RIP Lester

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My sweet rescue beardie, Lester, passed away March 9, 2019 :( He suffered from MBD and probably atadenovirus. We're not sure about the virus because he passed before his vet appointment to get the bloodwork done; we would've had it done much sooner but couldn't afford the $400-$500 we were quoted. Two different vets suspected it, though, after he became anorexic last spring. We spent several months syringe feeding him Critical Care followed by several mo23nth of feeding him calcium dusted baby food off of baby spoons, per vet instructions. He seemed to be getting stronger and even began eating live critters again as long as we held them right in front of him. He couldn't climb and could barely walk (basically had to drag himself around) but he was able to push himself up on his front legs. All four of his legs did work, just not at the same time. The vets suspected he'd been dropped several times before coming to live with us. I miss the little guy so much but realistically he's better off now.

I never meant to get attached because I knew the little guy was in bad shape when we took him in about a year and a half ago when he was around 6 months old. The kid who had him before us kept him in a 10 gallon tank with no UVB whatsoever, a Halloween black light for heat (it put off pretty much no heat), and no heat at night. The no nighttime heat may have been ok in the kid's apartment depending on how warm his mom kept it at night but idk, he definitely needed a nighttime CHE in my apartment. I call him a kid but he was 17 years old, had internet access (mine), and should have made at least some effort to read up on proper husbandry. I never wanted a reptile before and he was our first; we only agreed to take him in after seeing his abysmal living situation and discovering the kid was planning on setting him loose outside when he and his mom moved. Outside. In the fall. In Missouri. I couldn't let that happen.

At the time, I had no idea how much a proper setup would cost but we scraped the money together to get one for him. Browsing the forums here helped us so much when it came to figuring out what he needed. Mistakes were made but we did the best we could. He died in my hands knowing he was loved. He'd been looking increasingly bad the week prior to his death--yellowish with a black beard that didn't go away--and had been drinking a ton of water, which was unusual for him. If he hadn't passed on his own, we were going to have him put down. By put down I mean my uncle, who is an excellent shot, was going to put a bullet in his head. I would normally do it myself but I just can't when it's an animal I've gotten attached to. It seemed to be the most humane way to do it after reading in several places that the injections vets give aren't fast like with mammals but can take hours. I'm glad he passed on his own and we didn't have to go that route. We buried him on my parents' property in our unofficial pet cemetery.

We're going to be bringing home a new little dude or dudette soon because we fell in love with bearded dragons; before Lester, we had no idea how affectionate they could be. Lester's tank and accessories have been thoroughly disinfected three times and probably will be again before use with the new dragon because I'm paranoid. We're in a better financial situation now or I wouldn't even consider getting another beardie. The new dragon will be taken to the vet and tested for atadenovirus right away because I don't want to risk getting attached to another pet and going through all that again just to have it die on me. We had Lester in a 40 gallon breeder because with his mobility issues it's all he needed. That will suffice for about a year, then we'll either buy or build a bigger enclosure. A new dragon won't replace Lester but it will become a beloved member of the family.

I don't know how to embed a picture but here's a link to a photo taken on an unusually warm day late last October. He loved being out in the natural sun and this was the last time he ever had the opportunity, even though it was only for a few minutes.
Lester being a derp. RIP little man :( Mommy loves you.

Please excuse any spelling or grammatical errors.
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