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  1. #1
    Registered User Hedgie's Avatar
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    Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Hello everyone,

    This evening I was surprised when my next door neighbor asked if I wanted their bearded dragon. Apparently, their very young son had lost interest in her and they didn't want to pay for her things if their son didn't want her any more. I've taken care of this Bearded Dragon when they were on vacation before and I really like her, so I agreed to take her in and she was brought over.

    The problem is, she is very fat. She's two years old now, and has been living in the same tiny tank since they got her at a few weeks old. She has very little room to move, and spends about half her time lounging on top of a rock precipice and the other half digging at the side of the tank. She has also been fed nothing but dried mealworms, dried crickets, and iceberg lettuce her entire life. I'm going to get her a new (much larger- probably a 30-gallon) reptile tank as soon as possible, but I need to know how to go about safely switching her diet to something healthier (how long should I drag out the diet switch? I usually do it over two weeks for my mammalian pets, but I have never had a lizard before), and what that new diet should be. I would like to switch her over to live crickets, assuming that she even knows that they're food at this point.

    I'm also a bit concerned about her substrate-- she's on reptile sand at the moment, but I've heard that sand can cause blockages. The sand definitely gets into her food and water dishes, so I know that she swallows some of it. I had snakes several years ago and used paper towels for their substrate- are they recommended for use with bearded dragons?

    As for her "heat lamp," it seems to be just a normal desk lamp with a 60-watt bulb. She has a tank light at the top which she seems to bask under (on top of her rock), and she does seem to appreciate sitting in front of the lamp, but I need to get her an actual heat lamp.

    Here are some pics of "Rex" and the tank she's been living in:







    (Edit: Thanks so much for letting me post pics, mld! ^^ )

    Thank you so much!

    ~Hedgie
    (a.k.a. Maggie)






  2. #2
    mld
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgie View Post
    Hello everyone,

    This evening I was surprised when my next door neighbor asked if I wanted their bearded dragon. Apparently, their very young son had lost interest in her and they didn't want to pay for her things if their son didn't want her any more. I've taken care of this Bearded Dragon when they were on vacation before and I really like her, so I agreed to take her in and she was brought over.

    The problem is, she is very fat. She's two years old now, and has been living in the same tiny tank since they got her at a few weeks old. She has very little room to move, and spends about half her time lounging on top of a rock precipice and the other half digging at the side of the tank. She has also been fed nothing but dried mealworms, dried crickets, and iceberg lettuce her entire life. I'm going to get her a new (much larger- probably a 30-gallon) reptile tank as soon as possible, but I need to know how to go about safely switching her diet to something healthier (how long should I drag out the diet switch? I usually do it over two weeks for my mammalian pets, but I have never had a lizard before), and what that new diet should be. I would like to switch her over to live crickets, assuming that she even knows that they're food at this point.
    Poor girl! She definitely needs a larger tank, for an adult I would recommend a 4'Long x 2' wide x 2' high. This will give her the proper heat gradient that she will need. You will want her basking spot to be between 105-110 degrees, the ambient temperature should be between 85-95 and the cool side should be 75-85 and the night time temps should not fall below 75. She will need a heat lamp and a UVB light. The best way to get the maximum UVB and heat is with a mercury Vapor bulb. It will give you both. Of course you can use a heat lamp and a UVB fluorescent tube light. I think it would be fine to switch her over to live feeders! A two year old's diet would consist of about 80% greens and only 20 % protein!
    The best greens for her are the staple greens ( collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and also squash like Butternut. Chop up the greens and shred the butternut squash, I think that she will love how much more flavour that she will get from these greens. Of course in the care sheet there are other veggies and fruits that can be offered and they are labeled to let you know how often you can offer them. But the staples are the best, and fresh is best! Will be interesting how she will take to crickets, they can be fast, but they may be helpful in getting her to move around a bit to work for her food. Also Super worms are a great choice, roaches are also good if available in your area.



    I'm also a bit concerned about her substrate-- she's on reptile sand at the moment, but I've heard that sand can cause blockages. The sand definitely gets into her food and water dishes, so I know that she swallows some of it. I had snakes several years ago and used paper towels for their substrate- are they recommended for use with bearded dragons?
    I agree that the sand has to go! paper towel works great and so does tile or slate. Tile and slate hold in the heat really well. Since she is a new member of the family I would keep her on paper towel so you can check her poop and keep this simple while she is in quarantine. I would keep an eye on her poop, like you already know that she could have ingested some sand, give her some warm soaks in a bath. My girl loves the bath! Not too deep, she may not have ever had one.
    As for her "heat lamp," it seems to be just a normal desk lamp with a 60-watt bulb. She has a tank light at the top which she seems to bask under (on top of her rock), and she does seem to appreciate sitting in front of the lamp, but I need to get her an actual heat lamp.
    Depending on the size of the enclosure will determine what wattage you will need, and also the area you live will play a part in that too. Kind of a trial and error with the heat! Your pet store should be fine with letting you try one and make sure its the proper temp for you. Also you should keep an eye on the temps and a digital thermometer with a probe is best for an accurate reading. Just place the probe on the basking spot and read the temp. It can be moved around to check the rest of the enclosure.

    Here are some pics of "Rex" and the tank she's been living in:

    ...and apparently I can't post pictures yet because I'm new. Please see the next post by my mom (smallgrayfox) in a few minutes to see the pics. >.<

    Thank you so much!

    ~Hedgie
    (a.k.a. Maggie)
    you should be able to post now!
    Michele


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  3. #3
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    you seem to have to right idea with regards to what you're doing, i posted on the other thread of just the pictures and yes you are right the tank is too small but this shouldnt be a problem if you plan on replacing it. Also i think most Bearded Dragons take well to any sort of food, mealworms or crickets or locusts and so she should readily accept any of these.
    with regards to the substrate i think its really a personal choice, ive always kept mine on sand and ive never had any problems with it, i think its more of a problem for youngsters and leopard geckos that lunge at the prey and get a good mouthful. Ive had Bearded Dragons live 8 years so far and counting on sand so seems to be fine.
    id suggest that you should just try her with crickets and see what happens and on alternate days try romaine lettuce and maybe a few small bits of fruit which they love perhaps satsuma pieces?
    hope this helps im rambling on abit now
    matt

  4. #4
    Elite Member Max713's Avatar
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    That tank is so small it's sad
    She will need one far larger than a 30 gallon! 4'x2'x2' would be recommended by most.
    Cute, chubby little dragon though. Here's to hoping you can get everything sorted out with her.
    1.0 Argentine Black & White Tegu -Kimosabi-
    0.1 Coastal Carpet Python -Scarlett-

  5. #5
    Elite Member gapeachkatie's Avatar
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    First priority would be to get her off that sand, and then directly into a larger tank. She should be in a tank with a minimum of 55 gallons. For substrate, you can use paper towel or tile, the tile would help to absorb/distribute the heat evenly.

    Make sure she gets a proper heat/basking lamp. She will need at least a 75 watt bulb in her new enclosure to get the proper basking temps in that size tank, and also get an appropriate size UVB bulb for her.

    As for her being fat, once she gets into a larger tank and starts eating live food, she will loose some of that weight. Plus side to live feeders is they have to chase their food and the food doesn't have all the extra additives that are really unneeded. By the way, do you have any calcium or vitamin powder for her?

    Edit: As for greens, AVOID lettuce, it has very little nutritional value. Go for actual greens, such as dandelion, mustard, collard, turnip, alfalfa, or parsley. Give fruit as an occasional treat, and veggies can be mixed in with the greens during the week. You can give squash on a daily basis, and can soften it up a little by putting it in the microwave.
    Here is a link to a wonderful nutrition guideline for bearded dragons:
    Nutrition guide
    They call me Katie-Lynn the Georgia Peach.

    Yes, I do love my reptiles more than you...

  6. #6
    mld
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Michele


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  7. #7
    mld
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Ok, I'm just looking at the tank for the first time!
    OMG, that is awful, poor poor girl, thank god that you have her now!
    I cannot believe that someone would have a bearded dragon in a tank that size, even for a hatchling it wouldn't be much room. It so filthy, she had no place to go in there! Much worse conditions than I thought! She is still young and hopefully the lack of UVB , and a proper diet hasn't damaged her too much!

    Well, glad she out of that house!
    Michele


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  8. #8
    Registered User Hedgie's Avatar
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Thanks for the advice and links, everyone! It's really, really helpful. I'm really excited about going on a shopping trip for her this weekend (and a grocery run for her tomorrow)- I absolutely adore getting new stuff for my pets, and especially so this time because her living conditions at the moment are absolutely pitiful.

    I looked up how big a 30 gallon tank actually was, and apparently I was misjudging how many gallons the actual size would hold. 30 gallons is definitely too small for her, lol. Unfortunately the first chance I'll have to really go looking for a new tank is this weekend, but when I do I'm going to be searching for a 55-gallon or larger. It could be interesting trying to find one in Tallahassee, FL... the only pet shop that I knew carried large reptile tanks went out of business about a year ago. I figure if I look around long enough, though, I'll find one. And if I don't, I can order online.

    Ok, I'm just looking at the tank for the first time!
    OMG, that is awful, poor poor girl, thank god that you have her now!
    I cannot believe that someone would have a bearded dragon in a tank that size, even for a hatchling it wouldn't be much room. It so filthy, she had no place to go in there! Much worse conditions than I thought! She is still young and hopefully the lack of UVB , and a proper diet hasn't damaged her too much!
    I know- I could barely stand it when I went over there to take care of her the couple of times they went on vacation. Even when I said something about the size of the tank or the sand or the food, though, they'd always hedge on it. The only reason they had her was because the young boy's school had one as a class pet and he thought it was cool. *sigh*

    I agree that the sand has to go! paper towel works great and so does tile or slate. Tile and slate hold in the heat really well. Since she is a new member of the family I would keep her on paper towel so you can check her poop and keep this simple while she is in quarantine. I would keep an eye on her poop, like you already know that she could have ingested some sand, give her some warm soaks in a bath. My girl loves the bath! Not too deep, she may not have ever had one.
    First priority would be to get her off that sand
    The sand is definitely coming out first chance I get tomorrow. I don't like *any* possibility of blockages, especially when they can be so easily avoided just by changing the substrate, so she's going on paper towels until I research what I can find around here some more. At this point I'm thinking tile. =)

    As for her being fat, once she gets into a larger tank and starts eating live food, she will loose some of that weight. Plus side to live feeders is they have to chase their food and the food doesn't have all the extra additives that are really unneeded. By the way, do you have any calcium or vitamin powder for her?
    They didn't give me any calcium or vitamin powder with her supplies- all there was really was her, her tank, the stupid desk lamp, her pooper scooper, and her dried mealworms/crickets. I'm definitely going to pick some up when I go on my big shopping excursion for her, though. Are there any particular brands that you'd recommend?

  9. #9
    Elite Member Max713's Avatar
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedgie View Post
    I looked up how big a 30 gallon tank actually was, and apparently I was misjudging how many gallons the actual size would hold. 30 gallons is definitely too small for her, lol. Unfortunately the first chance I'll have to really go looking for a new tank is this weekend, but when I do I'm going to be searching for a 55-gallon or larger. It could be interesting trying to find one in Tallahassee, FL... the only pet shop that I knew carried large reptile tanks went out of business about a year ago. I figure if I look around long enough, though, I'll find one. And if I don't, I can order online.
    Why not build your own? If you shop smart, you could build a 4x2x2 for the same or less than a 55gal, and it would be much better suited for your dragon.

    You can buy the wood at home depot, and they will cut the plywood to length for you for free, for the first 5-10 cuts, depending on which store. There is minimal work after that.

    Even if you don't have the tools, you can rent them very inexpensively, and all you need it a drill, and jigsaw or skillsaw.

    Here's a break down of costs for my 4x2x2:
    2 sheets 4'x8' 1/2" Plywood $26
    1 box 1 5/8" Wood Screws $6
    2 8' 1x3's $5
    1 4'x2' Sheet Plexiglass $20
    1 Gallon Drylok Sealer $20
    (only used ~1/3 gallon)

    That's $77 total for the enclosure itself!
    Considering the cheapest I've ever seen a 55gal for is $55, plus a screen top which runs between $20 and $30, $77 for a 4x2x2 seems like a great deal!

    But that's just for the enclosure, remember to factor in substrate, hides, light fixtures, heating elements, heat monitoring (infrared gun, thermometers), water/food dishes, etc.
    1.0 Argentine Black & White Tegu -Kimosabi-
    0.1 Coastal Carpet Python -Scarlett-

  10. #10
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    Re: Help! New Bearded Dragon Rescue

    Hi, well done for taking that voluptuous girl in.
    You've been given some great advice, I just want to interject something to bear in mind when you put her into her new, roomier home.
    This hasn't happened to me with a reptile, but it has happened a couple of times when I've rescued small pets that were in too small accommodation. It happened to me once with a rat, and once with a guinea pig.
    When I put them into suitably large enough cages, they got freaked out by it. On both occasions they stayed in one corner and became nervous. I put them back in there too small cages and they cheered up. I ended up putting dividers in their big cages, and gradually increased the space a little each day until I was able to take the divider out. It was a long time ago, but I think it took about a week and a half on both occasions.

    Good luck.

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