Advice on a gravid beardie...

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I apologize if this is too long for any/most/all...

First of all, I've been a longtime lurker of these boards, but this is my first time posting. Because of my time frequenting the boards and using them for information before adopting/rescuing our beloved beardie back in March, I was complimented highly by the emergency vet when we took her in yesterday for being as knowledgeable as I was. So, that is a thanks to all of you fellow beardie owners who are so helpful to longtime owners and newbies alike (such as myself), and being willing to share your knowledge and care for the species. Thank you.

Our interest in beardies came from my son’s kindergartners class pet being a beardie and taking him home a few times for the weekend. We fell in love. We started researching ownership for six months before the opportunity even arose to adopt/rescue our own. I am glad that we ended up with an adult AND that we are rescuing one who needed a good home.

A little background, we adopted Lizzy in March from friends who inherited Lizzy by their grown son who no longer had time for her. I do not want to place all the blame on these people as they did their best with what they could and a pet they never wanted in the first place but took her for their grandson who did not want to see it given away. Unfortunately, after several years, they finally decided that they just couldn't give her the time, attention, or care that she truly deserved and the grandson (now 12) had finally conceded that she deserved a better home as well.

We took her in and after getting her viv and lighting and food it was obvious right away that she was in poor health and had not been receiving basically any of the right care. We were surprised that she had made it 3 years. She had NO UV light, an old fish aquarium for a viv but no branches that would bring her high enough to bask in the heat source, and lived her life sitting in sand (that smelled to high hell). They had been feeding her little pink crunchy biscuit food from Petco, crickets "a few times a year" when they *could*, and they "tried romaine lettuce every once in a while, but she never seemed to take to it." They did have her on a Fluker's calcium supplement though they never told us how they gave it to her or when or how much.

We immediately bought her a new 40 gal breeder viv, tried both carpet and the sand mat. She preferred the sand mat ( I didn’t for cleaning purposes). Our local reptile store here in Phoenix is amazing. They asked us to bring her in to take a look. They said she seemed underweight and could have signs of MBD. They recommended lots of dubias, some wax worms, and as much salad as she’ll eat since it’s not something she’s been accustomed to and you want her to get used to it and not just insects. They also gave us a new calcium supplement called Sticky Farms Miner-All (I think?). We switched her to dubia roaches and salads. She eats salads twice a day most days and loves them, practically cleans her bowl both times.

And she LOVES baths. I’m not sure if this is okay or not but she gets a bath almost every day. It’s actually quite amazing how she has grown accustomed to a routine with us already. She waits by her viv door in the morning for her salad, eats it, then waits again for us to take her for her bath where she does her daily poop. This is also where she drinks by putting her head under the light drops of water from the sink before doing her business. Speaking of, after we cleared her system of those red crunchy biscuit type foods which had colored all of her food bright red including her urate, her poop seems to be very predictable and seemingly “normal.”

So, the point of this whole story is when we got her she must’ve been in brumation as on Easter morning she left us a surprise of 21 white “jelly beans” as my son called them. Eggs! She dropped them all at once, with no indication of stress or scratching on the walls or glass of her viv, or anything of the sort. The PO told us she lays eggs every year; no problem. This was still a shock to us but I got on here and read what to do and we took care of her, gave her a bath, fed her, gave her extra calcium and within a few days she seemed to perk back up and go back to normal. I had read they could have up to 4 clutches which I was hoping would NOT be the case.

However, last Sunday we find she laid 2 eggs. These ones were extremely soft. And she seemed to be not doing well from then on. Lethargic, eating but not as much. Laid about 1 each day since then. We created a “lay box” and she hated it. Tired herself out trying to get out one night. Two eggs dropped out while she tried clawing herself out. Both either came out broken or broke during her clawing. The reptile store recommended changing her substrate for the time being to coconut husk since she seemed to have no problem laying in there previously and might be more comfortable. So, we did. She laid 1-2 more eggs, all broken but could not tell when or how.

Spring forward to yesterday when she was sunbathing outside, and the complex was testing a fire alarm which scared her, and she fell (she’s in a mesh laundry basket with zipper enclosure to protect from predators since we’re right near the mountains in the desert). Some white stuff came out of her vent and her mouth was gaping open wider than it had ever been while basking even as I picked her up. She seemed to have no use of her back legs and her vent seemed to protrude and was red (almost as if prolapsed?). I thought maybe she was trying to lay an egg as this happen. I put her in the sink for a bath to try to relax her, which did work as the vent did go back in, but she had no energy to move her legs or lift her head. After about an hour trying to locate an emergency vet that ACTUALLY had a reptile vet on staff at that moment, I got her in worried about her being egg bound or impacted.

I do believe I found a wonderful vet who herself owned a beardie, loves beardies, had about 50 questions about her husbandry and history, and as I said first thing was very complimentary of my knowledge, even though personally I feel like I have SO much more to learn still! She decided that she wasn’t egg bound but was very calcium and vitamin deficient due to this being her second clutch. She said a second clutch is very hard on them. She said otherwise she was in pretty good health. A little small for a 3 y/o and thought she would still grow. Said her teeth were very healthy. Didn’t say much about MBD…

We talked about the controversy surrounding a calcium shot due to the effect it can have on their heart (my husband who is a pharmacist agreed as the heart is also a muscle and you can’t tell the calcium to only go to certain, without it also going to the heart and slowing the heartrate down). So, we decided to be prudent for now. She wants me to change to ReptiCal Calcium WITHOUT Vitamin D3 or Phosphorous and add Red Palm oil for some Vitamin A while she is ill.

She wants me to get a new UVB light that is the longer fluorescent Repti-Sun 10.0 with a fixture that has a reflective surface… she said that is what she prefers. My current one came with a kit… it is not a spiral “coil,” but instead the 4 “rods,” though I’m not sure if that makes a difference.

I am to watch her for the next few days and see how the egg laying process goes… if they come out okay then we’re good. If she starts to have a 3rd clutch then she said she needs to be spayed. She said it’s too hard on their bodies to have that many clutches and will considerably lower the longevity of their life. I was all for this idea, but she said that it should only be a last ditch effort due to the risks of putting an animal that small under anesthesia. She did also say if everything goes okay with this clutch, if she has a second clutch next year, we will need to consider spaying as well because she just can’t handle it. She really seems to have her “stuff” down, but she’s also my only experience with a vet other than with dogs and cats.

I guess my question is from previous owners who have experiences this with their beardie…

1. What has the experience with the calcium shot been? Have any owners had their beardie die as a cause of it?
2. The doctor and I decided against any benefit from an x-ray but did say that was an option if we had to bring her back in, though she felt around and said she showed absolutely no signs of being eggbound as they would usually be in much worse condition as it causes infection almost immediately. Would an x-ray be beneficial at this time, if anything to look for MBD?
3. Has anybody had their female beardie spayed? Is it super risky?

Thanks,
Jill
 

AHBD

BD.org Sicko
Hi Jill, that was a very long read but you were very thorough. :) You've done a great job with her but I can tell you that the main problem is the compact [ 4 pronged ] uvb light . They do not give enough uvb for her to absorb the calcium. So she was given a good supplement by you [ Miner all ] but unable to utilize the calcium + nutrients because of the lack of good uvb. You need to get the bulb the vet told you about ASAP. In the meantime take her out in the sun.

Healthy beardies have no trouble at all laying 4-6 clutches, most of my girls did and they were bred, so they laid anywhere from 25 to 39 eggs per clutch [ and fertile eggs are bigger than inferts. ] So I disagree with the spaying, but Lizzy does need a good bulb right now [ or get her in the sun but not in a glass tank ] And a calcium shot can be helpful but the lighting is of extreme importance. You can also get liquid calcium, one of the mods. sells it on her website www.bugdelite.com
Best wishes to Lizzy + your family !
 

twocatsandadog

Member
Original Poster
Thank you, AHBD.

I wanted to reply. Lizzy has laid only one leg since your reply, bringing her total to 8. She is still just laying around, not active. Eyes closed most of the time.

I just finally got her new ReptiSun 10.0 tube light set up today (after a very difficult time finding a fixture that would fit a T5 bulb since all the new lighting these days is LED and are considered "throw-away" and the ones that I was able to locate were not the correct size or wattage!) after having to order from a custom place.

My question is... do you think that's all she has in her or are there probably more? Should I go ahead with the calcium shot at this point?

Also, to answer your question, before this, since we got her she was already getting at least 20-30 minutes in the sun every day on our porch. Because we live in the desert and birds are natural predators, we put her in a mesh laundry bag that zips for protection while she is out there. She loves it.

I have other questions but I guess I should post them separately if they aren't a part of this main thread.
 

twocatsandadog

Member
Original Poster
I like posts that have an "end" or follow through. I found those most helpful in my searches as a new beardie owner... So just wanted to follow-up with that Lizzy laid a total of 8 eggs and then was done. We didn't end up doing the calcium shot and as of now, she doesn't appear to have any more eggs and is much better. Still sleepy all the time but we are thinking maybe that's just how she is... :)
 

Drache613

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hello,

Sorry I missed this initial thread! After reading through it all, I am very impressed with your
love & devotion to Lizzy! She is so lucky that you took her in.
That is wonderful how much you have improved her living standards & the new T5 tube bulb
will be excellent. The Reptisun 10 T5 can be mounted about 10 inches away. Will you have
it on top of or underneath of the screen top?
As far as knowing whether or not she will have or develop more eggs, there really isn't any
way to determine that other than just waiting it out. An x-ray would help to see if there are
more eggs but only if they are shelled & visible. If she has developing follicles that are soft
but not shelled, an ultrasound would be a better option.
I agree, spaying usually is a last ditch effort. If she does have metabolic bone disease & the
laying is zapping her badly then it may be a good idea. Most of the time, they do fine with
a spaying surgery as long as they are strong when undergoing surgery & if it's done well.
I agree with your husband, calcium shots are not recommended most of the time. They can
be too shocking & or overwhelming for the system. Sometimes they can cause heart or other
organ failure as well.

It sounds like she is doing pretty well right now. Her calcium stores were probably pretty low
since she hadn't been kept under very good conditions for awhile.

Let us know how she is doing.
Tracie
 

twocatsandadog

Member
Original Poster
Hi Drache613 et al!

Lizzy actually ended up laying about 6 more eggs since I last posted for a total of 14. I really hope that's it. I'm hesitant to go back to the vet because she "seems" back to normal (AGAIN) though I'm quickly learning either not to trust a dragon or there is no normal.

She's in the middle of her first full shed since we've had her and it's odd because there seems to be 2 layers. I've searched on this forum for this and haven't come across it exactly... I've seen incomplete sheds like a dragon will shed and then have another shed right after, but Lizzy is literally having 2 layers come off at the same time. I wanted to take a picture and I thought I'd have the opportunity but when I woke up the next morning she had basically scraped most of her shed skin off where this was occurring (around her feet and belly). Since she seems to be almost done, she's had a ferocious appetite as during this nearly 2ish week process her appetite was null and she was grouchy as HELL. I put her salad down today and she practically bit my hand off.

Oh also... we mounted her light inside the cage. I would say it's less than 10 inches. My question is Lizzy likes to stand on her log up against the back of her cage and practically get her head right in it... is this a problem? How do I keep her from doing this if so?

I feel like I learn something new about her everyday... but I love it.
 
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