LG ~ The Handi-Capable Bearded Dragon

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Gray-bearded Member
hello everyone. i am a new member (i created an e-mail account for the sole purpose of joining your community), and my reason is to try and give my beardie it's best shot at life. i searched your wonderfully extensive forums before starting this post as i did not want to add clutterous new topics to your agenda, but it seems i may have to... forgive me if i do not follow the correct parameters of posting, for this is my first.

i was browsing the isles of my local pet store when i noticed something wrong. in a ten gallon terrarium i observed one bearded dragon(sex unknown) far away from the other four and it was huddling against the glass in a near vertical position. all four legs had been terribly mangled by it's tank mates(i suspect during an unsupervised feeding) and it seemed to have already died. the two hind legs were reduced to un-symetrical stumps and both of its front legs seemed to be completely missing. i was deeply struck to see it open its eyes briefly only to slowly close them again. when i asked the store owner what had happened he seemed oblivious to the situation(granted it was a very fresh scene) and said it had died. i held back my anger and suggested that his assesment was incorrect. i then asked him if i could have it since it was going to die anyhow and he accepted.

(im going to use the pronoun "him" because "it" has such a cold feel)

the first night i brought him home i really didn't think he would make it to morning. i held him in my hand as i walked to the bathroom to administer what little aid i could for the time being. i mixed a solution of 25%hydrogen per oxide(at 4% dilution) and luke-warm water in a shallow dish and gently rinsed his wounds. i'm not cirtain if he was too tired to fight back or just in shock but i was extra delicate just in case the bathing was painful or stressful. the wounds themselves were atrocious: his left arm seemed to be the only remaining limb aside from his tail but it was badly wounded and tucked tightly against his chest(appearently broken). his right arm was closer to chewed-over piece of jerky than a limb and was congeled to his torso. each of his back legs had been cropped neatly, as if with a pair of scissors... i feared gangrene or infection would take him in the night and(being a new pet owner) the best i could do was to place him in a large tupperware container (no lid of course) with a fluffy towell to rest on in a warm place. i felt dismal comfort in thinking "at least to die here will be less terrifying than to die alone in a dark, cold, smelly corner waiting to be finished like so much chinese food". when i awoke the next morning the first thing i did was go to see if he had made it, and he had.

he was awake and all of the wounds had already started to scab over. over the next few days i realized that his right arm, while fully connected to his body, would have to be removed. in the days since i brought him home the limb continued to degrade until finally i made the hard descision to amputate. i examined the limb from afar for at least ten minutes before i finally picked him up. i had heard people say that when they cut their birds nails too short they use a small amount of ash to stop the bleeding so i had a small pile of ash as well as toilet paper squares incase something should go wrong. as i held the sharpest scissors i could find in one hand and the dragon in the other, i studied the arm for another ten minutes trying to find where it was still livid and made the deciscion to cut conservativly away from that point(hoping the nerves were dead there). to my relief i was able to take it in one clean motion without a drop of blood and on closer examination found that i couldnt have removed it soon enough. it was riddled with infection and had no sign of scabs or healing. left over was a little stump about a centameter long. over the next few days i gave him subsequent bathings in the same solution and he finally ate his first cricket. another week went by when one day i was delighted to see his little left arm untucked for the first time! the hand on this limb had suffered the same fate as his now amputated arm and i reluctantly followed the same procedure as before to an identical outcome: a clean, conservative removal of only the most damaged portion. after that, it was clear sailing. considering he was almost completely immobile and totally dependant his demeanor was surprisingly sunny. he began wiggling aroung his container(kind of like when soilders crawl on their belly under barbed wire) and seemed to be coping with his disabilities quite well.

well fast forward seven months and i've got a second-hand ten-gallon terrarium from a friend and lined it with smooth river stones under his lamp(a 30watt 7%uvb flourescent) and digestible calium sand on the dark half. since climbing is unfortunatly not an option for him(this makes me sad) i put various low profile branches around the cage for proping up on. he gets to go and bask in my back yard whenever i have an hour or so to just sit out in the sun and watch him carefully(he seems weary of any birds overhead) it took me months to finally get him to understand the concept of a water bowl(until then i was giving him a daily drink of water from my finger tip). feeding seems to be a minor difficulty, as any insect could easily out-maneuvor him. we've got it down to a routine: as sad as it may seem, i must break the back legs of the crickets i feed him or else when i place them in his mouth they jump clear out of the cage. i just recently got him eating greens(so far only romaine but im letting him try new things too).

well thats pretty much where im at right now. any sound advice would be great, for as i previously stated im just trying to give him the best shot at lifewith the cards he was dealt. sorry if this post was really long winded, and thanks for your time.

nesta's mommy

Sub-Adult Member
that's great that you rescued him but terrible that someone would be so ignorant at a pet store... sheesh! :banghead: :banghead: :banghead:

you have definitely come to the right place as this an extremely knowledgeable forum.

1. just as an fyi: i don't think peroxide is good for them---try bactine or neosporin.

sounds like you are doing great! the tank seems a little small though


Hatchling Member
This is just stunning.

I have heard of owners abusing their animals or not providing the proper set up, but never a case like this of interspecies abuse.

I would have never thought that a dragon in this condition would survive. But 7 months! That is a huge prop to you and your ability to be a brilliant caretaker.

The only thing I can suggest here is that worms may be a great option for feeding. Slow moving and soft, they may be perfect for your guy.

Thank you for helping. This is by far one of the most apalling stories I have ever heard, and that you have brought him to health is amazing.

Do you have any pictures of the fighter?


BD.org Sicko
Staff member

I must say that is an unbelieveable story indeed! You have done remarkable work with him.
The only few suggestions I have would be to change out the UVB light. I believe you have an ESU UVB light which is not real good.
I would recommend the Reptisun 10 flourescent tube for him. You will need to get it to 6-8 inches of him. What type of basking light do you use?
He doesn't lick the sand, does he? You feed him outside of his tank, right?
Normally I would not recommend the sand, but under the circumstances, as long as he doesn't lick the sand, it is fine unless you wanted to change the type of sand to washed & sifted playsand. The calcisand can cause impactions if too much is ingested. It hardens like cement when it gets wet.
If you ever need to use a solution on the skin again, betadine diluted is better for wounds than the hydrogen peroxide is.
At least he is feeding, & gets around. At this point, that is all you can hope for. I am sure he is a very happy dragon. I commend you for taking on care for him, it takes a very special person to do so. You gave him a good chance at a good life now. I am sure that he is a very very special dragon.
I agree, worms are a good option for feeding. I think he would enjoy them. How big is he? We would all love to see pictures of him.



Gray-bearded Member
Original Poster
wow, thanks for all the info! i just got let go where i work so money is pretty tight but im trying to address these issues. i dont ever see him licking the calcium sand but sometimes(on very rare occasions)
he does it outside when basking... what does this mean? is he asking me for something? when hes hungry he gently and repeatedly tips his chin up, and when thirsty parts his lips slightly and sticks the tip of his toungue out waiting for a drop.

unfortunately alot of the products youve listed are waaaaaay out of my price range... just buying that uv flourescent broke the bank(this one isnt good for him? is their a compact that is?) i only made about $150 a week and just getting by till the next one was hard. now im looking for work and all i can find is part time. if anyone can recomend a good place to find some used gear let me know! i could use a bigger tank(id love a 40 gallon but thats dreamin' i suppose), and abetter fixture... i had my eye on this "Zilla Halogen/Fluorescent Combo Dome - 9.5 inch" but its like 70 bucks and i dont even make that in a week.

although i dont have copious amounts of cash, i still believe that the existance im giving him is a happy one. we go outside nearly every day for an hour and just look at the trees and stuff. hes able to wiggle out of the sun when hes too hot or reposition if hes in the shade. im starting to understand the signals more but without the arm waving it makes it kinda guess-work i suppose.

P.s. i definatly cant afford a digital camera right now but im trying to somehow get a picture of him up for you guys. until then, hes just as adorable as you imagined!


thats awesome you rescued the little guy from the pet shop! i know what you mean about expensive supplies, i would suggest ordering online cause sometimes its a little less expensive. or you could search craigslist in your city and get it used for a cheaper price. its really good for finding a bigger tank, i always see ads for 40+gallon tanks for cheap.


BD.org Addict
I tried to reply to this early this morning (well this morning for me - iv no idea what the time difference is) and then the site went offline :( but I just wanted to commend you for all you've done for him so far. Just a few things, you can get a repti-sun 10 relatively cheap online - if your US, I think its http://www.petmountain.com - i understand your not in the financial position to do this right now, but when you are, at least you have the link. Its the best UV strip around and you just use a household spotlamp with it to get the temps right. Also, when your upgrading your tank, I think used aquarium's (although you need to be careful of the height and depth) are usually relatively low in price - again craigslist and even the designated sections on this site might show something up when the time comes.

I hope you do manage to get some pictures soon - we all love photos here!!



Hatchling Member
I am speechless - I can't even imagine surviving at those odds. You are amazing. Of course you know there is a special seat in heaven for you (and your little guy).


Gray-bearded Member
Where are youlocated? Perhaps some of us could help you with some of our extra supplies. I'm in Manchester, Tn. and have a couple of extra bulbs and such. Thank you for rescuing him. I'm sorry but did I miss his name?
Good luck.



Gray-bearded Member
Original Poster
im not cirtain if my dragon is a male or female. if anyone can tell from these pics that would be great. ive been saying "him" only cause its easier but i think it may actually be a female( head shape and color, but what do i know)

this is the first set up i made for him: smooth stones, coconut husk bedding and a waterfall(which i quickly took out... it seemed dangerous). his tank is mostly the same except now theres more open space and a tunnel to hide in. the stones get nice and warm and he spends his afternoon on them occasionally repositioning for a new hot patch. at sundown he retires to the tunnel untill morning or he sleeps under the infared if its a cold night.

this is the first pic i took of him. he looks so frail in this picture...
he's obviously doing much better here. first shed!

taking a rest

my personal favorite! (and fairly recent too)

thats all for now but ill be sure to take more soon, thanks again everyone...

P.S. to the previous posters: i live in southern california and im not exactly sure of the temp gradiant


Sub-Adult Member
What an amazing job you are doing with this little one! I have a little one with three and a half legs, and she still holds her left arm tucked tight against her body much of the time, although she will also do the "i'm little, don't hurt me" wave with her little stump. For supplies, check your local freecycle.org or craigslist.org, and post under pets or wanted. People can be very generous when they find out what you are doing. Good luck, and if I can help, please let me know.

Denise Bushnell (RIP)

Juvie Member
Retired Moderator
He looks wonderful now, considering all that he's been through! You're a much better person than I could be, if I had seen an animal left to die in that sort of condition without anyone in the store trying to help him, or even giving him the benefit of euthanizing him to end his suffering. I probably would have smacked someone and gone to jail! How could anyone be so cruel?

It took a lot of guts, love, and determination for you to get him through that, and back to at least a semblance of good health, although he is horribly handicapped. I can't believe that you were able to amputate his limbs on your own, and clear up an infection of that magnitude without veterinary help. I do a lot of my own vet work with my three dragons, and dogs and cats, but I would never have had the courage to even try that! He was so lucky that you found him.

His tank looks wonderful, and very comfortable to serve his needs. The rounded stones are a wonderful idea, since he can't really climb without hurting himself. Animals are truly amazing about being able to adapt to almost any handicap, if they have the right care, and a lot of love. We have a "special needs" Boxer, with neurological problems that affect her gait and balance, and give her head tremors, so I know how much dedication and love that it takes to raise an animal with a handicap. But, as I'm sure you know, it is so rewarding when you can actually make a difference and give them a good life in spite of their limitations. Animals with handicaps have such an indominable spirit about them, and they can teach us so much about accepting what life throws at us. I think its wonderful that you were able to save him, and give him a life that is as happy as you can make it.

If you're trying to get him into a larger tank, try going to your local pet shops and asking if they have any large tanks that leak, that they would be willing to part with for a small amount.....or you could also try garage sales and flea markets as well. Sometimes you can pick up really large tanks very cheap, if they leak, and you don't need something that's watertight for him, so as long as the glass isn't broken or cracked, it wouldn't make any difference.

I think what you've done for him so far is wonderful! Keep up the good work, and please keep us posted on how he's doing!


BD.org Sicko
Staff member

WOW he is such a little cutie pie. :D The tank is really nice. I think he looks very happy with everything. I honestly don't think there is anything else that you can do, other than getting the Reptisun 10 tube bulb but when you get some spare money. It can be much cheaper online, as suggested.
Keep taking him outside because the sunlight is great! You want him to have strong healthy bones.
How often does he shed now?
Well, that is fine if he hardly licks the sand, then he obviously is not having any problems with it. That is no problem.
I agree, I love the stones, too they are really nice. I don't think his tank could look more comfy for him. He is indeed a very special boy. He appears very healthy as well, & has some nice colors.
You could maybe add a nice soft fleece blankie for him to snuggle in overnight. He would probably appreciate that, I would assume. :D
What are his temps & how do you measure the temps? That is great he moves around to find warm spots.
Did you decide on any worms for him?
You are incredible for giving him such a wonderful life.



Gray-bearded Member
Original Poster
i appreciate all the help ive recieved in the few short hours ive been a member. i am concerned about one thing though;
on rare occasion(every two or three days) i do see him "lick" the ground, usually while basking outside. he basks in an area of my backyard that consists of small sprouting plants and grass next to a dusty patch. he seems to like the dry warm dust, its quite soft to the touch. i never see any more than one flick of the toungue(something about the dust).

anyhow, i was wondering if hes doing that with his coconut bedding when im not looking... i really only see him do it with the fine sand and dust outside but im worried the habbit will migrate indoors. besides that everything else is spectacular.

as to the questions: i dont currently have an accurate thermometer(just a traditional glass one) so its kinda guess-work right now. i can say that when i pick him up from under the spot to go outside, he feels quite warm to the touch. as he can move away whenever he wishes im not worried he will burn. his speed is actually improving... he can wiggle about a foot in under ten seconds.(compared to a minute!)

shedding really seems to be closely connected with feeding, especially after large meals(sometimes four or five crickets at a time). ill feed him one and he'll wolf it down and lick his lips wildly and wiggle furiously for another. i try to dust about half the crickets i feed him because i heard their bones could go soft( though he doesnt seem to like the ones with vitamins on them as much). it seems like he sheds every seven to fourteen days. sometime i help remove the stuck pieces if they stay on more than a day.

pardon me for asking but;

what should a healthy stool look like?

he poops every couple days.. is that good or bad?

what kind of change is a bad change? in other words what visible signs precede a seemingly sudden death(my worst nightmare)?

i will try to take closer pictures of his anatomy (with his permission of course) to give you a more complete perspective on his handicap.

these will have to do for now!

i use this lipton tea bottle cap as a water dish, anything else has too high of a profile...

an overhead view

ready for bed

here's his favorite basking spot

well thats it for now, im on pacific standard time so im going to bed soon but ill be on again tommorow(after all, this IS my new homepage :wink: )


BD.org Addict
He looks brilliant - your doing fabulous work for him and its obvious you really do care for the little guy. Its great to hear how well he can get around and it just proves what strong, determined little animals they are.

When we got our baby, about 3 weeks ago, her foot was pretty mangled after abuse from the other 11 in the tank with her. She has a little dent in her nose and scars on her head. That was a heartbreaking sight for me (hence I brought her home. We have managed to save her foot although it looks like one of her toes may never be correct. I know my baby only suffered a fraction of what yours did... but I can totally relate to the whole anger at the pet store employee!! I cant even begin to imagine how it was for you the day you rescued your little man... o whats his name by the way??

Once again, well done on the great things you have done for him... hes obviously a fighter!
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