HEMIPENE PROLAPSE IN GECKOS: A "WHAT TO DO?" GUIDE

HEMIPENE PROLAPSE IN GECKOS: A "WHAT TO DO?" GUIDE

Postby Docmorrie » Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:10 pm

HEMIPENE PROLAPSE IN GECKOS: A "WHAT TO DO?" GUIDE

So you observed an unilateral pink mass at your gecko's vent after mating that will not go away? If you haven't encountered this issue before, you might see it in future. This is called a hemipene prolapse.

So what is a hemipene and what will cause it to prolapse? Geckos, and many other reptiles do not have a single copulating organ, as seen in mammals. In male mammals the copulating organ is called a phallus or penis. Hemipenes are basically two "half penises". Each hemipene has its own tract to transport sperm. No urine is excreted through the hemipenes, which makes it purely a copulating organ. This is different from a penis that has a single tract (urethra) for both urine excretion and sperm transport. It is important to take note of the fact that each hemipene is functional in its own right and that only one hemipene is needed for successful mating and sperm transport.

A gecko will typically pop out one erect hemipene in order to mate. After mating the gecko will typically lick the erect hemipene. The reason for this action might be to clean off debris, as well as to lubricate the hemipene to assist the cremaster muscle for a smooth retraction of the hemipene into its dedicated hemipene pouch, just below the vent opening. The "resting" hemipenes within their pouches could be visualized as distinct bulges just below the vent of a male gecko. Leopard geckos typically have two well defined bulges, where as crested geckos have a single bulge.

In some cases the hemipene fails to retract post-mating, after a reasonable time period. This should be regarded as a "red flag sign" and could be a potential emergency if one does not act appropriately.

There are several reasons for hemipene prolapse, of which injury is an important cause. It is very common for first-year males to injure their hemipene during the mating process, especially if the female is a bit antagonistic towards the mating, if there is a significant size discrepancy, over breeding of a single male (especially true for young males) with multiple females, or if the male is still young and naive...

With injury comes inflammation, and with inflammation comes swelling (edema). A swollen engorged hemipene (red-to-blueish in colour) will find great difficulty to be retracted back into the hemipene pouch. The narrow opening of the pouch might constrict the swollen hemipene's blood supply to such a degree that it will become necrotic (tissue death: black and/or green in colour) if left unattended.

You play an important role in saving this gecko's hemipene - your prompt action count! Remember, time is tissue!
So what can you do at home in case of a hemipene prolapse?

FIRST-AID FOR A HEMIPENE PROLAPSE (HOME REMEDY):

1. Prepare a tub with lukewarm sugar-water solution (strongly concentrated). Place the gecko into this solution. NB: The solution level must just cover the gecko's tail base! Leave the gecko in this solution for 20-30 minutes.

***The idea behind this is to create a hyper-osmotic solution that will draw water from the swollen hemipene. This will help to decrease the swelling. The sugar solution is also believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

2. While your gecko is taking its sugar bath, prepare his enclosure / tub for its stay for the next 24-hours:
- Remove all hides, dishes, decor, etc.
- Wash and sterilize tub.
- Use a few layers of paper towel as flooring.
- Mist the whole tub with clean water, including the paper towel.
- Place the tub back in the heated racking system, or equivalent.
- The tub will become a large humid "ICU".

3. Remove the gecko from the sugar solution bath and inspect the hemipene. In some cases the hemipene will already be retracted, which is good news. However, most cases will not be retracted at this stage. If you see a pink hemipene, you have restored blood flow by decreasing some of the swelling.

4. Place the gecko in its "ICU Tub" for the next 24-hours, with a heat-spot of 30-32 degrees Celsius. Optional: A water-based lubricant gel (e.g. K-Y Jelly) could be applied on the prolapsed hemipene at the beginning of the 24-hour observation period.

5. After 24-hours, inspect the hemipene. In most cases the hemipene will be retracted by now.

HEMIPENE STILL PROLAPSED AFTER 24-HOURS. WHAT NOW?

One could repeat steps 1-5 one more time.

WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT MY REPTILIAN VET?

Failed hemipene retraction after two trails of "HOME FIRST-AID" (Steps 1-5).

- This could be due to cremaster muscle injury that would need manual insertion of the hemipene back into the pouch. This should be done by a reptilian vet under general anesthesia. Do not try this at home, for you could cause permanent damage.

- Non-viable hemipene with early necrosis that would need amputation.

***Please note that amputation of a single hemipene will not leave your male gecko infertile, for he will be able to mate successfully with one functional hemipene. Necrotic tissue could lead to lethal sepsis if left unattended.

AFTER CARE:

It is recommended that you withdraw such male from further breeding activities for at least one breeding season. It would be beneficial to house such male apart from females for this "resting period".
Brought to you by "M.S. Living Art Geckos"

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Re: HEMIPENE PROLAPSE IN GECKOS: A "WHAT TO DO?" GUIDE

Postby Futuristic Gecko's » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:58 pm

Thanx for sharing Morne, it sure is valuable information and everyone can learn from it, including myself :smt020

Keep posting

Regards
H
Futuristic Gecko's - Gecko's from the future today!
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Re: HEMIPENE PROLAPSE IN GECKOS: A "WHAT TO DO?" GUIDE

Postby Bushviper » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:08 pm

The basics are similar for almost any reptile hemipene prolapse.

Now to determine if it is a hemipene or a section of the stomach that has prolapsed. That can be confusing.
It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Those who are afraid to ask are ashamed of learning.
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