Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

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Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby AuroraW » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:10 am

I'm babysitting my younger sisters bearded dragon, he's about a year old. I don't know much about reptiles so when I first got him, I thought he needed all his lights off at night- My other sister woke up the next morning to find him ashen-colored and cold, and quickly warmed him up. He seemed fine, but it's been a four or five days and he's not seeming to retain heat, because when I woke up this morning he was cold to the touch and lethargic.

I've left the heat lamp on constantly since four or so days ago, just turned off the white lamp at night. Since then, his back has been splotchy, not an even light brown.

I'm supposed to feed him live and dead mealworms and kale, but we didn't have kale so we fed him zucchinni, which I'm not sure he ate. He eats the live mealworms fine and has a huge appetite for them, but I haven't seen him poop. It's been about a week and a half.

I'm also supposed to syringe feed him calcium supplement, because he didn't get enough calcium as a baby so he's a little paralyzed and weak in his limbs.

Because of this, I was worried about putting him in the water as suggested (Because I haven't seen a bowel movement since I've had him), but I did anyway. I got warm water about three quarters of an inch in a sink and put him in it, and he seemed okay. He drank a lot, which I thought was fine, and he swam around a bit- Or I'm assuming he was swimming around, with his weak body it's hard to tell.

He started to move his sides in and out, which I took to be him trying to poop. I left him in there for about 20 minutes, occasionally rubbing his belly downwards. (He didn't poop.)

I took him out of the water and dried him off, I put him back in his tank with the lamp on him, since I read they lose heat quickly after a bath.

I gave him some live mealworms for a treat- But when he opened his mouth to stick one with his tongue, a huge amount of water came out- Sticky water, almost like a gel, came out of mouth and I think his nose! He still was breathing super heavy, moving his sides in and out like I saw when I thought he was pooping, and at one point he opened his mouth slightly and let out a single breath through the side of his mouth, it sounded like a "ppff" noise, like you make if you have your mouth closed and blow your lips out?

Anyway, is this normal? His beard is really dark now, but he seems to be breathing better...

questions I have; Do beardies take some time to warm up in the morning? He seemed to "Wake up" after I cuddled him for a little bit, and has been active since then.

how would I go about giving him any sort of laxative, and how do I tell if he's dehydrated vs impacted? If he's dehydrated I definitely don't want to laxative him because that'll make it worse...

I do not know if he's dehydrated or if he's impacted- I haven't seen him drink either. It's a temporary tank setup, so he doesn't have his regular water dish and I've seen him trying to attack the one he has (Biting it), so he might not be drinking from it.

TLDR: Babysitting 1 year calcium deficient/partly paralyzed/weak beardie, woke up this morning to a cold and lethargic dragon, thought dragon was impacted, gave warm bath + belly massage, vomited up large (Teaspoonful) amount of water, dark beard that puffs out when he breathes, still no poop. I don't know if he's dehydrated or impacted or how to tell if he's either. Help, please! ;n;

Edit- He's in a temporary tank setup, about 20 gallons with a red-bulb heatlamp positioned on one side of the tank, above a log he likes to sit on and a white-bulb lamp over the other half of his tank, over the water dish.
Last edited by AuroraW on Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby claudiusx » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:33 am

You should leave the lights off at night. They need darkness to sleep properly.

They are cold blooded so they dont retain heat. Their body temperature is dictated by their environment. So overnight they will cool down, and in the morning when the lights come back on, they will warm back up.

What type of uvb bulb does he have? If you dont know could you perhaps take a picture of it?

And what are the temperatures in the tank. Specifically the basking surface temp. And what device are you measuring temps with.

It sounds like he might have aspirated some water in the bath. Did he put his whole head underwater? Sometimes they get too excited or scared, and try to breathe, and that's obviously an issue. It sounds like he probably drank too much too.

How is he doing today? Blackbeard at all?
Its important that his temperatures are proper if he did aspirate water. So if you could get back to us on his temps and the type of thermometer you use that would be great.

-Brandon
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby AuroraW » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:01 am

Brandon- Thanks for the quick reply. Here are some photos of the tank right now- It's been a bit frantic around the house lately, so sorry that it's messy! I put the towel in there this morning to help him keep some heat. Normally the heat lamp is on the other side, I switched it around to try and get an accurate basking temperature so that it was closer to the temperature strip.
Additionally, he did put most of his whole head under- I mean, the bottom half of his head under for a few seconds, (Up to his eyes) and I was worried it would get into those little ear holes on the sides of his head.

So you're telling me I can turn the red bulb heat lamp off during the night and he'll be fine? Just to make sure- I've never cared for a reptile before, the most exotic animal I've cared for has been a bird. When I turned the light off the first night, we woke up the next morning and he was extremely dark everywhere, all black colored. Also, he did go completely blackbeard for a little bit, I assumed he was ticked off at me giving him a bath, his owner told me he doesn't like the water.

His beard color looks better, but it's still darker than I'd like- Normally it's a vibrant orangey color.

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I don't have a photo of his regular home tank, but he's got a big custom built setup like four times the size of that, with rocks and climbs and hides and stuff, I can't stress enough that this is just a temporary one, his owner should be back by the end of the week. This one was more of a "Wait, we can't take him with us? Quick, I need to find a tank to put him in" and this was all that we had on hand.
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby claudiusx » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:19 am

Ok it will be hard to offer advice since it isnt his normal setup. I encourage you to ask the owner to join this site themselves and allow us to help them.

His temporary setup isnt really good.

I'm just going to go over a really quick and rough guide for what you should have, so you can see that this setup isnt proper.

He needs a basking bulb. This needs to do 2 things, provide the heat the dragon needs and provide a white light. Not a colored light like red.
He needs a good uvb bulb. Basically this means one of the long tubes the stretches part of the length of the tank.
There HAS to be a reliable thermometer. a digital with probe end or an ir temp gun. The stick on thermometer is basically useless.

I know it's unfair to ask you to spend money, but if you are willing, I'd at least go to the petstore and pick up a digital with probe end. It should be less the 10 bucks.
And if his heat bulb is that red bulb, I'd replace it with a regular halogen or incandescent bulb you probably have lying around. With your thermometer you'll be able to tell if you need to find a stronger bulb, or if you need to raise the lamp to lower the temps.

How much longer is he with you?

And yes complete darkness at night. No lights. As long as the temp stays above 65. If it drops below that at night in your house you would want a ceramic heat emitter. These screw into normal light sockets and provide heat but no visible light.

-Brandon
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby AuroraW » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:29 am

I think she'll be back by the end of the week. Would a meat thermometer work to check the air temperature? That's what I used to test the temperature of the water.

Also; The red bulb is apparently an Exo Terra 150 Watt Basking Bulb, so is that still fine, at least until the end of the week? I googled basking bulb to see the price range of what I might need and saw one that looked like the bulb, so I went down and unscrewed it and saw that written on the bulb's base.

Despite all that, however- I'm still concerned that he hasn't had a bowel movement since I got him.


EDIT:

Okay, I just was about to leave the house to get some kale and noticed that his mouth was opened. He's moved, he's sitting on his log under the heat lamp, but his mouth is wide open. There also appear to be two dark purply spots on his shoulders I didn't notice before-
Picture incoming-
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby claudiusx » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:57 am

It will suffice I suppose, but it would be better if got had a regular bulb in your house you could use for him.

The meat thermometer wouldn't result work either as you're wanting something accurate so you know what adjustments need to be made.

The mouth gaping occurs when they are basking as a way to regulate their body temps. it's good he's doing that it most likely means his basking spot is warm enough and that will also help dry or his lungs if he aspirated anything.

Its not uncommon for adults to go a week or two without pooping. Stress can cause that too, such as a new environment.

At this point I think the best you can do for him is take him outside with you for a bit each day so he can get some natural uv. And to have his owner join up here when they can if they want more advice :)

-Brandon
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby LouieLizard » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:03 am

AuroraW wrote:I think she'll be back by the end of the week. Would a meat thermometer work to check the air temperature? That's what I used to test the temperature of the water.

Also; The red bulb is apparently an Exo Terra 150 Watt Basking Bulb, so is that still fine, at least until the end of the week? I googled basking bulb to see the price range of what I might need and saw one that looked like the bulb, so I went down and unscrewed it and saw that written on the bulb's base.

Despite all that, however- I'm still concerned that he hasn't had a bowel movement since I got him.


EDIT:

Okay, I just was about to leave the house to get some kale and noticed that his mouth was opened. He's moved, he's sitting on his log under the heat lamp, but his mouth is wide open. There also appear to be two dark purply spots on his shoulders I didn't notice before-
Picture incoming-
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An open mouth is a sign of two things. Either he is:
"Panting" (called gaping in reptiles), which means he is at an optimal body temp and doesn't want to get any warmer. He should only gape when basking. If he is trying to get away from the heat with his mouth open and trying to soak in his water than he is to hot.
Or he has a respiratory infection. If he has this then you may hear raspy or clicking noises when he breaths and possibly discharge from he mouth.
The spots behind the head are normal.
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby AuroraW » Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:56 am

Thanks for the help you guys. He's been acting normal as far as I can tell- His beard is dark most of the time, especially in the corners of his neck where it puffs out a little bit. I don't know if he's just pissed off at me still whenever he sees me or not.

Today, after roughly two weeks, he took the biggest bowel movement I ever saw. It was a huge rope that was as long as he was. But it's different consistencies and shapes- There's a bit in there that looks like some sort of organ?? Don't know if this is normal or not, but you guys are the experts. Just to ease my anxious mind, will you guys look at his crap for me? Here's a photo. He went wild afterwards and kicked up his food pile, which was coincidentally where he took his crap. There's a huge white bit, the size of the tip of my thumb, but that yellowy bit is about an inch long. It seemed to become runny towards the end, which I'm a bit concerned about. I had read that these guys produce urates instead of pee- Is that the white organ looking part? What about the weird yellow bit...? It stinks to high heaven. :silent:

Edit; The long yellowy part is about an inch long and ROCK hard. It's got a long stringy bit at the end of it, and the small white stomach looking thing is hard and a bit chalky.
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby claudiusx » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:15 pm

Yeah his urate looks not too pleasant. (thats the yellow and white part that is hard, it should be pure white and slightly soft)

He is either a bit dehydrated or he's been over supplemented with calcium powder or multi vitamin powder.

I would try sitting him in a bath and seeing if he will drink. Don't let him drink too much, or keep his head underwater too long. If he is thirsty and drinks, he might drink too much. Better to let him have a little bit, and then a bit more later on if he is willing to even drink.

-Brandon
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby AuroraW » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:28 pm

Thanks Brandon. I'll try giving him a bath with less water in it this time to avoid aspiration. He immediately turned a light sandy color after his bowel movement, and hasn't been too dark since. He has been much more active as well. He must have been having some trouble with it, poor guy.

We have a water dish in there, I'm not sure if he's just not drinking from it, or what's going on. Thanks for being so patient with me.

As for the calcium- He is getting 0.4 milligrams (I think is the measurement, the syringe is very small) of calcium supplement a night. When he was a baby, he did not receive much calcium, and it has caused something that makes him walk all funny.

It may be that it's just not absorbing well if he's dehydrated, or it may be too much. I'll talk to his owner tomorrow and check the name on it- It's a tall, thin, unmarked bottle of yellowy liquid.
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby claudiusx » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:43 pm

I completely forgot you were using liquid calcium, I'm sorry.

Based on that urate he might be getting too much. And you can't really make up for lost time by supplementing extra with it now, it's best to just get him back to a normal amount imo. But that would be something to discuss with his owner I'm sure.

Im glad he seems to be feeling better after the BM!

-Brandon
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Re: Babysitting a beardie, but he's acting weird?

Postby Drache613 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:54 am

Hello,

He looks to be in good condition. Do you still have him or did he go back home with his owner?
I hope the lighting situation gets upgraded a bit so the red lamp isn't used anymore. As suggested,
if any nighttime heating is needed, we normally recommend a ceramic heat emitter. The red or any
colored lamps tend to disturb their sleeping.
They need a bright white light during the day, for basking.

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