How to get beardie to eat a healthier diet & drink water

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How to get beardie to eat a healthier diet & drink water

Postby IreneC » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:28 pm

Hi all,
My female beardie, Aragorn, is the pickiest eater alive, and its really messing with her health. Some quick backstory: My roommate got her about 3 years ago when she was a juvenile (probably a bit over one year), and claimed they knew how to take care of her, but as it turns out, they didn't, so I took over full custody about a year ago -- but I know all the details of her husbandry before that.

She was really malnourished and under weight when I took over, and never really learned how to eat a variety of foods. She doesn't really recognize things that dont move (aka any veggies) as food, so I have to hand feed her vegetables every day, basically sneaking them into her mouth while she's chewing a worm, or cutting squash/bell pepper into wedge shapes so I can squeeze it into her mouth. She seems happy enough to eat them once its in her mouth, and definitely gets excited/happy about some foods, like fruit, squash, and collard greens (although she goes through phases with each one). I've tried every healthy veggie under the sun, and no matter how happy she is to eat it if I put it in her mouth, she wont stick her tounge out or go for it at all if I don't! If I ever leave food in a dish for her, she just ignores it. Once I'm no longer working from home, I'm worried because I wont be able to hand feed her while I'm gone all day, and I don't know what to do!

Not only are her veggie eating habits horrible, her insect choices aren't great either :'( Shes accustomed to and loves super worms, but won't really eat much else... She ate crickets when she was younger, but due to some health problems I'll discuss in a bit, she has trouble getting around to catch them. I've tried dubias, silk worms, BSF, hornworms, and waxworms. She's eaten a few each time, but then refuses after that, which means I spend a lot on varied insects, and have to throw many away. One of the big difficulties is that she's been living on newspaper her whole life, and seems to have adapted to recognize worms/food by the sound they make crawling on the paper. If the insect doesnt make that noise, she doesn't like it or eat it... So I can't even put her worms or dubias in a bowl to keep them from running away across the tank! So I also have to basically poke worms in front of her and supervise her until she eats one.

I know that the general wisdom is that she's basically trained me to hand feed her, and thus feels no need to do anything else if she can get what she wants (superworms and some veggies shoved in her mouth), so I need to stop letting her get her way. But she's still not super healthy, and even when I try to do the "not feeding her for a bit", it doesnt entice her any more. I've also tried the suggestions of putting worms in her salad so she eats the veggies accidentally, but then she can't find the worms (or they dont make the right sound...). I've also tried adding pellets to the top of her salad since she used to eat those off the ground when she was little, but no luck.

As for her hydration, she never seems to have learned to drink water. She has a water dish in her tank, but she ignores it, and I soak her twice a week, but she won't drink out of it. I've tried dripping water on her nose, putting water drops on a rock in front of her or the glass of her tank -- nothing. It was so bad that she's been put on fluids twice by the vet. (I've seen the vet several times for her health problems and racked up over $1000 in bills -- they've checked all the standard stuff, believe me). She obviously gets some water from veggies, and recently I've been trying to give her some water heavy plants in addition to her regular ones (think cucumber, lettuce, all the stuff we usually say not to feed because of the water content :)).

Although these aren't directly relevant to the question of changing her eating habits, here quickly are the health problems she has going on: My roommate kept her without a UV light or a nighttime heat lamp, so she was pretty chilly a lot of the time, and not processing calcium. She's now got both and they've definitely made her perk up quite a lot, and be more active. But she has some minor MBD in her legs that make them a bit stiff at the joints (but she still has her full range of movement). But the big problem right now is she has muscle tremors, so her muscles are often too weak for her to really push herself up on her arms -- she moves herself around in a sort of swimming/crawling motion (she has an easier time on surfaces like carpet or her log, where she gets more traction and can pull). The vet believes this is also due to low calicum -- her bloodwork shows she has high calcium in her blood stream, but it doesn't seem to be getting absorbed. They think this could be due to the presence of eggs -- but also they've been suggesting eggs at visits for over a year now, and she hasn't laid any yet. I've given her nesting material (ecoearth) recently, but no sign of laying -- she just walks through it and digs and throws dirt in her eyes :'(. All of this is context for why I'm hesistant to try too drastic measures for taking her off food, and why she has trouble catching insects.

Any advice would be appreciated. I love my little girl so much, and I want her to live a long and health life! But she's like a 10 year old human child who never learned to eat anything except chicken nuggets, and is suffering the consequences :'( Any ideas and advice would be greatly appreciated!!

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https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7uynb1 (Video of her muscle tremors/moving difficulties)
IreneC
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Re: How to get beardie to eat a healthier diet & drink water

Postby KarrieRee » Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:02 am

What are you using for a UVB? brand and bulb and where in the tank is it? She sounds like she has MBD-- the UVB is what helps them absorb calcium and the vet should of asked what you were using - as far as diet and getting her to eat those veggies I am out of ideas for you since you have already tried everything you can --- my only solution is to start feeding her the vegies in a slurry or administering thru a spoon to see if she will lick it off or by syringe -- or maybe even eat out of the syringe - her fat pads look good and her poops will tell you if she is dehydrated or not - if shes not drinking when you put water on her nose then she is probably not thirsty all you can do is keep offering the water or you can actually give her a shot of water once a week thru a syringe to make sure shes getting water - if you start feeding veggies in a slurry you can water it down then you know shes getting hydration there - I would take the nesting box out if shes not using it - wash her eyes out w/ some saline solution not contact stuff -- get them rinsed out - you can feed her before you go to work out of the syringe or spoon - that should not be a problem - feed her twice a day her veggies - I guess I would get a weight on her keep track of it then start feeding her 2 times per day her veggies and 2-3 times per week insects if you blend them in w/ the veggies you will not be able to use your blender anymore - I would make small amounts w/ the insects since she should only be getting them 2-3 times per week and add calcium powder in as well like a pinch - I would start w/ 1.5 MLs of veggies 2 times per day watch her weight and if she starts really gaining cut back but veggies should not put weight on her - I would add some worms to the feedings to like maybe a super worm or 2 - some silk w/ your insect day - if you offer a variety of diet like worms insects and veggies it should balance out -- I would not feed wax worms they are too fatty -- horn worms are good and a hydrating worm - I really dont know what else to tell you --- some others on here might have some ideas for you
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