I just bought a bearded dragon likely a couple months old and it is only eating about 3-5 crickets a day. Lighting is

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Customer: I just bought a young bearded dragon likely a couple months old and it is only eating about 3-5 crickets a day. Lighting is good, temperature is good in Basking area as well. It is partially shedding on the upper body. It is not as active as some but I did take all of the tank items out last night to get rid of distractions for it to try and hunt and it did chase them some. I just worry it isn't eating properly due to underlying issues. Is this common for a new dragon?
JA: A lack of appetite can seem worrying. The Expert will know how to help. Does the Bearded Dragon seem to be in any pain?
Customer: Does not appear to be no. When it walks/runs there is no sign of discomfort and when held and pet it does not appear to be in pain or react negatively. It usually closes its eyes when pet.
JA: What's the Bearded Dragon's name and age?
Customer: It is red fancy bearded dragon and I am suspecting it is around 2 months old. It is slightly larger than the length of my hand but also thin. It's belly isn't as full as some I've seen at the pet store
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The sex of the dragon is undetermined yet as it's too young to tell, I brought the dragon home 6 days ago, and I feed it small crickets. Twice already I have given it crickets with calcium and it does appear more interested in these ones right away apart from when they are not coated with the calcium supplement
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 3 mins 1 year ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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2,238 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

Customer
Okay great thank you, ***** ***** can correspond via this website that is fine

Bearded dragons, as lizards go, are very sensitive and changes in environment can trigger temporary appetite depression. Give him a week or so to fully settle in to his new environment. The fact that he is already eating is a good sign.

Because he is young, it is very important that he get adequate nutrition and calcium. Although they may not prefer calcium dusted insects, it is vital to dust them every time you feed, otherwise they may develop calcium deficiency and, ultimately, metabolic bone disease. Crickets are not the best insects, nutritionally, so if you feed them they much be calcium dusted right before every feed as well as gut loaded (you can buy cricket chow or a balanced bearded dragon chow to feed them which is rich in calcium).

Variety in diet is the key. I am attaching a bearded dragon care sheet that I put together which has more information on diet, UVB, temperature, calcium and vitamin supplementation, etc. I hope this is helpful:

-Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90 (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer 95-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.

-In addition to tank lighting that supplies UVA and visible light exposure, bearded dragons require UVB exposure to maintain proper health. Just as with temperature, their enclosure should have a gradient of UVB exposure with no UVB at the coolest end and highest at the basking spot. To avoid over supplementing, at least ¼ of the tank should not be directly illuminated with UVB light. Distance from the UVB bulb is vital as it dictates how much UVB exposure an animal will receive in the basking site. Distance depends upon the type and UVB output of the bulb. The most common types of UVB bulbs used with bearded dragons are the compact fluorescent (CFL), linear fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs. For example, a CFL or linear fluorescent 10.0 bulb should be placed no more than 16-18" from the basking site while a 5.0 bulb should be placed 12” or less. A mercury vapor bulb can be used in a larger enclosure due to its greater depth of UVB penetration, up to 3 feet. The mercury vapor bulb’s wattage dictates the heat output of these dual use bulbs it does not change the UV penetration. There should be no glass or acrylic between the bulb and the surface as these will block UV light. Note that metal screening between the bulb and the enclosure will cut UVB output of the bulb significantly, sometimes as much as in half. Conversely, UVB light reflectors can improve UVB penetration by bouncing and focusing the UV light produced by the bulb. All UVB bulbs loose effectiveness over time, even if the light still appears to be working, it may no longer be producing UVB. It's recommended that you change the bulbs regularly, compact fluorescent bulbs at least every 6 months, linear fluorescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs every 12 months. Some bulbs may last longer but the only way to know for sure if they are still effective is to measure their UV output with a meter that measures UV Index or total UVB.

-Balanced diet of 30% vegetables and 70% insects for a young, bearded dragon (< 6 months old) which are more carnivorous than the omnivorous adults. That should be reversed as they age and adults fed 70-80% of their diet as vegetables for an adult. Greens should be introduced to bearded dragons at a young age. Nutritional insects include black soldier fly larvae (soldier worm larvae), superworms, earthworms, Dubia and cockroaches and the occasional wax worm, mealworm or silkworms (limit them due to their high fat content). Vegetables should be a variety of primarily dark leafy greens (greens: dandelion, collard, lettuce: romaine, green/red leaf, Boston, parsley, broccoli, etc.). Limit feeding oxalate ***** *****s like swiss chard, spinach or beet greens. A small amount of other vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, squash, etc.) and be added; variety is the key! Salad should be chopped and offered in a clean bowl or plate once to twice a day. They can be given flowers and fruit as treats or as top dressing on the salad, with fruit not making up more than 10-20% of plant material fed each day.

-Calcium and vitamin supplementation: 2-3x per week dusting of salad mix with calcium powder (without Vit D3) and 1x per week light dusting of reptile multivitamin powder with vitamin D3. Insects should be dusted with calcium powder just before feeding at every meal and crickets should be both gut-loaded and calcium dusted always. Do not use calcium with vitamin D3 for daily dusting as over supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to toxicity. It is better if the reptiles make most of their own vitamin D3 from proper UVB exposure. And if the bearded dragon is not yet reliably eating salad, dust the insects once weekly with a reptile multivitamin powder with vitamin D3.

-Clean environment. Avoid sand or gravel substrates as bearded dragons may eat this and become impacted. Paper towels, newspaper, slate, tile or reptile carpeting are safe alternatives. Make sure to clean the substrate at least every other day or more frequently as it becomes soiled.

If you have any specific questions about housing or nutrition, please let me know I would be happy to advise.

Even though younger dragons are more insectivorous than omnivorous, it's still important to start offering veggies when they are young. They should eat more and more percentage of vegetables as they approach adulthood (around 1 year or so). So while young they will eat 70% insects and 30% vegetables, this reverses as they age so adults should be eating 70% vegetables and only 30% insects. Just like with us, variety is important and helps keep them interested and healthy.

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