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Emergency sick lizard food and feeding techniques

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BD.org Sicko
Been a LOT of noobs here lately presenting with sick hatchlings , some of these are not willingly self feeding.

Is VERY important with very small young hatchlings that they get nutritious food (insects) multiple times per day or the equivalent , unlike adult dragons , hatchlings have literally zero fat reserves and need to sustain a very high metabolic rate cf that of adult dragons. Going more than 1 or 2 without food can be very bad for a hatchling.

So in order to help I put this together :

If the hatchling taking any liquid when you drip a few drops of water (or a drop of honey) on his snout ?

if he is this will make it easier to get him to take liquid food substitutes like those I list below , he'll like the taste of the liquid food substitutes and will lick them off his snout or side lips of his own accord , and you wont need to resort to forced feeding or even using a feeding / crop needle to get food into his stomach.

If the local pet shop is still open buy a 1 ml syringe and a nozzle , and a bottle of VetaFarm HerpaBoost or VetaFarm Crittacare Reptile OR EQUIVALENT ( Oxbow Carnivore Critical Care is very good ).
Info :

See this for required kit and tips for giving liquid food substitutes and oral meds to reptiles :

I've had success using this

employs a 22G SureFlo Catheter tube (needle removed and discarded in a sharps bin at the chemist, you vet will supply these on request , likely asking only $1 each) , they are very effective
to get nasty tasting antbiotics and nice tasting CalciVet into skinks & dragons , the trick is to get the plastic tube past the lips and teeth at the back corner of the mouth , not necessary force the mouth open but is a two person job
> one person restrains the lizard
> the other person slips the catheter tube into mouth and pushes the syringe plunger.

I've also used this kind of setup

to get HerpaBoost , VetaFarm Reptile Critta Care and viscous liquid meds into the mouths of lizards, got to get the mouth enough to get the nozzle into the mouth , again a two person job unless the lizard is prepared to lick the paste off it's nose and lips , works well

and for really difficult situations this works and is indestructible and wont hurt the lizard's teeth, gums , jaws or mouth

That metal needle thing is an 18G crop needle designed to feed birds and reptiles.
You'll need an 8G or 10G crop needle for high viscosity liquid food substitutes like HerpaBoost and Critta Care Reptile and a syringe with a bore hole of about 2.5mm (minimum , advise given to me by laboratory staff at VetaFarm - ( who I asked directly ) or a 14G syringe nossle ( the conical shaped thing ) .

You can keep more than one feed of liquid food in the syringe if you have a syringe cap that replaces the catheter tube or feeding needle or feeding nozzle between feeds :

These are very potent vitamin and protein fortified liquid food substitutes that are very good , I've used the VETAFARM products with rescued lizards who looked like were very close to being beyond saving who recovered and made almost miraculous comebacks. My latest Fluffy the water skink has become a house pet and has thrived and become ubertame and friendly.

You will need to weigh the dragon , as the daily dosage is determined by body mass - several small feeds is going to be much easier to get into the dragon using a syringe (by mouth) and will not be as hard for it's potentially compromised kidneys to handle.

Have you tried hand feeding him ?

see this viewtopic.php?f=18&t=235583

A technique I use with crickets as a feeder is as follows :
1) select a few gut loaded dusted crickets, place in a small tub with a lid
2) take 2 out , squash their heads , this disables them , take hold of the cricket by the longest (jumping legs) and gently place the squashed head-end against the lips of the dragon (side of mouth near nostrils (the smell is get starter) , often a hungry lizard will take the cricket (watch out finger tips) , BUT it may need some extra coaxing
3) if it needs extra coaxing , take hold of each of the two long hopping legs, twist , the whole leg (foot + shin + thigh) should come off ( I refer these as cricket drumsticks). I then take one of the drumsticks , and gently force the knee or the thickest end inbetween the lips of the lizard (front side of lips) the taste should be enough for the lizard to take it and start chewing the drumstick ,
4) then - this will take good timing - I position the rest of the cricket (squashed head first against the lizard's lips while it's chewing the drumstick (watch out fingers)

A technique I've used when using BSFL is as follows:
1) select some large while or black wriggling BSFL , place in a small sauce dipping dish.
2) take a worm and hold it using your fingers so the head is facing the lizard
3) gently press the pointly (but soft) head of the worm between the middle to back side lips of the lizard, once the lizard bites the worm you will hear an audible pop, and the lizard should do the rest.

Another worm technique I use with BSFL is as follows:
See 1 above
2) take a few worms and snip off the pointly heads (only need to take off 1mm to 2mm)
3) squeeze out some of the worm innards and do 3 above.
NB : works with superworms and mealworms & mealworm pupae & beetles (when soft and white still) too.

Another method for worms I use is as follows :
See 1 and 2 above.
3) squeeze out all the worm meat onto your finger
4) deposit the meat on the lips of the lizard near it's snout, the lizard will lick the nutritious worm meat off and eat it , can be very tedious so I usually do 4 to 6 BSFL at a time so the lizard get a nice big lump of worm meat to eat each time.
5) discard the husks , unlikely the lizard will eat these.
NB : works with superworms and mealworms & mealworm pupae & beetles (when soft and white still) too.

Other experienced reptile rescuers and keepers and breeders are welcome to expand and add to this guide.


BD.org Sicko
Those are some good feeding tips here, sometimes just getting the taste on their lips will get a non eating dragon to take some nutrition in.


BD.org Sicko
Original Poster
One approach that I know people here (in Australia) have used with difficult feeders is to use a modified plastic coated playing card.

Essentially the process is
> fold the card in half (shortways)
> use scissors to cut a small hole in the middle of the fold, big enough to slip food items through

Feeding time
> slip the folded card between the upper and lower jaws of the stubborn lizard
> with card held in mouth lever the card partly open enough to push a food item through the hole
> remove the card let lizard eat & swallow food item
> repeat
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