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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
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Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My Bearded Dragon wont eat AT ALL! I have had this 2

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My Bearded Dragon won't eat AT ALL! I have had this 2 year old gorgeous male 3-1/2 months during which he would only eat dusted King Mealworms and once in a while a few blueberries. I have tried crickets, kale, parsley, mustard & collard greens, broccoli, peas, beans, shredded carrots, dandelion greens, Nature's Zone and Healthy Herp Dragon food to name a few. He stopped eating completely 2 weeks ago. Only a couple mealworms (when he yawned) & some baby food is all he has had.   Took him to the vet, they tube fed him 36cc baby food. Blood work ok, stools, ok so she said maybe hormonal. Bulbs are 6 months old and one of the 2 heat lamp bulbs 3 wks. old.   I am dying trying to get him to eat. HELP!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Dr. Carl replied 5 years ago.

Hi Brenda,

 

I know bearded dragons generally have a pretty robust appetite and eat daily so I can understand your alarm at his reluctance to eat for the last two weeks.

 

I would mist him regularly in an effort to prevent dehydration if you aren't already and since he's not eating any veggies. If he is unable to move himself about his habitat and seek his own optimal temperature than I would keep him on the warm side. If he has chosen the middle temp range and placed himself there than I would leave him there. If his legs are extended straight out behind him than I would be really concerned that he is blocked and perhaps ate something or tried to eat something bigger than he should have. He may have a partial obstruction which still allows him to defecate but effects his appetite. You mentioned that his stools are ok but if he hasn't been eating for 2 weeks than I suspect the frequency has at least reduced.

You may be doing this already, but make sure the temperature in his habitat is not too low. Most reptiles become sluggish and reluctant to eat at temperatures below 72 F and if your air conditioner is running and his heat lamp/light/pad is not on than that may be contributing to his inappetance. Remember, most ailments with reptiles are related to their management, so please make sure you examine your methods closely with regards XXXXX XXXXX factors as temperature and humidity.

Finally, is he sluggish and acting depressed and losing weight or is he just acting normally but refusing to eat? If he is depressed and losing weight than I think your next move is a return trip to your vet for a radiograph or x-ray to evaluate his gastrointestinal tract and to look at his skeletal structure, and another round of tube feeding.

Please let me know how he is doing and good luck.

Dr. Carl

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He actually acts ok, as far as getting around, holds his head up, curious, sometimes seem to "taste" ahead. Not burning a lot of calories. Driving home from the vet he actually climbed up on my shoulder, face close to the window, watching all the sights and cars going by. He actually bit the tip off the curved tip syringe I used Thursday, so another worry. I have started placing him on his branch, instead of rock (not heated but couples inches high), he keeps chosing, so he is closer to the lamps. The normal temp. in his cage is 85o, and as the house warms up it will go up to 100o. He doesn't seem to like it at all above that as hides under his elevated rock then. Seems to like about 90-95o the best. I really watch it like a hawk. I give him baths at least once a week (especially when he flings baby food all over his beard).   Not knowing what his activity or eating habits were (they said he ate the worms and collard greens-which he hasn't since I have had him) is probably what bothers me more how he should be. I will put veggies in his cage every morning since I had him, without fail (none ever touched).    Don't know that is any help. Thanks.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Hello,

There may be some other things you can do to help, but more information will be useful.

What substrate do you use on the floor?

Do you have a UVB light? If so, what brand and how old is the bulb?

Thank you.

Anna

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He is 21" long and has a 40g tank 36" long, 24" high and 18" deep and filled with calci-sand, but he has never eaten in his enclosure and rarely comes down onto the sand, except when he is too hot. But there is also an under tank heater at one end, opposite end from the food.    He has a water bowl, food bowl, and we sometimes put king mealworms in a smaller bowl that they cannot get out of (lip on top) but he doesn't touch them, only when I had let him out on the floor (until 2 weeks ago).   There is a light hood, that has 2 heat lamps and one long (36") UVB bulb which is "supposed" to be about 6-9 months old. Here is what it says, Zoo Med 36"/914mm 5.0 UVB F30T12/REPT. Only other thing I really worry about is he is next to a window but we never leave the shade up unless a very dreary day, i.e. he does not get the direct sun/heat from the window. I have never read anything about that and he seems to like watching the activity and birds out on the deck.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. I have one more question, then I'll be able to give you an answer. How are the beardie's droppings - normal, none at all, runny, etc.?

Anna
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The vet seemed to think normal.   Mostly black, with white urates and then a little tiny bit of liquidy with it.   Of course it has been smaller and spottier since all the baby food this week. He just seems to want to sleep all day. I just talked with the vet even this a.m. and she said no parasites, bloodwork all normal so suggests keep feeding him what I can get into him. I feel there must be a reason. I just put about 20cc sweet potato/chicken baby food in him. Thanks so much, I don't know what else to do.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. I believe we have multiple health conditions occurring in your beardie. Our information on reptile care is constantly changing, and we realize some of what was considered good advice a few years ago, wasn’t so good after all. Much of the information available to pet store personnel comes from manufacturer’s pamphlets and sales representatives, with the main goal of selling their products. I suspect that is where you got your information. I can suggest some changes for you based on the latest information, and I can also give you some first aid measures.

We’ll start with some first aid. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants), and prepare a shallow warm (100*F) bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedilayte. Soak your dragon for about 20 to 30 minutes. If you've noticed that he hasn't been passing his normal amount of droppings, he may be partially impacted (the sand and the diet could have led to this). in that case, you can add a step. After 10 minutes, with him still in the water, gently massage his underside from front to vent for an additional 10 minutes. That may be enough to help him finish passing the feces if there’s a partial blockage. Supervise your dragon closely while he’s in the bath. Lizards can absorb fluids through the vent, so these soaks will help with dehydration.

A feeding method that often works is to mix some chicken baby food with a little plain calciun powder. Drop a little dollop right on the end of his snout, Most of the time, they’ll lick it off. This is a much safer method than force feeding.

Being a bit too chilly can lead to appetite loss and poor digestion. A good temperature gradient should always be provided so the dragon can find a comfortable spot. For an adult beardie, the basking area should be 100* to 110*F, so it would be a good idea to increase the temperature on that side. Your cool side should be 80* - 85*F. Night temperatures can be allowed to drop into the 70*s. Under-the-tank heat isn’t good for beardies either. It is best if all their heat comes from above.

The pet store sand substrate is not good. Despite the fact that it is highly recommended, more often than not, it leads to impaction, eye infections, and other health problems. Even when you don’t feed on the sand, beardies often ingest it anyway. They explore with their tongues and accidentally eat some. I recommend that you switch to a solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic tile. If you’d like to see the results of using sand, you can take a look at the following site. The photos are graphic, so if such things bother you, you may not want to look.

http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles/impaction/?page=3 calci sand

Your UVB light is not adequate. You need a light with an output of 10.0, such as the Reptisun 10. After 6 months, UVB lose their potency, They may still look fine, but don’t emit enough rays to do any good. Your dragon may be in the early stages of MBD. Try to get an adequate light as soon as possible. Window glass filters out UVB, so it doesn’t matter if the shade is up or down.

At age 2, a beardie’s diet should be about 80% greens and 20% prey. Carrots and peas aren’t really good for your beardie, and some of the greens you’re using can lead to problems. It would be a good idea to introduce him to other produce. This site has great information on what vegetables to feed, and how often:

http://www.repticzone.com/articles/lettuceandleavesstaples.html

Meal worms could lead to impaction. They’re too high in chitin. It’s not recommended to feed them at all. Crickets are good, but silkworms are one of the best foods.

If you provide twice-daily soaks, increase the temperatures, get rid of the sand, and get a proper UVB light, you should see an improvement in a week or so. If you don’t, you’ll need to see the vet again. I hope that won’t be necessary.

I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. Joan has many years experience in bearded dragon rescue. I hope your beardie will quickly recover. The care sheet follows.

Anna




JOAN’s BEARDED DRAGON CARE SHEET

   * Bearded dragons should be housed alone.

    * Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:

1. 0-3 months- baby
2. 3-12 months-juvenile
3. 12-18 months- sub adult
4. 18 months + -adult

    * Bearded dragons live as much as 10-12 years if well cared for properly.
    * Bearded dragons have a very good temperament as long as they are cared for and handled.
    * When you bring your baby home, it may be quite stressful to him/her to get use to new home. May not eat well the first 2-3 days. They may not need to be handled the first 2-3 days if skittish and nervous.
    * Never use sand or any other type of loose substrate: Loose substrates can cause impaction (not being able to go Poop) in all ages of bearded dragons- they lick their environment to explore .It is difficult to keep germ free and clean. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non adhesive shelf liner and reptile carpet is what is most recommended. Use paper towels for the little one and as they get bigger you can change to something else.
    * Be sure you keep your beardie's home as clean as you can. Clean up by spot cleaning when needed. Clean & sanitize entire tank every 10-14 days. A good cleaning solution is a 20% bleach solution. If you choose to use wood climbing branches etc, these should be soaked in the bleach solution and rinsed well. Then bake in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.
    * Need a climbing accessory: to bask and to warm up under basking heat light and lower branches or platforms to come down and cool off.
    * A hide of some sort like a cave.
    * A food dish and water dish.
    * Plastic spray bottle
    * Can use artificial plants when they get older- 3 months or so.
    * Digital thermostat and/or temp gun
    * Tank size: Minimal size tank for this age is 20 gallon long
    * Minimal size for older beardie: 4 months of age: 40 gallon breeder is the minimal tank size for older dragon. Can divide a 40 gallon breeder for a smaller dragon.

    * Must have two lights for your beardie.

1. A UVB light source-best is 10.0 Reptisun that runs the length of your tank. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. It should be replaced every 6 months. If not he will get metabolic bone disease, a serious condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. You can purchase cages or reptariums from your pet store. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
2. A basking type light that puts out heat and warmth above basking spot. Your beardie must have warmth to digest food & thrive.

    * Lights should be on for 12-14 hours each day. Follow the seasons and light timers are a great luxury if you can get them. 6 dollars at Lowe's. No lights or warmth needed at night unless your temperatures get below 62 degrees. If they do, there are ceramic heat emitters that put out no light, only heat. Use these at night if temperatures fall below 62 degrees.



    * Temperatures have to be kept at the following ranges during the day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 105-115 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 100-110
Cool side: 80-85
Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun-these are most accurate. Stick on thermometers unreliable.

    * Feeding a Beardie: Beardies eat live prey consisting of crickets, roaches and/or silkworms. Never feed any size of mice to your beardie. Never feed mealworms. They also must be given greens/veggies everyday. The younger they are the more live prey they should have. As they grow older the live prey decreases and the veggies/greens should be the major part of diet. Never feed anything bigger, than the space between your beardie's eyes. This includes both live prey and pieces of veggies/greens,
    * A chopper or food processor is a huge help when your beardie is small. Always offer greens and veggies: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, red cabbage, fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, cactus pad. Apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe- fruits are treats only.
    * What is live prey? The easiest and less expensive live prey is crickets when you have a young or first beardie. The other live preys you can feed are silkworms, and special types of roaches. You can learn to raise your own live prey. Treats can be waxworms, super worms, and tomato/goliath worms. You may find that ordering live prey from the internet is the way to go..... Never leave live prey or greens/veggies in tank overnight. . Crickets can bite your beardie when sleeping.
    * Babies should get 80% live prey, and 20 % greens/veggies. But since the greens/veggies are a must when they are older, get them eating their greens/veggies very early. Give greens/veggies in small pieces everyday. You should eventually start decreasing your older dragon's protein intake when they are about a year to 15 months old. Their protein intake decreases to 20 % live prey and 80% veggies/greens.
    * A baby the size of yours can eat 50-75 crix a day. Never feed crix or veggies bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes. Use this guide when buying crix or chopping your greens/veggies.
    * You must provide calcium dust without D3 and multivitamin dust for your beardie. You should dust the live prey with calcium one time a day, and vitamins 3 times a week. Just collect your live prey into baggie and add enough calcium and vitamin to dust them. Then pour a few at a time into your tank. Some people feed their beardie in a separate tank so that no crickets can hide. Or some take out "furniture" from tank and feed this way. As they get older, 4-5 months or so dust live prey with calcium 3 times a week.
    * Feed the veggies/ greens 1st thing in morning after lights on for one hour at least. Then after 2-3 hours offer crix. Then freshen green/veggies. Then give more crix. Make sure after last crix feeding there is at least 1-2 hours of lights so that they can digest their food before night time.
    * Water: Mist your little one with the spray bottle 3-4 times a day. You can also offer a small dish of water in your enclosure but be sure your dragon is not too small to drown in it. It is recommended that when your beardie is 2 months old you can bathe your baby in a small plastic container with warm water- not hot. It will help them to stay hydrated. As they get older you can move up to the bathroom sink and then to the bathtub. Very important for bath enclosure to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to bath time. Clean between dragons too if bathing more than one.




Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I will head to the Pet store right away and make some of the changes.   He hasn't eaten ANY vegetables so him eating the wrong ones is not a problem, as we have tried everything available.    Every morning he gets veggies, although never eaten any, and always has water availalbe in a dish. I have tried crickets, he has never been interested in them and they all died.   I didn't leave them in there long, afraid they would feed on him.   The only LIVE food we can get here in Alaska are crickets and mealworms (couple different sizes). There is Nature's Zone, Healthy Herp, prepared dragon food and I have tried those. We know he doesn't get the UVB through glass but I said he isn't getting the heat, by having the shade down. He is sprayed/misted daily, and bathed at 95o 1-2 times a week.   

The only thing, from what you said, I am kind of worried about is the live insects. Could you recommend a mail order place to purchase some, considering they are coming to Alaska? As I said I have tried all the ones available up here. Thanks.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
There are companies that ship worldwide. Here are three of them:

http://coastalsilkworms.com/splash.html

http://www.mulberryfarms.com/

http://www.crix-n-wiggles.com/home.html

Since your beardie is accustomed to only eating worms, you might have the best luck with silk worms, but these companies sell other appropriate prey, such as roaches and phoenix worms. When the weather is very cold, you may have to pay extra for a heat pack, and perhaps pick up the worms at the post office.

To get him to eat greens, try topping them with a little raspberry baby food, or even pureed raspberries. Raspberries are a favored treat, and that may be enough to eat him to eat some greens.

If your light doesn't produce enough heat, you can buy heat emitters in pet stores to use along with the basking light.

Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 9671
Experience: Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
Anna and other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Wow, thanks so much, that has been the most help.   Just found a place here that carries waxworms, we haven't tried them yet, but will try veggies with the raspberry babyfood too.

Just put new UBV bulb in now and changing the substrate tonight.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Wax worms are a little fatty to be the main food, but it won't hurt to give them a try since he's refusing to eat. They make a good treat. Give the soaks and higher temperatures a try, too, along with the different foods. I hope these steps will encourage him to eat.

Also, here are some reliable sites that you may like to turn to for more information:

http://www.ukbeardeddragons.co.uk


http://www.dachiu.com/beardeddragoncare/dragoncaresheet.html"

http://www.beardeddragon.org/articles

Anna

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