Egg bound

In farming and animal husbandry, the term egg bound refers to a condition in laying hens where a hen is unable to pass an egg that has formed. The egg may be stuck near the cloaca, or further inside. Egg binding is a reasonably common, and potentially serious, condition that can lead to infection or damage to internal tissue. The bound egg may be gently massaged out; failing this it may become necessary to break the egg in situ and remove it in parts. If broken, the oviduct should be cleaned of shell fragments and egg residue to avoid damage or infection.

The term can also be seen in herpetoculture, as this condition can occur in female reptiles. It is inadviseable to attempt to break a reptile egg to remove it from an egg bound female. This procedure may be done by a veterinarian, who will insert a needle into the egg, and withdraw the contents with a syringe, allowing the egg to collapse and be removed. Non-surgical interventions include administering oxytocin to improve contractions and allow the eggs to pass normally. In many cases, egg bound reptiles must undergo surgery to have stuck eggs removed.

Egg binding in reptiles is quickly fatal if left untreated, therefore gravid females who become very lethargic and cease feeding, need immediate medical treatment in order to treat the potentially life-threatening condition. A recent episode of the Animal Planet reality show E-Vet Interns featured the treatment of an egg bound turtle named Napoleon. Exotics specialist Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald of Alameda East Veterinary Hospital is shown treating her with oxytocin and then eventually having to resort to surgery with footage of the large number of eggs that were removed. Dr. Fitzgerald was shown explaining to the new interns how dangerous this condition can be for a pet turtle and the need for early medical intervention.

Egg binding can occur if an egg is malformed and/or too large, the animal is weakened by illness, improper husbandry, or stress, or if hormonal balances are wrong (producing weak contractions). Factors that can contribute to the risk of egg binding include calcium deficiency, breeding animals that are too young or too small, not providing suitable laying areas (leading to deliberate retention of eggs), and overfeeding of species in which clutch size is dependent on food intake (such as Veiled Chameleons).


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