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Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11137
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have a bearded dragon he is about two years old he is in a

Customer Question

I have a bearded dragon he is about two years old he is in a tank I made it is 4 1/2 ft long,2ft wide, and 3 ft high it has a reptiles sun 10.0 and a 100w basking bulb. The reptiles sun is florescent and is 3 ft long he has a hide box with a reptile heating pad on the glass under it I used to have him on sand but was having impaction problems so I have got him on birdseed (millet )the breeder thought I was out of my mind all his animals are on sand I massage his tummy when he gets baths 2 baths 2 x w spray every day and giving him water by syringe every other day his last brew Matin he sleeper for two days an d came out to eat for two days this time he just quit eating he has lost weight looks like he has no fat you notice it on legs and d down back and arm pits he don't look bad just thinner he's not star gazing he's got energy he comes off his Plat firm and slams the front glass he has gone on hunger strikes if he doesn't get what he wants he is not thrilled with Vega tables he ate them when he was a baby but when he became an adult all he wanted was meat l tried differ things trout upset his tummy he loves chic***** *****ver 2x m and tomato worm and canned grass hoppers it took me a year to get him on spring mix sometimes with bock choy endive ,escarole ( l don't think that is spelled right) he took a poop yesterday and the white part was hard as a rock it's like he's not getting any water
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months 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.

From what you have described, your dragon is very dehydrated, so I'll start with a first aid measure for that.You're on the right track with baths, but we can make them better. Buy some unflavored Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your reptile for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. The length of time is important to make sure he can absorb the liquid. 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.

Next, get rid of the millet. That's a great substrate for uromastyx lizards, but not for beardies. He may have been eating some, and that would only make the impaction problem worse. Dragons hsould be on a solid substrate, such as reptile carpet or ceramic tile. I would also try to increase the basking area temperature a bit, to between 105*F and 110*F.

Whoever gave you information on diet gave you some incorrect information. any dead insect, such as the canned grasshoppers, is not a good food. Most of the nutrients are gone. They are sprayed with synthetic vitamins. Chic***** *****ver is also not good. It is likely to result in kidney disease. Better choices include crickets no bigger than the space between your dragon's eyes, silkworms, and phoenix worms. At this age, 80% of his diet should be produce, and only 20% prey insects. You may be able to get him to eat some produce by smearing a very thin layer of all fruit raspberry spread on some leafy greens, like collards. Make produce available to him when he's hungry. Feed the insects later.

I'm going to give you a link to 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

If the long Pedialyte soaks don't result in an improvement, it would be best to see a reptile vet. This link will take you to a directory:

http://www.anapsid.org/vets/index.html#vetlist

Because pet stores, websites, and others 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 your beardie. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your dragon will reach a full recovery.

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.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Anna
Thanks for getting back with me, a couple of questions, on the millet, if you give it to uros because it doesn't cause impaction problems why would it cause problems for beardies?, I was told to use calcium with d3 in it because he's not kept in the sun that's not right? And I was told not to feed them cabbage and collard greens because they will keep them from obsorbing the calcium ,why can't you feed live prey during brumation? And what is causing the dehydration? He is stayed every day and soaked in tub 2x a week? Do I just soak him every day? He has never eaten like he supposed to he does not like salad it took me a year to get him to eat it when he was a baby he would eat it but as an adult it had to move or he wouldn't eat it he will go on hunger strikes if he doesn't get what he wants if you put anything new in his bowl he won't touch any of it and that cold last for days if you hand feed him and you move your hand too much or he hears a noise he will stop eating and not eat again ,or hand him something he drops it he will not pick it up it has to go right in his mouth. He's a picky one
Expert:  Anna replied 11 months ago.

A uro and a beardie are as different as a cow and a pig. Both cows and pigs are mammals, but are different species and have different eating habits and digestive systems. Beardies and uros are both reptiles, but again, different species. Other lizards have yet different food and substrate needs.

Some greens do bind calcium, making it unusable to the body. Collards are not one of thsoe greens. Kale is. Please go to this website:

http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutrition.html

Every food is color-coded and a reason is given for why it should or shouldn't be fed. It is an extensive list, and I refer to it often.

I suspect you got your information on care from a pet store. Most people do. While we should be able to rely on such information, unfortunately, it is often wrong. They sell people the wrong lighting, advise the wrong foods, and often don't know the correct temperatures for the various reptiles. Many caring reptile owners have thought they are doing everything right, only to end up with sick pets. Pet store staff don't do this deliberately - they are just poorly informed.

Whenever the urates (white part) of droppings are hard, it means the dragon is not getting enough water. Much of their liquid comes from their food, so when they don't eat, they quickly become dehydrated. Baths have to be deep enough to cover the vent and last for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day to help with dehydration. Spraying can help keep the humidity in the cage up, but won't help with dehydration.

Many breeders do use calcium with D3. That's because it's cheaper than the healthier alternative, which is using a UVB light and plain calcium. Supplemental D3 can cause neurological symptoms and kidney failure. You can read more about D3 and kidney disease here:

http://www.anapsid.org/diverskidney.html

Kidney disease caused by too much D3 can lead to deposits of uric acid in the joints, causing mobility problems. D3 can also directly cause neurological symptoms.

We don't feed prey insects during brumation because the dragon's metabolism, including the digestive system, slow down. Meat in any form is much harder to digest than greens. during brumation, the protein foods will stay in the digestive system too long, with impoaction or infection resulting.

I believe you that you have a picky eater. There is no easy answer for that. You can either keep trying new foods, and hope that he will eventually eat them, or you can continue as you have been. He'll be happier with his food, but may not live as long. That may be a compromise you are willing to make.

Regardless of the cause of all this, it might be best to see a reptile vet if he doesn't soon start eating and pooping normally.

I think i have covered all your questions. I'll be logging off for the night soon, but will check back in the morning to see if you need anything else.

Anna