New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

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New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby katk » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:18 pm

Hi! I'm completely new to this forum and this is my first post. We've had our juvenile Beardie for nearly a month and I still have so many questions- this is way more complicated than the cats we're used to! Here are some facts about Tofi:

-Juvenile, ~4 months old(?), ~8", not sure if it's male or female. (sorry for all the "it" references!)
-Purchased at reputable reptile pet store but still got some questionable advice.
-Habitat: 20 gal tank, basking area, cool area, hiding spot, shavings for substrate. (Note: trying to find a bigger tank!)
-Lighting: white heat lamp and UVB (Reptisun 10.0). Black heat bulb for sleeping.
-Diet: started with mixture of crickets and dubia but have switched to dubia only with occasional mealworms. (And always with a mix of lettuce in a food bowl.) It eats 30-40 1/2" dubia per day (dusted with vitamins 1x/day).
-Temp: We keep it 90s-100s during the day and 80s at night.

Sorry if I'm missing some important info. Anyway, here are my questions:
1. Tofi spends all day in its basking spot- often sleeps there too. (Occasionally burrows on the bottom for sleeping.) I'm worried it's depressed- should it be moving around more?
2. Tofi is quite skittish and runs/jumps off of us when we try to hold it. We have a large old house and I'm terrified of losing it in all the nooks and crannies. Because of this we haven't had much luck handling it. One time it jumped off my hand as I was putting it back in the tank and it fell behind on the floor. This was pretty traumatizing for both of us. Should I be trying to take it out daily? How do I do this safely? I pet it all the time and have gotten it to eat dubia and mealworms from my hand.
3. Pooping in the food bowl- is this common? It happens ALL the time- sometimes before it has eaten all the dubia and I'm afraid it's going to accidentally ingest it's own poop. (We keep saying "don't sh*t where ya eat!")
4. Is it okay that we mainly only feed it dubia?

Thanks in advance!
[Click image to enlarge]
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby AHBD » Sun Oct 04, 2020 9:48 am

Hi there Kat, and welcome ! Tofi looks pretty healthy and has some nice orange color . :) I'll try to address everything, first of all was that a typo when you listed his length as 8" or do you mean snout to vent ? He looks to be more in the 12 -13 " range . The set up is nice but it's just a wee bit small for him and he'll be growing very quickly, you can start looking in to a larger tank , even try Craig's list or local classifieds in your area. You'll want something at least 60 gallons ideally, longer rather than tall. You can look at youtubeor on this site for a DIY build if you're handy. :) Pooing in the food bowl is just his habit, not much you can do about that unless you can take him out + put him on newspaper/papertowels in a warm room and hope he goes. Some do so regularly in a warm bath. Black bulbs are bad for their eyes actually so no colored bulbs at all. If the temp. gets below 64 at night you can use a ceramic heat emitter [ CHE ] that produces heat without any light. You need a dome with a ceramic fixture for the CHE. Diet sounds good, kale, collards, mustard + turnip greens are all good staple greens and some squash is good as well. Avoid spinach, swiss chard and most lettuce. Dust bugs very lightly with calcium powder every other day . I keep calcium WITH D3 as well as without and switch every other feeding. You don't want to get too much D3. A vitamin powder only once a week if the dragon is eating well.
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby KarrieRee » Sun Oct 04, 2020 10:35 am

The UVB looks way to high-- what UVB bulb are you using? T 5 or a T 8? And the screen is it a fine mesh like a screen door or wide holed like a dime or similar?
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby katk » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:48 pm

Hi AHBD and Karrie,

Thanks for your responses! That's funny about the length- I took the measurement a couple of weeks ago but I think I used a weird tape measure and/or did a terrible job. ;) I'll try to check again. The UVB is a T5 and the screen is finer mesh like a screen door. We'll look into a ceramic bulb for night. We are already trying to find a larger tank- checking CL and Nextdoor and whatever else we can find- it's been hard to find the right one. It has been moving around a bit more since I posted that, so I think it's probably doing ok. The thing that has been hardest is getting it to warm up to us- it is just SO scared when we try to take it out. It tries to jump down from high up and run away. We have barely taken it out because we're so scared we'll lose it. I suppose we should build some kind of pen where it can't run away?
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby KarrieRee » Mon Oct 05, 2020 2:39 pm

Your T 5 needs to be inside the tank w/ basking decor directly underneath and approx 12-15 inches -- I would not be taking her out as of yet -- she needs to acclimate to her surroundings and she needs to get used to you--- I would start by putting your hands in her tank as much as possible and hand feeding her BSFL or greens - or butter worms or small super worms - get a piece of clothing or fleece blanket and put in her hide some thing w/ your smell on it -- I would hold her a little at a time like 5 minutes outside the tank and every day getting her used to being held --
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby katk » Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:48 pm

Thank you for the great suggestions, Karrie!
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby AHBD » Mon Oct 05, 2020 5:51 pm

Kat can you take a pic of the screen like this ?

https://www.beardeddragon.org/useruploa ... _large.jpg

Karrie meant a screen like this is fine, not screen with dime sized holes which there are no such unless home made. And since you've had the dragon for a month and have your scent all over the tank and the entire room you don't need to delay handling, actually no dragon needs our scent to determine if they will allow us to handle them. Hand feeding is iffy because they can then always try to nip at your fingers. Just pick him up, reach right in gently but firmly grab him and hold him against your chest firmly. They may struggle very briefly but will settle down very quickly. If you need gloves and long sleeves at first, that's fine. But don't delay, he will learn that if he makes a fuss you will leave him be and you can't do that. Once he gets used to being held like that you can walk in to a safe room where there are no places for him to run under to hide and let him on the floor to explore.
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby saraho » Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:03 am

Is the drawing in the back of the tank by one of your kids? I LOVE THIS! I am a children's librarian and my dragon is an education animal at work. He doesn't have any backdrop at all, I originally wanted him to be able to see out of the window, but now he's been moved away from it.

You've inspired me to have a stack of paper available to kids to color a background for Charlie!! I'm trying hard to find ways to interact with kids while I am unable to hold in-person story time sessions. This will be so fun!! I'm giddy with excitement!
“Let me tell you: the only way to get rid of dragons is to have one of your own.”
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby zachburnav » Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:21 am

Other than what Karrie and AHBD said, I would recommend changing the substrate because especially with babies and juveniles, they tend to be messier eaters and often ingest loose substrate. Unless you're being SUPER careful, I personally don't think loose substrate is the best, especially wood chips. Try getting tile, nonadhesive shelf liner, paper towels, newspaper, or ReptiCarpet. You can also sex him/her using the flashlight method (just search up "bearded dragon flashlight sexing"). Tofi sure is a good looking dragon :D !!
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby katk » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:41 pm

saraho wrote:Is the drawing in the back of the tank by one of your kids? I LOVE THIS! I am a children's librarian and my dragon is an education animal at work. He doesn't have any backdrop at all, I originally wanted him to be able to see out of the window, but now he's been moved away from it.

You've inspired me to have a stack of paper available to kids to color a background for Charlie!! I'm trying hard to find ways to interact with kids while I am unable to hold in-person story time sessions. This will be so fun!! I'm giddy with excitement!


Sarah, yes, my 5 yo drew that! She wanted Tofi to have a "jungle" background. :) You could have the children make drawings and have a constant rotation for yours. I love it that he's "an education animal." We have a mini kindergarten pod while waiting for the schools to reopen here, and the girls are obsessed with Tofi when they're on Zoom breaks.
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby katk » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:52 pm

@AHBD and Zach, I appreciate your input. We're searching really hard for larger tank, and when we find one, we will really give everything a makeover! Currently the mesh is much finer than the pic you sent. I was wondering about the substrate- the reptile store recommended it when we had adopted an even younger dragon first! (That one didn't work out..) Fortunately, Tofi eats only dubia in a food bowl right now so there's very little risk of it ingesting substrate. Re: the handling, the method you suggested is interesting and I can try that. I am so worried that it's already a bit traumatized by other times we've taken it out and it was terrified (the time it jumped behind its tank was awful!). I'll just keep trying. I do pet it every day and it has been readily eating dubia and mealworms out of my hands. We've only had it a month so I guess it just takes time...
Oh almost forgot- I actually tried the flashlight sexing method yesterday and still couldn't quite tell. (Maybe it wasn't dark enough in the room?) I'll try again.
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Re: New Beardie parent- lots of questions!

Postby AHBD » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:36 pm

Yes keep handling, gently + slowly but firmly. If you want, post a pic here with the tail arched up, one of us can probably tell you what the gender is . You don't need the flashlight but if you like you can do pics with + without the flashlight.
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