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Water Dragon Worries :(

Discussion in 'Water Dragons' started by cassicat4, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new to this forum and hoping you can help with a concern I'm having with my CWD.

    For the past 5 days or so, his appetite has decreased from his usual consumption of about 5-6 mealworms and crickets per day, to just one mealworm today. This started around the same time he began shedding, with about half of his body (the lower half) currently taking on the "ready to shed" appearance without flaking off yet.
    The lack of appetite really concerns me, as he's never done this before during a shed (if that's what's causing it).
    Is it too soon to start panicking about his lack of eating?

    I lost my first WD due to her being a rescue with many health problems and me being too inexperienced to help her. As a result, I'm overly paranoid when it comes to my little man. :p

    Here's some info:

    Age - unknown. Acquired in May from a pet store and told he was "approximately 6 months old". However, he's currently 86g, 5" SVL, 18" STL, which, if I've done my research correctly, tells me he should be at least a year old by now. Would that be accurate?

    Sex - male. Has definite pores and hemipenal bulges.

    Vet info - has seen a reputable herp vet twice since I've had him - once to treat for parasites, and was confirmed by fecal that he was clean, and the second time was because he somehow hurt his leg (knee I think) on something in his enclosure. Was x-rayed and the exam showed no broken bones, so vet assumed he tore something and would have to heal on his own. Was given a weeklong course of antibiotics, and with the exception of having a gimpy leg that he doesn't really use, has seemed fine (this was back in June).

    Diet - mostly crickets and mealworms, mealworm pupas when available, butterworms a couple times a week, phoenix worms a couple times a week. Has rejected silkworms and hornworms, and never tried roaches as they are illegal where I live. All prey dusted daily with calcium and once/wk with multivitamin. Usually loves butterworms the most and has never refused one, except for today.

    Housing - currently housed in a 60 gal tank, but I have his custom-built 5'x4'x3' terrarium in my possession, and just working on getting it set up and was planning to move him over ASAP. I'm concerned about moving him if something is wrong though. :(
    Has reptile carpet for substrate, one live pothos plant, two large swimming pools - one on the warm side with a heat pad underneath it and a filter, one on the cool side with a pump. Has lots of foliage, wood, climbing vines, a large tree hide, a basking hammock, and a water bowl hammock. All sides are covered with coroplast or aquarium background so he can't see out. Has a wire/screen lid with half covered in packing tape for humidity. Has a reptifogger on 1/2 hour timer.

    Lighting/temp/humidity - measured with digital hygrometer and thermometer. Has a Reptiglo 5.0 UVB light that's approx 6 months old, and will be changed out for a Reptisun 10 UVB with his new enclosure. Has a 100W basking light, a 60W infrared heat light, and a nighttime heat light that's been on 24-7 lately due to colder weather. Temps range from about 82F - 90F, with a basking spot of about 95-98F. He's on a 13 hr day cycle. Humidity ranges from 60-80%, and he's misted twice a day.

    Behavior - I'd say active. Whenever I pass by his enclosure, he's never in the same spot, alternating between climbing his vines, soaking in one of his pools, hanging out on his water hammock, hanging out on the ground, etc. He's usually a bright green colour, eyes open and alert, only closes them if I try to offer food by hand. He hardly ever sleeps during the day, if at all. The only change (other than the lack of eating) is that in these past 5 days-week, he's been basking a lot less, and spending most of his time in one of his pools. As well, whenever the fogger comes on, he plants himself right underneath it.

    Ok, I think that covers it. Please let me know if you need any more info.

    Any help or advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. I'm starting to get worried about my little man. :( If a vet trip is warranted, I will do that, I just don't want to rush him there prematurely over nothing as it's a 4 hour drive round trip and don't want to stress him out unnecessarily.

    Thanks so much.
  2. diehardislanders

    diehardislanders Elite Member

    He may be too hot. That basking site it too hot for a baby, and what do you mean by temps range from 82 - 90? Your cool side should be 78- 80 (a little cooler is ok. And warm side should be mid 80s. Thermal gradient is important. My basking sites are set at 88 and 90, my ambient is between 83-85 and my cool is about 78. I would suggest lowering the basking temp and dropping the ambient by about 5 degrees for two days and see how he reacts
  3. SpidaFly

    SpidaFly Elite Member

    Sounds to me like your lizard is telling you something! He's trying to get cooled off! That fogger is probably providing an injection of cool air and humidity! It sounds like you're running a heat pad AND a 100W basking bulb, and a 60W heater at night? That's a lot of heat for a 60 gallon cage, I think! And regardless my armchair-herpteology guesses, your lizard is indicating that he's not too happy with the temperature, right? ;)

    If I see a lizard doing this, I would get my cool side temps down a bit. From Bert Langerwerf's general text (who I personally consider to be a supreme expert on WDs) *** on water dragons suggests the mid-high 70s as an average with the hotter areas reaching 90. Make sure your thermometer is accurate, or you might try grabbing a infrared thermometer - they will help you gauge how hot/cool surfaces are reaching in the enclosure.

    Also, I don't know just how cold you're talking about at night... and someone will be along to discuss CWD in particular, but it seems to me that you might have a bit too much heat at night too. If I had to guess, he's probably regularly sleeping in the corner farthest away from the heat pad and heating lamp? Average temperature in the enclosure at night could safely be in the mid 70s.

    Truly, lizards do need to cool off. They have a preferred body temperature, and they must have access to cool areas as well as hot areas.

    I can't speak to this specifically, but if you look at climate data from Bangkok, Hanoi, etc. it sounds like you're on the right track. From the climate data, perhaps it could range from 90% down to 60-70% during the late afternoon, and make sure his basking area allows him a drier spot as desired? Someone with more direct experience with CWD will be along to help you I'm sure.

    While I'm at it, I'll point out a few other things:

    I've seen other members here have specifically mention that they note change in appetite just prior to or during a shed. That may be something to keep in mind. Still, follow up with the heat.

    He's still defecating daily, correct? Can we rule out impaction?

    You know, I would PERSONALLY avoid feeding pupae. I mean... there's a rock-solid beetle carapace forming inside of that alien, and while I've heard people saying that their reptiles relish the pupae, I have to imagine an impaction risk could be present. Plus, the primary nutritional value of a darkling larva (ie. moisture and fat) is being largely depleted by generating the beetle. Just a thought.

    Please discuss your UVB setup in greater detail. Is the reptiglo a tube, or compact? How close can he get to it? Is the bulb shining through screen?

    5.0s are quite weak, so if that's a tube, he should be able to get within a few inches - and if it's a coil, just find a way to get him under that 10.0 ASAP... Plus after 6 months you're going to see significant degradation in the level of UVB coming out of that bulb. Even with 10% bulb, a basking lizard can be allowed quite close - I let my water dragon get within 7" of 2x ReptiSun 10.0s, and other members here have setups with even stronger bulbs with excellent results.

    I'm very glad to hear that you'll be switching to a 10% bulb. Just make sure he can get close enough!

    *** I generally dislike these popular "complete care" books as they are often so full of bluster and voodoo, and many aren't even written by actual herpetologists. But the name "Bert Langerwerf" is on the cover, and while it is all very basic information, the name alone warrants attention.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  4. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi, thanks for the responses. :)

    Ok, so I turned off his heat lamp last night, and the temps went down to around 75F. This morning, he only has his basking lamp on and a secondary heat source near the one corner of his cage. On the cool side, it's around 76F, and on the warm side in the 80s. I didn't measure his basking spot specifically, but I imagine it's a bit cooler.

    So far, up until today, he has been defecating regularly, so I don't believe impaction is an issue.

    I will avoid offering pupae - he's been refusing them lately anyway, so maybe that's trying to tell me something as well?

    The Reptiglo is a tube, and he can get within a few inches if he wants, or his basking spot is around 5 inches away. The lid is hard to describe - it's not mesh per se, but metal bars so to speak, so most of the UVB passes through unfiltered. I had showed my setup to a herp vet, and she had said 5 was fine for his current lid, but that I'd want to increase it to 10 with any new one with a mesh lid. I definitely want to move him as soon as possible though, if I can.

    I've been observing him this morning - even with lower temps, he's still hanging out in his pool and refusing to bask. He's also been a dark green (as he was most of last night), and when I opened his cage to mist him, he dove under water and stayed there. This is the third time he's done this in the past week. It's like he's suddenly scared of me? I don't understand. I also had to pull him out to change his water, and he played dead on me!

    I have no idea what's going on, and I'm really worried. :( Could he be thinking about brumating possibly? What frustrates me is that nothing I can see (other than me adding another heat lamp which is now turned off) has changed in his environment. I'm scared he could be sick, and I don't know what to watch for so I'm missing something obvious.

  5. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, it sounds to me like this is caused by shedding the skin, it takes a lot of energy to do that, and they usually don`t feed too much and may stay in the cooler darker places in order to feel more secure (some snakes do that, too).
    You really need to know exactly what the surface temp at the basking site is.
    Do you have a few photos of the dragon?
    EDIT: Are you saying the enclosure does not have a solid top, if so, how are you controlling the heat and humidity?
  6. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi - I'm hoping that's all this is.
    I just checked, and his basking site is at 96.2F.
    I'll take some pics of him a bit later today and upload them then.
    That's correct - the enclosure has a metal bar top. I control the heat/humidity with packing tape on half the enclosure.

  7. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    So the SURFACE of the basking object is 96f, not the ambient (air) temp (just to be sure we all understand).
    You really need to completely cover the bars or have a solid top, you cannot control the temps or humidity if it`s half covered.
  8. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi, yes, the basking surface is 96F, the ambient air temp on the warm side varies from 84-88F (as measured today, at different spots).

    What about ventilation then? I was assured by my herp vet that covering half the screen with packing tape or plexiglas or something will be fine, as the other half has the lights on top. I was told to never cover the entire thing or else there will be no ventilation which will cause problems of its own. I haven't really had problems with humidity this way simply because I do have a fogger on a frequent timer along with several water sources and a live plant. However, with the changing outdoor temps, I have had difficulty in maintaining ideal temps in his enclosure.

  9. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Thanks, in that case the basking surface temp`s fine! If there are any significant gaps where the lights fit it WILL cause the humidity and some heat to escape, you only need a few very small holes for ventilation, remember that when you do anything in the enclosure the air will be exchanged.
    When you move the dragon into the new tank (if it`s a wooden construction with a glass front), any vents should be at the bottom, just above substrate level (or whatever you use to cover the floor), that way very little heat and humidity will be lost, and you only need a small one on each side.
  10. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi, thanks for letting me know. :) Ok, so I will do what I can to seal up the extra space around the lights. What would you recommend I use? I read on another thread that plywood works great, and I will do that for his new enclosure, however, since this one is temporary, I would rather just use something that's effective but not long term. I'm thinking packing tape is out due to it melting, but would tinfoil work?

    His new tank is all acrylic/PVC with glass front and a tight mesh screen lid for ventilation. I didn't know about including vents at the bottom so none were made. However, I'm planning on covering half of his lid with plexiglas, and the other half with plywood as suggested.

    In the it possible that if he's having a difficult shed, that this would affect his eating more than it normally does?
    I mentioned it's taking him longer to shed than usual, meaning he normally only takes about a week, but if my math is right, he's at about the one week mark now and nowhere near completion.

    I've been checking on him several times today, and misting heavily. He's spending most of it in one of his 3 pools/bowls, and his colour has varied from an olive green to a bright green (save for the shed patches). I did convince him to eat one butterworm this morning, but he isn't touching the rest of his food.

    I'm hoping it's shed-related, like you said. I guess I'm just wondering what else I should look for in the meantime to rule out any other health conditions?

    Should I get another fecal done on him, or just wait until he's done shedding and then see how he's acting? I'm paranoid because I know sometimes with some health conditions that these guys can deteriorate very quickly in a very short time. And he's never acted like this during a shed before...yes, he has decreased his eating to only a few insects before, but never to this extreme of only eating one or nothing. Could it be age-related? I'm really not sure on his age - the pet store I got him from only gave me an estimate of about 6 months when I got him in May, but he's 18"STL and reading Tricia's Waterdragon website, it suggests that he should be older than a year by now based on his length.
  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    O.k, then you`re going to have exactly the same problems in the new tank, screen tops and high humidity do not go together! As far as adding vents, it`s easy enough to drill a row of small holes, and you can cover the whole top in plexiglass/plywood and fix the heat/light bulbs inside. If using plywood it will need to be sealed with 3 or 4 coats of water based polyurethane varnish.
    Yes, you can use tin foil to cover the top in the current one, and it`s quite possible his appetite wil be affected if the sloughing is taking longer than usual.
    Can you show a few photos of the new enclosure, maybe we can make some more suggestions before he goes in it?
    I doubt the eating problem is age related, and their size depends on the conditions they are/were kept in, so it`s really not accurate to say they "should" be a certain length at a certain age.
  12. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Ok, thanks. I will post pics of his new enclosure when I can.

    For now, here's pics of my dragon. The left side of his body has that faded patch of skin that hasn't shed yet, and it extends to under his belly.

    Ignore the right leg, that's the one that he injured a couple months ago and never really healed right.

    Nemesis pictures by cassicat4 - Photobucket
  13. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi again, sorry, I only just noticed you`d added a few photos. When you say the humidity is between 60 to 80%, is that throughout the day, or just when you spray the enclosure? Also, can you put a few photos of the current tank up? Thanks!
  14. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi, the 60-80% is throughout the day. He has a fogger that comes on every 1/2 an hour which keeps the humidity up. I spray heavily first thing in the morning and evening though because his fogger only comes on once/hr then.

    Today I notice he's shedding on his tail, but it's a rough shed. Rather than coming off in patches as it usually does, it's coming off in pieces, which makes no sense considering how much time he's spending in the water.

    The patch on his side is still there, and showing no sign of sloughing off.

    I was reading on the website that difficulty in sloughing shed can be a sign of an internal problem. Should that be my concern?

    He didn't eat today. He ate 5 worms yesterday when offered by hand, but nothing today. He also didn't bask today that I could see, even though his temps are where they should be. :(

    He did just go through a growth spurt recently - gaining 20g in 10 days. Is it possible he's just coming off that and eating less? I'm just throwing out guesses here.

    He's still usually a vibrant green, and he hasn't lost weight (in fact gained 2g since this whole thing started).

    What could be wrong? I am completely stumped.

    The first pic is of the rough shed on his leg. The second is him today. The 3rd and 4th are the inside of his enclosure.

    Nemesis pictures by cassicat4 - Photobucket

  15. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    I would only really worry about not eating if it has been several days. It is very common for CWDs to not eat for 2-3 days under normal circumstances and even longer during shedding, usually you just offer a new more interesting food items and they come around rather quickly. As for the shedding patches it might have just been the light but nothing really looked bad. The coloring is normal and nothing is scabbed or in big discolored patches reminiscent of a cow.
    Fix the few issues with his enclosure...speaking of which do you have many small water dishes or one large one? That corner bowl is too small for a CWD the size of yours it is more appropriate for a harchling. But if the clear plastics were one bowl that might work.
    Second use either a shedding aide or an organic mineral to help soften his skin and loosen his shed. This should be used daily while shedding and periodically when not. Though with this difficult shed you could use it daily no matter what his stage and it will help with future sheds as well.
  16. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Ps. Have you checked for femoral pores on your lizard? Because just judging from those pictures (and I am by no means a gender expert) but I would say your dragon is female.
    Pps. Better lighting would show the shed better so we could get a clearer idea.
  17. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi again, can you put a few photos of the whole enclosure up, it`s very hard to see in those small area shots? Thanks!
  18. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    @ Thalatte - Hi, thanks for the info. :)

    Ok, well I'll try not to worry too much about his lack of eating. He is having a rougher shed than normal, so I'm hoping that's what's contributing to his issues. I've been trying to find any other symptom that something is wrong - closed eyes, dull eyes, dark colour, regurgitation, failure to pass stool, lethargia, etc. - and I'm not seeing anything. He looks and acts perfectly normal, other than the not eating and the spending more time in his water, which is probably due to shed. There's just this one really stubborn patch on his side and tummy that are showing no indication of sloughing anytime soon...the rest of him is doing just fine. I'll try and get a better picture later.

    The only other thing I could think of that could possibly be causing him issues is if his leg is causing him pain. He injured it back in June...was eating just fine until I took him to the vet 2 days later, X-rays showed no breaks so it was presumed to be a pulled tendon, he was put on a course of anti-inflammatories in case he was in pain during which time he didn't eat, but the vet assumed it was because of the meds, as he started eating well again right after he was off them (and he didn't eat the first time he was on meds for parasites). Since then, he's never had a problem eating up until now. However, his leg, while he has movement in it, chooses not to use it unless he needs to, but it's getting even gimpier. He always tucks his leg under or over his tail when he's sleeping, he'll still grip his vine with it but at a weird angle, but if he's standing up against the wall, he just flat out crushes it. It looks even more twisted than when he first injured it, but I'm assuming that's due to lack of normal use? I'll try and get better pics of his leg as well.

    What would you suggest for food items? I currently offer him crickets, mealworms, and phoenix worms daily along with a butterworm a couple times a week. He has rejected hornworms and silkworms on several occasions. I live in Canada, so roaches are illegal, and pet stores around here rarely carry dewworms. Is there anything else insect-like I could try? I haven't offered him veggies yet, as he rejected them when he was younger, but I'll start offering them again.

    The first picture with the large plastic tub is his main water bowl. The corner bowl is smaller, but I'm thinking it's bigger than it looks because he likes to spend time hanging out in that bowl and his body fits fine, just his tail hangs out. In my opinion though, both are too small for my liking, I just haven't replaced them since he's getting moved soon. I know I should have moved him by now, but I didn't anticipate his latest growth spurt where he gained 2" in less than a month, so I didn't have his new enclosure in my possession until the last week of August. He is getting a much bigger pool in his new enclosure though. :) When I get it set up, I'll post pics of it as well.

    I have mineral oil...will that be fine? Will it hurt him if he ingests it (i.e. if it gets in his water bowl and he drinks it)?

    I will get a picture of his underside as well. I thought I saw pores, along with the hemipenal bulge that's indicative of males, so I've been assuming it's a boy. However, I'm no expert - only going off what I've seen for pics online, so I'll let you guys be the judges.

    @ murrindindi - I'll try and get some better pictures tonight. :)
  19. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    So I am goin to be jumping around a bit sorry if it is disjointed: food- try earthworms, red wrigglers, locusts, one person offers praying mantis( I don't because I would rather have them in my garden), pinkies, or feeder fish. Vegetables should be accessible at all times. Most of the time they won't touch it but every now and then they will nose around it. Fruit is accepted occasionally. At the very least it is food for escaped crickets. Oh waxworms can be offered as an occasional treat.
    Housing: as long as he has a larger bowl that he fits in completely he should be fine. I have that corner bowl as well and use it as his food bowl. His leg is kind of concerning. The less he uses it the worse it will get. My vet has a laser treatment that increases blood flow and healing in soft could see if yours has something similar. Otherwise see if he will let you touch it and move it if he does then it doesn't hurt him it just isn't strog muscularly and wil over better in a larger cage where he will have more climbing opportunities. The branches he has to climb on-are they atleast as hick as he is? If not they are
    Too flimsy to comfortably hold his weight and this might explain why he isn't climbing.
    The mineral oil is safe to injest as long as it is an organic oil and not a manufactured one. Or you can use olive oil or cocunut oil.
  20. cassicat4

    cassicat4 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Ok, I will try and order in some different worms for him. Is he big/old enough to have pinkies? I've started offering veggies that he won't touch, but I'll keep leaving them in case.

    What does it mean when they eat only enough to get them by? As in today, he ate one butterworm, but won't touch anything else. The same with yesterday - he ate one mealworm, but that's it.

    Ok, yes, he can fit completely in his one bowl for now.

    That's neat your vet can do that. I don't know if mine offers that or not, I will look into it though. Thanks! As for his leg, he reacts the same to me touching the bad leg as he does to me touching his good one. He doesn't like me touching them, so he always pulls away or flicks his tail, but if I calm him down and move it, he doesn't try to run or jerk it away. So it might be ok, other than the muscle problems?

    Ok, that would explain the branches - I use the large ExoTerra vines, but he's wider than they are. He spends more time in his hammock. I have large tree branches for his new enclosure, and these ones are way bigger than him.

    I'm not sure about the oil - I bought it from the drug store, so I'll have to check. What does the manufactured one have in it that's dangerous?


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