Gravid, or just summer craziness?

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Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby Juniper » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:21 am

Norbert is four years old, confirmed female, and has never laid eggs. Normally she is very calm--not super active in her enclosure, mellow when handled--and has a good appetite. But the last couple days, she has become extremely active and restless and her appetite has dropped off suddenly and sharply. She seldom stops moving, and squirms and kicks me when I pick her up. I have heard that these can be signs a bearded dragon is gravid. If she is, they would be infertile eggs because she hasn't been around another beardie since she was a baby. However, I am unsure if this is what is going on, for the following reasons:

~Her activity is mostly glass dancing along the walls of her enclosure and trying to reach up as high as she can, with maybe 5% of her activity being digging movements on the ground. When I let her out, she gets up on her back legs and dances vertically along the walls of my apartment.
~She was like this at this same time last year as well, did not lay eggs, and went back to her normal behavior after about three weeks. (However, when she had a blood test last fall, the vet noted her high calcium levels and asked if she had ever had eggs. So maybe she had some last summer and reabsorbed them.) Is it common for bearded dragons to be much more active during the height of the summer, when the days are longer and the house they are in is warmer? I have kept her tank temps pretty constant, and they are in the ranges recommended here and by her vet.
~In the pictures I have seen of gravid beardies, they all look kind of fat and you can sort of see the outlines of eggs in their abdomen as a general lumpiness. I have also heard people describe being able to feel the eggs when they palpate the belly. Norbert does not have a plump or lumpy belly right now and has not gained any weight recently (in fact, she has been gradually losing it for several months on a low-insect diet because the vet said she was overweight and that she should). I also cannot feel any lumps in her belly and I am good at noticing irregular texture in her belly--a couple years ago, I asked for an ultrasound of a lump I felt in her belly that the vet couldn't feel and it turned out to be a tumor (he took it out and she's fine now).

Does this sound like she's gravid, or does she just get possessed in July? Are females who haven't mated more inclined to become gravid in the summer? Should I put a lay box in her enclosure just in case? I am so nervous to provide her with any loose substrate if she doesn't actually need it, because my first beardie (when I was a kid and didn't know what I was doing) died of impaction from eating sand. Any advice is appreciated.

(Also, she has a vet appointment scheduled for the 13th, so I can get help there too. I just wanted to ask here in case she needs attention sooner.)
Norbert (2015-) Cashew (2003-2015) Whoopi (2001-2003)
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Re: Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby RarestDragon » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:43 am

I'm having the same problem. But for me, it started back in February. Back then she wouldn't eat at all. Then in the beginning of June, she became lethargic, but ate a few bugs now and then. Now, she's super active again but will also eat two or three bugs a day, which is comforting for me but I still can't make heads or tails of what's going on.
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Re: Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby Juniper » Tue Jul 02, 2019 5:03 pm

UPDATE: I made her this lay box because I didn't want to wait if she did need to lay. I can hear her digging in it right now, so hopefully that's a good sign that if she is gravid she will lay eggs in it.

[Click image to enlarge]
[Click image to enlarge]


I used ZooMed "Creature Soil" for the substrate in it because it claims to be made of a mix of sand, peat moss, soil, and carbon, and that sounded promising. But it is not holding a shape as well as I hoped, even damp, so I will go get some play sand tomorrow and mix it in. Does the box need to be bigger? It's an average-sized shoebox and she's a petite dragon (17.5 inches and ~425 grams).
Norbert (2015-) Cashew (2003-2015) Whoopi (2001-2003)
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Re: Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby CooperDragon » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:18 am

I think at the very least the box will give her another outlet for energy. I hope she is able to lay eggs easily if needed. The shoebox should be large enough as long as she can dig a bit of a tunnel. If not, you can use a larger tote bin and put the shoebox over a tunnel you start by hand for her. The tote doesn't necessarily need to be in the main tank as long as she has plenty of time to access it and dig around.
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Re: Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby Juniper » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:05 pm

This is the nonsense she is up to now (I took her down right away because she was too close to the basking bulb), as well as climbing everything else she can touch and trying to GRAB her UV bulb.

[Click image to enlarge]

[Click image to enlarge]


Features of her enclosure that have never been problems before, because she doesn't like to climb, suddenly are. She is like a different dragon. She also did some head-bobbing today, which she has never done before. She's been a good green-eater for months but now won't touch them. She did eat some baby food with calcium mixed in today though, and four medium dubias. That's more dubias than I've given her in one day in awhile but I did it because I was alarmed at the weight she's suddenly lost--11 grams in three days--from constantly moving and pooping every day (she normally poops a couple times a week). I'm wondering if she needs to get to the vet sooner than the 13th. She has little flecks of black in her beard and I don't like it. But I don't know how much of this is normal and if I'm just nervous because it's so different from her normal behavior. She's clearly not on death's door or anything, but if something's wrong with her, I want to get on it before it gets worse. I'm heading out now to buy play sand and a bigger box.
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Re: Gravid, or just summer craziness?

Postby CooperDragon » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:27 pm

Since her behavior is hyperactive rather than lethargic, then it's probably not urgent and it's most likely hormonal or a restless phase if not a medical issue. If you wish to check in with a vet sooner, I certainly wouldn't hesitate to do so. They can check for developing eggs as well as other illness. This may help give you peace of mind at least.
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