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Is That A Banana? The Story Behind A Popular X-Ray

When Andrew Rambo, DVM, took a peek inside his reptilian patient, he was surprised by what he saw.


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The Veterinary Practice News 2014 annual "They Ate WHAT?!" contest has taken the world by storm. While the story of the Great Dane who ate 43 1/2 socks has been the most popular entry so far, a lot of interest been on Dragon, a bearded dragon who ate a toy banana and lived to tell the tale.

Dragon, A Bearded Dragon

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Dragon, a bearded dragon, came into the Gladstone Animal Clinic because it wasn't eating.

I called Andrew Rambo, DVM, of Gladstone Animal Clinic in Gladstone, Missouri to get the details of behind Dragon's diagnosis and surgery.

As the story goes, Dragon was brought into the clinic because he was "turning his scaly nose up at food." Dragon, the breaded dragon was "friendly and well-cared for... We weren't sure what was wrong with him," Rambo said. An obstruction or blockage were possible causes for its acute anorexia, but Rambo needed to do an X-ray to properly diagnose Dragon.

Dragon was living with his owner's grandmother, who was hesitant to do X-rays at first. Since Dragon wasn't a dog or cat, an X-ray seemed excessive. "But her granddaughter loved Dragon, so she agreed," Rambo said. With nothing holding him back, he took X-rays.

When he saw what was inside Dragon, he wasn't sure what to think.

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The cause for Dragon's lack-of-appetite was revealed on the X-rays.

Was that a banana?

"We all just kind of stared at it for a while," Rambo said. "We had done a lot of surgeries, but we don't do a lot of banana [surgeries]. Those are one of those things they don't teach you."

Due to its unique shape, Rambo and his staff wondered if Dragon had swallowed a candy banana. The only way to find out, however, was to take Dragon into surgery. It went well, and Rambo easily removed the banana-shaped object. "It was wrapped in a little goo-green bearded dragon digestive food," he said.

After cleaning up the object, Rambo and his staff continued to wonder what the banana was. "No one wanted to taste it and find out for sure, but we were pretty sure it was not a candy," he explained. Stumped, they decided to call his client.

After some back-and-forth, they realized where the banana had came from. “That’s where Barbie’s banana went!" the client's granddaughter said, solving the mystery. Dragon was known was for hanging out in Barbie's playhouse, and apparently decided the toy banana looked yummy enough to munch on.

Banana toy size comparison

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Barbie's banana is around the size of a U.S. nickel.

When it comes to things Dragon had access to in Barbie's playhouse, it could have been a lot worse. "It could have been Barbie's shoe," Rambo said.

The banana-in-a-reptile hasn't been Rambo's most unusual case, but he ranks it pretty high. "I've removed clothes, Gorilla glue," he said, "Rising bread dough in stomach, where the yeast turns into ethanol so the animals are drunk." Just another day in the office then.

While Rambo hasn't seen Dragon in a while, he recovered well from the surgery. If Dragon is hanging out with Barbie still, we may know when the hungry reptile next takes a bite of fake food.

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