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Purposely Eating Bark!!?? (among Other Issues)

Discussion in 'Water Dragons' started by Amirra, May 18, 2009.

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  1. Amirra

    Amirra Elite Member

    I have not been a very good WD owner. Period. There is more than one reason I say this, but I'll start with the most recent issue at hand:

    I think my WD is eating the bark in his cage on purpose.... Why would he be doing this? Does he have a messed up tummy? He has access to mealworms in his food bowl that is put in the same place every time in his enclosure at each feeding.

    I just put him in a bath full of warmish water and he pooped two pieces of fecal, but it was mainly just two whole pieces of BARK! and a little regular fecal.

    (I'm really glad he's passing it through and not impacted, though.)

    END most startling discovery.

    Other reasons why I am admitting to bad WD ownership:

    1. Henry sufficiently lacks a varied diet. He only eats mealies with reptolife (for calcium, vitamins) and the reptolife is old. And I don't think its a very good product either. I am wondering if anyone has better recommendations for supplement brands.

    2. He is about 5 years old and in a 40 gal breeders tank (with plants and hides with half cage carpet and half small sterile reptibark where the hides are). (I know: you want to put me in a cardboard box with only one type of food item for 5 years and see how I like it.)

    3. In reference to #2, I have been "meaning" to make him a cage but have "not gotten around to it" for 3 years. So in light of my admittance to horrible pet ownership, and a willingness to turn over a new leaf and do it right, can someone advise me in the quickest to finish, most economical and most tested direction of making an enclosure. I think I have room for one that is 5&1/2 high by 3 wide by 5 long (obviously in feet).

    4. In reference to #1, I've tried fish, he wasn't able to catch it, I tried a pinky and he didn't eat it, but he checked it out and chewed it a little, and then spit it back out. I tried spinach and he sort of ate it because I put mealies over it, but then I read spinach has calcium oxates that bind calcium, so no more spinach. He would never touch waxies in all the years I've tried feeding them to him when he needed fattening up.

    So now I was wondering if he'll eat crickets. I hate keeping crickets, they stink and chirp and die if kept on the porch. If there is any way I can avoid crickets, I will. I was thinking of freezing a veggie/fruit/alfalfa gut loading mix and doing crickets if I had to. He liked the fish but it was too quick for him to catch it the first two times. I'm afraid crix will be too quick as well?

    So he wants food that moves. He refuses stationary items. his mouth is an inch and an eighth wide. should I possibly try a fuzzie or hopper (pinkies were not appetizing enough for him to swallow)? Let a fish flop in front of him instead of in the bowl (he loved going after it as it swam)? Stick some earth and super worms in there (will earths, mealies and supers on a bed of fruits and alfalfa, etc be enough variation)? I have not tried EWs yet. figured I'd try those too.

    Note: Henry has a vet appt with a reptile vet tomorrow at 8:30 am for a physical. He had his last physical two years ago.

    I know I haven't been the best owner, and I want to prevent myself from doing any more harm to him by lack of care. I just need some more advice. I want to get the cage nailed together and polyurethaned in two weeks.

    (Was thinking two sides of plywood and two sides of mesh, one mesh side would be a door. Enclosure would be outside on porch. ) Half bottom is a pool.
  2. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Well, the first step is knowing you have a problem! Which you do. We can help.

    FIRST. GET RID OF THE BARK. Take it out TODAY. Replace it with anything that is non-particulate and easy to clean. A $4 roll of shelf liner would due fine.

    2nd, Mealies are a fine food, as long as you gut load them. Give you mealies scraps of veggies to eat. You can also try superworms. That's easy, just pick up different food. For supplements, a simple $7 jar of Rep-cal is good.

    as for the enclosure, 3 sides of wood would be better, it keeps in heat. The 4th side should be mostly glass or plexi with a little screen for ventilation. Do you have access or are you handy with tools? Figure out what size you need it and build a box. Its as simple as that!
  3. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    I totally agree with Liz. One thing I noticed you didn't mention was your lights. Do you have a MVB? What are your temps? Glad you made a vet appt. :)
    Good luck with your enclosure and keep us posted. :)
  4. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    I forgot to add, earthworms are just fine too. All my frogs love them. I get the bin of nightcrawlers from Walmart. 20 for $2.50
  5. Amirra

    Amirra Elite Member

    Thank you so much. I got a thing of 25 superworms, pet store didn't have EWs. Didn't think about Walmart, so I'll go there next. I got a fish though. Put it in a smaller bowl with less water. Henry's looking at it now. I got Flukers multivitamin with calcium and phosphorous for dusting and supplements. It has aminos and proteins and other good stuff and i figured he needs as much good variation as possible so I opted for the enhanced formula. 4 oz tub of the flukers.

    I'll include some body shots of Henry for your analysis.

    This vet is only 5 min from my house. I'm hoping he is legit reptile exotic certified (I read recently that someone went to a vet who tried very hard to act like they knew what they were talking about, but gave no helpful information). Check up costs $39.50. (not bad) Fecal costs $25. Don't know if I'll need a fecal. Secretary told me that it depends on what the vet says.

    I buy my mealies size large at the store already refrigerated in tubs of 35 ct. How do I gutload mealies if I have to keep them refrigerated so they don't turn into beetles or cocoons? Would it be worth the time and effort to raise mealies for only one adult WD?

    I have a normal light and a UVB. I spray every day. There are stick on temp strips at each end. a hydrometer in middle. Cage never goes below 50%-60% humidity and right now the strips say temp is at 82 degrees. It can go up to 84 though in the morning.

    Okay. So I make a box with 3 sides plywood, one side plexi slide door. I guess I'll draw up some ideas and report back tomorrow around 9:30 for a vet report and updates. I already have half the stuff for the enclosure.

    Where do I get cheap plexiglass?

    Update: He bit the fish, I found it on the floor of his enclosure, dead. :( Should I take it out now or wait a bit?
  6. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    Take it out, he won't eat it now.

    Get yourself a good digital thermometer at WalMart when you pick up the worms. The stick on strips are only measuring the glass temp, not the enclosure temp. You can find them in the home improvement section for about $7.

    You can get various sheets of plexi at Lowes or Home Depot. Its not totally cheap, but its not a bazillion dollars either. Another option is to check out craigs list or something for used cabinet doors. That's what I have on my frog enclosure. I cut out the middle and screwed in thin plexi.
  7. Amirra

    Amirra Elite Member

    Below are pictures of Henry. He just finished shedding today-he sheds on a pretty frequent basis. I also let him out and he sits on my ledge in my room and basks in the sunlight (to get the most uvb possible, because the light is a year.5 old). I open the window so the only thing between henry and the outside is a thin screen mesh panel, and I have done this regularly for the past two weeks. He seems to enjoy it. But he rubs and tries to bust through the mesh to the outside, obviously wants to run.

    Notice the 15 inch ruler in the full body shot. He is about 17 inches from NT. I know this is smaller than what a male should be at 5 years. Is there a chance he might grow some more with a larger enclosure and a more varied diet? Does his shedding suggest continued growth? (I hope that is not a stupid question, but growth is obvious in young reps and it clearly slows as they get older. although, they continue to shed through their lifetime suggesting growth but at a slower rate, so I am hopeful he might gain some more inches?)

    Also, the tail is kinked alot. Why? Its been like that for a couple years. And besides the lack of fatness(ribs and flappy skin), I am concerned about the bulbousness between the vent and beginning of the tail. Its like a hump. Any signs of MBD?

    And I'm still curious about how to gut load store-bought mealies. (How long can i leave the mealies out to thaw and eat the gut load before re-refrigeration and WD-chow-time?)

    Thank you so much for all your help.

    Attached Files:

  8. shwknight

    shwknight Elite Member

    Take back the fulkers supplement, you don't want it with phosphorous. What I do with my CWD is use Rep Cal Calcium with NO phosphorous or vitamin D3, and Rep Cal Herptivite with beta carotene. One feeding get dusted with calcium and the next gets dusted with the vitamins.

    As for the food, My CWD won't eat much of a variety, and will not eat fruits and veggies AT ALL, he will not eat mealies, wax, earth worms. He'll eat crickets and roaches and that's about all I've been able to get him to eat(mostly roaches now that I have a breeding colony of them) Since he doesn't eat veggies I gut load the crickets and roaches with all the foods he should be eating so he gets the nutrition when he eats the feeders.

    When you seal your new enclosure use polycrylic instead of polyurethane, polycrylic is water based and cures MUCH faster(you don't want to put Henry in there with the fumes still lingering) Let it air for at least a week, then set your lights up and let it air for another week.

    Your temps are to low. CWD's need a day temp of 84-88 with a basking spot around 90-95. You NEED a new UVB light as the one you have now probably isn't putting out and UVB anymore.
  9. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    He'd probably eat crickets, and there are a few easy ways of doing this.

    Get a 5-10 gallon (or equivalent size) plastic storage tote. Cut out a piece of the lid, and affix some screen or mesh, and drill a few small holes in the side for ventilation. Put about 1/2" of organic potting soil in the bottom of the cage, and sprinkle with cricket food (which is very easy to make out of household stuff) and suitable vegetables for gut loading (shreds work better, as they dry out long before they can mold, though I make my own paste and freeze it and it works fine too) Add cardboard egg carton/tubes/etc. Provide moisture, either through fresh food, water pillows, water crystals, or other suitable means. The potting soil helps keep down the odor, and as long as it's dry, you won't have to worry about breeding. Just sift out the dead crickets each week when you replenish supply from pet shop. I replace the soil in my cage every month or two.

    IN your CWD enclosure, you can construct a "pit" I got this idea from someone else here, and it works fantastically, for keeping my crickets accessible to my CWD, and for preventing them from escaping her cage.

    When making the bottom of the cage: Get another, smaller (but at least about 6" deep), storage tub with glossy smooth insides. cut out a hole in the floor of the cage into which you can recess this, so it can be removable for periodical cleaning. In this, place you crickets. Viola, they can't get away from your water dragon when he goes hunting for them, and they don't get out of the pit and escape int your house either. I always throw a few carrot shreds in there to sustain the crickets. Their final supper, so to speak.
    Scrap the idea of mesh. CWD's need a lot of humidity, and mesh will let it all out. You can get a good digital hygrometer around $7. I would aim for ambient humid around 55-75%

    Something that you might also consider when finishing your cage is linoleum tile for the walls. It isn't stinky, like polyurethane, and doesn't need time to air out or cure. It's a breeze to clean, cheap, and available in a variety of natural looking patterns.

    Of course, you'll want to get him a UVB basking light, and lots of branches and leaves to climb on. Don't buy them from the pet shop, they charge an arm and a leg. Go collect some from outdoors, and scrub them thoroughly with diluted bleach, and rinse thoroughly. If they are small enough, you can bake them in the oven.

    Greenery will help him feel at home too. You can get fake ones (try craft stores, or and Old Time Pottery store if you have one nearby. They sell the same thing as pet shops, but much cheaper.) Live plants are better if you have a green thumb, and will also help stabilize the humidity.

    Hope at least some of this helps you out.
  10. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    I hate to burst your bubble, but the screen is filtering out a whole lot of the UVB. Build a simple hip leash and take him outside. Best sun is direct sun.
  11. jfizz313

    jfizz313 Member

    is it ok if i don't use a uvb bulb if I take him outside every day when I take my turtle out for his daily bask?
  12. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    yes, but you have to consider that that isn't a feasible option year round where you live. You'll need a way to provide UVB in January.
  13. jfizz313

    jfizz313 Member

    Ill be moving back to southern California next week...
  14. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    that will make things considerably easier in that aspect.
  15. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    Is that first pic of his tail? I have a feeling that he might have
    MBD, but the vet would know for sure. It just doesn't look right to me. :( If they don't get enough UVB that happens. I would order a mega ray right away, that would get those temps up also. :)
    Keep us posted with what the vet says. :)
  16. Lucysfriend

    Lucysfriend Elite Member

    Oh yeah, there is a link on the homepage that shows everything about keeping mealies and gutloading them.:)
    It's really easy.
  17. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    Yes, you wouldn't regret a mega ray - they really do wonders for reptiles. They are pricey, but it's an investment well worth your while. I noticed a change in my Dragon after only 3 days of it being on her enclosure.
  18. Amirra

    Amirra Elite Member

    The Vet visit:

    Dr. Stottlemyer seemed like he knew what he was talking about and he owns reps too. He said I was on track about what I thought was wrong. And he said exactly what Lucy'sfriend said as well about the hump. It is what I feared: CAlcium deficiency and MBD. The dr said that since Henry is still eating and has passed the bark, he should make a significant recovery in the next couple weeks as long as I supplement everyday. Reptocal one day and Herptivite the next. Or do something like a 1:2 ratio. (not sure which is the 1 and which is the 2 though) Another thing he told me I could try is to syringe feed him with a mix of banana and ensure for a while just to get his levels back up. I asked him if he thought calcium drops were a good idea and he said that could work too. He mainly said just dusting and replacing the bulb are the two main issues, as well as keeping the temp up. He asked informed questions and did a good physical exam. Henry's joints are still good, no broken bones. The biggest issue is the tail deformity. That's where he has it the worst, but because it is in the low part of his spine, behind the vent, the doc said that its not disrupting any body functions, so if he can get his levels back to where they should be, then he should be able to function normally. I also got a prepaid fecal so when Henry makes his next poop I can put it in the baggie and take it over to check for parasites, etc. The vet is very close to where I live.

    End vet visit.

    So, I'm going out to take back the flukers, get reptocal and herptivite, get a 7$ digital thermometer and hydrometer from walmart, and get a new bulb. And get some earthworms from walmart.

    My grandpa said he might have lots of the wood i need for the enclosure. I've drawn up the designs. I am curious if one piece of 1'x3' vent on each of the sides is enough ventilation, along with drilled holes at ceiling and bottom sides. Is a quart of polycrylic all i will need, bc its expensive for a gallon, $43.50!!

    And someone please talk to me about this syringe idea: should I do the syringe thing? What should I make into mush? Just banana and ensure?

    The ceramic bulb that is on now gets the hot side up in the 88/92 range. There are so many mega-rays, what kind to I get?


    I put Henry in front of the food dish with supers and mealies. HE wouldn't actually dip his head down to eat them, just sat there. But when I put one in his mouth he chewed it up and ate it well enough. I did that three more times. So today he ate a super and 3 mealies.

    As he was sitting there I saw his head shaking. Like a vibration. I read this is a symptom too :(

    -Worried, sad, full of remorse.
  19. schlegelbagel

    schlegelbagel Frog Lover Premium Member

    FIrst, if it warms up enough, take him out into the sun for an hour. The more sun, the better his appetite.

    I would try to keep him eating his bugs over bananas. Try to hand feed him a few times a day, and be sure to dust the food he gets.

    A quart should do you.

    There is a guide on the megaray site for what bulb to get. If you still don't know, send them an email. What's really going to determine it, is what size enclosure you are going to build. You will need a higher wattage to get higher temps, OR you could go with ceramic heat emitters and get the no-heat output option.
  20. Amirra

    Amirra Elite Member

    rep cal is available in the herptivite w/ beta carotene and the calcium ultrafine powder with D3. The only other option I have is to order it.

    Will I be okay with alternating the ultrafine calcium and D3 powder on day one and then the herptivite on day 2?
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