Seperation

Have any questions about one of the many subtle behaviors a beardie has? Ask and discuss it here!

Re: Seperation

Postby Ellentomologist » Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:48 am

Hiya,

So first of all, good on you for taking our advice and working on making your setup(s) better! Even if you did rush into a dragon, you're definitely doing the right thing and it sounds like you're going to be a wonderful owner. I give you tremendous props for taking extra hours to make things right.

Now it sounds like you're a student and are probably a little strapped for cash - been there, done that! If you want, I have a few tips/ideas that might save you a bit of cash.

First of all, as others have mentioned, loose substrates and beardies, especially hatchings do not mix. There hasn't been a lot of discussion on why, though, which I think you might appreciate given your previous comment of wanting reasons and information.

The main concern we have is something called "impaction", which you can think of as super-constipation. The beardie can't pass waste, urate or otherwise, and eventually this will lead to death. There are a lot of tricks to deal with impaction, but the best trick is to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place. What causes impaction? Poor husbandry, foreign bodies, and dehydration generally speaking. The smaller the dragon, the more easily it is impacted, as they are easier to have become dehydrated and they have smaller passages.

Generally speaking, impaction is unlikely to happen on a healthy animal with good husbandry otherwise, even if it is kept on loose substrate. This is one of the reasons why many people still "recommend" loose substrate even though it's not the best option. Either they were experienced reptile keepers already and gave their dragons very good conditions otherwise and so didn't have a problem, were lucky and so didn't have a problem, or did had a problem but were too inexperienced or misinformed to realize it (an insane number of people I have talked to think that 6-7 years is "old" for a beardie, for instance). Most likely, some combination of the three, haha!

kingofnobbys mentioned texture linoleum, and OMG is that stuff a godsend! Very highly recommend. Another good alternative is fleece - most fabric stores (in the US at least) will have lots of fleece in their "scrap" bin that you buy for half price. Usually, this means you can get enough to make 3-4 "carpets" for a 40 gallon for about 10 bucks, and you can use it just like repticarpet, a popular and in my opinion very nice flat substrate. Tiles are also great, but I found them to be a bit of a pain in the butt when I was using them and also had a wrist injury (lifting them hurt). Paper towel I don't personally like long term, just because I went through so much of the stuff, but newspaper is the same concept and slightly more manageable.

As a final note on impaction and dehydration, the articles I've read seem to indicate that dehydration is one of the bigger causes of the issue and that a lot of people accidentally keep their dragon in a chronic state of slight dehydration. This is one of the reasons why occasional water baths are a good idea for your dragon, as well as making sure they eat their vegetables once old enough, and feeding high moisture insect every now and again if you experience issues (an example of a high moisture insect is a hornworm).

kingofnobbys also does an excellent job going through the UVB options... I'm going to add a little regarding buld types. "Compact" or "Coil" bulbs are rather vehemently hated here, with fair reason. They have - and possibly do - have a lot of issues with them. What issues? Insufficient UVB output and incorrect UV output (manufacturing error that is uncommon but still happens to often) are the two major issues. With bad luck, they can cause eye issues and eventually various metabolic issues with your dragon. That said, I think they get a little more hate then they deserve? Many people kinda react to seeing a coil bulb like it's the next Armageddon, how you MUST change it ASAP or your dragon will spontaneously implode OMG! To me, it's more of a "Yeah, that's sub-optimal and could cause you problems, please change as soon as possible". A coil bulb is better that no UVB, essentially, but a good tube bulb is what you really want.

On to your hot spot! The thermostat you have is great, but probably not entirely necessary. So long as the basking spot isn't getting hot enough to cause contact burns (which would scare my if it did) your dragons should be able to regulate their own temperatures by going between the cool areas and the hot areas in their tank. Thermostats are generally used in the husbandry of other animals like snakes which rely on "belly heat" and UTHs, where as regularly monitoring the temperature with a thermometer in a couple places to make sure your dragons have a hot basking spot (temperature 36-40 C), a "warm" area and a "cool" area (temperatures 24-30 C) is probably sufficient in this case. King's suggestion is great, but I tend to prefer UV "gun" thermometers myself.

Now for food - I don't know what feeders Australia has as I am in the US. However roach feeders are definitely the best, especially Dubia roaches. That said, offering a good variety will add enrichment to your animals lives and help fill in dietary gaps - kinda like I mentioned horn worms helping with dehydration.

For a BD, Crickets and Dubia roaches and Black Soldier Fly Larvae are your best "staples" from a health perspective, and of the three Dubia Roaches are the best intersection between cost and convenience. They're a bit of an expensive start up cost, maybe $40-60 USD to get a colony started, but they are easy to breed/rear, easy to contain, and are TONS less gross than crickets. Once your colony is up and running, you won't have to buy anymore either! :-) Crickets are cheap, but smelly, loud, and tend to escape a lot. If you feed crickets, best bet is to buy a couple days' worth at a time, gutload, feed, and repeat. BSFL are expensive and are quite difficult to breed, but are easy to contain and clean.

Mealworms and superworms are good treats and emergency food sources. You never /want/ to feed a meal that is entirely superworms or mealworms, as they are high in fat and chitin and can cause your BD issues if over utilized, but they are also so easy to keep around that they are a good "Oh shoot I'm out of ___" fill-in feeder. I have never had luck breeding superworms, but they keep for months in a proper container... Mealworms are so easy to keep a colony of they you might as well even though they aren't an ideal feeder.

Hornworms, silkworms, and waxworms are all excellent hydration sources. From healthiest to least healthy option, is goes silkworm -> hormworm -> waxworm. They are a little high in fat, and have very different care needs between them. Waxworms are easy bu gross to rear - that was actually one of my jobs in college, LOL - where as hornworms are more difficult but less yucky. I only just started trying to raise silkworms, so I can't say much there. You're probably better off buying them from a supplier than rearing them yourself though.

There are lots of other feeders, but I don't have a ton of experience with many of them.

Hope this helps!
-Ellen
About Guac: Full name is Guacamole Kangarilla. 3 year old normal. Picky eater who is often slightly thin as a result. Would eat superworms and blueberries all day, but mom says that is NOT a balanced diet.
About me: Recent graduate working at a research laboratory. Keep many invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. Love getting and giving book recommendations. HUGE DnD and tabletop RPG nerd. Sorry if I post the same info right after someone else does, I tend to open many tabs and not refresh.
Ellentomologist
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