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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I am a new reptile owner and I have some concerns for my bearded dragons growth.
His name is Ron, I’ve had him for 10 months , I’m not sure how old he was when I got him but he was very small (got from petsmart, not sure how young they begin to sell beardies there.)

I can automatically admit that I have not fed him enough, period. For that I apologize to other beardy owners in here because I feel like I’ve done wrong by little ron.

I want to make it clear that I want the best for him , and prior to making this post ivemade a vet appointment to get a professional opinion diet wise.
I have been looking online for months as to what I should feed my beardy but almost every website has different answers as to what/how much he should get , and to be frank I found it extremely frustrating.

I was quite horrified when I watched a video of the growth of a beardy, and how within 5-6 months the beardy in the video went through a huge growth spurt that changed his appearance significantly and he got much larger, knowing that mine hasn’t done anything like that.

I want my first reptile to be memorable, and for him to have a good quality of life, as well as live up to his maximum potential. I would be greatly appreciative of any tips, guidance, etc, as well as any criticism. (Most importantly help withfiguring out reliably how much he should be fed)
other info:

I feed him large mealworms primarily (horned worms once a month or so) and veggies twice a week
 

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Baby beardies are often sold at around 6-8 weeks so he would have been about that age I suspect when you got him. As a baby they should be fed 3 times a day on approximately 12-20 crickets. So if you didn't feed like this then yes he probably hasn't grown as he should. I would try to vary his diet a it more adding crickets and locusts. Feed him around a dozen of these every day. He is still growing at his age but would have slowed down with a normal diet but it sounds as if he still needs some help to reach his correct size and weight. If you can ge a photo that would be helpful. Also if you could give us a run down of his set up such as temperatures at the basking spot and cool end, UV provided etc. that would help also.
 

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We will need a run down of your entire care to properly help.

Viv Size
Enclosure decor
Heating - type and temps
lighting - types
Substrates
Diet
etc

If you can throw up pictures, that would be really beneficial too.

Immediately though, the diet needs to be improved. Meal worms are very lacking in nutrition, so adding in crickets, locust, calciworm, cockroaches, whatever you can get your hands on. At a young age, Beardies tend to be primarily insectivorous with some vegetative demands. Their bodies are growing so they need the proteins for that. If you can get hold of Sage plants, these are their main natural diet too, so plenty of sage will help. But, some of the problem could come down to temps, lighting, exercise, etc.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Baby beardies are often sold at around 6-8 weeks so he would have been about that age I suspect when you got him. As a baby they should be fed 3 times a day on approximately 12-20 crickets. So if you didn't feed like this then yes he probably hasn't grown as he should. I would try to vary his diet a it more adding crickets and locusts. Feed him around a dozen of these every day. He is still growing at his age but would have slowed down with a normal diet but it sounds as if he still needs some help to reach his correct size and weight. If you can ge a photo that would be helpful. Also if you could give us a run down of his set up such as temperatures at the basking spot and cool end, UV provided etc. that would help also.
3 feedings of 12-20 crickets a day?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We will need a run down of your entire care to properly help.

Viv Size
Enclosure decor
Heating - type and temps
lighting - types
Substrates
Diet
etc

If you can throw up pictures, that would be really beneficial too.

Immediately though, the diet needs to be improved. Meal worms are very lacking in nutrition, so adding in crickets, locust, calciworm, cockroaches, whatever you can get your hands on. At a young age, Beardies tend to be primarily insectivorous with some vegetative demands. Their bodies are growing so they need the proteins for that. If you can get hold of Sage plants, these are their main natural diet too, so plenty of sage will help. But, some of the problem could come down to temps, lighting, exercise, etc.
Hi! I appreciate the reply.

he currently lives in a 50gal. With a high up basking spot and two hides. I’m currently using dried coconut fibre for the ground with a carpet below.He has two heat lamps, one for light / heat and one just for heat. (I can’t tell you the heat but it is what anotherbearded dragon owner recommended ). I will buy sage right away! Websites I’ve been on have been highly inconsistent so I’ll give sage a go instead. And I used to have crickets primarily for him but got frustrated with keeping them, saw a video on YouTube of a bearded dragon owner primarily feeding meal worms and thought I would go with them as well, but if crickets are the way to go I’ll try again.

another note is that I haven’t been giving him calcium supplement consistently for the last 3 months, important detail. Just started giving it to him every day again and saw instant improvement in his color / activity


Wood Art Graffiti Glass Mural
Eye Reptile Iguania Organism Lizard
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A
Hi! I appreciate the reply.

he currently lives in a 50gal. With a high up basking spot and two hides. I’m currently using dried coconut fibre for the ground with a carpet below.He has two heat lamps, one for light / heat and one just for heat. (I can’t tell you the heat but it is what anotherbearded dragon owner recommended ). I will buy sage right away! Websites I’ve been on have been highly inconsistent so I’ll give sage a go instead. And I used to have crickets primarily for him but got frustrated with keeping them, saw a video on YouTube of a bearded dragon owner primarily feeding meal worms and thought I would go with them as well, but if crickets are the way to go I’ll try again.

another note is that I haven’t been giving him calcium supplement consistently for the last 3 months, important detail. Just started giving it to him every day again and saw instant improvement in his color / activity


View attachment 363073 View attachment 363074
Also this photo of him is around early may (I got him July last year)
 

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Hi, take out the carpet it`s AWFUL, it`s difficult to clean and can hold many bacteria, use a topsoil/playsand mix (at least 3 or 4 inches deep) at a ratio of about 50/50%.
The analogue gauges are normally very inaccurate, you URGENTLY require a digital hygrometer to check the ambient (air) and humidity, then a IR Temp-gun for the basking surface (try ebay) both are quite cheap to buy but very effective.
Adding supplementary calcium would NOT have an immediate effect on health or colour?
The hides are FAR too big, the dragon would benefit from smaller, tighter places to retreat to.
It`s best to use a solid object at the basking site such as a flat stone or largish ceramic tile (make sure the lizard cannot get trapped under it).
You basically need to know 2 temps; the lowest ambient @ approx. 70f, then the basking surface temp of between approx. 105 to 115f. The bigger the basking site/object the bigger the surface temp range will be.
Can you give details of the heat bulbs and UVB you`re using (brand and wattage)?
The humidity needs to range between approx. 30 to 60% or so, the lower figure will be around the basking site, the higher in the cooler parts.
I`m not sure locusts are available in Canada, if they are they are a good addition to the diet, you can also use crickets and roaches, but do not leave crickets in overnight, they may chew on the dragon while it`s resting.
Does the enclosure have solid top or is it screen/part screen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi, take out the carpet it`s AWFUL, it`s difficult to clean and can hold many bacteria, use a topsoil/playsand mix (at least 3 or 4 inches deep) at a ratio of about 50/50%.
The analogue gauges are normally very inaccurate, you URGENTLY require a digital hygrometer to check the ambient (air) and humidity, then a IR Temp-gun for the basking surface (try ebay) both are quite cheap to buy but very effective.
Adding supplementary calcium would NOT have an immediate effect on health or colour?
The hides are FAR too big, the dragon would benefit from smaller, tighter places to retreat to.
It`s best to use a solid object at the basking site such as a flat stone or largish ceramic tile (make sure the lizard cannot get trapped under it).
You basically need to know 2 temps; the lowest ambient @ approx. 70f, then the basking surface temp of between approx. 105 to 115f. The bigger the basking site/object the bigger the surface temp range will be.
Can you give details of the heat bulbs and UVB you`re using (brand and wattage)?
The humidity needs to range between approx. 30 to 60% or so, the lower figure will be around the basking site, the higher in the cooler parts.
I`m not sure locusts are available in Canada, if they are they are a good addition to the diet, you can also use crickets and roaches, but do not leave crickets in overnight, they may chew on the dragon while it`s resting.
Does the enclosure have solid top or is it screen/part screen?
Thanks again for the reply :)

I will make sure to buy a hygrometer next time i visit the pet store.

I do not live alone and there's 0 chance I convince my family members to allow me to keep roaches. ( unless their enclosure can be kept outside, if so its possible). While i mention that, i've fed him crickets before but can crickets thrive in an enclosure outside as well? If not then i'll have to make an enclosure inside work but if possible I would like to keep the people in my home as happy as possible.

(I don't know if this should be put in a different thread but is it possible to start a dubia roach farm on a small scale?)

as for the voltage, I am not home at the moment but I will let you know when I am home. The top of his tank is a rather thin metal netting, which to be honest i'm not happy with, when he was smaller and in a 10g tank the top had a thick metal in the same shape as the current one, and it wasn't easily pliable/movable like the current mesh.

On another note, I have found the coconut fiber to be extremely easy and manageable with cleaning up after him, and keeping, so if there aren't any health concerns besides compaction from consuming it (which he doesn't) I will continue to use up what I have before making a switch to what you recommend, that being said, is there anythingI can put at the bottom of his tank as a barrier between the glass at the bottom and the substrate? I kept the carpet because I did not like having to deal with it on the glass, and I clean it regularly.

Like I said in the earlier post I will be visiting the vet. next wednesday, and will get him checked on, and get tips for nutrition. Ideally I would like to be feeding him primarily roaches.
Sorry if my response is all over the place, to be honest with you I haven't gotten a lot of chances to talk with experienced reptile keepers before, so my mind is exploding with questions.
Thanks a bunch - c
 

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3 feedings of 12-20 crickets a day?
Not at his age now no, that's when babies. Just the one feed per day now until his growth catches up. Apart from being on the small side he looks healthy. But as mentioned there are a few changes you need to make and it will take a little bit of time to get your head around them. Perhaps start with the more important changes first such as making sure your temps are correct, 110-115f at the basking spot, and make sure you have a good quality high % UV light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Not at his age now no, that's when babies. Just the one feed per day now until his growth catches up. Apart from being on the small side he looks healthy. But as mentioned there are a few changes you need to make and it will take a little bit of time to get your head around them. Perhaps start with the more important changes first such as making sure your temps are correct, 110-115f at the basking spot, and make sure you have a good quality high % UV light.
My biggest concern right now is that he has a slight limp and is rolling on one of his wrists when he walks, which from what I gather could be an early sign of MBD(?)
and I will triple check that he has the right kind of lamp.
 

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Hi! I appreciate the reply.

he currently lives in a 50gal. With a high up basking spot and two hides. I’m currently using dried coconut fibre for the ground with a carpet below.He has two heat lamps, one for light / heat and one just for heat. (I can’t tell you the heat but it is what anotherbearded dragon owner recommended ). I will buy sage right away! Websites I’ve been on have been highly inconsistent so I’ll give sage a go instead. And I used to have crickets primarily for him but got frustrated with keeping them, saw a video on YouTube of a bearded dragon owner primarily feeding meal worms and thought I would go with them as well, but if crickets are the way to go I’ll try again.

another note is that I haven’t been giving him calcium supplement consistently for the last 3 months, important detail. Just started giving it to him every day again and saw instant improvement in his color / activity


View attachment 363073 View attachment 363074
As a 50gal tank, I'm guessing that looks to be an Exo Terra 90x45x45cm? So 3ft x 1.5ft x 1.5ft.

If I'm correct, then I'm afraid to say that the enclosure is too small for a Bearded Dragon. The absolute minimum would be a 4x2x2ft, though bigger would be much more beneficial. I would recommend a 5x2x3ft (lxdxh) to allow for deeper substrates and climbing.

Speaking of substrate, dried coco fibre, or Coir, is extremely dusty and will get into the respiratory system, as well as in eyes (I've worked with Coir for the last 7 years, a small piece of dry Coir in your eye hurts like a MF). A soil based substrate is a much better option. I prefer a soil substrate that has a reasonably good clay content as this allows for brilliant digging opportunities. You can mix this with play sand, some moist Coir, gravel, and even layer it so the lower levels are more soil based, and the upper layer is heavier on the sand. This will provide immense enrichment and help your dragon build muscle and grow.

I'm a little confused by your heating setup. You state 2 heat lamps, one for light and heat, one for just heat. So I expect that you mean you have an incandescent bulb (sort of like a household light bulb) and a ceramic heater (bulb shaped but made of ceramic?)

Is the ceramic for overnight heat? Given your in Canada, this may be necessary, I don't know. What do temps drop to at night there? In the UK we don't tend to need over night heat but it is milder. The light emitting heat lamp should be day only though, this is your primary source of basking. Surface Basking temperatures should be reaching about 45C but the only way to measure that is with an IR Temperature Gun, the type with a laser pointer. As already mentioned, the analogue dial Thermometers aren't worth anything, to measure ambient temps, get a digital thermometer with a probe.

However, at no point have you mentioned UVB, and I can't see this in the picture? Ideally you want a T5 strip light system. Which type depends on the enclosure you have. As your setup is already small, I've advised getting a bigger one. A 4x2x2ft will require a 12% T5 system, the Arcadia T5 Pro are great, you can even add a Jungle Dawn to it with a linking cable and really boost the light levels in there.

As for diet, as above, plenty of variation but locusts, crickets, dubia roaches, woodlice, etc etc are all great options. Make sure to supplement the diet too, with calcium and multivitamins.

I appreciate that is a lot to take in, it's basically a full new setup as the pet shop has sold you an absolute cropper. If I was to suggest anything that's the immediate requirement, it's a new viv, getting the temps right and a UVB system first.

Everything else can be done in stages as and when you get time and money. Deep substrate is great, but would likely be your last change. I'd probably actually say, keep him on paper towel for a while first, until you are happy he's healthy and growing. If you can get fecals done, that may also help determine if he has a parasite stunting his growth. However, I honestly think he just needs the correct diet, correct temps and UVB and you will see a massive difference

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As a 50gal tank, I'm guessing that looks to be an Exo Terra 90x45x45cm? So 3ft x 1.5ft x 1.5ft.

If I'm correct, then I'm afraid to say that the enclosure is too small for a Bearded Dragon. The absolute minimum would be a 4x2x2ft, though bigger would be much more beneficial. I would recommend a 5x2x3ft (lxdxh) to allow for deeper substrates and climbing.

Speaking of substrate, dried coco fibre, or Coir, is extremely dusty and will get into the respiratory system, as well as in eyes (I've worked with Coir for the last 7 years, a small piece of dry Coir in your eye hurts like a MF). A soil based substrate is a much better option. I prefer a soil substrate that has a reasonably good clay content as this allows for brilliant digging opportunities. You can mix this with play sand, some moist Coir, gravel, and even layer it so the lower levels are more soil based, and the upper layer is heavier on the sand. This will provide immense enrichment and help your dragon build muscle and grow.

I'm a little confused by your heating setup. You state 2 heat lamps, one for light and heat, one for just heat. So I expect that you mean you have an incandescent bulb (sort of like a household light bulb) and a ceramic heater (bulb shaped but made of ceramic?)

Is the ceramic for overnight heat? Given your in Canada, this may be necessary, I don't know. What do temps drop to at night there? In the UK we don't tend to need over night heat but it is milder. The light emitting heat lamp should be day only though, this is your primary source of basking. Surface Basking temperatures should be reaching about 45C but the only way to measure that is with an IR Temperature Gun, the type with a laser pointer. As already mentioned, the analogue dial Thermometers aren't worth anything, to measure ambient temps, get a digital thermometer with a probe.

However, at no point have you mentioned UVB, and I can't see this in the picture? Ideally you want a T5 strip light system. Which type depends on the enclosure you have. As your setup is already small, I've advised getting a bigger one. A 4x2x2ft will require a 12% T5 system, the Arcadia T5 Pro are great, you can even add a Jungle Dawn to it with a linking cable and really boost the light levels in there.

As for diet, as above, plenty of variation but locusts, crickets, dubia roaches, woodlice, etc etc are all great options. Make sure to supplement the diet too, with calcium and multivitamins.

I appreciate that is a lot to take in, it's basically a full new setup as the pet shop has sold you an absolute cropper. If I was to suggest anything that's the immediate requirement, it's a new viv, getting the temps right and a UVB system first.

Everything else can be done in stages as and when you get time and money. Deep substrate is great, but would likely be your last change. I'd probably actually say, keep him on paper towel for a while first, until you are happy he's healthy and growing. If you can get fecals done, that may also help determine if he has a parasite stunting his growth. However, I honestly think he just needs the correct diet, correct temps and UVB and you will see a massive difference

Thanks
To be 100% honest I’m not sure what kind of light he has, I merely took the advice of the attendant at the pet store at the time I got the new Viv, so I could have a uvb light but I also might not, to be frank I can’t remember.

The heat lamp is intended for night time, and I have it set up on a timer so that everynight once the light turns off the heat lamp goes on purely so that if the temp is lower than normal (he is kept in the basement, and yes, it does get cold at night here , especially so in the winter and fall) he’s happy. I was originally recommended one of those lights for night time that emit a dark light but I noticed that he could see it and it bothered him/disturbed his sleep so I got rid of it almost immediately.

I thinkonce I can convince my parents, and have the money for it I will upsize my viv, I am not exactly in a position to do so as of this moment , and that being said he’s still quite small in his current home so I will just make sure tofocus on convincing my parents while he’s still comfortable in that size Viv.

I didn’t know that about the coconut fibre, and that’s pretty concerning haha. I will swap that out next time I go to the pet store. It was only$15 for three full bricks of it and it’s lasted so long anyways , I’ve gotten plenty of use out of it so I’m not that bothered changing it up now.

I will post later a full image of the setup with lights, and see if I have the boxes for any of the bulbs I have still.
Thanks
 

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My biggest concern right now is that he has a slight limp and is rolling on one of his wrists when he walks, which from what I gather could be an early sign of MBD(?)
If you have concerns of MBD I'd suggest adding a UVB lighting kit Arcadia do some great one's for a Bearded Dragon they also have some great suppliments which contain no synthetics,

I've added a chart below of which fitting you'd need depending on the hight of the enclosure although the UVB fitting would work much better inside of a wooden enclosure as the mesh on top of your enclosure would prevent it from being 100% effective.

Font Biome Terrestrial plant Screenshot Software
 
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