(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!