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Egg Stem: What To Do (Update Post-Shed)


Alien Lover
The first time I was presented with this issue in a hatchling, it was very disturbing. After consulting with several experienced breeders I concluded that left alone, the egg stem would shrivel and fall off with the first shed, if not before. And that was true. Some people advise keeping it very damp, others advise a dry environment to encourage the cord to dry out. I have settled on slightly damp but not wet.

Last season I had more hatchlings and more egg stems. All resolved quickly without issue except one big one. I'll show pics of that at the end. In treating it, though, I was advised to snip it off. This made me nervous- I didn't want to have it start bleeding, so I let it dry a bit first.

Out of 34 hatchlings so far this year, I have been fortunate to have only one with an egg stem.


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In the past years, this would have made me very nervous. Last night, I put the baby to bed in her slightly damp bin with a nest of damp moss if she chose to use it. Less than 12 hours later the cord looks like this:


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And I snipped it off with a clean sharp scissors, close to the body, to prevent pulling. (Cell phone pics- not the best quality while trying to hold a baby!!) I'll be surprised if that little bit even makes it to the shed! It will definitely shed off.


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This was the one that worried me last year. You can see the amount protruding through the abdomen is larger than what we typically see. I let it dry a couple days and then snipped it off about a quarter inch from the belly. After the shed, there was a small defect in the abdomen and the stem was gone. After the next shed, the defect was completely closed and undetectable. I'd really prefer they not do this, though!!

Anyway, I hope this thread reassures a nervous mom/dad in the future. I had the opportunity to document how I handle this, so I took advantage of it.


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Good info the have, Nanci. I've never had to cut, preferring always to wait it out. But it's nice to know that it's a safe practice IF I have no choice but to cut.
I'm sure that first baby pictured would have been perfectly fine without trimming it, but why take the chance of it pulling? So since I was comfortable with doing so after that one last year, I decided to go ahead and make the baby more comfortable.
I didn't clip last year and had 2 babies that ended up with "belly buttons."

Great info! I never thought of snipping them, I put mine in a deli with very moist paper towel and change the paper towel twice daily to keep it very clean and I've never had one last more than 2 days doing that they usually fall off or suck them in within this time. It's great to see people sharing their "solutions" to common issues :)
Excellent thread, Nanci. I still get nervous about pippies with the cords on, because I had one that disembowelled itself in a tub with just damp papertowel, I'd never heard of trimming it before
Here is a photo of the hatchling's "belly button" on the day he shed.


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Here's the baby recovering from the indignity of being held on his back for a photo!


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I have seen a baby pulling the cord out more when it got stuck somewhere once, than I decided to cut it off in and do that immediately in future cases, which I have succesfully done at a way larger protruding stem (gap measuring about 4/5 inch). Try to avoid veins. I think if you would cut a vein, you could burn it to close or tie it up. I don't think they can feel pain in the cord/stem.
You could probably actually tie dental floss around it close to the abdomen, and then snip it. I't still give it a few hours to reduce/absorb/dry out, first.