Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Reptiles

Hemipenal plugs

Synonym(s): Seminal plugs

Contributor(s): David Perpinan, Robert Johnson

Introduction

  • Cause: accumulation of cellular debris within the pocket/sulcus of an inverted hemipenis.
  • Signs: swelling of hemipenal region; protruding material from hemipenis pocket/sulcus.
  • Diagnosis: visual.
  • Treatment: physical removal of plugs.
  • Prognosis: good.
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Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Etiology is unknown, although it is believed that lack of reproductive behavior, eg lack of hemipenal eversion/lack of ejaculation, facilitates accumulation of cellular debris into the sulci of the hemipenes and the formation of plugs.
  • A hemipenal plug should not be confused with a 'copulatory plug' or 'mating plug', which is a gelatinous plug produced by the male to occlude the female reproductive tract following copulation. Copulatory plugs temporarily prevent females from re-copulating with other males.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Captivity.

Specific

  • Male.
  • Reproductive age.
  • Lack of reproductive behavior.

Pathophysiology

  • Snakes and lizards have paired hemipenes as a copulatory organ.
  • Hemipenes function only as intromittent or copulatory organs, without involvement in the urinary process.
  • Hemipenes are sac-like structures when not in use invert caudally into the base of the tail.
  • The sulci or pockets created by the inverted hemipenes can sometimes fill with firm caseous or waxy plugs of material .
  • These plugs are believed to be caused by the accumulation of glandular secretions, shed skin and other cellular debris.
  • On rare occasions hemipenal plugs can progress to abscessation and then appear more fluid-like.
  • The plugs prevent the ability of the hemipenis to evaginate.

Timecourse

  • Variable.

Epidemiology

  • Adult.
  • Male.
  • Snakes and lizards.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Portas T J (2018) Disorders of the Reproductive System. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery in Clinical Practice. Eds: Doneley R, Monks D, Johnson R & Carmel B. Wiley-Blackwell, UK. pp 307-321
  • Denardo D (2006) Reproductive Biology. In: Reptile Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Mader D R. Saunders Elsevier, USA. pp 376-390.
  • Girling S J & Raiti P (2004) BSAVA Manual of Reptiles. BSAVA, UK. pp 383.


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