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Worried About My Son's Bearded Dragon

Discussion in 'Bearded Dragons' started by volksman, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. volksman

    volksman Member

    I wanted to post this thread in hopes of finding a way to help my son with his bearded dragon. My son is young (10 years old) and has wanted a dragon for a long time. He saved his money for over a year to purchase this pet. We watched the classifieds and found one for sale that was about 3 years old. We have had him for a little over a month now, and I am very concerned that he is not doing well. He won't eat now and am pretty sure he is impacted. I am also concerned about how he is shedding all the time in random places. Let me explain more what has brought us to this point.

    This is the first reptile we have owned, so we did not know what we needed to do or how to do it to keep him healthy and happy. The lady we bought it from was not very helpful and didn't really have the right equipment for the lizards home. She had him outside in her yard under a tree and never did anything with him. He would hiss when she picked him up. We brought him home and put the cage in my sons room (after a thorough cleaning). We talked to the local pet store and was told all I needed was basking light. So we bought an adjustable lamp with a digital thermostat and probe. We created an elevated basking table with the probe right by it and had the temp set at 95 degrees based on what the pet store people told us to do. The previous owner told us he would eat anything and wasn't picky. So we tried lettuce, carrots, apples and pears. He loved the apples but wouldn't really eat the lettuce or carrots. We were also told to feed him crickets twice a week and superworms once in a while. So we did.

    Keep in mind all this time he was indoors with the basking spot temp carefully monitored. We noticed a decline in his activity and all he wants to do is sit on the basking spot. After reading some sites I found out he needed another light that produes UVB rays. So we bought one a couple days ago and put it on top of the cage. I noticed he wasn't eating much any more and as of last night I couldn't get him to eat anything at all. The last two nights in a row I have put him in a warm bath, careful to keep it warm not too hot and I constanty added warm water so it didn't cool. I gently massaged his belly for about 30 minutes. Nothing has happened either time. He still hasn't passed anything, and I think it has been a couple (perhaps even as long as three) weeks since he has pooped. As a side note he has sand at the bottom of the cage. I have read a ton of sites and all of them seem to differ on their opinion of whether it is good or bad to have sand versus carpet (which also had pros/cons) or some other material.

    As a family we are on a tight budget and can't really afford a vet. I was hoping there were some other suggestions on things we could do to help this poor dragon. I really don't wan't this pet to die. It would devastate my son. I just read some of the other threads and found that the basking spot temperature isn't high enough. I will have my son turn it up so the temp is around 100 - 105 degrees. We have left the UVB fluorescent light on night and day since we bought it in hopes that it will help him out. I don't know if the random shedding is normal or a problem that also needs to be addressed. Right now my main concern is getting this poor guy eating again.

    Any thoughts ideas or suggestions that might help me fix this impaction, and make his environment better would be appreciated.

    Oh and just to personalize it a bit - the dragon's name is Pascal (yeah the lizard from Tangled) :)

    Thanks for taking the time to help.

    Bob
     
  2. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Bearded Dragon Caresheet (Pogona vitticeps)

    ^ please read over the care sheet, it has everything you need to know about proper husbandry
    And welcome to HC!
    Have you looked into reptile vets around your area? I believe this is an improper husbandry issue and may be solved with a few changes but since he was living outside you should at least have a fecal done, to check for parasites :)
     
  3. pandorasbox

    pandorasbox Elite Member

    Here is the care sheet here for them: Bearded Dragon Caresheet (Pogona vitticeps)

    I would go ahead and bring the basking spot up to 110... and the UVB I wouldn't keep on all the time. Make sure the other side is cool though in the 70's.

    The sand is absolutely BAD. I would recommend replacing it with tiles (I personally prefer slate)... very cheap, from the home improvement stores. How big is the enclosure??
     
  4. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Make sure that the probe of the digital thermometer is actually touching the basking spot, you want it to read 105-110. These temps are needed to properly digest his food, if he is too cold he won't want to eat.
    I wouldn't leave the UVB light on all day and night, just during the day (12-14 hrs)
    Are you dusting his food with vitamins and minerals?
    Tiles would be the best for substrate.
    Like mshrmheadcharge said, a fecal test should be done to rule out parasites!

    Can you put up a photo of your enclosure and the Pascal?
     
  5. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Agree with all of the above! ^

    What does his diet consist of now? Can you provide a breakdown of what you offer, how much, and when? Along with dusting the food as Michele mentioned, have you been gut-loading the crickets and worms?

    Random shedding all over the body is normal for beardies - unlike many other reptiles, they don't shed all at once but rather in patches, and they can take a long time (think anywhere up to a month) to completely shed. Extra baths during this time will help them get it off faster and easier.

    If impaction is the issue, continue with the baths and the tummy massages. You can also try offering some carrots or giving your beardie a couple drops of mineral oil by mouth a day to help him pass the blockage.

    With sand impaction, you can sometimes feel a hard lump in the lower abdomen or see a darkening under the skin. If it has come to that, then he absolutely needs vet intervention.

    Even on a tight budget, you can get a fecal done on the beardie for cheap (about $25) without bringing him into the vet, but that's assuming you can get him to pass something. If you can't get any stool out of him at all, even though he's eating, at the very least I'd say he's constipated, and at the worst, impacted. If he's not eating at all, he won't pass anything. While you can try the at-home impaction treatment methods as was mentioned, if he's not passing anything and continue to refuses to eat, do not wait too long - impaction can be fatal. To give you an idea about cost, I've had to take a beardie in for constipation/impaction/not eating issues to the vet before. He was checked over, given a bath, flushed out, fed, prescribed two sets of meds (one a diuretic of sorts, another a general dewormer), and some reptile Critical Care feed formula to take home and administer myself. The total was about $250. Considering it saved his life, it was a small price to pay. If this is a pet you cherish and care about, then you need to do what you can to get the funds together to get him to the vet.
     
  6. volksman

    volksman Member

    Thank you for the replies! I don't want to be (or be seen) as a bad pet owner. We thought we had done our proper research in trying to set up his home. I guess not. :( However, I do appreciate your help. If we take the sand out and put in tile or slate won't that be too cold for him? I had read that the sand is needed for their natural digging instincts. I know a lot of sites said that it is bad because it adds to impaction, but others said it didn't. Don't these guys live in desert like environments in the natural world?

    As for the probe it is sitting on far side of the basking spot against the wall of the enclosure so we get an accurate reading for where he is sitting.

    I will go get a picture of Pascal and the enclosure and post them here as soon as I can.

    As for dusting the foods - no we just simply cut up the veggies and fruits and put them in a dish for him each night.

    I was told not to feed him iceberg lettuce or spinach so we have avoided those. We give him romain lettuce and like I mentioned we tried carrots. I haven't really tried other veggies, but have given him some apples, pears and strawberries. The crickets were from a local pet store that said they had the calcium powder on them.
     
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    They live in arid conditions, not on sand dunes. Think sunbaked earth and rock.
    Sand has nothing to do with heating the tank.
    There are people who successfully keep adults on play sand, but since husbandry conditions are questionable here I would suggest to get rid of it.
    Put the probe on the ground where he sits. Having it on the wall is not giving you a valid reading.
     
  8. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    These guys live in the desert but spend much of their time basking on rocks - any digging that is done is often in search for food, not for a general desire to dig. However, I've never heard of or seen a beardie in captivity who needed sand to thrive and be happy. Sand is mostly used for aesthetic purposes and not for maintaining proper husbandry. Some people have no problem keeping their beardies on sand, but they're still taking a big risk by doing so. These dragons explore their environment by licking it, and they're also not the most graceful hunters and can often end up with a mouthful of sand when hunting for crickets or worms.

    Having a proper heat lamp will keep the tile or slate warm enough.
     
  9. volksman

    volksman Member

    One other thing I forgot to ask...I have seen different opinions on how often an adult bearded dragon will have a movement. What would be considered "normal"? Once a week, more often, less often? I am sure diet and other factors play in I am just curious about a general idea for a timeframe.
     
  10. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Usually every 2-3 days, occasionally 4. Anything more than that, I would question if/how much he's eating or if there's an underlying health issue.
     
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    A normally feeding, healthy dragon will "go" daily!

    And if he isn't eating, there is nothing to process out.
    The things you are feeding are also not appropriate. Check out the caresheets for the proper greens.
     
  12. volksman

    volksman Member

    I just ran home quickly to grab some stuff and check on the dragon while I was there. He was off his perch and in another part of the tank which was strange because he hasn't done that in a while. The good news was that there was a lovely present on top of his perch that he left for us. :) Never been so happy to see fecal matter in my life. I did adjust the probe slightly (it basically was on the surface where he sits Merlin. I have a suction cup holding the wire to the wall while the probe is on the basking spot). I turned up the lamp until it read 105 instead of 95. I am reading through the guide and will make the changes to his environment starting with the sand tonight. I will replace it with tile.
    I am also going to stop by the grocery store and pick up some of the items listed on the care sheet. It said on the sheet to feed him live food daily. The pet store folks told me to do that only once or twice a week because it can be hard for them to digest more than that. Do you guys feed live food daily? I will also pick up some supplements to dust the food with. I know he is not out of the woods yet but hopefully this is progress. I will give him one more bath tonight and then plan on doing the bath thing every couple weeks or so - does that sound about right to you guys? It says on the sheet that it can be done occasionally.

    Once again you guys are great and I do appreciate the help.
     
  13. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, yes, you can offer some insects daily, but as this is an adult, the percentage of greens should be significantly higher @ approx 20% inverts/vertebrates to 80% greens etc.
    In spite of what`s been said these animals absolutely DO live on sand (even around sand dunes) in some parts of their range in the wild, but there`s always a very slight risk of impaction with captives, particularly if the conditions aren`t supportive (as in proper basking temps, etc). I do agree non-particulate substrates are the safest, but you can add a small container of diggable material too in part of the enclosure (and that would need to be done with a female for egg deposition), though I realise you say this is a male.
    Can you tell me the type of UVB bulb you`re using and exactly how far from the lizard when basking is it, and do you have a few photos you can put up? Thanks!
     
  14. volksman

    volksman Member

    I bought a bulb from a large retail chain pet store (not sure if using names is taboo here). It is a Zilla 25 UVB T8 Fluorescent. I got a few pictures but everytime I try to upload them it gives a red exclamation point and doesn't work. I read the instructions on how to post pictures in the forum but for some reason it still doesn't want to work for me. :( I would guess the light is about 12 - 18" from his basking spot.
     
  15. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Stefan I have no doubt that they might venture onto sand but would they live in the middle of a loose sand dune area? That is essentally what is being provided in a sand bottomed cage.
     
  16. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    I had the same issue with uploading pics before - try clicking on the "basic uploader" link that shows up in the bottom right corner when you click on the Insert Image icon. I haven't had a problem since doing it this way.
     
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi Merlin, when you say "live" in the middle of a sand dune, then probably not because it`s basically just sand, but they do spend a good deal of time during activity in those areas, I just wanted to say they can be found in those places, rather than saying they never venture there or if they did they`d die from impaction (they feed in those places, too). It just seems as if the mere mention of sand and Bearded dragons brings a "knee jerk" reaction (not saying from you, but most people), almost like the word r***nt and certain Varanid species... I must stress I do NOT recommend particulate substrates for the hatchlings, just adults even if only a relatively small area if the keeper chooses.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  18. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member



    The fuorescent tube must be within a maximum of 25cm (10inches) from the surface of the animal, closer is better, perhaps 15cm (6 inches), the easiest way for you because the bulb`s outside the tank is to raise the basking surface.
    I usually download my photos to Flickr or Photobucket, then copy and paste the code to here. If using Flickr, copy the medium sized image, it will come out quite large.
     
  19. volksman

    volksman Member

    Ok let's give this a shot:

    Here is Pascal:
    Dragon2.jpg

    Now please don't hammer me for the cage - I realize there are some improvements that need to be made and will be done tonight. The dragon went a little nuts and tossed his pellets all over which is what you see on the sand. You will also notice in one of the pics his feeding bowl has apples in it. We did this in an effort to help him pass his blockage.
    cage1.jpg

    Pic two:

    cage2.jpg
     
  20. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Here is a list of foods, the ones in the green section are staple and can be fed daily, yellow section occasionally and red section never.
    Feeding Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
    Fresh is always best, giving him dry pellets with not help keep him hydrated, if you do use them use sparingly over top of his greens and soak them in water.
    I would definitely get rid of the sand, looks like he could also use a bath in some warm water 85 degrees is a good water/bath temp.
    Also is there a screen on top of your enlcosure?
     

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