Need help, Dragon only eats things that are moving a lot

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kingofnobbys

BD.org Sicko
Idean12":2l06ly08 said:
I'm in southern California so really, our winter is the same temperature as most places' spring. It has been raining the last two days and she's now actually basking directly under the lamp. Normally she'll stay in the spot that's the farthest away from the heat lamp. I think the lamp is 100 watt, I got it from her previous owners so I'm unsure of how hot it actually is. She doesn't move around at all, unless it's to get under the heat lamp and that's only been in the last 2 days when I have both the windows open. She's also in a tank that's probably too small for her, it's a 45 gallon tank I believe, I spent about a month searching for a 75 gallon tank and ended up buying one but it was for fish and was way too narrow for her to live in comfortably so I opted for letting her stay in her old one. She used to wall run a lot but we bought wallpaper that looks like grass and it cut her running down from several times a day to once or twice a week at most.

<<<< would have been better off buying some 3/4in plywood and building your own tank about 4ft x 2ft x 2ft with sliding glass front doors.

Should I try feeding the dubias a salad and then feeding them to her, would that work the same as with the hornworms? the dubias have been a lot less likely to eat the food I give them (repashys bug burger and occasionally dog food and fish food). Normally it would be gone in a day or two but now it's lasting a week or two easy!

<<< IMO giving the bugs (crickets/locusts/roaches) good quality greens and chopped veg and maybe some dry lizard pellets (I use RepCal Adult Beardie Pellets straight from the bottle) to feed , gutload and hydrate them is the way to go - my insects get the greens and veg the pet skinks and beardie leave as well.
This is much better , and likely lots cheaper than commercial insect foods and gels.


I have a 150 watt bulb I bought thinking that her current one was too weak but I haven't actually taken it out of the box yet since she seems to avoid the heat as much as possible (hangs out in the farthest end of the tank away from the bulb). I'm not sure I'll be able to move the bulb from where it is as it barely just reaches a power outlet and the stand I have it resting on only extends a set distance.
That is a VERY STRONG INDICATOR that the rest the tank is TOO HOT , see this viewtopic.php?f=5&t=233516 , likely actually 39 - 43 degC in the warm zone , she's in trying to stay cool.
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND rechecking the viv temperatures using an ACCURATE temperature probe and adjusting the basking lamp distance appropriately.
 

KeyBlu422

Juvie Member
I second what Nobby says except for the mealworms, also, beardies can have up to 6 superworms in a sitting but I tend to give only about 3 at a time. I would dial back on the mealworms count as their nutritional value is only slightly better than superworms but are harder for the beardies to digest, I like the eating the pupae idea too.

Also, khaleesi, I have started giving supers the commercial diets but have stayed with the greens. I am wondering if anything could come about when the supers are given the diet?

Nobby, what do you do when you give the pellets? Do you moisten them or leave them dry and provide a carrot for moisture?
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
PodunkKhaleesi, I'm in Orange County too, small world! Good to see another OC resident here. I'll try ordering the sample pack from rainbow mealworms, I tried buying from them before but it was seriously overpriced (think I was getting BSFL). But $8 for 25 sounds way better than the deal I got from josh's frogs! My dubias won't even touch the fluker's cricket food I leave for them, it just ends up dried up and unused. Until recently bug burger was being devoured no problem, I'd leave 2-3 chunks of it and it would be gone in a couple of days, now it'll stay in there for well over a week at least.

Kingofnobbys, that's great info to know, I had no idea Lizzie wasn't a full adult yet! She's so big I just assumed it meant she had reached her final size! She doesn't shed often at all, at most she'll shed a flake or two from random body parts once every month or so. I held back the bugs today, but I also went out and bought her some collard greens and butternut squash which I will try to feed her first tomorrow. She didn't take to the collard greens the last time I tried but it was mixed with raw cabbage and strawberries, I haven't tried it with butternut squash. She did at least lick some of the butternut squash baby food I fed her through a syringe when I first got her and was desperately trying to figure out what foods she actually would eat. I'll see if the rainbow mealworms sampler pack includes silkworms, if they don't I think I will try buying the 1000 eggs available on amazon, even though I'm a bit worried I'll end up with 1000 live and uneaten silk worms! Crickets didn't do fantastically with her, she would notice some and gobble them up but a lot would escape her attention and then hide in her decorations and then I'd be worried the whole day that I missed some and they would nibble on her while she slept! Not sure how to get my hands on locusts, my girlfriend is incestophobic (she's gotten a lot better since we got Lizzie) but I'm worried locusts might be too much for her to handle living in the same house with. So you're saying I should offer the veggies after the insects? Wouldn't that further discourage her from eating the veggies if she's getting her fill of insects beforehand? I put the veggies in a food processor for her but she still won't touch them, doesn't even notice them!

Ebarlo14, thanks for the info about brumation, I'm hoping that's the cause of her sudden lethargy. She doesn't wall run anymore (from what I can tell), and she rarely, if ever, moves from her log. She almost never actually basks under the light.
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
Yeah, I agree that some insects on the Rainbow Mealworms website are a much better deal than others. I’ve found their prices on hornworms and crickets to be the most competitive, while their BSFL and dubia prices can run a bit steep. What I like about Rainbow Mealworms is that they’ll happily make substitutions in their combo packs if you ask (example: I’m not crazy about superworms so they let me substitute that part of a combo pack for extra crickets). If you go the BSFL route I highly recommend ordering from Fluker’s, as you can get a 1,000-count cup for less than $10, which is the best price for BSFL I’ve encountered.
P.S. One of the perks about living in Orange County is that I’ve never had a beardie brumate. For the most part they remain alert and energetic year round, so that’s our SoCal perk. Well, that and In-N-Out Burger. ☺️
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
PodunkKhaleesi, yeah I didn't except brumation to be an issue with Lizzie since our temperatures rarely drop below 50-60, but I have to admit it seems like she is showing signs of brumation all the same! God knows In-n-out is his personal gift to us SoCal residents lol, I certainly have too much of it myself, especially now that they've added the hot cocoa to the menu! I'm hoping brumation is the problem like kingofnobbys mentioned, it would certainly take a lot of the concern off of my mind!

Do you all think I should buy a 50 watt bulb for Lizzie? She's always shying away from the current (possibly) 100 watt bulb. Her tank is definitely too small and I've been meaning to build her a new one with my dad but since we know little to nothing about bearded dragons I'm hesitant to put in the work just to build her an unsuitable tank :? I'm planning on moving her out of my and my girlfriends room to the main upstairs living room which has a lot more space, but I'm also worried that our dogs will cause her to be anxious and not eat as well as when she's in our room. She's always reacting to new sounds, even the sounds that she should be familiar with by now.
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
Here’s a question that may help with the bulb issue: Are you using a temp gun to measure the basking surface temperature? Sometimes people rely on those stick-on thermometers, which in addition to only measuring the general air temperature, can be mildly to severely inaccurate (sometimes being off by as much as 20 degrees). If you don’t yet have a digital thermometer, getting one could help us figure out if Lizzie’s lethargy is because her temps are either too cold or too hot. I think you mentioned she’s over a year old, and if that’s the case a good basking temperature gradient falls between 95-105 degrees (babies like it a tad hotter with a basking temp range that can be up to 110). So if you aren’t measuring her surface temperatures with a temp gun I’d get one ASAP. I use the ZooMed temp gun that’s available in most chain pet stores, Amazon, etc., but there are other options available at hardware stores as well. Once you measure her basking surfaces with the temp gun, you’ll know right away if you have a lizard that’s trying to avoid a too sweltering basking rock or doesn’t bother basking because her temps are way too cold. Both of these scenarios can be perceived as brumation and all it takes is getting the temps on track to reverse that behavior. My enclosures are 24 inches high and I find 100 watt basking bulbs work really well for that height. During the summer when our SoCal temps get toasty sometimes I’ll downgrade to a 75-watt bulb to offset the change and keep temps in the cages consistent. So the wattage of your bulb depends on your cage’s height, how high your basking objects are, and the material of the enclosure. The downside of glass tanks is that it can be much harder to retain heat in them, which is why (if you don’t have one) a temp gun is even more crucial to make sure she’s getting adequate heat. When I had my first baby beardie she started her life in a big glass tank, and because I lived in Oregon at the time, I became frustrated with the constant adjustments I had to make on a daily basis to get that tank to maintain decent temperatures. Once I bought a vivarium-style enclosure (three solid walls and a glass front) I was thrilled with how much easier it was to keep the temps on track. I didn’t have to worry about a screen top filtering out a percentage of her UV light, and I learned that beardies actually feel safer/more secure when surrounded by three solid walls (glass surfing was no longer an issue). If you’re thinking about upgrading her enclosure, you can actually build a pretty nice one for less than $150. My beardie collection is on the low side at the moment, but if I ever turn the corner and become the reptile version of a crazy cat lady I’ll probably start building the enclosures myself. There are some really great how to videos on YouTube and there’s also some good info on the enclosures section on this site. Some members have created and shared their cage blueprints and instructions and I’ve been amazed by many of the photos. I’m a huge fan of the 4x2x2 size for an adult beardie, which I think should be the minimum size for an adult. If the thought of building an enclosure is less than appealing, I’ve heard good things about the San Diego company DIY Cages and the line Dragon’s Den makes. I think both of these companies make enclosures that come with a basking bulb and UV tube light fixture. So this circles us back to your current issue. I apologize if this info was already given and I overlooked it, but:
1. Are you measuring Lizzie’s temps with a temp gun? If no, getting one should be a priority. We’ll be able to proceed and pinpoint if this is a temp issue once you’ve got one.
2. If yes, what are her basking surface temp or temps? I like to use staggered basking objects so a beardie can choose from multiple basking temps in the desired range (ex: current basking surface temps in my adults’ cages are 95, 98, 100, and 104). So you may have more than one answer to this question if that’s your situation too.
3. What is your UV light brand and model? Example: Is it a compact bulb or a long fluorescent tube?
4. How high is the cage/what’s the distance between Lizzie’s UV light and her basking surface?
The answers to these last two questions will determine if there’s inadequate UV reaching the lizard. Even if her basking temps are perfect, a UV light that’s too weak or too far away from the lizard could be the problem, especially if you have a screen top filtering out a percentage of that UV light (which isn’t necessarily an issue if you have a really strong UV light like a Reptisun 10.0 T5 tube light, but can render some of the already weak compact UV bulbs that have a low output even weaker/make them essentially useless).
I think we’re getting closer to an answer so any info you could provide on those topics will help immensely.
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
For KeyBlu: I haven’t used superworms as feeders very often, so I’m not quite as familiar with their specific requirements. I do know that moisture-rich foods (carrots, potatoes, etc.) should always be available to them or they’ll engage in the unsavory practice of cannabilizing each other to obtain hydration. Most of the care sheets I’ve seen on superworms emphasize water-rich veggies vs. protein (and most of the care sheets didn’t mention feeding them any kind of protein at all, which is why I can’t say definitively whether a commercial insect gutload would benefit or harm them). On the rare occasions I used superworms I’d just toss in carrots and slices of potato and this seemed to work well (no deaths/eating each other). If anyone else knows whether superworms can/should eat any protein-based foods, such as a commercial cricket diet, it would be great to have that info.
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
Her tank is 16 inches high, the basking light is 9 1/2 inches away from the ground, I use the Reptisun UVB tube light and Lizzie lays on a wooden cave thing about 6 inches away from the UVB light. She doesn't have anything under the basking light because it's too close to the ground for anything to be added under it. Her tank has calcium sand as the substrate. I was using a cheap $1 zoomed paper thermometer but I really doubt that's working since it almost always says its 80 degrees. I just purchased a zoo med temp gun from amazon so I should have exact temperature readings in a couple of days! I'm thinking it may be too hot for her in there given that you keep your 100 watt bulb 24 inches up. I definitely need to upgrade her tank, the current one was given to me by her old owners, as was the basking light.
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
Okay—now we’re getting somewhere. Based on that info, here’s the urgent recommendation:
1. Ditch the Calcisand. Loose substrates such as sand and walnut shells pose an impaction risk to beardies (even more so if you feed her in her tank, as the risk of her ingesting sand when she goes for a cricket is high). Pet stores, who conveniently sell the loose substrates they proclaim to be natural for these lizards, aren’t going to tell you that these substances can result in a very slow and painful death (my herp vet wants nothing more than to ban these substrates so he doesn’t have to see any more beardie owners lose a lizard to impaction). Newspaper, tile, and paper towels are among the much safer options for Lizzie. In addition to posing no impaction risk, they’re much more hygienic (sand can quickly become overrun with bacteria and is very difficult to keep clean).
2. Initially I wondered if her basking temps were low but now there’s also a chance that her temps are WAY too hot. One recent poster on this site thought her beardie wasn’t eating and was barely moving because of an attempt at brumation. When asked what her temperatures were she said she didn’t know (not good). So she bought a temp gun and was shocked to realize that her temperatures were at a nearly lethal level and that the lizard was essentially being broiled alive. The lizard had to be forcibly given fluids in an attempt to counteract the heatstroke (among other things). So the sooner you get an accurate temp reading the better. No surface in her tank should be above 110 degrees. You could raise the basking light a bit in the meantime to be on the safe side.
While you’re waiting for the temp gun you should remove the sand. When you have the temps we’ll know if this is a too hot or too cold issue. If there’s something moisture-rich that she’s willing to eat it wouldn’t hurt to be extra vigilant in ensuring she’s hydrated (in case she’s been overheated).
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
I'll definitely remove the sand, I'm not super worried about her eating it since I feed her directly out a bowl almost always, however, it is possible she ate some sand the very last time I fed her (it's been 5 days since she's eaten anything :( ) I was trying to figure out what was wrong with her eating habits so I let about 10 dubias loose in the sand and I know she managed to eat at least 5. Other than that she very rarely if ever is exposed to eating sand. I'm concerned she's dehydrated. I've only ever once managed to get her to drink water out of a bowl, and that was just a few tongue dips. She never laps water off her snout, either when I mist her or when I directly place water droplets on her snout. She won't lick the water that I mist on the side of her tank. She never drinks the bath water. I got her to touch my wet finger today after spending about an hour with her just trying to get her to drink something. I gave her a bath today and no poop, but the last time she pooped (5 days ago) there was a decent amount of white in the poop, which has been how I've been trying to keep track of if she's hydrated or not. I'm not certain the sand is the issue with her eating since she's slowed down on eating for a couple of weeks now, not just the past 5 days, but I don't know enough about how impaction works to be sure. She can definitely see the dubias, I'm sure of it now (I placed about 50 in a clear wide lid from taking home food from a restaurant and she was moving her head along with them constantly but made no attempts to eat them).

I've moved her basking light to 19 inches above her spot and gave her a log to perch on under it (height accounts for the log), and she's actually basking under it now!
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
Quick update, looks like I spoke too soon, she pooped! After the bath and some basking under the newly raised light she started being a lot more active (she's even now running around her tank, probably wall running but I'm just so happy to see her moving around again!). Her poop looked fairly normal, plenty of white in it, but the white was sort of yellowish at the end where it met the poop, so I'm unsure if that means anything. I took out the tray full of roaches since she knocked them everywhere with her running (I caught all the roaches), I'm not sure if she ate any, it didn't sound like it (I wasn't moving or looking so I wouldn't distract her since she gets distracted super easily) and the roaches all seemed to be there more or less. I put about 8 roaches in her old bowl and left it in there in case she decides she wants to eat.
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
The fact that you raised the light and she immediately started basking under it is a great sign and means it was likely much too hot where it was before. Your digital temp gun will confirm if it’s now in the ideal zone (95-105 for an adult). Regarding the sand, it can pose a danger to beardies even if you don’t feed her insects on the sand. Beardies like to lick, and over time the frequent licking of her environment means she might be ingesting small amounts of sand that can culminate in impaction. Calcisand can have a cement-like effect when ingested, making a blockage/impaction very difficult to treat. The good news: it looks like Lizzie’s issue is temperature related and not an impaction. But the sand should still be removed ASAP. Another bonus to ditching sand: you’ll save a ton of money over the course of Lizzie’s life by forgoing sand and its impaction risk.
Regarding the hydration issue, don’t worry over the fact that your beardie doesn’t drink water from a bowl. The majority of beardies don’t acknowledge standing water, and many won’t drink via the misting or nose drip method either. Most beardies get the majority of their hydration needs met through the foods they eat. That’s why gutloading insects and offering a good mix of greens and veggies is important. I like to mist my beardie’s salads to increase the hydration factor and keep the salads fresher longer. The only reason I mentioned water is because if the temps were way too hot then she could be dehydrated (especially if she hasn’t been eating much). A needle-free plastic syringe made for small animals can come in handy in these instances when a lizard has been sick and refusing food. You can give them water, slurries, and formulas like Critical Care to make sure they’re getting water and nutrients. If she continues to shun food you may need to go this route.
P.S. That’s great that she had a bowel movement! That and the fact that she chose to bask after the light adjustment are very good signs. Please update the temp situation when you have the gun/how Lizzie’s doing over the next few days. ☺️
 

Ghoul

Member
We accidentally trained my dragon into being a princess, and now she won't eat her salad until we handfeed her the first piece. :lol: Maybe you could try that? I hold some greens slightly upward of her eye level and wiggle it a little. She then glares at it and chomps down.
 

Idean12

Member
Original Poster
UPDATE: Good news! Besides having pooped one more time, Lizzie just now ate about 15-20 roaches, which, while on the small side for her, is the first time she's eaten anything besides one small hornworm in 7-8 days! It wasn't easy getting her to eat, I had to stand there shaking the roaches for about 5-10 minutes before she finally took a bite, and then she would stop once I stopped shaking and I'd have to shake again for a little while before she started again. She can clearly see the roaches, I'm not sure if she's just not acknowledging them as food until theyre really moving or what. The temp gun came today as well, it seems that before I moved the lamp her basking spot was getting close to 120 degrees! Now her spot is in the 95-98 range and she's a LOT more active, to the point where she's wall running at least once a day. I've removed all the sand from her tank and replaced it with paper towels which seem to be working well. In the next few days I'm going to try building her a wooden tank with my dad, just looking for good designs right now and they're proving surprisingly difficult to find. PodunkKhaleesi, just want to give you a big tank you for saving Lizzie, I had no idea how hot her tank was and the difference moving her light has made is incredible, I don't think she would have survived if I had kept the bulb where it was.

As for handfeeding lizzie, well, she often won't eat anything out of my hands, and when she does it has to be crawling at a decent pace while also staying within her striking distance. I've tried handfeeding veggies and fruit to no avail. I've also tried feeding her baby food out of a needleless syringe, she only licked at it a few times but wasn't very interested afterwards.

So, so far, she's still being the picky dragon she's always been, but at least now she's active again and has finally eaten something, I was really getting worried about her. The amount she's eating is low but I assume her stomach has shrunk during her fast and hopefully it was expand once she starts eating regularly again. I don't think we're out of the dangerzone yet but progress has been made and the outcome is looking good, thank goodness. I've purchased more hornworms and some earthworms for her to try, I'm going to mix them with salad for the first couple attempts but more than likely I'll have to feed them separately and with tweezers to get her to show interest. Wish me luck :p !
 

PodunkKhaleesi

Hatchling Member
Such good news! The fact that she ate that many roaches in a sitting is a great sign. And if she’s still being fussy regarding veggies, dubias have a long digestive tract so you can focus on gutloading them with water-rich veggies like butternut squash.
It’s great that you’re looking at building a bigger enclosure. Melamine enclosures have become a popular choice both because they’re economical and they retain heat well. It’s also a good material to work with if you’re a beginner. There are a lot of great YouTube tutorials that make it easy to find a design that’s the exact size you want. I like the 4x2x2 size, and it’s the perfect height for a Reptisun T5 10.0.
A note on earthworms: If you do go this route just make sure they aren’t purchased from a bait shot or worms that you find in your backyard (otherwise they can transfer parasites/diseases to the lizard). Always purchase the insects from a retailer that supplies insects specifically meant to be consumed by pets (it sounds like you’ve done this, so if so then just carry on).
So happy to hear Lizzie’s recovering and feeling peppy!
 
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