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Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Losing her marbles: When a glass snack turns into surgery

Josh Babcock, College of Veterinary Medicine

When Alex Crea found his two-year-old bearded dragon, Viserion, playing with a marble on Halloween, the last thing he expected her to do was eat it.

Bearded dragon and the marble she swallowed.

“I saw her licking it and I thought, that’s kind of cute. Then, right when I went to pick it up, she swallowed it,” Crea said. “My first thought was I need to get her to WSU. No one else specializes in bearded dragon care.”

Crea, who is from Lewiston, jumped in his car and made the 40-minute drive.

The fear was that as the marble tried to leave Viserion’s stomach, it would cause trauma to the tissues and potentially block her gastrointestinal tract. If left untreated, it could kill the young beardie.

“We knew we had to go get it,” said Dr. Marcie Logsdon, veterinarian on the case.

On palpation, Logsdon said she could feel the marble still in the stomach. She went after it with forceps but could never guarantee she was grabbing only the marble and not part of Viserion’s stomach.

It would take surgery to remove the marble.

Dr. Logsdon performed a gastrotomy, where she anaesthetised the reptile and made a one-centimeter long incision right where the marble was in the stomach. 

“It was right there. We sutured her up and she was eating that evening,” Logsdon said.

The entire procedure lasted about 20 minutes.

Viserion is doing much better now.

“She’s doing good. She’s laying on her cold side of the tank to keep her stomach cool,” Crea said. “She is still as quirky as ever.”