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Scabby Eyed Water Dragon

Discussion in 'Water Dragons' started by FrznFshStck, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member


    I am a very new and very green reptile owner so I'm reaching out to you more experienced owners for help.

    A bit over a week ago I took in a Chinese Water Dragon after it's previous owners decided it was too much work for their child, who wasn't interested in it anyway.

    When Abe, who is about 6-inches, first came to me, he had a white film over one of his eyes. It seemed to have cleared up so I thought maybe he had coconut fiber in it or he scratched it while grooming/cleaning. Yesterday I noticed it is completely scabbed over, and in hindsight, I realize it was most likely some sort of fungal infection. (Photos attached)

    Unfortunately, the only veterinarian practice within a reasonable driving distance that offers reptile services is currently without a reptile vet.

    What can I do to help the little guy out while I locate a reptile vet? I welcome all advice and criticism.

    Thank you so much! Abe and I really appreciate your help.

    Other Information:
    Diet: Crickets - once daily
    Water: Changed daily
    Bedding: Coconut fiber
    Gender: Previous owners said it was a male, but I'm not sure.
    Tank: Heated by one red bulb

    20151008_204337.jpg 20151008_203916-1.jpg 20151008_204152-1.jpg
  2. Lili

    Lili Well-Known Member

    Welcome and congrats on your taking in this magnificent creature :)

    Let me first say that I haven't personally experienced such an eye problem with my dragon, but that usually happens when they haven't been provided with their bare minimum of appropriate living conditions. Having said that and having in mind the current set-up you described:

    1) Eye problem - it's now urgent to go to the pet store and buy turtle eye drops (not sure which brand they will have, but the most popular one is ZooMed's turtle eye drops, with a turtle on the front and the liquid inside looks pinkish). Apply as prescribed on the back of the bottle - this will fight the infection. If you don't have vet near, then try this for few days, but if no improvement, then you should find a way to have the dragon examined.

    2) Do you have an UVB light source and what's the humidity of the enclosure, the day/night temp, the diet? That's very important in order to prevent such infections in the future. UVB is a must for water dragons, otherwise they cannot develop properly (you can Google metabolic bone disease in reptiles, that will explain a lot). For a smaller enclose, you can start with a 5.0 UVB bulb (any brand will do, I guess). That is a second light bulb, that should be in addition to your heating lamp. And please try to buy him a UVA (regular, not red) day basking bulb, the infra-red ones don't provide much heat.
    What's the overall humidity and day/night temps of the enclosure? Water dragons require high humidity, otherwise their will suffer from respiratory infections, overall poor health and "dry scales". In case humidity is low, I can help you with tips how to increase it, but will need to know the details around the enclosure (with a pic or two, if possible).
    The diet - good that you are feeding him bugs, crickets are CWD's natural prey and contain a good protein/calcium ratio, very much appreciated by tiny dragons which are growing up :) However, are you dusting the bugs with calcium and vitamins. That's a must too! I not, when you are at the petshop for turtle eye drops and UVB light, buy calcium (without D3!) and vitamins for dusting - not sure of the price but they will last for at least half an year. You can google how to dust bugs - it's really easy if you use the "plastic bag/box" method :)

    That's what I can think of as a first important to-dos and tips. Please get back to us on the dragon's condition, hope that the little guy (btw, it's too early to tell the gender) will be OK.

    Should you have any questions, please ask, it will be a pleasure to save you some of the mistakes I made while raising my dragon. For a guide on how to care for water dragons, you can visit this site's guide or go to Trica's CWD caresheet. Good luck!
  3. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    Hi Lili,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I will address your questions and concerns as best as I can, but first, I have some developments to share, some of which may help answer some of your questions.

    He began opening his eye Sunday night. The scabs have appeared to have fallen off, and his pupil, while large in comparison to his good eye, isn't clouded-over and his eye, as a whole, isn't obviously irritated. For that reason I am hesitant to pick up turtle eye drops. I found a veterinarian service that has vets willing to look at reptiles, but they are not reptile specialists. As I understand it, they can give him a wellness check-up and prescribe medication for some of the more common ailments. I'm going to schedule an appointment for this week.

    I made a pet store run Friday night and came back with a carload of goodies for the little guy. I picked up the calcium dust for the crickets and a small thing of meal worms because who doesn't appreciate variety in their diet? I will check the ingredients to make sure there isn't in D3 in it. Should I start feeding him veggies like kale or zucchini?

    I also grabbed a reptile carpet so he doesn't have muck around in the coconut fiber, a UVA bulb to go with his red bulb. Neither I or the clerk knew the difference between the UVA and UVB. I will pick up a UVB when I make a cricket run tomorrow.

    Heating, Humidity and Temps:
    So if I understand you correctly, and I may not, the UVB is for helping the little guy grow strong bones, and it should be run in addition to a heating source, which the infrared bulb isn't sufficient at doing. I should be running both the UVB and the UVA during the day. Does he need a specific nighttime bulb for cooler nighttime temps?

    As for humidity, I've been misting him and the cage twice a day with room temperature water. I didn't think a Repti Fogger was necessary at this stage.

    I don't believe the stick-on thermometer that came with the terrarium is working so I will add it to my list of things to grab tomorrow.

    What are the ideal temps and humidity levels? And how would I measure humidity levels? Where is the ideal setup for him? Near a window? As far away from a window as possibly? Right now, and I'm really ashamed to admit this, he's in my over-sized closet as my cat tried to sleep on top of his cage and my dog stares at him and goes bonkers every time he moves.

    I will try and upload photos of the setup tonight after work, but it's a pretty bare setup. He has his water dish, his bathtub, a giant fake tree limb to hang out on and chill out under.

    Again, thank you so much! I really appreciate the help.
  4. Lili

    Lili Well-Known Member

    Hi again, FrznFshStck, very happy to hear that the dragon is doing better!

    Turtle eye drops are harmless (they are even used as preventive treatment in aquatic and semi-aquatic amphibians and reptiles), but it's up to you. Just keep them in mind and let's hope that you will never need them.

    I'm also very glad to hear that you managed to find a vet, even though they are not reptile specialists, if they deal with small animals (i.e. chinchillas), they will be competent enough to judge the lizard's overall health.

    Varying he CWD's diet is an excellent idea. Just try to strike a balance between mealworms and crickets - if the lizards intakes primarily fat (mealworms are high in fat and low on proteins), this will block the calcium decomposition in the reptile system. But that's difficult to achieve, so no worries. At his size, I would say 3-4 meal worms + a few crickets will do. He looks skinny, so the mealworms will help him put on some weight.

    Veggies you can and should definitely feed, however you might find it difficult to convenience the dragon to eat them. At this age and size, their instinct is to go for the meat and fat in order to grow quickly. This would mean that he will gladly run to you for worms, but will look at the veggies with indifference. At least this was my case. On the veggies and fruits that you may feed : mustard greens, dandelion leaves, collards, zucchinni, broccoli, dark leaf greens, figs, all kinds of berries, mango, grapes, shredded apple.. Just avoid spinach and kale, they don't mix well with the calcium and block it's decomposition. I'm from Europe and it's a bit different here, i.e. I feed parsley to my CWD instead of dandelion leaves. My point is, you can experiment as long as it's safe food and finely chopped in order for the dragon to be able to intake it.

    On the bulb -very good that you obtained an UVB. You will notice for sure that the dragon will start to display more vibrant colours in time - UVA is essential for both proper heating, as well as metabolism and pigmentation.
    The UVB is easy to identify - usually it's explicitly written on the box. As mentioned, look for UVB 5.0 or 10.0 (that's the UVB radiation % in the tropical forests where those lizards live). The bulb need to be no further than 15 inches from the little guy in order for him to absorb the UVB. I would recommend to place UVB and UVA bulbs close to each other so the dragon can benefit from both while basking.

    And yes, you got absolutely correct what I said about UVA/UVB. On the temps/humidity, here's the rule of thumb:
    " You should keep the temperature during the day between 83 to 88 degrees F. There should be a basking spot reaching 90 degrees F. At night, the temperature should be between 75 to 80 degrees F. Keep the day light on a 12 hour cycle, and 14 during the colder months. You should keep the humidity in the Chinese Water Dragon habitataround 80%. Do not let it reach above 85 to 90% under any circumstances, as high humidity may cause respiratory problems. Your Dragons will need full spectrum lighting. Having both UVA and UVB light will allow the Dragon to get the vitamins it needs." (source) .

    No ReptiFogger is needed if you manage to maintain humidity at range of 70-80%. The foggers are usually too expensive and not necessary in case you know how to manage humidity. Humidity is measured by hygromether. In most pets stores, they will have a combined humidity/temp measuring units. I would recommend an analog one - it's cheaper and even more efficient than the digital ones in most cases. Something like this will do it, but I'm not aware what's on sale in your locale. Before setting up the hygrometer, you will need to calibrate it, which is really easy, but let's talk about it once you get it not to overload with info.

    On the location of the enclosure, I would say let it have enough light, but keep it away from direct sun exposure - so something in between.

    One note on the dog and the cat - please try to limit their access to/near the enclosure. The lizards is still too small and probably stressed out by the big animals.

    So, sorry for the long post. I'm very happy to see that you a determined to take good care of your new scaly friend :) Good luck and will keep in touch - I'm looking forward to the pics, whenever you can post them.
  5. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, sorry but there`s quite a bit of misinformation being offered here.
    Any instrument used to take temps and humidity readings needs to be digital NOT analogue, the latter are far more likely to be inaccurate.
    I believe you can buy a digital hygrometer from "Walmart" for around $13 U.S.
    The UVB tubes DO emit UVA, unless you have a very large enclosure needing supplementary lighting the tube itself should be sufficient (and UVA has nothing to do with "proper heating" as suggested, it`s basically visible light)?
    Infrared bulbs are perfectly acceptable for adding more heat and in fact the infrared is normally quite beneficial, though a better "basking site" bulb would be a par 30 or par 38 halogen, the "par" only refers to the diameter of the bulb face (they MUST be flood beam, not spot). These bulbs can be fitted with a dimmer switch which makes adjusting the basking surface temp much easier or of course you can raise/lower the bulb or basking object (you must use a ceramic bulb fixture).

    An example of the type of halogens I use, there are many makes, they are quite cheap and can last quite a long time (3,000 hours).... mxcp020_zps63a7c6b5.jpg

    Their needs to be a range of humidity just like having a range of temps, best between approx. 60 to 75%, and in fact directly under the basking bulb/s it may even be slightly lower.
    Any water used for bathing also needs to be heated to around 27c (80f) as they may spend extended periods in their pools.
  6. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Sorry, I ran out of time (slow typing finger)... Is it possible what you saw on the eye was just skin about to shed, as it does turn quite pale?
  7. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    Thank you both for your very thoughtful and thorough responses. I truly appreciate it. I'm still not sure what I'm doing, but it has been far less overwhelming with advice from folks with experience.

    Thankfully, I was able to track down a veterinary service that has a reptile specialist on staff. I have an appointment on Friday, which is a good thing because Abe's eye appears to be acting up again. Not that I actually thought it was healed.

    The vet advised me to avoid using the drops until Abe has been seen. He'll be okay for a couple of days, I think.

    It could have been shed skin, and not gunk, but it really didn't resemble skin. Right now, there are less brown scabs around his eye and more gray. He's not opening it again -- not even a crack. And he's so skittish right now that I can't get a good enough look at it.

    As for lighting, I am currently running an UVA bulb with an infrared bulb. Do I need a UVB bulb? Should I switch to tube lighting? Do I need the infrared? Should I be running a specific type of bulb at night?

    I keep getting upload errors so I can't share any photos of his pitiful enclosure. I'll keep trying, but know I am working on it. My house is small and open-floored so I don't really have a place to put him where the dog and cat can't get at him. I only keep the door closed when I'm not around to keep the animals away. I will figure something out, but until then he'll have to stay in the closet.

    Thanks again!
  8. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Can you tell me the brand and wattage of the "UVA" bulb?
    The UVB tubes emit both UVB and UVA but they don`t give off much heat so you need another to create a "hotspot" (surface temp) at the basking site. The beam from the infrared bulb is not as directed (downwards) as it is in the halogens.
    Until you get accurate temp and humidity readings with a DIGITAL hygrometer there`s nothing much you/we can do to help the dragon. Neither the vet or medication will benefit unless supportive conditions are in place first.
  9. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

  10. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, the author of the above caresheet is advising the use of screen for tops/whole enclosures, that is totally incorrect because it would be virtually impossible to stabilise the temps and humidity.
  11. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    I am currently running an All Living Things 75 Watt Neodymium Basking Bulb (UVA) and a ZooMeds Lab 60 Watt Infrared bulb.

    Each bulb is in an individual dome. The UVA bulb is over his tree limbs at one side of the enclosure, with the closet point to the bulb being 4 inches. The infrared bulb is over the water dish and bath are located at the other side of the enclosure so the closet point to the bulb is probably 12 inches.

    The enclosure itself is not very big, maybe 20/25 gallons.

    I have a screen cover because that's what was recommended. His enclosure did not come with a top.

    I completely understand how living conditions need to be up to par before I can expect his health to improve. With your help, I am getting it there. I will pick up a thermometer/hygrometer tomorrow so I can get the readings.
  12. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Thanks for more details. You absolutely MUST cover the top as completely as possible in order to stabilise the conditions inside (kitchen foil will do for now). Once you do that the temps will rise somewhat which makes getting an accurate reading even more urgent. The humidity should also rise but I doubt it will be too high.
    It`s soooooo difficult to know which "caresheets"/other sources of info are reliable, no surprise that so many of these animals don`t survive too long in captivity...
    Hopefully, together we can provide what your lizard needs to thrive! ;)

    Edit: Sorry I just noticed you said the 75w bulb was only 4 inches away from the dragon, that is undoubtably too close and could cause a very serious burn, I suggest moving it to around 8 inches away (obviously at this time you won`t know what the basking surface is).
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2015
  13. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    My local pet store is good for crickets and lighting, not much else so I may not be able to get every thing until Friday, which would be fine-ish because I'll have spoken to the vet first.

    I really do appreciate the help. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm happy to do what I can. Abe is the first exotic pet dropped off on my doorstep, but he certainly isn't the first and definitely won't be the last.
  14. Lili

    Lili Well-Known Member

    @murrindindi , hi. Maybe you missed it, but in my very first comment I posted links to two very reliable and respectable caresheets - Trica's and the one posted on this forum (which is almost the same). The quote in my second post refers ONLY to the temps. About the bulbs, tubes, etc. - I respectfully disagree because I've raised a very healthy and gorgeous animal and all that I shared so far with the FrznFshStck was out of my own experience. So it's not a matter of misinformation.

    @FrznFshStck , please refer to what mirrindindi is advising. The good thing about this forum is that breeders and experienced keepers are visiting, and in that sense, you will get more then one suggestion on how to care for your lizard. At the start is a bit confusing, but as long as you are determined to make the little guy's life perfect, it will be OK.
  15. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    @murrindindi, I just saw your edit so I will clarify. The four inches is the highest point of his tree branch. He doesn't spend any time on that point. It's a gradual decline so the closest point is more like 8 inches. I flipped the branch this morning so it's now more in a range of 8-to-12 inches.

    @Lili, That's exactly how I am taking this exchange. It's a resource of real experience, which I am using to help me make an informed decision about how best to care for Abe.

    Again, thank you both so much.
    Lili likes this.
  16. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    In case you were curious, Abe visited the vet today, and she was really impressed with how healthy he is.

    She prescribed Terramycin, a twice daily topical, for his eye. If it doesn't clear up in 10 days, she'll prescribe antibiotics. She didn't want to go that course yet because the eye itself wasn't irritated. (The little bugger opened it the moment we pulled into the parking lot. LOL.)

    We're going to test his fecal matter for parasites and such. The results should be back mid-to-late next week.

    Heat, Humidity and Lighting:
    I finally sorted that mess out. The UVB and infrared bulbs are in place, keeping the tank a warm 88 degrees. The humidity is hovering around 80 and 85%.

    I haven't been able to find a hood and closed cover that fit the tank because it's actually a fish tank, not a reptile terrarium.

    I know Exo Terra makes an aquarium conversion cover, but I'm not sure if it would work with their compact hood. I'm waiting to hear back from the company on that.

    Once I find a cover, I can work on getting his enclosure more tropical looking. I don't want to buy a cover/hood that can't handle the humidity and drip system.

    I am curious, though, if I could modify an aquarium hood. I'll have to ask an electrician.

    Although, at this point, it might just be easier to buy an actual terrarium.

    Again, thank you both so much for the help.
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi again, good to hear the issue doesn`t appear to be too serious.
    How are you measuring the ambient and basking surface temps and humidity range?
    I stand by my criticism of "Lili`s" advise that cheap analogue gauges are more accurate than the usually more expensive digitals, that is totally untrue and could cause very serious health problems (it`s critically important to get very accurate readings and generally speaking analogue`s can be out by 15% +).
    Also, the T8 UVB emitting tubes need to be within a maximum of 12 inches (not 15 as was advised), preferably 10 inches or less from the closest surface of the animal when basking (even then they are extremely weak compared to natural, unfiltered sunlight).
    I will also stress again that screen tops or enclosures covered wholly in that material are absolutely NOT suitable for these animals because it`s virtually impossible to stabilise either temps or humidity.
    You should be able to cover the top with 1/2inch plywood (sealed with a water based varnish), or perhaps plexiglass which can be drilled, then fix the heat/light bulbs inside which is always preferable (giving the animal a "self contained" environment)...
    I don`t believe any fishtank would be suitable in the long term, mainly because for an adult Water dragon the enclosure would need to be the size of a large fridge (they are semi arborial as well as semi aquatic).
    One last point: This very small fishtank is not really suitable even for a hatchling/juvenile because it will be very difficult to get a decent range of temps and humidity (there needs to be a "warm side" and a "cool side" plus slightly dryer areas as well as more humid).
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015
  18. FrznFshStck

    FrznFshStck Member

    Hi @murrindindi,

    I understand how incredibly important husbandry is for their survival. Unfortunately, I don't have $600 to drop on a complete and proper setup, so it has to be done a little bit at a time.

    I have wrapped the screen in tin foil to help stabilize the heat and humidity levels, which are being read with an analog gauge. My vet said that the difference between the digital and analog are minimal at the current tank size. She also said given his size (4-inches/12 grams), he's okay in the tank for a couple more months, which, obviously, gives me time to find the money for a better setup.

    As for humidity, I am misting him and the tank as much as possible, which again, the vet says is fine.

    I appreciate your concern, I really do, but I have to trust what my vet says and do what I can as my finances allow.
  19. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    I'm sorry but your vet is mistaken. And the size of the enclosure has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not the device is accurate. If the temperature is 100 degrees, its 100 degrees. Doesn't matter if its a 10 gallon tank or a room in your house.
    I have personally tested analogs and found them 10-15 degrees off. That is more than enough variance to mean the difference between a healthy animal and a dead one.
    murrindindi and mshrmheadcharge like this.
  20. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I think you need to see a more reliable vet, and you DO need a decent digital hygrometer asap.
    It should not cost anywhere near $600 to buy/construct a decent enclosure, it`s basically a wooden box with a glass front (you can buy cheap pieces of furniture and convert them with not too much effort).
    Unless you make the changes advised this animal is likely to suffer and die long before it`s time and I`m absolutely sure that`s the last thing you`d want.
    Every hour of every day that the conditions aren`t fully supported will have some effect on the lizard`s health both short and long term.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015

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