Saving Dragons

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.

Lesson #1

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.

Bearded Dragon Manual

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.

South Texas Dragons

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!


74 Comments on “Saving Dragons

  1. This was such a fascinating post about something I knew absolutely nothing about that I read it all twice. What a journey you and them have been through. And, what a beautiful open heart you have George to care about and care for these amazing critters. It is a beautiful extended family you have created for yourself. My heart smiles for you and for them. ~ Rick


    • Thanks. He changes every week. Now, he looks even more grown up and stalks around his tank like a major predator! LL is growing too. She is laid back and sweet while he’s kind of fierce. Chuckle…


  2. Lovely shots! Learning to care for new animals is always exciting, if a little nerve wracking ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. My daughter has had a few of them. Her first female died on the same desease. She was very weak and hardly a year old. Now she has only a male Dragon, because his female died two weeks ago while she was in labour of an egg. That was horrible ๐Ÿ˜ฆ She feeds them grasshoppers, because they’re full of protein and crickets, but I’ll tell her about the Dubia Roaches. Wishing you all the best for Lucy. She sure is adorable. It’s good to see people around who are taking care of helpless animals ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I swear by Dubia roaches for my dragons as well as for my hedgehog, Koko. Unless crickets and hoppers are gut-loaded, they aren’t as nutritious because the ratio of meat to shell is far less than in the roaches. Animals eat only a few of the roaches while they require large numbers of cricks and hoppers. She can order feeder roaches online and even raise them herself with little trouble. There is a huge online community of informed Herpies out there. I have been very fortunate to have learned as much about them as I have in such a short time. I I gut-load the roaches before I feed them. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. The best to your daughter and her Beardies too! ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Wow. Who knew that dragon life was so complicated. Well, it’s not really if you’re a dragon living in your normal dragon habitat. I think your experience highlights why the exotic pet industry is so rightfully maligned. Kudos to you for dutifully doing all the research to rescue little Lucy from a slow but sure death.


    • That’s absolutely right, Linda. If we didn’t buy pets at pet stores, there would be no market for commercial breeders. But we do. I read that Dragons are one of the new “cool” pets. Unfortunately, their care is not intuitive since they are wild animals. Thanks, Linda. I think Big Lucy will be okay since she’s so healthy now. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. There is so much to learn about new kinds of critters when you bring them into your home and under your care. Lucy/Lucifer is one lucky bearded dragon! โค


  6. Great post. Elizabeth also feeds the dragons their veggies & fruit. It must help with nutrition and a source of moisture. She also shakes the crickets in a special calcium powder to help with bone development. ( “Shake , Rattle and Chirp” by the Crickets, the farewell performance) ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW Our first Water Dragon went from Sherlock to Shirly-lock. ;D


    • So, you have a male and a female? Uh-oh, babies on the horizon, I think. Chuckle… Big Lucy’s fecal exam showed one oocyst which is not supposed to be significant, but there was blood in the urate and the droppings are foul-smelling. Sigh… I am waiting on a call for her treatment. Coccidia is hard to kill in the habitat. Infected reptiles from pet stores are common. Do Not buy a pet store animal, George!! ๐Ÿ™‚


      • They can produce eggs without a male, they just do not come to term/hatch. That is what happened to our first water dragon. She became egg-bound and started draining herself of calcium.


  7. George, this is right up there with your best posts – its just you, engagingly intimately with some subject from Nature, and talking very engagingly about it, and illustrating your words with very good photographs – a sheer delight to look at and read, my dear. Adrian


    • Thanks, Adrian. I’m always happy when you enjoy my posts. I am really having fun with these critters. Big Lucy has a Coccidia infection, unfortunately, from the pet store. I am determined to eradicate that bug from her and her habitat! Look out Mr. Coccidia, I’m on patrol! Chuckle…


    • Thank you very much, LuAnn. It was nice of you to visit and take the time to leave such a nice comment. Lucy is sweet and a lot of fun. I’m happy to have her join our “zoo” of other strange residents! Chuckle…


  8. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Both Lucy’s are very lucky girls with a mommy like you ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks, Suzanne! ๐Ÿ™‚ I am thoroughly enjoying these critters. They are soft and warm and affectionate. I’m not a reptile person, but I like these guys!


        • Yes, they recognize their keepers and can pick them out of a room full of people. They enjoy human companionship, but don’t like to share their habitats with other dragons. Isn’t that strange? Well, I reckon it isn’t so strange since I can relate to that myself. More often than not, I like animals better than other humans! Chuckle…


          • Amazing! “They can pick their owners out of a room full of people”. Amazing! By the wayโ€ฆlove the new Gravatar! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks, Charlene. I hope they thrive too. Just discovered that Big Lucy probably has a Coccidia infection from that pet store! I have to take her to a reptile vet in Houston. I know better than to buy animals from pet stores! Chuckle… I hope she won’t get really sick. She is so fat and doing so well now. Sigh… I’ll be reporting on her soon.


  9. She is a beauty, love her. We had one, Lily also a beauty and there is a lot to read up. Lily loved peas very much. She died las tyear though being 5 years old. Lovely of you to rescue her!


    • Hi, Ute. Thanks for stopping by to visit us. Peas, huh? Little round green peas? I’ll have to add them to the salad for the girls. I’m sorry you lost Lily. I am finally about old enough now to outlive my pets if they live normal lifespans. Dragons are interesting creatures. I am enjoying them tremendously. ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Lily was well loved and she gave us many memories.Yes frozen peas – thawed and another favourite was Zuchhini or gourgette as you might know it as. She was the only girl in my household who shared my passion for greens in my household. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy your Lucy to the full, they are very loving creatures!


  10. how great that you are in the ‘little dragon’ rescue business!
    i’ve lived in harmony with geckos for 14 years now, and i love having them as my roommates. small frogs also find their way into the house during the dry season, though i don’t tell most people that there are princes in waiting tucked in the reserve tank of the toilet or in the vase of flowers, etc!

    i loved every image, and of course loved the texts!



    • Hi, Zeeb! Thanks for using your limited bandwidth to visit us. I always think about how difficult is for you every time you visit. I have to learn to love gekos. I love paintings of them, and I would love the colored ones that I see. I guess the ones we have here that are translucent must be gekos. I’m not at all certain they are. I encountered the most gorgeous green tree frog once when I walked into the bathroom at our new house and he was sitting on the sink! I had never seen one in my life. It scared the crap out of me since I had not expected to see him there. I still laugh about that. No, I don’t mind frogs and anoles in the house except to worry that they can’t get back out. I’m always taking one of Mr. Anole’s kids back outside! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for visiting us, Zeeb!


    • Thank you for re-posting the dragon story. You are always so very kind. I hope Little Lucy does as well as Big Lucy has done. She still looks kind of stressed, but she’s eating and behaving normally. She will get used to her new environment soon. I appreciate your encouragement always, Rob! ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. What an Angel you are… take brilliant photos and save the lives of dragon lizards… the store owner should have their ass kicked and forced to do more research before being qualified to sell such pets…. but good on you George…


    • Hi, Rob! Well, we know better than to buy pets at a chain pet store. Nobody should buy an exotic animal without having researched everything about its behavior and care. I leap into stuff and then scramble to discover what to do about it! Chuckle… These critters fascinate me. They only live in the deserts of Australia. They’re soft and sweet and sentient. Those eyes make me smile. Thank you, Rob!


  12. My daughter and son-in-law have had bearded dragons as pets for years. They’d be appalled at the initial treatment to which yours was subjected! Here’s to many years with happy dragons.


    • Thank you so much for stopping by to visit us, Ellen. I think dragons are a special species. They’re sweet and friendly and sentient. Those little eyes captivate me! I am always chuckling when Big Lucy turns her head to listen to every word I say. I am not a reptile person, but there is just something about bearded dragons that fascinates me. ๐Ÿ™‚


  13. I think I’ve said this before … in my next life (for surely there will be one!) I want, in the worst way, to come back as one of your pets! Or plants! D


    • OH, I don’t know, Farmer. You strike me as an exotic who requires entirely too much care and attention! You’d break the bank! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, I’m dying first so I’m coming back as Joanna’s cat! Chuckle…


  14. Your photographs are wonderful, George. And how cool that you saved another Lucy. I’m quite shocked that the pet store knew next to nothing about how to keep these beautiful creatures – it casts them in a very cynical light.


    • Hi, Richard. Everybody knows better than to buy pets at a pet store, but I do it anyway, and have had good luck so far. We perpetuate the commercial breeding of animals by buying them that way. If I lived in a bigger town, I would search for hobbist breaders instead. All large chain stores make their profit on the sale of exotic animals and on the initial “care equipment”. They can’t afford to invest in long-term care and advice. People should inform themselves BEFORE they buy an exotic animal. If people knew how expensive and complicated it is to take care of these animals so that they thrive, few people would buy one. Thanks, Richard. Big Lucy is such fun! ๐Ÿ™‚


  15. They are beautiful creatures. I’m so glad they found someone like you to care for them, and bring them back to good health. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • HI, Robin. I hope Little Lucy does okay. She doesn’t look as bad as Big Lucy did so I am encouraged. They are soft and friendly and sweet creatures. I am not a reptile person, but I like these interesting creatures. Thanks, Robin!


  16. This is such interesting info, George. I’m so glad that you found Joe, and that Lucy is now thriving with the right care and diet. Hope your tiny sweet Lucy will soon be “very wide” too. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Hi, Sylvia. Yes, I hope Little Lucy does well. She still looks stressed today with the stress pattern on her underside, but that’s fairly normal when you change the dragon’s environment. She’s a feisty little thing so she’ll be okay. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for always stopping in to see us!


    • I call everybody and everything that I like by that name. And have for many years. Now, I find that Lucy is Lucifer… No matter, I like her so I’ll keep calling her Lucy. Thanks for visiting us, Jo! ๐Ÿ™‚


  17. When I read the part about the “supervisor of exotic animals” I immediately went into sarcastic mode. Exactly what constitutes the qualifications of “supervisor of exotic animals” at a pet chain store – other than “tag your it”? I’m betting the store manual, under the section on reptiles (which is broad and non-specific) contains just enough information to keep the things alive until sold. Nothing really about long term care and nurturing.


    • Well, the profit is in selling the animal. They do sell the customer the bare minimum of supplies, if the customer will buy them. Everybody surely knows better than to buy a pet store animal. I’ve done it repeatedly and I know better. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve generally been lucky. Hope so this time. Big Lucy has blood in her urate today. Joe says it’s probably from pinworms. Will take specimens tomorrow to Dr. Beck. Hope that’s what it is. She has no other symptoms of illness ๐Ÿ™‚


  18. What an interesting pet to have George. It is a pity that the advice given to you was incomplete. If they are going to sell these animals, the people at the store should know how to feed and look after them.


    • Well, you know how that is, Colline. Their profit is in selling the animal. They are well-meaning, I think, but I suppose they hesitate to make caring for exotic animals seem too difficult. Hope you and the kids are having a terrific summer! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for always stopping by to see me!


  19. You have ANOTHER one now!!! As somebody else said, there are probably baby dragons in your future! It’s very interesting to learn something about these little animals. Pet store people seem to only care about making money by selling things they know little or nothing about.


    • Hi, Linda. Actually, people who buy exotic animals on impulse and then don’t research their specialized care requirements. Dragons are the easiest of the reptiles to care for, so I’ve read. But, I can tell you that they are expensive to maintain and require a fair amount of attention to detail. You don’t just drop them in a terrarium and feed bugs to them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Charlie thinks they’re creepy. So does Kelli. He thought this tiny one was kind of cute, but he didn’t want to touch her. Charlie says he’s coming to visit you before school starts again.


  20. Such a sad story George. Glad it ended happily for Lucy and Little Lucy at least. Shouldn’t there be rules and regulations that these unscrupulous pet shops need to abide by? Someone you can complain to? Something makes me think, we are going to be looking at a small menagerie of bearded dragons in the not too distant future ๐Ÿ™‚ Bless you.


    • Hi, Madhu! The stores look clean and the animals look good. That is, until they stay too long there or you know what you’re looking at. Usually, they depend on turning over their stock of small animals regularly so they still look fine when they leave, I think. The little dragons look good when they come from the breeder. I really think it’s a matter of ignorance on the part of the store staff. They are not unkind to the animals. What I object to is that they sell these exotic creatures without giving adequate information on the specific care requirements. However, nobody should buy an exotic animal without knowing a great deal about the animal. The buyer has the basic responsibility to inform himself and to be prepared to care of the animal for years. We are an impulse-driven society. And animals suffer because of it.

      No, I think this is my last dragon! If she makes it, I’ll feel lucky. And, I’ll offer her for adoption by friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m really not the animal hoarder that I might appear to be! Chuckle… Thanks for stopping by to visit us, Madhu! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Well, thatโ€™s the way of the world, Meredith. We keep wild animals that should never be kept in captivity. And, purely for our entertainment and pleasure. Humans are not particularly nice animals, you know. Chuckleโ€ฆ The chain pet stores buy their animals from commercial breeding facilities. Nobody should ever buy an animal from a pet store, but we do. I talked to the manager, but that makes no difference. They still donโ€™t even bother to include even a basic care sheet with the dragons. They sell the customer all of the stuff they can while heโ€™s buying the dragon. Thatโ€™s the end of their profit on that dragon. I asked one of the clerks whether anybody ever brought an animal back since they have a fourteen-day return policy guarantee. She said that nobody ever brought one back aliveโ€ฆ I feel exactly as you do about the pet store trade!


  21. This was so interesting, George! And thank heavens for you, one who saves dragons from PETSRUS or whatever. I hate those places. You just gave me another reason! She’s a little creepy( don’t tell her, poor dear…) but frankly, mealworms are creepier. Keep them in the fridge or they will become horrid large flies right before your eyes. Those might be of value to Lucy-Lucifer. You could call her Lu! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You will end up with all those poor creatures now! What to do but complain they should not sell living animals without the slightest idea what they’re talking about! Makes my blood boil!

    Well I love your photos and I see the personality you see in her-him too! How big do they get?! I hear roaring coming from afar! XXX


    • Ha-ha! Kelli and Charlie think dragons are creepy-looking too. I’m not a reptile person, but I like these soft, warm, bright-eyed creatures. They’re friendly and bond with humans. They grow to 18-22 inches long. Of course, that includes their long tails. I don’t feed the mealworms at all now. I feed a tropical roach that does not live in wild in the US so they die if they escape into your house. Thank goodness. Sometimes, I find one crawling on my clothes after I’ve handled them! I guess you couldn’t keep an animal who eats live insects if you have a thing about creepy-crawlies. They have the most alert eyes and look as if they are listening intently when you talk to them. I suppose they really are since they recognize who you are by the sound of your voice. I refer to anything and anybody I like as “Lucy” anyway, so that works for me! I smiled about the fog cover protection you had last night! Chuckle…


  22. Wow,
    That was an unexpected but super interesting post!!
    You definitely are fond of these little creatures,and thankfully you adopted Lucy.Otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to her.
    When I look at the pictures,I can’t help but think that they are a bit scary.Do they feel cold,and do they jump around and try to bite you when you take them?


    • Hi, Kainzow! Actually, they are soft, warm creatures, very unlike the cold, slick reptile picture I had in my head! No, they don’t jump around trying to bite. They like humans and bond with us. My daughter and grandson think they are creepy-looking animals. I am not a reptile person, but I like these friendly Bearded Dragons. Thanks for stopping by to visit us! ๐Ÿ™‚


  23. I don’t know which is worse, the tears or the rage … Thank goodness for Joe’s knowledge, George, but you gotta have a chest to that store owner – where is he getting these poor creatures from?


    • You are such a kind soul! I am glad you saved one more. The photos are stunning – so clear and rather like high definition tv. You are getting to be quite the professional photographer!


      • Thanks, Jo Nell. That’s really good of you to say! I love snapping the photos, you know. Chuckle…
        For some reason, these little critters appeal to me. I don’t like reptiles, but they’re bright-eyed, look right at you and act as if they understand. Plus, they are soft and warm, unlike what I thought all reptiles felt like! ๐Ÿ™‚



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