Is my Beardie sick or preparing for Brumation?

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nakeita

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Something is wrong with our 5 year old Bearded Dragon, Draco. We have had him since he was a baby and he has always been active and social. He has also always loved to eat. We have always fed him meal worms, crickets, and greens. He is very picky on the greens and we have never been able to get him to eat any fruit or other vegetables. He just sticks his nose up at most “healthy” foods.
For the last few months, Draco had been “glass surfing” quite a bit and acting strange (i.e. darkened beard, bobbing his head, etc…). We recently figured out that he was seeing his reflection in the glass so we covered the sides (the back was already covered with a desert scene poster). Then, about 10 days ago, we noticed that he was acting “lazy” and not eating all of his food (very unusual). After a few days of picking at his food, he just stopped eating completely. The fat pads on top of his head have gone down and he has definitely lost weight.
He poops regularly (at least every other day), and the poop is always normal (brown and white, not too much liquid, not too solid). I’ve spent the last week scouring the internet trying to figure out what it could be and what I can do to help him. I tried to force feed him by making a “slurry” and was able to get a little bit of the stuff in his mouth, but only a little. After that, I read on another page, that his symptoms are similar to that of preparing for brumation and that you should never force feed a beardie when they are getting ready to enter brumation, but Draco has never gone through brumation… he’s just never done it… So now I don’t know what to do. Force feed or not force feed.
I have been bathing him daily for the last week, and most of the time he poops within 20 minutes (yesterday, he pooped in the bath after only 5 minutes). I also put drops of water on his snout in the evening (only once did he seem to actively drink the water from his snout for a good minute or two) and I attempt to hand feed him tiny pieces of food, in addition to leaving fresh chopped fruits and veggies with 2-3 worms (mixed with calcium powder), twice per day… but he won’t eat anything.
The pictures show what he does every time I take him out, this is also how he sits in his cage. He has not been climbing on the log and basking and he will not leave the hot stone for more than a few minutes. I usually take him outside after his bath to force some sunlight/basking and it is only during this time that he finally shows some activity… After about 5 minutes, he was walk quickly towards shade, usually towards my lap. I live in Arizona, and it has been very hot outside, with the driveway being extremely hot to the touch, so I don’t like to let him walk off the large towel I sit on with him. I know… he is a lizard, but when it is 110 outside, the driveway is extremely hot, and he is not used to it.
I could really use some advice, but please don’t tell me to take him to the vet, because I can’t. I am a teacher and I have been on summer break, so I have not had a paycheck in 2 months and until I get my first paycheck in another 3 weeks, I just can’t afford it. Any other advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
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KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
Have you checked his lighting ---? how old is the UVB bulb? He is losing too much weight I can see it--- you are gonna haft to force feed him whether you like it or not --- he looks like hes getting too weak now to me I am no vet but from what I see it doesnt look good - unless some one else says otherwise I would get some Critical care Herbivore / Carnivore and mix it like 2 Tbls herbivore to 1 Tbls Carnivore w/ water and start feeding him 3 mls---- it has to be runny so it doesnt plug up the syringe --- he needs weight put on him---- but you need to check that lighting -- some others on here would also have some ideas of what to feed him ---- but I would haft to say the UVB needs to be checked ---
Karrie
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I agree, this isn't brumation. He looks sick. I'm not sure what's wrong by looking at him though. It's possibly lighting or diet related. As mentioned, if you can post details about your setup it will be helpful. Bringing him outside for natural sunlight with you is a good idea - just not too much at once with that heat. Maybe during the morning and afternoon when the sun isn't quite as intense - don't want him to get overheated. Try offering him some baby food by dripping it on his nose and see if he licks it up. That will help give him some hydration and nutrients. I've had good luck with green bean, squash, and sweet potato varieties.
 

nakeita

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Original Poster
I've spent the afternoon chatting with a vet on the "justanswer" website, and she thinks Draco may in fact be a female showing signs of a
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"Gravid Female". This surprised me as I have thought Draco was a male for the last 5 years, I had even posted pics on some forum 3 years ago and someone stated firmly Draco was a male, and I would have sworn there were two lumps above the vent; however, I just took pics during and after Draco's daily bath and I'm wondering if Draco is in fact a female, lol. I've added two pics, one during his/her bath awhile going just after pooping again, and another about an hour later. Male or female???

I'm in Goodyear, about 45 mins from Scottsdale, but for $1 I would be more than willing to drive there so thank you for the info KrismKazm.

Since the consensus seems to be not brumation, I will continue to try and force-feed Draco.

The Vet on the Just Answer site asked me a handful of other questions and here are my answers to them (similar to some of the questions some of you have asked)...

Substrate is Zoo Med Vita-Sand. It's what I have always used. (I will be changing this)
Lighting: We have a Zoo Med Combo Deep Dome Lamp Fixture with (I believe) a Repti Basking Spot Lamp (75 w) during the day and a Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp (75 w) at night as well as a Reptisun 5.0 UVB light that we keep on during the daytime. All three lights have been replaced withing the last 3 months, the infrared heat lamp was just replaced last week. (I will be getting a Reptisun 10.0 this weekend)
Diet: He has always been a picky eater and will only eat meal worms and crickets, and I was usually able to get him to eat romaine lettuce about 4 times per week. Up until 2 weeks ago, he would eat with gusto as much worms and crickets as we would feed him, but he would only pick at the greens. Once a week I would also had a tablespoon of Zilla Fortified Bearded Dragon Food to his dish, but I don't think he ever ate it.
Supplements: I always add Repti Calcium to his food (lightly dusted food with it).
Temps: Up on his basking log, under the heat lamp is is about 100, heated side of his cage, beneath his basking log is about 90, and the other side of his cage is about 80. His Zoo Med Repticare Rock Heater is about 100.
Weight: Up until about a month ago, he appeared to be at a healthy weight. The fat pads on his head were slightly raised and appeared normal. I am not sure when they started going down, but they are now slightly sunken.
Abdomen: I do not feel any lumps in his abdomen, marble like or otherwise.
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KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp??????????? Is that a colored bulb? To me he looks female --- I would ditch the heat rock--------- they heat from the top not the stomachs---------I would replace the 5.0 bulb w/ a 10.0 bulb--- and I am assuming its a T 8 ? If it is it would need to go inside the tank approx 6-8 inches from basking--- glad to hear your replacing the sand -- you can get some textured non adhesive shelf liner to replace the sand
Karrie
 

nakeita

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Original Poster
KarrieRee... Thank you for your response! Yes it is a colored bulb... red.

I've heard negative things about the heat rock, but Draco loves it... lately, it's his/her favorite place to sleep... all day and night. My husband purchased the lights and the boxes were thrown away so I am assuming the wattage, but by the temps in his cage being lower than they should be I will be replacing them with 10.0 this weekend just in case. I will also replace the sand... however, if it is a female, as the online vet thinks... shouldn't there be some kind of sand in there to dig in and lay eggs... assuming that is what is going on??? This whole "Gravid female" thing has added a whole new level of issues, lol. If this is the problem, does anyone know if I should be doing anything for her? Should I still be force-feeding or bathing daily? uggg... Any help is appreciated!!!
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 6 and Blaze is 4
Get rid of the red light------------ colored bulbs hurt their eyes and can cause long term eye damage-- the heat rock is not a go either-- I am confused as to why she would like it but maybe its because she is sick --- if she is w/ eggs I would think she would be digging --- is she digging? Can you feel eggs --- ? Others more experienced on here will haft to help w/ the other questions about what you should be doing--- but please get rid of the red light --- dragons need darkness to sleep like you and I and the colored bulb disturbs her sleep --- to me looks female --
Karrie
 

CooperDragon

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
He does look male in the photo. He is getting emaciated though so whatever the issue is, it looks like it's getting serious. I suggest upgrading your UVB light which may be at least part of the problem. I suggest a good T5 tube either ReptiSun 10.0 or Arcadia 12% which should sit about 12'' above the main basking area. Time out in natural sunlight will help make up for lack of proper lighting in the enclosure.

I would try with some baby food by dripping on his nose and see if he goes for it. Don't give a lot at once. Smaller meals throughout the day is better than a lot at once. I would focus on hydration if he isn't eating. Try to keep some fluids in him for now. Hopefully that lead on a vet will work out but in the meantime I'd focus on getting the lighting sorted and keeping him hydrated the best you can.
 
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