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.
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:
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.
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.