treatment that has worked in the past; once the problem is corrected, withhold food for 7 days; I would eliminate waxworms and cut way back on or eliminate repti-worms from the diet. Use only 1/4 inch crickets, springtails; house flies (lab cultures are available) are also fine (adult flies rather than larvae). Small silkworms could also be tried…above are easier to digest, and likely place less strain on the cloaca during elimination. Please let me know if you need more info, best, Frank

  30. avatar

    Hi, a very interesting blog. I wondered if you may be able to assist. I am a vet nurse and have a passion for exotics. My 18 month old chinese water dragon is currently in our vets but we are at a bit of a loss where to go next. He has a varied diet of locusts, crickets, morio worms and pinkies dusted in calcium. in a 6ft x 5ft x 4ft well decorated viv with pool and repti carpet. temp is controlled with thermostat at 82 degrees and humidy between 60 – 70 %. Im pretty happy with the husbandry.

    Over the last 3 weeks he has eaten very little, 1 pinky 6 days ago and nothing since or for 2 weeks prior. he has lost some weight but is as active as ever, still spending time in pool. he is however darker green in colour. he has only passed a few small bits of calcium deposits, not his normal faeces.

    We have taken a radiograph and ultra sound of his abdomen and there is nothing to suggest a foreign body, impaction or intussusception.

    Anything you can suggest? I am hesitant to go ahead with an ex – lap without firm evidence of impaction or foreign body but am concerned obviously in reference to his anorexia and consequently lack of faeces.

    Many thanks

    Sonia Green RVN

    • avatar

      Hi Sonia,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Wondering if temperature may be involved…82 F is fine for cool end of cage, should range to 88 F and with a basking site of 95-100F. I’m assuming it gets ample UVB exposure…They need a good deal of calcium, but minnows are a better source than pinkies..we’ve seen problems (liver, kidney) when pinkies are used frequently for this and similar species. There’s a bit more info on care here; please keep me posted, hope all goes well, Frank

  31. avatar

    Hello frank I am very much concern about a common slider eggs how to properly burry it..please help me

    • avatar

      Hi Sharla,

      Vermiculite is the best substrate to use, but until you buy some you can bury 1/2 way (with half of egg exposed) in damp sand or topsoil. They hatch at a variety of temps, from 80-90 F, an incubator is best to use but a very warm room or a spotlight positioned over container can work. Please see this article for more on setting up eggs (for sliders,no need to weight out materials as described…moisten until vermiculite barely stays together when squeezed in the hand). Watch for more eggs…please see this article on nest sites. Please let me know if you need more info, frank

  32. avatar

    Hello i just saw my snakes cloaca sticking out and i googled it and i came across as it being a prolapsed rectum. We had done the Q-tip as spoken in the comments and we also tried the video i saw and it didnt work like how the guy did it in the video. How long after putting the rectum back in do we wait to put her back in her tank and do we feed her today?

    • avatar

      It may not necessarily be a prolapse…males sometimes expose the hemipenes for a short time; however, to be safe, do not feed for at least 2 weeks; if it occurs again, it would be best to have a vet examine the animal, as a stitch or other procedure may be necessary. Best, frank

  33. avatar

    Hi Frank.
    I have a juvenile ball python that has had chronic prolapsing since I’ve had her. She has been to the vet multiple times but they have not been able to find a cause. Just to be safe they have her both a series of shots in case a vitamin deficiency was the cause and treated her for parasites in case that was the cause. However she still prolapses every time she tries to deficate. She has only eaten one very small mouse in the past 2 months. I’m afraid to feed her more but worry about her nutrition. Any suggestions?

    • avatar


      In the chronic cases I’ve seen (frogs), vet stitched the area (I’m not sure of details) and food was withheld…lack of food not a concern for this species, so this may be an option. You’ll need a vet who is experienced with the procedure, however..let me know if you need help locating someone, best, frank

  34. avatar

    Hi ,

    Sorry to bother but I am adressing a questiom here as I have seen you have more knowledge of it: our iguana had a prolapse ( the vet said it was the bladder that came out ) . We took him to the vet the next day that we noticed the prolapse. He put it back and it didn’t reoccur but the problem is that he is not eating for like 4 days since the surgery . He us peeing ,but nit pooping and he seems like he is struggling to poop or something. When we took him to the vet yesterday to take out his stitches we told him that he doesn’t poop he checked him , his tummy and he didn’t say anything about being constipated and all but I am still worried about him for not eating and strggling and he lost alot of weight. What else can we try? Thank you!

    • avatar


      I’ve not run across a bladder prolapse, but lizards often go off feed for long periods after surgury; with a prolapse, fasting is generally recommended in any event, as passage of feces prior top healing is best avoided. Lizards can adjust their metabolisms to deal with food shortages, so do not worry about that aspect, but keep it hydrated and follow vet’s recommendations re care. Please keep me posted, best, frank

  35. avatar

    My leopard gecko has a prolapse and iv been doing sugar water baths to try and help i dont have a vet close enough to me and i dont have the money for sugery any tips on what i could do? Id even consider adoption at this point just so he could possibly get the help from someone with the money for surgery id hate to see it suffer… And i know i shouldnt have the animal if i cant pay for the surgeries if needed but i resqued it from someone who was just gonna throw it away cause they didnt want it anymore almost 2 years ago so iv made it this far with it if anyone could help id appreciate it

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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