Leopard Gecko Prolapse

By Snaketracks / January 31, 2021

Leopard Gecko Prolapse

Leopard gecko prolapse is a serious thing and generally will require care from a herp vet professional.

If you have a male leopard gecko and suspect they might have a prolapse, read on. In this article, we will discuss prolapse, what it is, how it happens as well as how to identify and treat it.

Let’s get started with some basic anatomy of the male leopard gecko specifically in the parts they have that can get a prolapse.

Quick Reference Section

Anatomy of a Male Leopard Gecko

leopard gecko being held without prolapse
leopard gecko being held without prolapse

Pre-Anal Pores 

These pores are the V-shaped row of pores or dots that can be found under their tail just in front of the vent.

The tiny pores are so that males can secrete a waxy substance which they use to mark their territory, repel other males, and attract females. As they grow, it is normal for them to produce more.

While female leopard geckos will have these pores, they will not be as distinct as they are in males and will not secrete any fluids.

Vent

Also known as the cloaca, this is where fecal matter exits them. In other words, this is where they poop. This is why the pores we just mentioned are called “pre-anal”.

Hemipenal Bulge

At the base of their tail, male leopard geckos will have two small bumps. These are their hemipenal bulges, which are the male sex organs for leopard geckos.

Underneath those bulges is their unexposed, tube-like reproductive organ that will only come out when it is time to mate. Leopard geckos have not one, but two penises called Hemipenes.

These are the organs that can get prolapsed.

Identifying Prolapse In Leopard Geckos

A prolapse is when a male leopard gecko’s organs are failing to retract.

If you see a pink tube coming out of their bulges, that is their hemipenis. If it won’t go back into their bulges, this is a prolapsed hemipenis.

Prolapse can happen to the cloaca of a reptile as well, so this can also apply to female leopard geckos as well as other reptiles. Cloacal prolapses will look like a pink internal organ or fleshy thing hanging outside of your reptile’s opening.

This should be treated as an emergency and must be handled by a professional who can identify what type of prolapse it is in order to correctly carry out the treatment.

If you have identified your leopard gecko’s issue as a prolapse, take action quickly. Since these organs are exposed to air, it is crucial you keep them moist so it does not dry out.

If it dries out, it can be extremely dangerous. Put your leopard gecko in a sugar and lukewarm water bath for swelling and apply a water-soluble lubricant.

Keep the tissue dry but also relaxed with a cold compress or hypertonic saline. If it stays out, it is susceptible to infection and is also painful for your pet, so you must work fast.

Take your leopard gecko to the vet as soon as you identify a prolapse and help them by keeping it from drying out.

The below video gives a full overview about a male who has his hemipenes prolapsed. He gives a great explanation and demonstration of how to handle it.

Possible Causes

Prolapses can be due to many reasons, most of them being lack of humidity, impaction, and mating activity.

Some cases are also from people purposely pushing on the bulges to sex their leopard gecko. Do not ever do this as it can cause this terrible situation for them.

Male leopard gecko hemipenes will become exposed when a female is in sight or if there is another male that it is threatened by. One or both of his hemipenes may come out and can prolapse through these interactions.

There may also be cases where your leopard gecko is trying to remove skin in that area due to improper shedding or lack of humidity, causing the hemipenes to pop out and prolapse.

If your leopard gecko is impacted, this is a possible scenario. Straining an excessive amount can also cause prolapse. Trauma or strain from mating can also cause male leopard geckos to get their hemipenes or hemipenis stuck.

Treatment

The first thing you want to do is get your leopard gecko an appointment with the vet urgently. Take them as soon as you can and again, try to keep their organ from drying out with a sugar bath or moist towel.

In the case of prolapse, the veterinarian will ask for your leopard geckos health history and perform a physical examination. They need to identify the type of tissue that is affected as well as the reason behind it to carry out the appropriate treatment.

If there is swelling, your doctor will put your gecko in a sugar bath to reduce swelling. Your doctor will then try to place the tissue back into its original location and position, lubricating and massaging it with a cotton applicator.

If they find that the hemipenes are necrotic, or the tissues are dead, they may need to amputate them. Don’t fret because these organs are only used to mate and not for urination so they can still live a healthy, happy life without.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication depending on the reason for prolapse and what treatments were given. You may also need to discuss changes in husbandry to prevent future prolapses.

Learn how to administer the medicine correctly and how you can give your leopard gecko a healthy rest of its life by going through all its needs with your doctor.

Prevention

Speak to your veterinarian about how to prevent these issues before they occur. In most cases, prolapses are due to husbandry issues.

Keep your leopard gecko’s temperatures and humidity at the levels they need to live healthily. Feed them a well-rounded diet and keep a shallow dish in their tank for them to moisturize and drink.

Make sure your leopard gecko is getting all its vitamins, is active, alert, and has a good appetite.

If you are trying to breed your leopard geckos, try to pay close attention to mating habits. You want to find and treat prolapse as soon as possible.

If your leopard geckos are cohabiting, which is not recommended, pay close attention to their behavior around other males and females, as this can be the culprit to prolapse.

Keep your leopard gecko from stressing or straining by keeping the humidity adequate during shedding.

Be wise with your choice of substrate! Sand or substrates that are not edible can cause impaction, which can be a reason for prolapse as well.

Conclusion

Keeping your leopard gecko healthy is the root of keeping issues like this from happening. Prolapse is a possible risk of unhealthy leopard geckos.

Prevent these issues from happening by doing your best to keep your leopard gecko strong. It is a stressful and painful experience for your pet, so you need to make sure you take all preventative methods to avoid it.

In general, you should always strive to raise a happy, healthy leopard gecko. That is the only real way to prevent issues such as prolapse from happening.

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