Femoral pores are an interesting part of a beardie’s anatomy and have important functions for wild bearded dragons. A pet beardie who is kept in appropriate conditions is unlikely to suffer from clogged femoral pores.
Causes of clogged femoral pores in bearded dragons include; too small-sized tanks, low humidity or temperature, loose or smooth substrates, lack of abrasive climbing objects, decreased activity, and infrequent bathing. It must be treated by a vet but is preventable with proper husbandry.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about clogged femoral pores such as:
- how to differentiate between healthy and clogged femoral pores
- what causes clogged femoral pores
- what happens if femoral pores are not unclogged
- how to help clogged femoral pores at home
- how veterinarians treat clogged femoral pores
Before we start, let’s briefly remind ourselves what femoral pores are and what they’re used for. This will help explain the above points later.
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Normal Femoral Pores Vs Clogged Femoral Pores In Bearded Dragons
A bearded dragon’s femoral pores are located along its back legs, close to its vent (the place where feces and urates leave your beardie.
Male bearded dragons usually have larger femoral pores than females (this is even one way to sex a beardie).
Femoral pores are used by wild beardies to mark their territory and to attract a mate during mating season.
When a beardie walks through their environment, oil-containing pheromones are released from their femoral pores and spread over branches, rocks, and plants.
These pheromones are then sensed by other bearded dragons in the area and interpreted accordingly.
Checking your beardie’s femoral pores should be a normal part of their care and is the best way to spot a potential problem.
So now we know what a beardie uses their femoral pores for, let’s see how to differentiate normal vs clogged femoral pores.
After reading this section, you’ll be able to tell if your beardie’s femoral pores are blocked.
|Normal Femoral Pores||Clogged Femoral Pores|
|Dot or circular appearance||Visible hardened material and ‘full’ appearance|
|Usually smaller in females||fresh blockage – yellow or clear material inside|
|Filled with a waxy substance||older blockage – harder and darker yellow, orange, brown substance filling and or overflowing out of the pore|
|Physiologically emptied during movements such as walking or climbing||Possible inflammation and signs of irritation such as red or swollen pores and changes in a beardie’s behavior (we’ll talk about those later|
If you want to see what clogged femoral pores look like in a live beardie, watch the video below.
What Causes Clogged Femoral Pores In a Bearded Dragon?
Since femoral pores are normally emptied whilst a beardie climbs or walks (especially over rough areas), any cause of decreased movement or activity can lead to them becoming blocked.
However, there are also some other factors that can contribute to this happening.
In this section, we’ll briefly explain some causes of clogged femoral pores in bearded dragons. Don’t forget, it can be a combination of a few of these factors which can lead to clogged femoral pores.
Since beardies empty their femoral pores as they move, it’s pretty logical that if they don’t have enough space, their activity level becomes reduced and their pores can be blocked.
With time, secretions that don’t have the possibility to empty, become hard and cause clogged femoral pores.
It’s recommended to let your beardie soak in warm water a few times a week. There are many important reasons for this, such as:
- to help loosen and empty the content of femoral pores.
- to help keep them hydrated (they enjoy drinking in the bath)
- to help with shedding
- to reduce the risk of constipation.
Aside from the above benefits, bearded dragons usually enjoy bath time! Not giving a beardie the opportunity to have a soak often enough, can lead to conditions such as clogged femoral pores and dehydration.
We’ll discuss how to create the perfect bathtime experience for your beardie in a later section.
Tank Humidity And Temperature
Too low humidity or temperature in a beardie’s
This is partly because these conditions can cause the material inside the pores to harden and become difficult to remove but also because in these conditions a beardie will often be less active.
Since beardies empty their femoral pores whilst they move,
We’ll go over the appropriate environmental parameters for a bearded dragon
Loose Or Smooth Substrate
A substrate that is loose (such as sand) or smooth (such as newspaper or tiles) can contribute to blocked femoral pores. This is because it doesn’t give abrasive action as your beardie walks over it.
However, if your beardie is housed with loose or smooth substrate but also has plenty of logs, branches, or rocks to climb on, this should be less of a problem.
Remember, loose substrates such as sand and bark, are not only unfulfilling in terms of helping to clear your beardie’s femoral pores, but they can also cause impaction if your beardie ingests them.
Decreased Activity Level
Since activities such as climbing and walking help to empty a beardie’s femoral pores, anything that decreases their activity could contribute to their femoral pores becoming blocked.
Examples of factors that can lead to a beardie becoming less active than normal include:
tankparameters (for example too cold tank, incorrect humidity level inadequate lighting)
- Inadequate diet
- Broken bones or paralysis
- Diseases such as mouth rot, pneumonia, metabolic bone disease, and impaction.
You might be thinking, but what about brumation? Are bearded dragons more likely to get clogged femoral pores during brumation?
Interestingly, as part of their preparation for brumation, bearded dragons decrease the amount of substance secreted from their femoral pores.
This is because, during brumation, bearded dragons won’t defend their territory or try to find a mate.
If your beardie’s femoral pores are healthy as they go into brumation, then they’re unlikely to become blocked.
However, if they’re already on the full side when your beardie starts brumating there is an increased risk that they could become blocked or even infected.
Lack Of Rough Or Climbing Objects In A Bearded Dragon’s
It’s well known that bearded dragons love to climb, whether that be in the wild or in their
As we mentioned earlier, beardies empty their femoral pores by rubbing them on rough objects as they walk or climb.
If your beardie doesn’t have rocks, logs, or branches to climb on in their
Always be sure to provide plenty of branches, logs, and rocks for your beardie in their
Vitamin A is important for maintaining the skin of many different species, and beardies are no exception! Since vitamin A affects femoral pore secretions, a lack of it can contribute to clogged femoral pores.
Signs of vitamin A deficiency in reptiles include (source):
- Dull skin
- Decreased appetite
- Excess tear production
- Difficulty shedding.
It’s recommended to give your beardie a varied diet to ensure they get enough vitamin A. If you think your bearded dragon might have a vitamin A deficiency, talk to your reptile veterinarian.
How To Help Maintain Bearded Dragon Femoral Pores
In general, it’s best to leave a bearded dragon’s femoral pores alone. Poking, scraping or even squeezing the femoral pores is likely to be very painful for your beardie and probably will do more harm than good.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has a problem with their femoral pores, then it’s best to take them to a reptile veterinarian.
In this section, we’ll go over the parts of daily beardie care which help them to maintain healthy femoral pores, prevention is better than cure!
If your beardie’s
We’ve listed some points to help with this below and put the ones especially important regarding femoral pores in italic:
- Logs, branches, and rocks for climbing
- Water dish large enough for a beardie to climb into
- Humidity level between 30% and 40%
- 120 gallon reptile
tank(plenty of space for climbing behavior)
- Basking area with temperature 108 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cool area in the
tankwith a temperature between 77 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- UVB lighting
- Shallow dish of clean and fresh water
- Elevated basking area (under a basking lamp)
It’s also important to clean your beardie’s
You can read more about bearded dragon husbandry in our Bearded Dragon Care Guide: Diet, Housing, Facts.
Additionally, bearded dragons also should have a bath a few times a week.
Letting them soak in clean, warm water for around 25 minutes will help keep their skin in good condition, and loosen any material from within their femoral pores.
Regular bathing is a key factor in decreasing the risk of a pet beardie suffering from blocked femoral pores.
We’ve explained how to create the perfect bath for your bearded dragon below (source):
- Heat water to between 85 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fill up a container to a depth of 1-2 inches (for adult beardies) or 0.5 inches (for baby beardies)
- Put your bearded dragon carefully inside and let them enjoy the water for between 15 and 20 minutes
- Remove them from the water and carefully dry them before returning them to the
tank, preferably under their basking lamp.
If your beardie’s
How To Help Clogged Femoral Pores At Home
As we already mentioned, performing proper care and meeting husbandry requirements for you your beardie means it’s unlikely they will suffer from clogged femoral pores.
If your beardie’s femoral pores do become clogged for whatever reason, the best thing to do is to take them to a reptile veterinarian for proper treatment.
However, if you can’t get there straight away, we’ve listed a few things you can try in the meantime below:
- check that all the environmental parameters in the
- give them a soak (as we explained above)
- replace, upgrade, or add rough climbing objects to their
As tempting as it may be, never attempt to squeeze, pull, or empty a bearded dragon’s femoral pores yourself.
Doing so could hurt your beardie or make the problem even worse, so it’s best to leave this to a veterinarian.
Don’t forget, always wash your hands after handling your bearded dragon or touching any component of its enclosure. This is because bearded dragons can be sources of bacteria (such as salmonella) for illness in humans.
What Happens If Clogged Femoral Pores Remain Untreated?
Clogged femoral pores which are not ‘unclogged’ are not only uncomfortable for your beardie but also can lead to more serious conditions.
If the waxy secretion we talked about earlier is allowed to build up over time, the pores can become completely blocked and then an infection can develop as the pores are a nice environment for bacteria.
This is more likely to happen if a bearded dragon is living in a dirty
Infected femoral pores can have the following characteristics:
- Swollen or bulging (the swelling can even extend to the legs)
- Red appearance
- Bad smell
- Pus exiting the pore
A bearded dragon with infected femoral pores may also show behavioral changes because of their discomfort. This could mean changes in their appetite, activity levels, and their beard.
Over time, if a femoral pore infection is not treated, it can progress to an abscess. Femoral pore abscesses are extremely uncomfortable and painful for your beardie.
Bacteria present within the abscess could even spread to other locations in your beardie’s body and cause more serious conditions.
Both infections and abscesses require treatment from a reptile veterinarian. We’ll talk about what this involves in the next section.
Clogged Femoral Pores Veterinary Treatment
If bacteria have made a home in your beardie’s pores, then antibiotics will most likely be needed to kill the bacteria.
In this case, a reptile veterinarian will also take a swab of the pore and then culture (grow) the bacteria so that they can be identified. This is important because the antibiotic given depends on the type of bacteria present.
Another possible option to combine with antibiotics is to surgically remove the blockage. This can be done by sedating the beardie (to keep them calm and still) and then carefully taking out the waxy material.
Similarly, if the pore has been blocked for a while, and an abscess has developed, surgery could be needed.
During the surgery, a vet will open, drain (empty) and then clean the affected area. Following any surgical procedure, antibiotics will be used to make sure that bacteria are eliminated.
You can read more about bearded dragon diseases in our article ‘8 Signs Your Bearded Dragon Is Dying‘.
Clogged femoral pores are easy to recognize but also to prevent. By keeping your beardie in the optimum environment, the risk of their femoral pores becoming blocked is decreased massively.
Have you had an experience with clogged femoral pores in a bearded dragon? Tell us about it in the comments below.