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Baby bullied, now stressed, lethargic, starving...pls help

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New member
Hi, I'm a first time beardie owner.
I walk into pet store, inquire about bearded dragons, their care and needs, etc. I always feel bad for caged animals, and prefer social species. So I asked the staff member if it was okay to buy 2 beardies. He responded "Yeah it's okay, it's not like they're not going to like you because there's another one of them." Okay great! So I got two bearded dragons. When asked what to feed them he said "Vegetables like greens... we give them kale, it's a great option." I asked about tank size for 2 dragons. He said for their size even a 10gal is fine, but 20gal is recommended and 40gal is too big they won't find their food.

I purchased:
20gal tank
combination bulb with Zoo-Med 100watt UVB/UVA/ basking light that
Repti "Sandmat" in place of substrate
Multivitamin + Calcium with D3
decor for hiding and perching (rocks, foliage, grapevine)
Large water and food bowls

I also got got small crickets mealworm, to "spoil them" I thought since the store guy said they were fine on a kale diet.

I keep the light on at least 12 hours a day, am guilty of leaving it on up to 16-18 twice I think but found them sleeping under (Quiet) and on (Psycho) the foliage on the cool side so I thought no obvious harm done.

I mist them 3-4 times a day which may be much I'm not sure but they LOVE it and usually drink after a few seconds of enjoying, One licks the air as you mist, the other licks the air and anything else after.
I monitor that humidity in tanks is always between 30-40 on the gauge.

I have no source of nightly heating but I keep my place 75 degrees and live in Florida I figure the stagnancy of air may raise their tank temperature a degree or two, so I figured pretty midline on ranges acceptable.

Bringing them home, they were pretty much identical in every way, size, color, and calmness when held (1st day home). They were "chill", as the pet store guy described bearded dragons personalities.

Left organic kale and raspberries every morning dusted with multivitamin, and would give calcium dusted crickets or meal worms daily.

I started lightly socializing with them immediately by feeding worms on my hand while holding them (which I now know to be a mistake).

They quickly developed different personalities. I thought it was cute. One was calmer when held, didn't hunt food so much as grab it if it walked close (short darts seen at first), never jumped out of my hand but a few times would move about and nearly walk off me with nothing but floor to fall to. The other was super high energy, explored everything, jumped around decor like an acrobat, aggressive at reflection, always ran from my hand when it came close, and super avidly and efficiently hunted crickets. I called him psycho for a bit because he wasn't the "chill" bearded I bought the first day.

I left uneaten crickets in tank for the first few days. I thought they'd eat them later. While reading beardie guides I learned that was not the case, and take them out after 30min to an hour now.

Fast forward a week. I noticed that one wasn't eating amounts beardies usually should, didn't have the energy or alertness descibed, and basked less frequently and always on a lower level than the other. Live food still had to pass in front of face and be nearby.

The other seemed in phenomenal health. Everything a "textbook" perfect healthy beardie should be: super alert to my presence, active, healthy appetite. Not the sweet or "chill" beardie from the pet store, and still avoided my hand like the plague if it didn't have a worm on it (then no hesitation but won't get on). But I was happy that though I may be in for some challenged bonding/training, I had a clearly pretty healthy and entertaining beardie.

I've had them a total of 2 weeks now. I finally knew a few days ago something is definitely wrong with the quiet one. I wondered how only one was ill if they're getting all the same care, so I first suspected virus or parasite and planned to have blood/stool/virus testing when vet examined.

When searching it's symptoms, Vitamin D3 overdose symptoms matched (but so many disorders). So I cut the multivitamin and calcium D3 combo and changed over to a Calcium only supplement. I enhanced the salads from just kale/raspberries to a mix of organic endive, radishes + root, and I alternated between kale or turnip greens and raspberries or blackberries.

Sometimes she seemed better, still ate much less comparatively, much less energetic and less alert/responsive.

Found out about bearded aggression and territorial nature while reading online. I was surprised the pet store staff assured me that two bearded dragons would still bond with a human... but they left out that they probably won't bond well with each other!!!
So "Psycho" was actually just the dominant and Quiet was being bullied and stressed. I saw mixed reviews on housing two beardies, but eventually decided to pre-cautiously get a 10gal because she is still very small (and possibly ill), and it can double over as a transfer/carry cage for them if needed. But I didn't move her right away, because I hadn't seen any direct physical bullying, so still no sure what was causing her symptoms and what illness she had.

BUT later that day, I noticed Psycho change to very dark black-grey color, all over with dark patterns on his belly and some black streaks in beard. They were light yellow-beige/brown-medium brown originally, and Quiet still is usually. I panicked at first thinking it was a sign of stress from my picture of health bearded.

OUT OF NOWHERE Psycho darts up the grapevine and shoves Quiet to the floor 6" below. I needed to set up the spare tank still, and it was time to feed so I put some crickets in to feed. Psycho immediately begins darting, while Quiet stays put, eats the one that fell close then watches Psycho hunt and eat literally every other one which was 5 out of 6.

Quiet didn't Improve at all in new tank. It has moments of activity, But still not hunting, minimal appetite and sleeping a lot. Not alert, passive about being held. Hasn't
shown signs of any oncoming shed.

The day after first being placed in their own tank, I see Quiet eat a little salad in the morning. Later that day I offered live food a few times and it ate
1 worm and rejected the rest. Later I put 2 crickets in. They walked all over Quiet, who wasn't interested.

I take it out that night again and suddenly head twitches 4-5 rapidly and it starts like army crawling down my leg awkwardly. I know something is definitely very wrong now, and do not want to wake up to my sweet baby dead too. So I took it to an ER where the vet ran no tests, even after I deliberately expressed concern of of viruses or parasites. I

They reviewed all living details and said it seemed I was doing everything perfectly, but because I had housed them together originally, Psychos domination had put Quiet behind in development and led to the lethargy.

Then the vet said Quiet is too small to give medications, so I was given two syringes and a bag of special powder food to give 3x daily by force feeding. They told me a credit card works best to open the mouth, then use the syringe slowly.
Oh? And the vet said if I wanted to, when Quiet gets larger I can place it back in with Psycho and there wouldn't be a dominating dragon. What? ..... what?

The syringes were super cheap often went from not administering anything despite applying pressure, to shooting all contents in Quiets face. I tried to avoid the credit card prying by coaxing with syringe. Refuses to move mouth. Credit card goes just as badly. I try dripping on nose. Worked once, then was left there every time after. . I wiped off, tried again, and again because forcing the syringe by applying downward pressure to the lower jaw was making me feel terrible and I swear Quiet was making eye contact with me nonstop.

. Took 30min break. Attempted again. I noticed obvious signs of stress, and I've never seen that on Quiet before. Stomach black striations and chin now bumpy with black striations. I quit, scared the stress would kill it. I put some calcium in the water bowl and decided to put the solution in it tomorrow and hope for the best.

Checking in later, Quiet is darker/dull in color ... especially the head which is completely dull grey/black and looks like
A helmet on the body. Showing severe and extremely dark/prominent stress marks still. Hasn't moved from where I perched. At first breathing seemed abnormal, chest would stop fully exhaling and pause every 3rd breath or so. An hour later I noticed that subsided, but the stress was still there. It has drank water since and moved around a little.

What do I do to help my sweet beardie? I was told by vet "it's hit or miss that they start eating again after stopping" but I don't want to see the baby die because I didn't know not to get it "a friend". I've gave it a bath after the force feeding because it seemed relaxed while I floated it in a rag in warm water last time, but this time the eyes were shut and it was unresponsive the entire time. I have no idea what to do from here, but I know now that force syring feeding was super traumatizing for it.


First this pet store gave you horrible advice to put 2 dragons together. They just want to make a sale,and don't care about the reptiles well being. They did the same to me when I brought my bearded dragon.
Please post pics of the smaller bearded dragon. Tell us the temps in it's tank. How are you taking temps in the tanks? You should have at least a digital thermometer.
The poor little thing is obviously so stressed from being with the other beardie,and moving it to a 10 gallon tank is another stressful event. I hope you have both beardies placed far enough away from each other,because that can still be stressing the little one out just seeing the other beardie.

You will eventually need at least a 40 gallon tank to put each dragon in,but 75 gallon is best.
You need a Reptisun 10.0 uvb T5 tube. The coil zoo med lights are bad for them.

Do not feed them kale,it makes absorbing calcium difficult. I feed mine mustard greens or collard greens,shredded squash,mango. Do not feed young bearded dragons mealworms,they can not digest. I would stick with small crickets.

I hope the little beardie recovers quickly for you.


BD.org Sicko
Staff member

I am sorry to hear you received the wrong advice from a pet store clerk. This seems to be the
norm anymore, just to make a sale.
Please post pictures of them both, along with the tank setup.
Review your tank setup, such as the type/brand of UVB Lighting, temperatures & what type of
thermometer used to measure the temperatures & substrate used.
The baby just might not have liked the taste of the food. Chances are he gave you either the
powdered critical care or carnivore care. A lot of them don't like the taste. Try getting some
chicken or turkey baby food & some sweet potato, or squash baby food mixed together along
with the calcium powder, a couple of times per day. She will probably like the taste & should
lick it off of her nose with you using the syringe or a plastic dropper. Be sure it is not too thick
so she doesn't choke on it.
Try to keep her around 80 overnight right now since her immune system is down from stress.
Let us know how she is doing.

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