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Bearded Dragon Anatomy

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Pogona vitticeps

Dissection and photos by Kristin King

July 11, 2005

This dissection is of a juvenile dragon that died due to impaction in late 2003. The owner brought this dragon to me long after the damage was done.  Sluggishness and problems with the cloaca were noticed by the owner approximately one month prior to asking for help. When the dragon was brought to me I inspected it and noticed the cloaca was clearly infected showing discoloration and swelling.  Even after warm baths to try to loosen any blockage, there was nothing more that could be done for the dragon at this location. The dragon passed away within 12 hours of being brought to me.  I preserved the dragon until I was able to do an autopsy.   Upon further investigation I found the intestine was filled with crushed walnut substrate, which was the cause of death.  One worm was found in the abdominal cavity.    My recommendation is to house baby and juvenile dragons on paper toweling until they are large enough to adapt to other substrates to prevent unnecessary fatalities.

The photos below are of the dissection of the preserved dragon.  These photos are posted online for scientific and educational purposes.

Juvenile specimen

Death:2003

Dorsal view

Juvenile specimen

Side view

Lab table

Ventral view

         

Ventral view

Ventral view

Ventral view

part of skin pinned back exposing the intestine

Ventral view

Opening the ventral cavity

Ventral view

Notice there is no rib cage but rather a cartilaginous rib plate protecting the vital organs in the thoracic region.

         

Chest cavity

Ventral view

Internal organs exposed

Ventral view

 

Ventral view

Lungs lifted by probe

Ventral view

         

Thoracic cavity

Rib plate held back exposing the liver and heart superior to the other visceral organs, with heart inferior to liver.

 

Esophagus

Heart removed

 

 

         

Lungs

 

Lungs and heart

Lungs

under the stereoscope

Lungs

under the stereoscope

 

 

         

Heart

under the stereoscope

Heart with liver attached

 

Heart with liver attached

 

Ventral view

Ventral view

         

Ventral view

Stomach exposed

Stomach exposed with intestine stretched out

Ventral View

Infected cloaca

Ventral View

Infected cloaca

         

Parasite

Worm found in abdominal cavity

Image seen under stereoscope

Parasite

Viewed in petri dish

Genus and species not determined

Parasite

Worm seen on dark surface actual size

Intestine

Crushed walnut particles fill organ

Intestine

Notice the crushed walnut substrate totally blocking passage to the cloaca

 

         

Intestines

Crushed walnut substrate removed from the intestines

         
         

Ventral view of head

Ventral view of head

Top teeth exposed in roof of mouth

Mouth

Notice hole inferior to the tongue, this is the esophagus

Roof of mouth

Nares in roof of mouth, teeth also visible

         

Side view of head

Teeth are surrated like a steak knife; also visible: tympanium

Top teeth exposed