(Dragons assume the most absurd basking and sleeping positions! This is Big Lucy.)
As you know, the most recent addition to The Legend Zoo are two Bearded Dragons.
Big Lucy and Little Lucy
(Big Lucy is actually a male and Little Lucy is a female)
They both seemed to be doing well until I noticed blood in Big Lucy’s urate and a foul-smelling, watery feces.
(Dragons have vents like parrots through which they excrete feces and urates.)
I monitor the droppings from the animals because it is a good measure of general health.
If droppings from birds or reptiles change, it may be the only early indication of illness.
A microscopic examination of a fecal specimen revealed the presence of a Coccidia Oocyst and Stronglyte parasites.
(Since Dragons typically carry Coccidia and Stronglytes in their guts, there probably is no reason to treat absent symptoms.)
I treated her with Albon and Panacur and a probiotic (Bene-Bac Plus gel) for three weeks.
Now, treating her was no simple matter since she could not be convinced to drink the meds or eat the probiotic.
I held her and forced her mouth open by pulling down on the skin under her chin while Kelli administered the drugs through a syringe.
She was not happy about that, but it worked.
Coccidia is difficult to eradicate from the environment since it is resistant to most disinfectants and can live for a very long time.
The most stringent husbandry is required to eliminate it.
I discovered that one of the only chemicals that kill it are the ammonium compounds.
Absolutely everything must be sanitized daily.
(Big Lucy, below, is not looking very pleased with the treatment protocol!)
The fecal sample for Little Lucy showed Stronglyte parasites, but no Coccidia.
Since she was so very tiny and had normal droppings, I decided not to treat her until she gained weight.
She developed a brownish tint on her urate later, so I treated her with Panacur only.
I will continue to treat both Dragons with one dose of Panacur twice a week for one week every two months as a precaution against Stronglytes.
A microscopic examination of the feeder roaches revealed the presence of Stronglyte parasites.
Since they may be endemic to all Dubia roaches, I will continue to feed them as the best source of protein for the growing Dragons.
I discovered that the easiest way to weigh a Dragon is to use a bird perch gram scale since clinging to a limb is natural for them.
This is Little Lucy on August 3. She weighed forty grams. This is Rita’s old postal scale with a perch attached to it.
Troy Beaudoin at www.parrotislandinc.com made this one, but they are very easy to make using a postal scale.
Little Lucy has gained weight and is looking healthy here.
The red color is from an additional heat lamp that I added to her tank to raise the ambient temperature.
The best way to monitor the temperature in every area of a tank is to use a temperature “gun”.
Stick-on thermometers are useless. Do not use them, period.
Precise control of light, temperature and humidity is critical to a Dragon’s survival.
Little Lucy on her tank looking over at Big Lucy!
It is not wise to cage two Dragons together since the males fight and male/female Dragons are inclined to mate…
If there is no exotic (wild animal) vet in your area, there is an online source for veterinary advice.
You can buy veterinary medicine online complete with titration instructions. There are online labs for fecal examination, too.
The vets and vet techs at the above site can advise you.
I found their advice to be sound and immediately available.
My best advice is to resist the temptation to buy any exotic animal on impulse.
Their care and health maintenance is very different from that required for domestic animals.
However, if you are willing to do a great deal of research, and to devote a great deal of time to their care,
Bearded Dragons are intelligent and highly interesting creatures!
They bond with their keepers, too!
Deano died five years ago today. He was seventy years old.
In my earliest memory of him, he looks like this photo. He was twenty-one years old.
This is a photo of Deano supervising the construction of his porch.
It is early summer of 2008.
He plans to sit there watching auto racing and world news.
And that is precisely what he did until he died.
Deano always had a plan.
And, as he and JR Ewing said,
I love it when a plan comes together!
One evening, two days before he died, he was sitting on his porch eating banana pudding.
He looked up at his caregiver who had brought it to him and said,
If a man’s got to die, he ought to do it eating banana pudding.
That is who Deano was.
Lucy’s July Fourth Portrait
She has been with us for two months.
She is eleven inches long and very wide.
She is officially a juvenile dragon.
Actually, Lucy is a Lucifer.
When you choose names for pets
that are not dimorphic
Choose gender neutral names
if it matters to you.
This sad photo was filed under the title, “Day One”.
I thought this little creature was so cute.
That’s all I knew about Dragons.
What I didn’t know is that she was horribly dehydrated.
She was malnourished.
The bend in her tail was symptomatic of MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease)
Caused by a calcium deficiency.
The supervisor of the exotic animals at the chain pet store
Told me to feed mealworms as you see here.
I had no idea that they have virtually no nutritional value
and the exoskeleton causes impaction in dragons.
Crickets have little nutritional value unless they are gut-loaded before feeding.
She didn’t mention that when she sold me the crickets.
Of course, I assumed that Dragons drink water.
The display at the store contained a bowl of water like this one.
Dragons do not recognize standing water as something you drink if you are a dragon…
You must either drop water on their noses or mist them a couple of times a day.
Dishes of water in an enclosed terrarium cause respiratory illness.
Dragons are desert animals who require very low humidity in their habitats.
Of course, I ordered the definitive Dragon manual.
And I began to search the Internet for information on dragons.
I was so confused that I was in a panic about what to do.
Then, I found Joe Cattey of South Texas Dragons
Joe lives in San Antonio which is about 100 miles from Victoria
Just a hop and a skip in Texas.
Joe told me what to do.
He supplies Lucy’s Dubia roaches which are high in protein.
Joe told me that Lucy was dehydrated and instructed me to soak her in a warm bath
for 15-20 minutes several times a week.
Dragons have vents (Cloaca) like parrots
They absorb water through their vents.
As soon as she was well-hydrated, the shrunken skin disappeared.
One problem solved!
Lucy began to gain weight
And one day she shed her old skin.
She was healthy and growing at last!
Dragons require specialized care.
Most pet store dragons die within the first year.
People, like me, think they’re cute and take them home
To die of loving neglect.
Meet Little Lucy.
She is tiny, malnourished, and has MBD.
She was half-price, and cold and wafer-thin and starving.
I brought her home today.
Fed her all the Dubia roaches she could eat!
The Clematis blossoms dried
and remain on the vine
interesting still in the straw version of themselves
Romero sheared the Foxtail Ferns to the ground
As he promised, they sprang from the soil
into mounds of green Foxtail forests.
The leaves of the Bromeliads turned brown
in the winter freeze and
I thought they were dead
Suddenly, a blossom appeared from the ruin
The Bird’s Nest Ferns
with their leather leaves
are spilling over their pots
in a kind of celebration of the coming summer
The Pintas are busy making new buds
and blossoms too
New leaves spring up like green Seahorses
from the centers of the ferns
And Miss Lily has returned
to make the garden her own.