Reptiles and birds have what’s called a cloaca through which they excrete waste material from their body. Occasionally, for various reasons, this tissue can become prolapsed or protrude outside of the body. This condition alone isn’t fatal, but left long enough exposed to air and allowed to become necrotic dehydrated tissue, this condition can be more dangerous. It is important to replace the tissue from where it came as soon as possible.
The Reeves Turtle, or Mauremys reevesii, is an endangered species from Southeast Asia. These turtles are very popular pets in Asia and are produced in large numbers in turtle farms. For centuries, their popularity with humans has led to their being taken out of areas where they naturally occur, only to be released in new areas, much like the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans, here in the United States. This makes it tough to set up genetically appropriate conservation programs.
The Reeves Turtle that came into our hospital for a prolapsed cloaca, came from Japan in 1999 and is approximately 25 years old. This particular turtle was just transported to a new environment and is in the process of acclimating to its surroundings. Stress alone can be one of the reasons that cloacal tissue prolapses.
PROLAPSED CLOACA — BEFORE:
The cloaca tissue is the pink tissue in the picture below. As you can see, it is bulging outside of the turtle. The tissue was lubricated and manipulated back into the body.
CLOACA — AFTER:
A suture pattern called a purse-string suture is placed around the opening of the cloaca to prevent it from prolapsing again. This suture can stay in place for several weeks while the tissue heals inside the body, safe where it belongs.
This turtle, coincidentally named Diva, can now go on to eat and excrete waste like normal! Happy Trails, Diva!