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New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:32 am
by Selkie1993
Hi Everyone!
*I know my post is long, but PLEASE HELP! Experienced owners only please*

I am a new bearded dragon owner and before you ask, I did my research. Thoroughly! I read a few books and did hours of online research to make sure my new family member would be okay in my new home. I recently bought a bearded dragon through Craigslist and the pictures of the little guy seemed really healthy. I also did research on what a healthy bearded dragon should look like.

Here are some basic stats about my dragon:
Purchased on 10/19/19
1) He's about 4-5 months old
- about 10 inches from snout to tail
2) reddish morph
3) Male
4) relaxed personality.

Upon purchasing the bearded dragon, here is what I learned from the owner about Drogon's enclosure:
Substrate and Enclosure: clay burrowing material with calcium sand.- The substrate had not been changed since July (just bought him in October 19). While he said he cleaned it, there was dead skin, feces and urates on the enclosure decor etc.

Tank size is 75 gallon aquarium

- Changes I made:

In order for Drogon to be happy and healthy, I removed every inch of that old nasty sand, vacuumed out the tank, and cleaned it down thoroughly with Fluker's cleaning formula and rinsed it down. Patted dry with paper towels.

- Next, and I know some bearded dragon owners won't be happy, but I laid a clean new substrate down of calcium sand. Before you say anything, he has a huge dish with a reptile carpet under it for veggies, and with his crickets, I feed him in a nice big storage container so he can run around and eat without fear of impaction.

-After this, I thoroughly scrubbed his tank furniture, and anything that looked old or too small was discarded.

As you can see, his tank was gross.

Diet: Before and After
The previous owner fed Drogon gut loaded crickets along with some juvenile bearded dragon food. According to his craigslist page, he would only change the food and water once a month, but he may have cleaned it out more often *sigh and cringe* :banghead: He was fed every other day and the crickets were dusted with calcium, about 10 per feeding. Didn't offer any vegetables.

My Changes:
I cleaned out all food dishes with the same Fluker's formula. In the cage, I provided some shredded kale pieces and squished blueberries along with a bit of his BD juvenile pellets. This is changed daily, and dishes are washed. He also has access to clean water, but I also misted him twice yesterday since he was exhibiting signs of dehydration (sleepy eyes, wrinkly skin). Yesterday, he was fed 10 calcium-dusted crickets. Going to feed him 2x today since I read this is great to do for Juveniles.

Heating and Lighting
The owner used to work late, so Drogon was on a late sleeping schedule. To fix this, I purchased a timer so now he has 12 hours of basking/UVB and 12 hours of sleep.

With Owner:
Temperatures and humidity unknown, but he used a 60 W Exo Terra intense basking spot bulb.
UVB: Reptisun 10.0, 24 inches

With Me:
I removed all the stupid peel-and-stick strip thermometers since they don't do crap. I don't even use them for my fish.
Current basking spot: 95 (on the branch itself, slightly lower, about 86)
UVB bulb: this was changed with a fresh bulb, but still same strength and dimensions
Cold side: about 72 degrees
Humidity: 60. I know this is a bit high, but I live in South Carolina and we just had a bad storm, so this is a bit out of my control. However, if you know any ways to lower it, let me know :)

So what's the problem?
A few days ago, Drogon's poop seemed normal. Solid, dark, with a clear separation of urate and feces. This morning, I noticed his poop was quite loose and green (kale?) no solid urate and it smelled like a baby diaper :oops: no blood or obvious creepy crawlies (worms, etc.) The solid piece of poop was mysteriously missing... please tell me he didn't eat it. X___X

I cleaned his perch with the same Fluker's formula patted it dry and placed it back in the terrarium. I also checked out Drogon. He has some stress marks on the underside of his belly. Vent was clean.

Please help me answer the following:
1) Is everything in his habitat good? As far as changes, I want to get a higher wattage basking bulb today and this week I want to clamp his UVB inside the tank.

2) Am I doing something wrong with his diet? I'm wondering if his poop was like that because this is the first time he's eating vegetables.

3) How can I further improve my beardie's happiness and health? I really want my baby to thrive. I've fallen in love with him.

*Notes on pics:
- Cricket container was just cleaned yesterday with fresh food, so please don't think I left it like this -__- they crapped all over.


Thank you for reading my post. I sincerely appreciate all the help!
Selkie[Click image to enlarge]
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Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 6:47 am
by Claudiusx
Hi there,

To answer your questions:

1. The habitat is fine. You've made the decision to use calcisand after doing your research so there's no point in discussing that. If it was me I wouldnt use it though.
Your reptisun is the t5 right? What distance is it from his perch?
And that digital thermometer, does it have a probe end?

2. Remember, stress can cause odd poos. Changes in diets can cause odd poos. You're 2 for 2 here. I'd be more surprised of he didnt have an odd poo for a bit :)

3. He will continue to settle in as time goes on. It takes awhile sometimes. But as long as your husbandry is proper, and you're feeding him a proper diet, he will be fine :)

Getting your basking temp up is a good idea, but I wouldnt do that until you know what the basking surface temp is for that you'll want a digital that has a probe end that you can rest of the surface.

And I will say I dont really like those orange cricket cubes. They are packed with junk that ends up dying the dragons urates. IMO better to just feed the crickets potatoes and carrots. And maybe that other gutload you have for protein if you want.

And remember, relocation stress can last for a week or more in some cases. Low appetite, odd poos, and weird behaviors are all par for the course.

Looking forward to seeing more pics of your little guy :)


Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:27 am
by Selkie1993
Hi Brandon,

Thanks so much for replying so quickly! To answer:

1) I know about the calcisand and have been monitoring how he behaves with it VERY closely. Like, I work from home and I'm next to the tank xD! I feed him crickets outside the enclosure in a big storage container, so I'm not super worried about impaction, but again, I will still keep an eye on him.

2)I've read that when dragons have foul smelling poo it's a cause for alarm. You think it's just stress? Also, I try not to handle him too much. Maybe for an hour. If he's settled on my chest I let him hang but if he's fidgety I put him back.

3) In this pic, I just did some habitat arrangements. I put a hammock closer to his spot, and now it's reading 104.2 F. I also lowered one side of the hammock closer to that log so if he wants to get down, he can.

I have to say, this guy is rather lazy. He likes to sit and bask all day with the occasional walk around the tank. Haven't seen him use the waterbowl yet which is why I've been misting but will give him a bath tonight.

Any other tips or recommendations you can give? :)[Click image to enlarge]

Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:47 am
by Claudiusx
I'm not so much against sand as I am against calcisand. Mainly because it clumps up and stains the dragons. It's annoying IMO. I used to use playsand (which imo is much better) but switched to tiles probably 10 years ago. If you're set on sand, I'd look into playsand the next time you need to switch it out.

Foul smells can be a sign of parasites, but it's still poo, its gonna have a bad smell to it :lol:
I typically like to recommend giving the dragon at least a month to settle in before deciding on checking for parasites. Many dragons will have parasites, but they are not symptomatic as a healthy immune system keeps the numbers low and in check. It's only when they get out of hand that they require treatment really.

And of course, stress can cause the parasite counts to climb if present. But if that's the case, once he settles the numbers should lower if he does have them.

Either way, thats a bridge I'd recommend crossing later down the road :)

They often will be a bit timid or lazy during the relocation stress.
You can try the bath and see how he likes it. Some get freaked out in it so I'd hold off if it freaks him out. At least till he settles more.
He will be getting a decent amount of hydration from his food too hopefully :)


Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 7:50 am
by Selkie1993
Hi Brandon,

Thank you so much for easing my maternal heart. With all my pets, I want to make sure they get optimal care :) With basking, I assume if he's overheated he'll start to move, but he's so lazy lol.

In terms of feeding, do you recommend 10 crickets 2x a day for a juvenile? Honestly, I've tried researching this one and it's such a mixed bag of answers -__-

Lastly, any tips of keeping a cricket cage clean X__X? I know they're bugs so dirt is expected but MAN these guys pooped A LOT in one day.

Thanks for your continued correspondence!

Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:50 am
by Claudiusx
For his age, I'd offer him as many feeders as he wants 2 or 3 times a day. This may end up being 10 each feeding or it could be more or less. They all have different appetites. But the key is to make sure they re getting the amount that they want.

Crickets are just that way. As long as you make sure to remove the dead ones once or twice a day they should be fine.
You might want to look into other feeders in addition to the crickets though such as dubia roaches, silkworms, BSFL, etc. A varied diet is a big benefit if you can provide it :)


Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:58 pm
by kingofnobbys
Selkie1993 wrote:Hi Everyone!

Thank you for reading my post. I sincerely appreciate all the help!
Selkie[Click image to enlarge]

<<<the linear UVB tube needs to be moved UNDER the mesh.
The sand/gravel stuff is a very poor substrate for a dragon , I'd remove it as matter of priority.
Tiles or lino or paper towels are MUCH SAFER.

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<<< the sand / gravel matt needs to go in the rubbish bin. They loose bits of sand and gravel very quickly and are no better than having sand or gravel as substrate + provide a great place for insects to hide (under).

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<<<the Flukers Cricket Food and Cubes are rubbish , throw them in the rubbish bin.
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>>>dried crickets are neither nutritious or a good staple or treat for any dragon, they need to go into the bin (or maybe be given to wild birds outside)
stick to live insects ie
BSFL (phoenix worms)
blowfly lavae
crickets ( suitable sized , gut loaded with fresh carrot and high calcium greens , dusted LIGHTLY with colloidal calcium powder and on weekends with 1:1 mix of calcium & reptile vitamin powders)
or roaches (see above)
or locusts (see above).
Feed the coloured pellets to the crickets ( dry straight from the bottle - they love them ! )
Never mealworms.

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<< these analogue thermometers/hydrometers are junk , it needs to be thrown into the rubbish bin and replaced with a digital thermometer or digital combo - meter

Re: New Bearded Dragon Exhibiting Signs of Stress?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 9:29 am
by Selkie1993
Hi there,

I understand you are trying to help, but your post comes off more critical than helpful. As I mentioned in my post, he does eat live crickets, I only have those as a backup and they are gut loaded with. calcium. i also mentioned that we are working on the UVB system. As for the thermometer and hydrometer, they are working fine. Its matching the correct temperature and humidity to my nest thermostat.

I have no problem with suggestions, as the moderator before has provided some, but its the way you present it that comes across as unnecessarily harsh. Ive only had him for 4 days so Im still learning as I go with certain things. Compared to his old terrarium, which you can read about in my post, I’d say Ive done well for a new dragon owner.