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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11061
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My bearded dragon has been lying in her water dish all night

Resolved Question:

My bearded dragon has been lying in her water dish all night and won't leave it to eat or anything.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 6 years ago.

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

What temperatures do you maintain on the warm and cool sides of the cage?

What do you feed?

What types of lighting and heating equipment do you use?

What substrate is on the floor?

Has your beardie been passing normal droppings?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
80 on the warm side and 70 on the cool side. The water dish is located on the cool side. She eats crickets and we put lettuce pieces and shredded carrots in there for her to eat. She has a 75 watt infared heat lamp on one end and a UB light on the other end. The floor is covered with calcium sand. And lately she hasn't been passing normal amount of droppings. She has also been very agitated digging at the side of the cage.
Expert:  Anna replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I'm going to start you with a first aid measure. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants), and prepare a shallow warm (100*F) bath consisting of 1/2 warm water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your dragon for about 20 to 30 minutes. Then, since she hasn't been passing normal droppings, after the first 10 minutes, with her still in the water, gently massage her underside from front to vent for an additional 10 minutes. That may be enough to help her pass some feces. Try to get her to swim while she's in the water, as that can help, too. Be sure to supervise closely. Repeat twice a day.

There are some serious issues with husbandry. I suspect that you got your information on care from a pet store. While you should be able to count on such information, it's usually wrong. The pet store calcium sand substrate is not good. Despite the fact that it is highly recommended, more often than not, it leads to eye infections, impaction, and respiratory irritation. A solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic tile is much better. I recommend getting rid of the sand right away. Until you can get a different substrate, you can use white paper towels. To see the effects of using calcium sand ( the site does contain graphic surgical photos): calci sand

I’m also concerned that your temperatures and lighting are not be right. Wrong temperatures can also lead to eye infections and many other health problems. You’ll need to get a good digital probe thermometer to measure the temperatures. The temperature under the basking light should be 110-125*F (44* to 52*C) and the coolest part of the cage at 85-90*F (29*C to 32*C) during the day. Your beardie is probably cold.

You also may not have a UVB light. Full spectrum, fluorescent, UV, or UVA are not the same thing, and will, over time lead to a serious health condition called Metabolic Bone Disease. It causes a slow and painful death. If your lights don't specifically say UVB, you'll need to get a UVB light as soon as possible. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand. It can take months or years before MBD signs show up, but without UVB lighting, the disease is a certainty.

Carrots and lettuce are not very good types of produce for beardies. The following site has a list of produce and how often to feed each kind:

I'm going to send along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. She has many years experience with raising beardies and doing rescue.

If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. If you correct all the conditions in your beardie’s habitat, and provide the first aid steps, but don’t see improvements in a couple of days, you’ll need to see a reptile vet. There may already be an infection requiring prescription antibiotics or another serious health condition present. I do hope you’ll get quick results.


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 beardies 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. 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: 110-125 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 105-115
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 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.

*Beardies over the age of one year old during the winter months will go into a Brumation like most Reptiles and Herps. It is a form of Hibernation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights should be on a shorter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available during this period. Do not feed live prey during Brumation.

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.

Edited by MsAM on 10/9/2010 at 7:35 PM EST
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