Lethargic & not eating - I've tried everything, SO confused & worried

KimM

Member
Original Poster
Hello, I have a juvenile male beardie approx 6-7 months of age with weight of about 210g at vet visit last week.
Diet: Primarily dusted superworms and crickets. Very picky and will only eat a few shredded carrots and flower blossoms as far as vegetation goes but still continue to offer greens, carrots, squished blueberries, and chopped peppers daily even though they went untouched most days.
Husbandry: 40 gal front open breeder tank.
Lighting originally was Reptisun dual dome with the UV and heat bulb that Petco suggested when I bought him. CHE and individual dome added 3 weeks ago for extra heat at night. Lighting changed to Zoo Med 100w basking lamp & Reptisun 13w - 10.0 UVB desert bulb. Basking spot kept at about 100-105 and cool side kept about 80-85. Substrate was originally white calcisand (also sold to me with him when I got him) that I changed to reptile carpet when he started not feeling well & I feared impaction.

His name is Loki and about a month ago he went from being a very active comical beardie to barely moving and not eating at all. I came home from work and noticed him laying in the bottom of his tank which he had never done. His favorite basking place was his log. He only went in the bottom of his tank to explore and then usually right back up to his log or hammock. After reading many forums, articles, and watching tons of videos I thought maybe his night time temps were getting too low so I added a CHE to keep on when his lights are off at night. His condition didn't seem to improve and several things seemed to point towards brumation (this behavior started at the same time as a huge temperature drop here in Arkansas where I live) but I was told he is too young for brumation. While I was holding him that evening I noticed a small bump on his back that seemed to be sensitive to touch. Touching him here was never an issue before as he's very affectionate and loves when I hold him, but when I touched near it even lightly he jerked as if it was sensitive or painful. I couldn't find him a vet that would see a dragon near me and was told from my local pet hospital that Petco has a volunteer vet that comes once a week and was specialized in tropical/small animals. I continued for the rest of that week to encourage him to try to eat and poop until I could get him in for his vet appointment. The day prior to his vet appointment I noticed him struggling to get up his log and he slid/fell from it. When I took him out for a soak I noticed his legs & tail were hanging and he wasn't using them. There is resistance when I push on them from the bottom with my finger and some movement when he is in the bath but he won't use them when he walks on my lap or in his tank.
The vet visit was 300$ and left me more hopeless and confused than before we went. They took 2 xrays (which were never shown to me) and she came out to tell me he had a small impaction and early signs of MBD. Took me out into the store part of Petco and picked out the 2 bulbs I have now and told me to stop turning his lights off at night, that she has a perfectly healthy beardie and never turns hers off. She then also handed me a huge back of ground up walnut shell and told me to use that for his substrate. I expressed concern of why when she had just told me he was suffering impaction and she said that sand is too heavy and doesn't move, but the walnut was very light and caused no impaction/digestion concerns. (She told me she also uses this.) So on the vet's advice I spent another 100$ at the store after the vet visit cost to get new bulbs and substrate. The substrate lasted about 45 minutes before I vacuumed every bit of it back out of his tank because it upset him so badly. He immediately started licking it and I noticed it stuck to his mouth and underside vent. Also for the very first time ever since I have owned him his beard turned completely black. Enter even more anxiety because I have now upset my already sick beardie. Went back to the store and bought some reptile carpet and put it in and he seems like it doesn't bother him. For treatment - the vet and her assistant did literally nothing. She gave me a box of Fluker's Repti+Boost and told me to syringe feed 5.3ml (split between morning and evening feeding) every day with a couple drops of mineral oil until he poops or for two weeks whichever came first. Said not to supplement with his calcium while doing so. I wasn't shown how to syringe feed and no testing or comfort care to help him poop was done. I figured that part out from watching youtube videos. No stool was tested (she told me I could bring some back in 2 weeks when I bring him back for x-rays if hes not better) and then told me to have a good day and to stop being so concerned because I was doing everything correctly. I cried all the way home with Loki because I felt so helpless.
I have upped his warm baths to about 15 minute soaks every evening to give him comfort and encourage poops. After 3 days of rotating the Fluker's and warm pumpkin with oil that I read about on this forum - he finally pooped a small very hard poop after first feeding of pumpkin that was almost all sand when I smooshed it (gross I know, but I wanted to see what was impacting him, the worms or sand or both). After starting some pumpkin and offering extra water he has pooped small amounts 3 more times this week. Second one after pumpkin was very runny and had the white urea in it, second one this morning about 15 minutes after I turned his lights on and had more shape but no white in it. His tummy still feels pretty bloated and he is still not eating unless I syringe feed. Legs feel a bit stronger but he is still not using them. I am now also super concerned about his tail as it looks greyish and it seems extremely limp. I'm praying it's a new shed starting, but worried it's because he's not using it - his last shed was early December before he started acting ill.

Please someone help me as I have watched so many videos and read SO many forums and discussions trying to figure out what could be wrong and how to save my baby and each has left me even more concerned and confused than before. All of the information seems to contradict the information before it.
First 2 uploaded pictures of him were taken on December 29th before his behavior changed as well as pictures of his lights and setup and pictures of how he is looking this evening. Gross I know, but I also took a picture of his last poop from earlier today so you could see how it looks as well.
Apologies for such a long post but wanted to be sure to add all info I could think of. Any advice would be greatly appreciated from this very concerned and scared beardie Mom. Thank you in advance!
 

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KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 3
Hello, I have a juvenile male beardie approx 6-7 months of age weight about 210g at last vet visit.
Husbandry: 40 gal front open breeder tank. His name is Loki and about a month ago he went from being a very active comical beardie to barely moving and not eating at all. After reading many forums, articles, and watching tons of videos I thought maybe his night time temps were getting too low so I added a CHE to keep on when his lights are off at night. His condition didn't seem to improve and several things seemed to point towards brumation (this behavior started at the same time as a huge temperature drop here in Arkansas where I live) but I was told he is too young for brumation. After 2 weeks of not eating and no poops I took him in to see a vet.
How did the vet visit go? Did he give you any answers? Was a fecal done at the vet?
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 3
I added information about the visit. Was very disappointing and left me even more scared and confused.
Did you buy a "kit"for Loki ? If you did the stuff that comes in those kits are not very good and you end up replacing most of what is in there would you please post a pic of your tank and lighting we can start there
 

KimM

Member
Original Poster
Did you buy a "kit"for Loki ? If you did the stuff that comes in those kits are not very good and you end up replacing most of what is in there would you please post a pic of your tank and lighting we can start there
Yes, they talked me into the kit when I got him and told me that it was plenty sufficient for the 40 gal tank. Through research and lots of reading I found out that it was not enough heat or UV. I posted pics of his tank as well as added all the information about his setup in the post I made.
 
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KimM

Member
Original Poster
Here are the pics of his setup and lighting.
Setup is 40 gal front open breeder tank.
Lighting originally was Reptisun dual dome with the UV and heat bulb that Petco suggested when I bought him. CHE and individual dome added 3 weeks ago for extra heat at night. Lighting changed to Zoo Med 100w basking lamp & Reptisun 13w - 10.0 UVB desert bulb. Basking spot kept at about 100-105 and cool side kept about 80-85. Substrate was originally white calcisand (also sold to me with him when I got him) that I changed to reptile carpet when he started not feeling well & I feared impaction.
His hammock is user higher up and closer to the lights but I moved it down after I saw him struggling to get in and out of it and moved his log closer to it to keep him from falling and injuring himself. I also added some more of the mesh coming down from his hammock to assist him with getting in and out more easily until he is stronger.
 

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KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 3
Yes, they talked me into the kit when I got him and told me that it was plenty sufficient for the 40 gal tank. Through research and lots of reading I found out that it was not enough heat or UV. I posted pics of her tank as well as added all the information about her setup in the post I made.
Ok so are you still using the 13watt coil uvb?
 

KimM

Member
Original Poster
Ok so are you still using the 13watt coil uvb?
Yes that is what the vet handed to me and told me to buy for him. I inquired about getting a longer tube light like I had been reading about but then she told me that too much UV can make them sick so now I'm more confused than ever about his UV light. :(
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 3
Yes that is what the vet handed to me and told me to buy for him. I inquired about getting a longer tube light like I had been reading about but then she told me that too much UV can make them sick so now I'm more confused than ever about his UV light. :(
Ok so I would say please get a new vet www.arav.org if you live in a small area please type in a bigger towns / city zip code next I recommend getting a long tube fixture 40 gallon I believe he's in a Zoo Med 24" fixture this will come w/ a 5.0 bulb keep it for a backup distance and placement is different from the one you need a 22" reptisun 10.0 T 5 you can look in your pet stores they usually don't carry them but you can look or you can order it online www.pangeareptiles.com they are fast and a good place
Please don't listen to the pet store people any more they often give bad advise
Please post back on here when you get the uvb so we can help you get it placed for your tank the screen will determine where it goes as well as distance
 

KimM

Member
Original Poster
Thank you.... am really confused though.... the vet was who I listened to (and she was volunteering there from a big city but it was painfully obvious that she was not well versed in bearded dragon care.) I have found a vet in Hot Springs, AR about 45 minutes from me and am working on trying to get him in to see them by Saturday if possible. Regarding the bulb, that was a LOT of information you threw at me and I'm not certain where one sentence ends and a new one begins (no disrespect intended) you just gave a whole lot of numbers, measurements, and names so I'm trying to understand all of it & was already confused to begin with. I have 2 dome fixtures. One dual and an individual. My CHE is in the individual and the 100w basking bulb is in the dual with the new uv bulb I was just told by the vet to buy. Could you please clarify which bulb is no good and also what this means:
"Zoo Med 24" fixture this will come w/ a 5.0 bulb keep it for a backup distance and placement is different from the one you need a 22" reptisun 10.0 T 5"
Do I need a 24" or 25", please?
 

hdochow

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Sir Henry of Scales
i agree with finding a new vet!

as for the lights, get rid of the 13w uvb the vet had you buy. keep the 100w basking bulb and che. for the tube uvb, the fixture itself is 24" but it comes with a lower powered bulb which gives less uvb and has to be much closer to the dragon to be effective. the replacement 22" is a higher power and that is what you want to use. you keep the lower power bulb as an emergency back up bulb in case the other breaks/burns out and you have problems replacing it right away. it is a shorter length bulb because it fits inside the larger fixture. for example i have a 34" bulb in a 36" fixture but my enclosure is a 4'x2'x2' so i need a longer bulb than you need for your size enclosure.
 

KimM

Member
Original Poster
i agree with finding a new vet!

as for the lights, get rid of the 13w uvb the vet had you buy. keep the 100w basking bulb and che. for the tube uvb, the fixture itself is 24" but it comes with a lower powered bulb which gives less uvb and has to be much closer to the dragon to be effective. the replacement 22" is a higher power and that is what you want to use. you keep the lower power bulb as an emergency back up bulb in case the other breaks/burns out and you have problems replacing it right away. it is a shorter length bulb because it fits inside the larger fixture. for example i have a 34" bulb in a 36" fixture but my enclosure is a 4'x2'x2' so i need a longer bulb than you need for your size enclosure.
Thank you so much! I will get him the fixture and bulb immediately and have already started working on a new vet. Unfortunately the cost of the first one was wasted am praying I find one that truly understands bearded dragon care and cares about helping me get him well again. I miss him being active and healthy so much! I'm so worried that I'm making him worse by messing with him and his environment so much but I can't just sit and do nothing.
 

hdochow

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Sir Henry of Scales
Thank you so much! I will get him the fixture and bulb immediately and have already started working on a new vet. Unfortunately the cost of the first one was wasted am praying I find one that truly understands bearded dragon care and cares about helping me get him well again. I miss him being active and healthy so much! I'm so worried that I'm making him worse by messing with him and his environment so much but I can't just sit and do nothing.
we were lucky and found a good vet from the start, but it is a 4 hour round trip drive to get there. fortunately the same clinic has a good avian vet so we can take our parakeet in at the same time for their annual check ups. but i've seen so many stories on here where that is not the case for people. reading what you posted from your visit had my blood absolutely boiling!!!

it's totally understandable to worry about messing with his enclosure. changing things will cause some stress, i won't lie about that, but nothing compared to what illness will do to him. we rescued our boy from our neighbor when he was about 6 months old and weighed 11 grams, knocking on death's door. like you, the pet store talked her into the "kit". this forum is how i learned what he truly needed for care. so keep asking questions! and like you did earlier, if you are confused, ask again. there are some truly caring people on here.

out of curiosity, what are your night time temps? if they're not getting below around 65°, you probably don't even need to use the CHE. they like it cool and dark at night.
 
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KimM

Member
Original Poster
we were lucky and found a good vet from the start, but it is a 4 hour round trip drive to get there. fortunately the same clinic has a good avian vet so we can take our parakeet in at the same time for their annual check ups. but i've seen so many stories on here where that is not the case for people. reading what you posted from your visit had my blood absolutely boiling!!!

it's totally understandable to worry about messing with his enclosure. changing things will cause some stress, i won't lie about that, but nothing compared to what illness will do to him. we rescued our boy from our neighbor when he was about 6 months old and weighed 11 grams, knocking on death's door. like you, the pet store talked her into the "kit". this forum is how i learned what he truly needed for care. so keep asking questions! and like you did earlier, if you are confused, ask again. there are some truly caring people on here.

out of curiosity, what are your night time temps? if they're not getting below around 65°, you probably don't even need to use the CHE. they like it cool and dark at night.
His temps were getting kind of low because the room I have him in is large and a bit cooler than the rest of the house. They were bordering around 60-65. He seems to sleep a lot deeper and better with the CHE. I only use it at night and turn it off when I turn his lights on in the morning at 6. And yes, the vet had me so mad. She did no tests or nothing for comfort care. Only 2 x rays that cost me 200$ and they weren't even shown to me. Then she took me out into the main part of the store and talked me into buying even more stuff for him that was useless and more harmful. (the ground walnut and that bulb I have now.) Have not since been able to get her to call me back after multiple messages inquiring about calcium while feeding the Repta-Boost so am a nervous wreck feeding it to him because I'm worried he'll get too much or not enough. Didn't answer me about the bump on his back and now his tail seems like it is lame. I think I've found a vet that is only 45 minutes from me and they're open on Saturdays so I am praying I can get him in right away.
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 3
Thank you.... am really confused though.... the vet was who I listened to (and she was volunteering there from a big city but it was painfully obvious that she was not well versed in bearded dragon care.) I have found a vet in Hot Springs, AR about 45 minutes from me and am working on trying to get him in to see them by Saturday if possible. Regarding the bulb, that was a LOT of information you threw at me and I'm not certain where one sentence ends and a new one begins (no disrespect intended) you just gave a whole lot of numbers, measurements, and names so I'm trying to understand all of it & was already confused to begin with. I have 2 dome fixtures. One dual and an individual. My CHE is in the individual and the 100w basking bulb is in the dual with the new uv bulb I was just told by the vet to buy. Could you please clarify which bulb is no good and also what this means:
"Zoo Med 24" fixture this will come w/ a 5.0 bulb keep it for a backup distance and placement is different from the one you need a 22" reptisun 10.0 T 5"
Do I need a 24" or 25", please?
Sorry I was confusing - and yes you want the 24" Zoo Med fixture - w/ the 22" bulb that was posted - the 13 watt coil bulbs are not any good and once you get the long tube fixture in and properly placed Loki should start to eat again - when they have improper UVB they will stop eating or eat very little - they are not able to absorb / synthesize the calcium they are getting and the UVB rays will help him do that - please post back on here when you get the new UVB and someone can help you get it placed for your tank - the screen on your tank will determine where it needs to go - I am glad you found a different vet but please do not let them do an enema on him - they outcome on those being done can be harmful - I would recommend taking a fecal in w/ you - you can feed him some plain canned pumpkin before you go the vets usually like a sample not over 24 hrs - once you get your UVB in I think you will see a difference in Lokis behavior
 

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