Tanya is an animal lover to has care experience with a variety of animals. She has studied as a vet technician and now is a volunteer.
Have you ever noticed your bearded dragon's hind legs sport some small little holes? If you haven't, it is time to start paying attention to them! These are your beardie's femoral pores and are mostly easy to care for. However, it should be part of your routine when you are checking over your lizard for health issues as they can become a problem if not cared for properly.
What Are Femoral Pores?
The femoral pore is part of the holocrine gland and is common in many reptiles. These pores are found along the thighs and aid the reptiles in marking territory in the wild. By rubbing their legs, the bearded dragon breaks the membrane and leaves an oil full of pheromones along rocks and branches. This tells other bearded dragons that this is their territory and also aids in helping them attract mates.
Why Do They Become Clogged?
The substance is an oily secretion and if it is not expressed, the pore can become clogged and produce a blackhead. Just like a human would if they have oily skin that is not kept clean.
There are a few reasons why your bearded dragon's pores can become clogged. The number one thing is that they need enough rough surfaces to rub on to keep them expressed by themselves. If they have sufficient items in their enclosure, they should be able to keep them quite clean on their own. In nature, this is easy. In captivity, they need a little more help.
Here are some reasons why pores get clogged.
- Not enough items to rub against (rocks, branches, hammocks)
- Lose substrate: no roughness to give enough friction
- Smooth substrate (newspapers, vinyl tiles)
- Lack of baths: helps soften and clear pores
- Improper humidity: should be kept at least 30-40%
- Lack of vitamin A: Your beardie should not have an excess of Vitamin A, however, if they are getting none, this can cause issues.
- Brumation: weeks or months of inactivity. The pores will decrease or stop, but this allows them to harden quickly
- Enclosure size: Make sure there is enough room for them to move around and rub.
Make checking your bearded dragon's pores part of your routine. A good time to give your beardie an all-over check is before or after you have given them a bath. Finding a blocked pore early will save you a lot of problems and hopefully save you a trip to the vet.
Help, My Beardie's Pores Are Clogged!
Hopefully, you have caught the clog as it is just starting. If you have, there are some methods that you can use at home to try and help your bearded dragon work them out.
Baths and More Baths
Start with daily bathing and letting your dragon soak in warm water for at least 20-30 minutes. Re-heat the water if it becomes too cool. You should be already bathing your dragon two or three times a week, but if their pores have become clogged, this should be done daily until the pores are clean again.
After the bath. use a soft toothbrush and gently massage the pores. Do not scrub hard or try to pull the clogs out! Just a light brushing to help them loosen. Continue this daily until the clogs are removed and the pores are looking healthy again.
Do not squeeze them! You can apply a small amount of pressure to help loosen them, but do not try to squeeze the clog out as you will do more damage to an already irritated beardie.
If you notice the pores are red and irritated, you can also apply a small about of Neosporin to help heal them.
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Do I Need a Veterinarian?
Unfortunately, if a blogged pore is left too long, your bearded dragon will require a trip to the vet.
Some signs that a vet visit is needed are:
- Large hardened secretions that are stuck in pores
- Trouble moving
- Showing symptoms of pain. (not moving, hissing, black beard, not eating)
If severe enough, your veterinarian may need to perform surgery to unclog the femoral pores.
Checking the pores of your bearded dragon should become part of your routine.
Clogged pores are something that can be avoided by providing the right care for your beardie to clear them themselves as well as intervening early if you do see any problems arise.
This will keep your dragon happy, healthy, and feeling great!
Wikipedia, Femoral pore, Retrieved on July 11, 2022 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femoral_pore
Steward, Time (May 10, 2021) Care & Cleaning of Bearded Dragon Femoral Pores – A Practical Guide, Beardie Bungalow, https://beardiebungalow.com/bearded-dragon-femoral-pores/
Biology Online (February 26, 2021), Holocrine Gland, https://www.biologyonline.com/dictionary/holocrine-gland
Metherat, Bearded Dragon Clogged Pores, Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/BeardedDragons/comments/81dx8d/help_please_heavily_clogged_femoral_pores/
50sracism, Bearded Dragon Normal Pores, Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/BeardedDragons/comments/vjcgck/normal_femoral_pores/
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Tanya Huffman