Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

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Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

Postby MushuMama » Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:02 pm

Hello everyone,

After years of planning and saving my 10-year-old daughter finally got her way a couple of weeks ago, and we now have a beardie, Mushu. She was a rescue, approx 5 years old. The last couple of weeks have been an intense crash course in getting to know and understand these creatures, Mushu in particular. Unfortunately there is a lot of contradictory information about but also relatively little info available, so I’m hoping that by reaching out to the community directly I might get some reassurance and guidance. I’m honestly freaking out not knowing it we are doing the right thing by Mushu and if she is happy or not. On the upside she has definitely settled a bit in that after many days of not doing so she now eats and poops. But I find she now gapes at us a lot more when we take her out of the vivarium and no longer settles on my daughter like she did at the beginning - but maybe she did then because she was scared rigid?! - and instead runs off quite quickly to a short distance. I feel like we are doing something wrong here but I don’t know what. Should we just try leaving her alone for a few days? I also worry that we have upset her by making changes to her vivarium every few days, but I feel this has been necessary as we try and get it set up in an optimum way. She had a very poor UVB tube light that we upgraded, and although this seem to perk her up a bit initially she isn’t interested really in being in it but will often choose a shady area. Her basking spot is under a ceramic heater and sometimes she doesn’t go there at all - and sometimes stays there all day. Sometimes she stays in the coolest part of her viv in her den for a big part of the day - I sometimes end up so worried I pick her up and put her on her basking platform! We also introduced a hammoc (she has so far enjoyed snuggling under it instead of in it), some rocks (doesn’t seem to be bothered) and have ordered a grassy plant. I feel like we should swap the ceramic heater for a basking light, but then that would be another big change...Finally, I worry (lol can you tell I’m tearing my head out) as I’ve never seen her actually get onto her basking platfrom herself, only off it. Her preference to be honest seems to be to move as little as possible, so her climbing skills have yet to be seen. It’s not a steep climb and I’ve tried different configurations with the logs that lead to it. My daughter loves her pet but I think is getting quietly disheartened that we are really getting anywhere and I don’t have any answers. I suggested that she persevered picking her up and spending a bit of time in her room with her every day when she comes home from school, but after a first session where she also got to run around the room a bit - which we thought good exercise - she definite Got the hump and curled up under the hammoc for nearly 24 hours. I’m sorry if I’ve made anyone gasp in horror, we are honestly meaning well and just want Mushu to be happy and thrive. Any advice would be massively welcome, thank you!!
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Re: Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

Postby CooperDragon » Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:22 am

Welcome to the forum! It sounds like you're off to a pretty good start. With an adult, changes can take longer for them to adjust to. Please continue to be patient. Some of them can take weeks or months to adjust to a new environment or routine. It's a good sign that she is eating and pooping.

I wouldn't force her to go to the basking spot, but if you take her out of her enclosure and she moves around, I'd let her. She is likely curious about the room she is in and wants to explore a bit. I like to encourage that. It may be a long time before she is snuggly (and some of them aren't that way) but she will get enrichment and get to know her new home more easily by being able to wander a bit and explore. They especially tend to love time in a window sill to enjoy some natural sun and look outside.

What have you been offering her for food? An adult will eat mostly salads with a bug meal once or twice per week. If she is not used to this kind of diet, it may take a while for her to adjust, that's not unusual. Try hand feeding and creating some movement in the veges to grab her attention. This list is good to reference for ideas http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Nutrition.html but rotate what you offer based on what looks fresh at the store and what her favorites tend to be (my guy loves summer squash). It's also a good idea to make a log/chart of her weight using a kitchen scale and spreadsheet. Monitoring her weight trend over time will help determine overall health and can be an early indicator of health issues if they arise down the road.

For lighting, I'd definitely use a halogen or incandescent bulb for basking. The ceramic heat emitter is good for overnight if the temps in the enclosure go below about 65 or so. You want to use a bright white light that produces enough heat. Adjust it based on the surface temps you read with a digital thermometer probe or an IR temp gun. Shoot for around 100-105 (roughly) in the basking surface with areas around that in the 90s. Cool side should stay around 75-80 (ish) during the day. The UVB light should be set over the basking area right next to the basking light. The optimal distance depends on which bulb you're using. I can help you tweak that if needed.

Can you post some photos of your new buddy and her setup? You can upload photos here https://www.beardeddragon.org/useruploads/ and post them to your thread using the XIMG button when you reply.
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Re: Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

Postby MushuMama » Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:52 am

Thank you so much for responding, I really appreciate it and the guidance is really helpful! In terms of diet, Mushu was really overweight when she was taken in by the lady who we got her from as a rescue.apparently she lost some while in her care for 2 weeks, and I think she has lost a bit more with us and no longer looks that fat. Do you agree? We have had a VERY hard time to get her into veggies, so although I know that should be her main diet, it isn’t the case at the moment. It’s been a triumph to get her to eat a tiniest amount - the biggest success has been with throwing a couple mealworms in. The lady we got her from she fed her bugs daily, but we have reduced it to every other day. That might be 5 mario works or large locusts. I put in veg every day but she isn’t interested at all. I wonder if we should space the bugs out even more - twice a week? - and then entice her with greens.
She seems to like to rotate full days basking with in full UVB light, as opposed to mixing up in a single day much.
I’ve tried to attach image of her and current set up. We are going to remove that top shelf and the grassy plant I mentioned hasn’t arrived yet. The basking area is where the hammock is, which I think I’m going to lower a bit. At the moment she likes to sleep in the really dark and cool space under the bottom shelf, or under the hammock. We do turn the heater off overnight as the room doesn’t get too cold (below 20c) over night. We will look into getting a basking light for her, that area is pretty shaded really.
In terms of roaming us we are happy for her to explore though she tends to beeline for small spaces under cupboards so have to grab her before she gets there! She can get quite a run on when she is in the mood. Unfortunately we don’t have a safe window sill for her and I think she would struggle too see over the window frame anyway...we are definitely planning on taking her in the garden in the summer for little outings but that is obviously a little while off (we are in the UK).

Thank you so much for your time!
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Re: Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

Postby CooperDragon » Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:32 pm

She's looking pretty good. Still a bit on the heavy side perhaps. How much does she weigh? My adult usually fluctuates between about 450-550g depending on the season. There isn't really a set weight for them to be in, but generally about 400-600g for an adult is a healthy range. It's good to track mostly to watch the trends over time which help indicate health.

I'd definitely cut back on the bug feedings. I offer bugs maybe once a week to my adult. He eats mostly squash and dark greens and occasional other veges like green beans or capsicum/bell pepper. I have a roach colony but he isn't always interested in eating them. He loves worms though so I order hornworms and black soldier fly larvae for him now and then. When I have those in stock I will usually offer a few every other day or so. It really kind of varies, but in general he eats way more veges than bugs.

Since you're in the UK, you have access to better supplies than we do in the US (in a lot of cases anyway). Check out Swell Reptiles for some good stuff. For basking, maybe give these a shot https://www.reptiles.swelluk.com/arcadia-basking-solar-flood/ I'm not sure which wattage you'll need. It may take some trial and error based on surface temp readings in the basking area. Once you find a wattage that works, I'd pick up a few to have on hand as backups since they tend to fail suddenly. Best to have a spare rather than scramble to get one in a hurry.
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Re: Help I’m so confused with our new beardie!

Postby MushuMama » Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:53 pm

Thank you so much!! We have had a couple of really good days now, she is exploring her vivarium more and using every part of it, and happier being held again as well. My daughter and I are feeling super chuffed!!! Now to tackle her diet :)
Ps. Good to know that we can do worms only- the jumpy locusts are a nightmare lol.
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