Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Rescue dragon: need help!

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Rescue dragon: need help!

    Tonight I ended up with an unexpected new family member.

    I was buying a secondhand tank for my geckos, went to pick it up and it had a large bearded dragon inside! The seller told me that someone had given it to him but he didn't want it, so he was including it with the cage. I could see (and smell) at a glance that this poor animal needed help, so I agreed to take him even though I've never kept one before. I do like dragons though, and am perfectly willing to do and get whatever it takes to give him a good forever home. He would NOT be my first rescue, several of my other pets are "rejects". But he's my first dragon.

    Once I got him home, the first order of business was checking his health and making him more comfortable. He is about 15 inches from snout to tail tip, I guess that means he's fully grown. I say "he" because when I inspected his vent I noticed he had two bulges just above the vent. I've never held a bearded dragon so I'm not sure of his physical condition. His belly seems very flat underneath, basically concave. I know they can flatten themselves at will, so perhaps that's not a good way to tell? I also suspect he may be dehydrated, as his skin stays up when gently pinched. He seems quite lethargic and didn't object much when I held and examined him. I found a lot of stuck shed all over his body, so I rinsed him with warm water in the sink and picked the skin off. He also had some sand/poop stuck all over his vent. His nails are pretty long, I don't know if they need them clipped?

    His water dish was so filthy I had to scrub it with bleach before refilling it. There's about an inch of sand as substrate, I scooped out numerous poops and dead crickets. Food - there was a bowl of pellets in his cage so I figured that would tide him over until tomorrow when I can get out to the pet store. Then I found that these pellets were the source of the stench in his cage - stuck together, mold in the bottom of the dish. There were three large crickets running around the cage, which he was ignoring. I removed those. Since I had no other food for him, I chopped up a bit of fresh apple, carrot and strawberry and gave him that. Right away he started eating. I'm still concerned he's dehydrated, would it be OK to mix up some Repashy or Pangea crested gecko diet for him? I thought if I made it a bit watery he'd drink it, since it's fruit-based. What's the best commercial diet for dragons?

    The cage had no light, so I took a lamp from my snake cage with a UV violet light to keep him warm for now. All he had in the cage was a smallish, flat rock. I made a makeshift hide out of cork bark and another rock. It's not big enough for him to completely fit inside, so I want to find or make a bigger and better hide for him. Also, I believe his tank is too small, only 18x18x24. I bought that tank for my arboreal cresties. I guess a long and flatter tank would be better? What size is best for an adult dragon? I know they need a background on the tank as well.

    Substrate: I'm not a huge fan of sand, but is that the best for them? Or is something like reptile cloth or even newspaper better? (I use newspaper for my snake).
    Lighting: I could use advice on the best type of lighting and fixture to use. I guess as a desert species they need full uva/uvb? Or do they need separate day and night lights?
    Furnishings: what's best to use for a hide? Do they need other accessories such as a reptile hammock, larger flat rock, plants etc. Do they need to climb and if so what's best for them to climb on?

    So my main concerns are getting this dragon into a proper setup, and making sure he's healthy. I'm a bit worried about his lethargic behaviour and possible malnutrition and dehydration. I'm creating a shopping list to get to the pet store ASAP tomorrow, so I'd really appreciate some advice about what needs to be on my list. In the meantime, I'll continue researching their care on my own...

    Here he is. His tail's in shadow under the bark. He has since climbed up onto the bark after discovering he has a nice warm light to bask under!


  • #2
    FYI - I've been doing research to answer my own questions, and found there's a bearded dragon forum at beardeddragon.org. I've posted this on that forum. I'd have deleted this thread here but I'm not sure how. So feel free to answer anyway if you want; I'll keep an eye on both threads.

    Comment


    • #3
      He looks very dehydrated. Beardeddragon.org is wonderful when you're dealing with a sick beardie.
      Boston Terrier 1.0, Stetson R.I.P. 8/15/2015.
      Rough Collie (rescued) 1.0, Teddy
      Crested Geckos 9.11.12
      Pine Isle Chahoua 1.0.1 Hunter, Cami
      Leopard Geckos 1.2 Confetti, Snowdrop, & Beauty
      Bearded Dragon 1.0 Jayden

      Comment


      • #4
        you'll probably get all the answers you need at beardeddragon.org
        but a few quick answers to the specific questions you had:

        1) lighting: you'll need a full UVB (10.0) and a basking light. there are lots of UVB lights out on the market, and most are not very good; my favorite brand is Zoo Med Reptisun. you want a tube light, not a compact CFL, that runs about 2/3 or 3/4 the length of the tank. for a basking light, all that matters is that it gets up to about 105F-110F at the basking site. basking site should be close to the UVB source as well.
        2) caging: 36x18x18 is considered minimum. i prefer larger, 4' x 2' floor space. but your dragon being smaller (most adult dragons will be in the 18-22" range, or larger) the 36x18 might be ok. btw, the small size of your dragon could mean he's younger, or it could just be from malnutrition.
        3) substrate: sand is not ideal. i use slate tiles, which has the added benefit of helping file down their nails naturally. easy to clean and replace as needed. reptile carpet is ok too, or paper towels/newspapers.
        4) furnishings: a basking spot, somewhat elevated, such as a rock or branch, right below their basking lamp. 2 hides, one on the warm side and one on the cool side (you can find a hide that can also be climbed on for basking if space is a concern). beardies do like to climb some, so a branch or furnishing with some height can be added as well (i have a fake bonsai tree my beardie loves to climb on). that's the basics, you can build from there. also, beardies don't recognize standing water, so a water dish isn't completely necessary, though it' won't be harmful either, but if that one is so nasty you might want to get rid of it instead. for rehydrating, try a 15-minute bath in tepid water, or water mixed with pedialyte. you can also drip water or pedialyte on the beardie's snout and he'll lick it off if he's thirsty.

        as for the beardie's condition, considering how poorly the reptile was cared for and housed, a vet appt would definitely be in order. you'll want to quarantine him for now from your other reptiles and wait for a clean bill of health, no parasites or infections that could spread, before keeping it around any other reptiles you have.
        1.0.0 Correlophus ciliatus "MacGruber"
        1.0.0 Pogona vitticeps "J.J."
        0.0.1 Tiliqua gigas evanescens 'Irian Jaya' "Jub-Jub"

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by timisimaginary View Post
          you'll probably get all the answers you need at beardeddragon.org
          but a few quick answers to the specific questions you had:

          1) lighting: you'll need a full UVB (10.0) and a basking light. there are lots of UVB lights out on the market, and most are not very good; my favorite brand is Zoo Med Reptisun. you want a tube light, not a compact CFL, that runs about 2/3 or 3/4 the length of the tank. for a basking light, all that matters is that it gets up to about 105F-110F at the basking site. basking site should be close to the UVB source as well.
          Unfortunately I had no luck finding the Reptisun 10 bulb after going to three different pet stores. They had the short coiled bulbs but no long ones. I was forced to settle for Petsmart's house brand light and fixture for now. At least I was able to hang the fixture inside the cage, with great difficulty. Fixture has only two tiny holes for hooks. If I can ever find the Reptisun bulb and a fixture for it (looked for that today, no dice at Lowe's) I'll look at replacing the crap one and keeping it as a spare.

          Originally posted by timisimaginary View Post
          2) caging: 36x18x18 is considered minimum. i prefer larger, 4' x 2' floor space. but your dragon being smaller (most adult dragons will be in the 18-22" range, or larger) the 36x18 might be ok. btw, the small size of your dragon could mean he's younger, or it could just be from malnutrition.

          3) substrate: sand is not ideal. i use slate tiles, which has the added benefit of helping file down their nails naturally. easy to clean and replace as needed. reptile carpet is ok too, or paper towels/newspapers.
          4) furnishings: a basking spot, somewhat elevated, such as a rock or branch, right below their basking lamp. 2 hides, one on the warm side and one on the cool side (you can find a hide that can also be climbed on for basking if space is a concern). beardies do like to climb some, so a branch or furnishing with some height can be added as well (i have a fake bonsai tree my beardie loves to climb on). that's the basics, you can build from there. also, beardies don't recognize standing water, so a water dish isn't completely necessary, though it' won't be harmful either, but if that one is so nasty you might want to get rid of it instead. for rehydrating, try a 15-minute bath in tepid water, or water mixed with pedialyte. you can also drip water or pedialyte on the beardie's snout and he'll lick it off if he's thirsty.

          as for the beardie's condition, considering how poorly the reptile was cared for and housed, a vet appt would definitely be in order. you'll want to quarantine him for now from your other reptiles and wait for a clean bill of health, no parasites or infections that could spread, before keeping it around any other reptiles you have.
          Re the cage: I may be wrong on the measurements but I'm pretty sure it's at least a 40 gal long. He's now on newspaper substrate which I like because I can see when/if he poops and it's easy to clean any messes. I think he likes it too, he certainly moves around more than he did on the sand. For the future I thought of perhaps putting in textured ceramic floor tiles. Even one tile would help with his nails. For now, he has a flat piece of granite under his basking light. I've made a hide/basking area for him by putting a big piece of "driftwood" (originally from a fish tank) as a bridge from the granite to another large rock. He climbs on it or hides under it. I was afraid of taking up too much floor space with a second hide, but I can make another for him.

          It's interesting but not surprising that a desert reptile wouldn't recognize water. I've replaced his former water dish with a flat plastic deli tub. I figured a bit of extra humidity wouldn't hurt even if he doesn't drink it. I've been soaking him for 10 minutes at a time in lukewarm water, every second day. As soon as he's in the water, he takes a long drink. He has lots of old shed built up, and whenever I bathe him some more of it comes loose and I pick it off.

          I'm feeding him grated squash, a bit of carrot every couple of days (I know they can't have it too often) and finely chopped collard greens. These are mixed with some Zoo Med adult dragon pellets and water. He also gets 6-8 large crickets, dusted with Reptivite vitamins and calcium/D3 powders. I know normally to dust two or three times per week, but since he's probably malnourished I'm giving these supplements every day for a week or two. I know he's eating, in fact tonight when I put his food down he went straight to the dish and began eating.

          The good news is, he's more active now, doesn't look so downtrodden, and is eating and pooping. He's funny, won't touch crickets in the evening but looks for them as soon as I turn his lights on in the morning. So he gets them for breakfast.

          Re quarantine: I quarantine all of my reptiles, in that I wash my hands in disinfectant soap before and after handling each one or servicing their cages. Utensils and furnishings are never shared between cages, or if they are, they're boiled or run through the dishwasher first. I work in an animal shelter (ferrets) and am very familiar with the importance of quarantine, especially for new animals.

          Re vets: The vets here in my city compete to see who can charge the most, and the exotic vets are the worst. It's pretty sick. $700 for a routine checkup for my African Grey. I'm sure they'll charge several hundred to look at my beardie. I'd rather spend the money getting him in a proper setup for now. I'll call them tomorrow anyway just to get a better idea, and see how he does in his new clean home with proper care. If he wasn't eating, pooping normally or drinking I'd be rushing him to the vet anyway.

          I've really become attached to this guy! I never knew much about bearded dragons before, but he seems quite fascinating, intelligent and responsive. I want to give him a name but I want to make sure he'll be ok first. One thing is for sure, if he doesn't make it I will definitely get another beardie!

          Comment


          • #6
            So awesome of you to take him on. I'm a sucker for those situations too. Keep up the good work!

            Our bearded likes a light misting. He even licks the water off the driftwood and walls. He's goofy like that.

            I'd keep him on paper so you can better gauge his feces and make sure he doesn't have any other issues.

            Comment


            • #7
              sounds like he's in good hands. foodwise, some dragons will eat pellets and some won't, mine won't touch them, they ended up going to the roaches. there's no such thing as a complete diet for BD's like there is for cresties, but a good assortment of greens and veggies, with occasional insects (adult dragons should eat more veggies/greens than insects) and fruit as a treat, will make for a good diet. collard greens, arugula, mustard/turnip/dandelion greens, and various squashes are all good choices.

              if a vet visit is out of the question, i would at least get a fecal test done. non-reptile vets or mail-order fecal testing can do it for cheaper if necessary.
              1.0.0 Correlophus ciliatus "MacGruber"
              1.0.0 Pogona vitticeps "J.J."
              0.0.1 Tiliqua gigas evanescens 'Irian Jaya' "Jub-Jub"

              Comment


              • #8
                I cringed as I read the conditions you found him in. Thank you for rescuing him!
                1.0.0 R. auriculatus - Quinn
                1.0.0 C. ciliatus - Good Hank
                1.0.0 Mutt - Waldo
                1.2.0 Cats - Oliver, Dharia and Chloe
                iherp.com/sarahberry

                Comment


                • #9
                  I got a rescue in similar condition. It's fantastic that he is eating on his own. I had to put veggies, the formulated pellets and water in a blender and force feed with a syringe. Does your vet sell Critical Care? I used that as well, mixed with water and syringe fed. But since yours is eating dusted insects it's merely a suggestion and not a requirement.

                  I was also advised that you can use unflavored Pedialyte to rehydrate. I used a 50/50 Pedialyte and water solution as a "bath" once daily. I also syringe-fed (watered?) pure Pedialyte to the dragon to help with re hydration.

                  Good luck!
                  May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just an update. His name is George now. George is doing fine, I've been bathing him every couple of days and he got rid of a lot of stuck shed. He's definitely heavier now with a bit of a pot belly. When I got him he was skinny and his belly was hollow. I've been giving him a variety of live foods, crickets, mealworms, phoenix worms. I offered him a superworm but he spat it out! I buy the phoenix worms small and then feed them up/gut load them on dragon pellets mixed with water. The worms love the pellets - George, not so much. He gets a variety of greens as well, but doesn't eat much of the veggies.

                    I am guessing George is happy, based on his darker overall colour. When I got him he was completely faded out and I didn't realize he had a pattern on his back. He's got a new hammock, which he likes but is too lazy to climb up on it. If I place him on it he will stay there for hours. He has his basking light and a long UVB tube mounted inside the tank. I bring him out to watch TV, he sits on the couch beside me and the cats don't bother with him (too prickly and not active enough). Here he is:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wow, he looks soooo much better! Congratulations on the great job you've been doing restoring him to health and providing a caring home for him.
                      3.3.0 Correlophus ciliatus (crested geckos)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Updates? You've done a wonderful job with this beatific little guy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          He looks amazing now! Great job!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Amazing job giving this guy a happy healthy home. My two crested like to watch tv as well.
                            I have two Cresteds Chestnut is the older, and has no tail, morph- extreme blond Harley-Chevron pinstripe, Willo is the younger, and has her tail, morph- extreme Harley pinstripe.

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X