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Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11310
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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My male bearded dragon (2+ years old) is laying very still,

Customer Question

Hi, my male bearded dragon (2+ years old) is laying very still, his eyes are almost closed, and he wont open them. When I move carry him or move him a lot his front arms shake and he raises his head back, like he is having a seasure, also his beard is black and when he moves head back gets big. It looks like when that happens he is in pain. Otherwise he just lays there, sometimes opening and closing his mouth. Body is limp.
Spent the night like that, has not improved or worsened.
He has always looked healthy, loves to bask, we have changed his UV light 4 times in 2 years. He is a picky eater, his favorite food are superworms, since he became adult he doesn't really go for crickets. Most days we feed him romaine lettuce, arugula, sometimes strawberries or carrots, but he doesn't eat much! Most of the time he has to be hand fed, and even by hand a lot of times he still wont eat. He can go for days without food.
Of course he doesn't poop often, but he pooped yesterday. Although it wa
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. My name is ***** ***** I’m a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be useful.
What brand and size of UVB lights do you use? Are they straight tubes or the coil/spiral type?
Does Jax receive a calcium supplement? How often? Does it have vitamin D3 in it?
What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the cage?
What substrate do you use on the cage floor?
Thank you.
Anna
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Anna! Thanks for your response.
I am very frustrated at this point because I've been calling different vets all morning with no luck, finally found a vet place nearby who charged me 70$ for a consult, and could not tell me what is wrong with him, and merely suggested I give him a warm bath, which I did.
He seemed to like it, but I had to hold his head up during the entire bath time so he wouldn't put it in the water. He has not done any more of the jerking his head back and shaking his front legs, that he did a few times last night.
He opens and closes his mouth often and his mouth is pink inside. He threw up a little bit of what looks like white saliva earlier today.
He has not improved, he seems to have peed on the cloth I wrapped him with after the bath which I left under him in his terrarium.
I use the coil bulbs, brand Exo Terra UVB 150, 26W. The temp on the warmer side is 95* to 100* F, on the cool side around 75* F
We feed him super worms about once a week with Zoo Med Repti Calcium (it doesn´t have vitamin D3, I just realized this!), however that one ended about 2 weeks ago and I bought a new Exo Terra with Vitamin D3. So for 2 weeks he dis get some vitamin D3.
The substrate in his terrarium is sand.
Is there anything I can do for him, that will make him get better? Can I still save his life? or is it too late for him, because he was not getting enough vitamin D3? or even calcium.
He is a picky eater, has been like that since he became an adult. He goes for days without eating anything, but he seemed fine, he loves to bask very close to the light. But sometimes stays in the shade for days.
He seemed fine until now. He even mated a few times with my female, and two weeks ago fathered 9 little babies.Please help!
Thanks,
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I'm working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. I'll be back shortly
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for waiting. I am actually glad you haven't been giving him D3. Too much of it can cause seizures. So, since he hasn't been getting it until recently, we can rule that out.
Seizures are also frequently caused by Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), and I suspect that is what is wrong with Jax. MBD is caused by an imbalance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the body. The most common reason for its occuerrence is lack of UVB light rays, and second is lack of calcium. A beardie needs calcium every day.
As MBD progresses, it damages every system, not just the bones, in the body, and eventually results in death. I don't know if it's too late to save Jax because I don't know the extent of the internal damage. But we are certainly going to try. The bath was a good idea, but we can make it better. Buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Add a big scoop of calcium powder (the kind you have is OK for now) and mix it in. Soak Jax for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely, and continue to hold up his head.
If it's possible to return that UVB light, exchange it for a straight tube style. The coils are inconsistent in their output. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 If you can't exchange it, the coil will have to do for now. Sometimes they put out so much light that they damage the eyes, and other times, not enough to prevent MBD.
A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of his cage should be 85*F to 90*F. For a youngster his age, the basking spot should be at least 110*F. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, lowering t he fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights.
A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of his cage should be 85*F to 90*F. For a youngster his age, the basking spot should be at least 110*F. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, lowering t he fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights.
A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of his cage should be 85*F to 90*F. For a youngster his age, the basking spot should be at least 110*F. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, lowering t he fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights.
Your temperatures are a bit too chilly, and that may account for his picky eating habits throughout his life. A beardie who is cold will be lethargic, not want to eat a lot, and may even try to hide. The very coldest part of his cage should be 80*F to 85*F. The basking spot should be at least 105*F to 110*F. The latest research on bearded dragons has shown that they can't even begin to digest their food properly until their internal body temperature reaches 98*F. Being cold-blooded, the only way for that to happen is for them to lie in a very hot basking area.You can increase the temperature by using a higher wattage bulb in the basking light fixture, lowering t he fixture itself (but not so low that he can be burned on it), or by adding a second fixture. If you need a second fixture, you don't have to buy something expensive from a pet store.If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a clip-on metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware and home improvement stores sell similar light fixtures as work lights.
I would discontinue the superworms. They are not a good food because they contain too much chitin and can't be digested properly. They're OK for some other lizards, but not for beardies. Crickets that are no bigger than the space between your beardie’s eyes area better choice. Silk worms are another excellent food if you can't get him to eat crickets. I'm going to give you a reputable and easy to understand site for information on feeding because there is too much for me to explain here:
http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutrition.html
After Jax has had a nice soak or two and has been warmer, you can try feeding him. Buy some plain meat baby food. Mix in some calcium powder. Drop a small dollop right on the end of his snout. Most of the time, they will lick it off.
Also get rid of the sand. It leads to impaction, eye infections, and skin problems. switch to a solid substrate like reptile carpet or ceramic tiles.
Because pet stores give out so much incorrect information, I’m also sending along a care sheet, courtesy of Joan, another of our experts. Joan has many years experience keeping and rescuing beardies.Her care sheet is used on some reputable websites, so you may have even seen it before. I suggest that you use the care sheet as a check list to provide the best possible care for Jax. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope Jax will be able to recover. You will at least know you're doing everything possible.
Anna
My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!
Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
Bearded dragons should be housed alone.
Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:
0-3 months- baby 
 3-12 months-juvenile 
12-18 months- sub adult 
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.
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: 105-115* degrees F (40.5 - 46*C)
Cool side: 85-90 (29.5 - 32*C)
Adults: Warm basking spot: 105-110*F (40.5- 43*C)
Cool side: 80-85 (26.6 - 29.5*C)
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 meal worms. 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 wax worms, 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 eats 50-75 crix a day depending on the size of the 
crickets. 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.
Fruits and Vegetables:
http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutritionframeset.html
Walnut Shell Graphic:
http://mrskingsbioweb.com/beardeddragngrossanatomy.htm
Sexing Bearded Dragons:
http://repticzone.com/articles/sexingbeardeddragons.html