What’s wrong with my dragon?! If you own a bearded dragon, at one point or other you might be asking yourself this very question.
Even though bearded dragons are considered great beginner reptile pets, they can still present a challenge at times. This is especially true for someone who is just starting out.
I can speak out of my own experience about this. There were times when I couldn’t figure out what was going on with my dragon.
As worrisome as these times might have been, they pushed me to search for information. Actually, in the long run, these experiences helped me learn a lot more about my pet.
I guess the whole point of writing this is to encourage you. At some point your dragon might exhibit a behavior that makes you feel unsure of what to do.
They might appear lethargic or sick. I know that when these things happen to me, I feel totally inadequate as a dragon owner. Even so, take heart and keep pushing along. It might seem tough sometimes, but usually there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
This Isn’t in the Owners Manual
I haven’t been keeping bearded dragons as long as some people out there. That is why I still get surprised by behavior that I haven’t seen before.
Bearded dragon books and care sheets only cover so much information. Even with a proper set up and diet, things can still go wrong. Though, they are less likely to, if all of the dragon’s needs are provided for.
There is a plethora of knowledge on the internet pertaining to beardies (as they are commonly called). The thing is that you don’t really look for it until you need it.
How many people are going to look for information on symptoms of impaction, if their dragon isn’t showing any signs?
You might skim over an article, but for the most part you don’t really absorb too much, unless you are very smart. Which you might be, but as for me……well let’s just say I’m somewhere around normal (I think).
The basics, of keeping bearded dragons, are covered in most care sheets that are found on the internet. They will tell you about housing, feeding, heating, lighting and other things, kind of like this website does. Though, you have to dig a little bit deeper for advice on health issues.
I find that the best advice is prevention, but sometimes things can still go wrong. I know, because I have experienced some of these things first hand.
Do I Need to See a Vet?
Some of the best advice to give when things turn sour, is to see a veterinarian. I know, because this is the same advice that I give.
If you live a bigger city, it probably isn’t too hard to find a vet that knows about exotic pets and reptiles. If you’re like me, however, it might not be that easy. I live in a smaller town, and there are slim pickings for vets in the area.
What’s worse is when you ask the vet if they treat bearded dragons or reptiles in general, they give you funny answers.
I get answers such as a pause for a couple of seconds and a “No” in an abrupt, shocked tone of voice.
I have also received the classic line, “A bearded wha..? I think so.” Ah, the joys of reptile ownership.
For me to go to a veterinarian, I need to make at least a 3-4 hour trip. That is a long way to go, just to see a veterinarian.
I know that there is a lot of advice saying take your dragon to the vet, even if it is something minor. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for taking your dragon to the vet. Though, my initial reaction to a change in behavior, is to try and find out what is causing it myself.
Though, with more serious health issues such as extreme lethargy (besides brumation), weight loss, unwilling to eat after a couple of weeks, it is time to see a vet. Seeing a veterinarian usually isn’t too expensive. The visit will cost something, but it shouldn’t break the bank.
My Dragon’s sick………………Help!
“My dragon’s sick, please help”.
I see quite a few posts in forums like this. I have also had these same thoughts. The first bearded dragon I had ever owned, threw me a curve ball.
Before I got her, I did research for about 4-5 months. I did this not only because it was a good thing to do, but I also didn’t have the money at the time to purchase a dragon. If I had the money that research time would have been shorter for sure.
I was really excited about buying my first dragon. I had a temporary ten-gallon aquarium set up and all ready to go.
I did not know at the time that for a beginner, you should buy a dragon that is at least 6 inches long or 2 months old. I had purchased a baby-bearded dragon, no longer than 4 inches.
I find it fun learning things the hard way. Though, I have to say there wasn’t quite as much information about these things as there is now.
Things seemed to go fine for a while, would eat would eat, perch, and seem alert. I then started to see her get lethargic and she soon stopped eating.
She wouldn’t lift her head and after awhile she would keep her eyes closed for most of the day. I was frantic. I wanted to do whatever I could to make her well again.
I scoured the internet for any information I could find. I searched hundreds of posts on forums and read every bearded dragon website I possibly could.
I even got a grim prognosis from a more experienced herper (reptile keeper) that I bumped into at a pet store. He told me, basically that my dragon was going to die and that the store that sold me a 4-inch dragon was irresponsible. Needless to say, this did not make me feel any better.
I did find some information that helped a little. I had heard about feeding sick dragons through a syringe. I had tried this, to no avail.
I didn’t want to give up, though. I continued offering liquids to my dragon, using the syringe. I tried water, but had it refused. Then I tried the clear Pedialyte, and after persistence she started to drink a little.
Over a couple of days she would start to accept more and more. She started to perk up and look better and better. Until one day she actually started to eat crickets. It was only a few at a time, but it soon became more and more as time went on.
I am still not fully certain to this day of what caused her ailment. I do know, however, that she made a full recovery and went on to be a happy and healthy dragon.
Though, this story has a happy ending, it was very hard to go through at the time. I am well aware of how an owner of a sick dragon feels. It is almost heartbreaking.
Things seemed so grim during this time that I remember my wife and I praying over our dragon, because it seemed like the only hope we had. I like to believe that this is what healed her.
After all of this, my wife and I had to give our first dragon away a year later. There were extenuating circumstances and we wouldn’t be able to provide the proper care for her.
We returned her to the place we had bought her from. Contrary to the advice that I had received from my fellow herper, I believed whole heartedly that they would provide good care for her.
We left her at a pet store that specialized in reptiles. Actually, one of the workers took her home and I believe he was going to breed her.
It was hard to give her up after all we had gone through. Still to this day my wife and I wonder how our first dragon is doing.
I wanted to tell this story to encourage anybody that is going through similar things. Sometimes it seems that the people who have websites, about bearded dragons, have everything together.
Well I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t. I seem to be stumbling through the details of owning a dragon just like everyone else.
If that statement takes credibility away from my website, it doesn’t matter. It’s the truth. I’d rather be honest than act like I have everything together.
I hope that writing this will help encourage some other bearded dragon owners. I know that encouragement can make a big difference at times.
If you feel inadequate as a bearded dragon owner sometimes, you aren’t alone.
I suppose I could be the only one that feels inadequate at times. If so I have exposed myself as a fraud and a charlatan.! Well, maybe I won’t go that far.
I have, however, exposed myself as a real person who doesn’t have all the answers all the time. Even more so, I have exposed myself as real person who happens to love keeping bearded dragons and reptiles as pets.