The following are true stories that I would like to share with you...

"LG ~ The Handi-Capable Bearded Dragon"

Beardie's name: LG (Little Guy)

Story written by: Jason (LG's owner)

I was browsing the aisles of my local pet store when I noticed something wrong. In a ten gallon terrarium I observed one bearded dragon (sex unknown) far away from the other four and it was huddling against the glass in a near vertical position. All four legs had been terribly mangled by it's tank mates (I suspect during an unsupervised feeding) and it seemed to have already died. The two hind legs were reduced to un-symetrical stumps and both of its front legs seemed to be completely missing. I was deeply struck to see it open its eyes briefly only to slowly close them again. When I asked the store owner what had happened he seemed oblivious to the situation (granted it was a very fresh scene) and said it had died. I held back my anger and suggested that his assesment was incorrect. I then asked him if I could have it since it was going to die anyhow and he accepted.

(I'm going to use the pronoun "him" because "it" has such a cold feel.)

The first night I brought him home I really didn't think he would make it to morning. I held him in my hand as I walked to the bathroom to administer what little aid I could for the time being. I mixed a solution of 25% hydrogen peroxide (at 4% dilution) and luke-warm water in a shallow dish and gently rinsed his wounds. I'm not certain if he was too tired to fight back or just in shock but I was extra delicate just in case the bathing was painful or stressful. The wounds themselves were atrocious: his left arm seemed to be the only remaining limb aside from his tail but it was badly wounded and tucked tightly against his chest (appearently broken). His right arm was closer to a chewed-over piece of jerky than a limb and was congeled to his torso. Each of his back legs had been cropped neatly, as if with a pair of scissors... I feared gangrene or infection would take him in the night and (being a new pet owner) the best I could do was to place him in a large tupperware container (no lid of course) with a fluffy towell to rest on in a warm place. I felt dismal comfort in thinking "at least to die here will be less terrifying than to die alone in a dark, cold, smelly corner waiting to be finished like so much chinese food." When I awoke the next morning the first thing I did was go to see if he had made it, and he had.

He was awake and all of the wounds had already started to scab over. Over the next few days I realized that his right arm, while fully connected to his body, would have to be removed. In the days since I brought him home the limb continued to degrade until finally I made the hard descision to amputate. I examined the limb from afar for at least ten minutes before I finally picked him up. I had heard people say that when they cut their birds nails too short they use a small amount of ash to stop the bleeding, so I had a small pile of ash as well as toilet paper squares incase something should go wrong. As I held the sharpest scissors I could find in one hand and the dragon in the other, I studied the arm for another ten minutes trying to find where it was still livid and made the deciscion to cut conservativly away from that point (hoping the nerves were dead there). To my relief I was able to take it in one clean motion without a drop of blood and on closer examination found that I couldn't have removed it soon enough. It was riddled with infection and had no sign of scabs or healing. Left over was a little stump about a centimeter long.

Over the next few days I gave him subsequent bathings in the same solution and he finally ate his first cricket. Another week went by when one day I was delighted to see his little left arm untucked for the first time! The hand on this limb had suffered the same fate as his now amputated arm and I reluctantly followed the same procedure as before to an identical outcome: a clean, conservative removal of only the most damaged portion. After that, it was clear sailing. Considering he was almost completely immobile and totally dependant, his demeanor was surprisingly sunny. He began wiggling aroung his container (kind of like when soldiers crawl on their belly under barbed wire) and seemed to be coping with his disabilities quite well.

Well fast forward seven months and I got a second-hand ten gallon terrarium from a friend and lined it with smooth river stones under his lamp (a 30 watt 7% UVB flourescent). Since climbing is unfortunatly not an option for him (this makes me sad) I put various low profile branches around the cage for proping up on. He gets to go and bask in my back yard whenever I have an hour or so to just sit out in the sun and watch him carefully (he seems weary of any birds overhead) it took me months to finally get him to understand the concept of a water bowl (until then I was giving him a daily drink of water from my finger tip). Feeding seems to be a minor difficulty, as any insect could easily out-maneuvor him. We've got it down to a routine: as sad as it may seem, I must break the back legs of the crickets I feed him or else when I place them in his mouth they jump clear out of the cage. I just recently got him eating greens (so far only romaine but I'm letting him try new things too).

Well that's pretty much where I'm at right now. I'm just trying to give him the best shot at life with the cards he was dealt.


April 2009 Update:

Hey everyone, thanks for taking such an interest in LG. That first post was quite awhile ago (nearly a year), much has changed in his care since then.

His substrate used to be smooth stones and eco earth. He liked this ok but it wasn't easy for him to move on shifting ground. I ended up changing it to coarse tile and outdoor carpet a while ago for safety reasons. He seems to get the best traction when the ground is bumpy and rough; it allows him to catch his limbs so he can to pull himself forward. For this reason I use a ribbed-texture oudoor carpet which has repeating grooves (for wiping your feet), it's perfect for him.

He eats several dozen appropriately sized crickets throughout the course of the day (unless he refuses). I also offer him mustard, collard, and dandilion greens as well as squash, and some of the safer fruits (mostly skinned and deseeded cactus pears).

Vitamins and supplements are Repcal brand calcium powder without phosphorus but with D3. I give that to him 5-7 times a week. I also give him Repcal brand multivitamin once a week; on those days I mix the two powders together when shaking the crickets in a bag.

I don't keep a water dish in his cage for sanitary and safety reasons. Instead, I offer him water several times a day through a water dropper. He laps in up like a dog with a water bottle.

He has gotten so energetic and inquisitive. He constantly wants to be taken out of his cage to explore. If the shades are open in the window next to his tank he'll try extra hard to push his way through the tank and window. If the shades are drawn he comes to the front of the enclosure and runs back and forth, rattling the glass doors as he goes.

Its unbelivable; he has so much to overcome yet he has more spirit than my two larger dragons combined! Thank you for giving me an oppurtunity to share LG with you. I'll do my best to get some new pics of him as soon as possible.


June 2010 Update:

LG had a seizure of some kind and has since been acting strange... I took him to the vet who prescribed baytril for a bactierial infection... He also said his tail is losing circulation, possibly because of some heart defect he has had all his life.

August 2010 Update:

LG seems to be hanging in there, though I still don't know exactly what was wrong. It could have something to do with LG turning out to be female. She layed a bunch of infertile eggs...



Video of LG made by Jason for a $200 reptile video contest...

Below is a special video tribute that Jason made for those who have donated to the "LG Fund" or participated in LG's Fundraiser. Enjoy!!!

"Daisy" & "Chako"

Beardie's names: Daisy & Chako

Story written by: Annie & Lisa

Wanted to tell you a story.....a story about two dragons that made us re-evaluate how intelligent bearded dragons are.

A few years ago, on one of the coldest days ever recorded in our area of the country, a mailman knocked on the door and handed us a small priority mail box. We hadn't ordered it was kind of puzzling.

We opened the box, took out a couple of pieces of waded up newspaper and then were sort of paralyzed with shock.... there were two bearded dragons stuffed in the box! OMG, one of them was literally nothing but skin and bones. The other, a barbata kept hissing at us. But they were sooooo cold we had to warm them up as soon as possible. We set down, each of us put one under our shirt ...against our skin, and put a heating pad over our shirts. We finally got them warmed up, but the barbata kept hissing at us. She was NOT happy.

Looking at the box, we found a note inside. The barbata's name was Daisy, and the other dragon was Chako. The note said Chako was blind, and would need to be hand-fed. Obviously, somebody hadn't been doing that for God only knows how long. It also said "they" (who will remain unnamed) thought we'd like to have Daisy since Washee (another dragon of ours) was also a barbata. As for Chako, they thought maybe we'd be able to "fix" her.

We setup a spare tank for Daisy and Chako. As you can see from this picture (see right), we didn't think she'd be alive by morning. We gave her a couple of injections of Lactate of Ringers, and tried to get a little baby food down her.

We put in an emergency call to our trusted herp vet. He looked her over and said that she was trying VERY hard to live. He said he'd euthanize her if we insisted, but that even in her horrible state, he thought she had a real chance to make it with a lot of devoted care. We took her back home. After a lot of medical care and an intense regimen of vitamins, minerals, and baby food, Chako started filling out, and moving again! Here she is after a month of treatment (see right).

Now we're getting to the fascinating, and uplifting story about Chako and Daisy. Chako was now strong enough to move around again. As far as our wonderful herp vet could determine, Chako was still blind, and there was nothing we could do for her as far as the blindness was concerned. She would always need to be hand-fed since she could not see to find worms, and eating regular plant material was hard on her because her jaw muscles were still so weak from the negligent care she'd suffered.

One day when we put some mealworms in the tank for Daisy, we saw something that reduced us to tears, but left us awestruck. Daisy gently bit Chako's beard and tugged her towards the bowl of dusted mealies. When Chako reached the bowl, Daisy sort of slapped the top of Chako's head. Chako lowered her head, and found the worms, and began to eat!!!!!! Every time we offered worms to Daisy, she would make sure that Chako knew where they were. Daisy also would lead Chako around the room when all the dragons were out playing on the floor. She protected Chako from any attempts by Rupert or Washee to mate her. Her protecting Chako was the most wonderful, awesome thing I think we've ever experienced with the dragons.

This is Daisy ravenously devouring warm baby food after her release from the box she arrived in (see right).

And Daisy stopped hissing at us once she trusted us not to harm Chako. It was an experience that stretched our souls, and taught us that dragons were even smarter than we thought. Yeah, we humans are at the top of the food chain, but animals have different "smarts." We'd be hard pressed to survive in their world. So, we're a little more careful when it comes to defining intelligence these days.

This is just one of the reasons that we love dragons sooo much. While we're very sorry that Chako suffered we're glad that we were able to help her. This is also why we want to help you with your book project.... we understand what drives you, and we both honor and respect your dedication to these animals. You do more than help them medically, you give them a voice. Thank you for all that you do for all the species that come to you needing help.

If you'd like to reach Annie & Lisa, they can be found at the forum.


Beardie's name: Charlie

Story written by: Denise

I don't think I've ever told you, but my whole experience with keeping beardies began when I found Charlie, who was my first beardie. When I went to a pet shop on the other side of town that day, I had no intention of buying a bearded dragon. I was actually looking for a certain type of bed for my cat.

However, whenever I'm in a pet shop, I always wander around and look at all the animals, and when I went to the reptile section, there he was. He was so small and dirty, and so painfully thin, and the conditions that he was being kept in were absolutely disgusting. They had him in a filthy 10 gallon tank, with a screen lid on it, with no light of any kind, not even one to keep him warm. He was on sand, that was filled with dead bugs and feces, with no food dish anywhere to be seen, and only a water dish with some filthy green water in it to drink. When I saw that, I just wanted to cry... I found a clerk and asked if I could hold him, even though I was sure he'd be scared to death of me, considering the way that he'd been mistreated.

The clerk took him out of his tank, and put him in my hands, and I layed him up against my chest, and cupped my hands over him. Instead of being afraid of me, he looked up at me, cocked his little head, and proceeded to climb up the front of me until his little head was under my chin, and then sat there, rubbing his face against mine. That was all it took. I got out my credit card, and took him home with me, and the rest is history.

I went on the internet, found out what he needed, and went to my local pet shop to buy it, gave him a bath, and put him in there. It wasn't fancy at first, but at least it was clean.

He ate 3 crickets each, on the first 2 nights, and then just stopped eating on me. Having read about relocation stress, I blamed it on that, but after a week and half, I knew something was really wrong, and took him to the vet. He had the worst infestation of hookworms that the vet had ever seen, and was bleeding internally, as well as being extremely anemic. The vet said he probably wouldn't survive the week.

That just WAS NOT acceptable to me, so I read, and I learned, and I got creative with his hand feeding and when I took him back to the vet 2 weeks later, he had gained 98 grams! The vet didn't believe it was the same dragon. Altogether, it cost me over $400 to get him well, but between he and I, we pulled it off. I was hooked on the little guy, who was followed by Eden, 2 months later, and Mingie (who was a pre-owned beardie whose family couldn't keep him anymore) 18 months after that. Who would have thought that such a little scaley critter like him would steal my heart!

To this day, he has problems with his digestion, because of all the scar tissue in his digestive tract, and is a very finicky eater, and he can't have a bowel movement without being soaked in warm water first, but he's here, and he's healthy, and he knows he's loved, and that's what it's really all about! I envy you, who probably has had many experiences such as that. It must be so rewarding... although, at times, I'm sure its heartbreaking as well.

I'm sorry I went off on such a tangent, but I thought that you would understand..... Here is a photo of him the first day I brought him home (see right):


And here's another one of him...the way he looks today!


As you can see, the difference is amazing!

Have an inspiring story that you'd like to shae? Please email it to me.
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