Help needed (Keeping bearded dragons and Leopard geckos)

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Help needed (Keeping bearded dragons and Leopard geckos)

Postby swazi » Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:03 pm

We have become the keepers of 3 unexpected Bearded Dragons and 3 Leopard Geckos.

The dragons are all small (bodies about 6cm) but the one is so thin it is almost flat, the other 2 seem to be in a better condition but older. Apparently the smaller one is from a different breeder/pet shop.

The geckos seem healthy, tame and are about 20-25cm long (tails included).

A seemingly knowledgeable pet shop assistant advised me to purchase reptile sand, uva & uvb lights, basking lights, calcium, 1 x 5L tub of small crickets to feed and 1 x 5L tub of large crickets to breed, all sorts of “gut loading” goodies for the crickets & a vibrating/chirping feeding rock-like thing (they really seemed to enjoyed the massage but totally ignored the crickets).

As this lot was unexpected, I only had a look at the forum & other sites after the spending spree. There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice regarding substrate and vitamin requirements. Can someone please advise?

PS: I have a number of crickets running around my house despite my entire families best efforts to capture the escapee’s, how do you get the crickets from the container into the cages? Also, once the crickets were in the cages they climbed the sides of the boxes – the dragons sat staring at them until my son decided to “stun” them (they looked positively flat to me).
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Postby Nasicornis » Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:28 pm

For the bearded dragons.

Firstly, I would say that the uv lights are a defenite yes (if you can let them have some real sunlight, that would be great, make sure that sunlight is not filtered through glass though).

Always ensure that food insects are not too big as this can lead to terminal ingestion. You can dust the crickets with calcium powder before offering them to the dragons. Make sure that they are properly hydrated by spraying them with luke warm water, they should start drinking and you should continue spraying until they stoplicking up the water. Always make sure that there is a finely chopped "salad" which you can make from carrot, carrot leaves, paw paw ect available.

I usually put my cricket container in a larger container before I open it and start catching them as any crickets that do jump out end up in the larger container. I don't have too much problems with crickets running up the side of the cage as I feed my beardies in a plastic tub and just keep on throwing crickets at them until they stop eating them.

Hope that helps.
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Postby Michelle » Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:44 pm

I pull the jumping legs off the crickets and put them in a bowl for my Leopard Gecko's. Dusting them with calcium is important. Most people advise against sand because of the risk of impaction. Leopard gecko's dont need lights at all, just a heating pad.
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Postby swazi » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:21 pm

Thanks for the info. What about substrate? Would we need to get a ceramic bulb for heat at night? What do you think of feeding the crickets cat food mixed with skim milk powder & calcium? Read it somewhere on the net.
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Postby swazi » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:24 pm

Thanks Michelle, what should I use instead of sand?
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Postby Q Ball » Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:50 pm

UV light for the beardies is a definate must. We use "beardie sand" for substrate and our's seem to enjoy it as she can "digg" when she goes to bed. This sand is very fine and I have never had an issue with compaction.

Put the crickets in the fridge just before feeding and then from there transfer them into a container with a little calcium dust and shake the container. This works perfect for ours.

Also try and get some solar drops which is given once a week :)
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Postby swazi » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:37 pm

Thanks Q Ball. What are solar drops?
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Postby Michelle » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:07 pm

The safest to use for substrate for Leo's is kombuis paper towel with newspaper under it. Its not very attractive but easy to clean. You can use slate tiles for a better look. Dont forget that you need to have normal (dry) hide and a humid hide for Leo's. You dont mist them like Beardies.
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Postby Leos r gr8 » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:47 pm

Hi Swazi
Even for the beardies I would suggest putting them on paper towels, the bearded dragons need all sorts of UV and ceramic heat bulbs but the leos only need a simple heater pad, what do you mean when you say you have become the unexpected keepers of the lizards? I also break the jumping legs on the crickets and pull all of the small legs on one side off, it's just easier for them to be caught, good luck!

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Postby neko » Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:55 pm

I don't like paper towels. I've seen a leo and a beardie eat it. It didn't cause impaction, but it was a stressfull few days anyway. Newspaper works hundred percent. Carpets are dodgy, because their nails can get hooked. They go a bit nuts when they get stuck.
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Postby Snowgoose » Wed Sep 12, 2007 2:50 pm

Hi Swazi,

The UVB & UVA lights are a must for the beardies.
WRT substrate: I used paper towels, stuck onto the sides of the cage with non-toxic magic tape when mine was a baby - this way the crickets cant hide underneath and the beardie cant eat it. The sand thing is a contentious issue. My personal view is its fine for adults but I prefer to put babies on solid substrate as they are clumsy eaters.

Crickets should not be bigger than the space between the beardies' eyes so as not to cause impaction. If you are having problems with crickets, try silkworms. Mine loves them and they dont escape or stink (and are not so creepy to touch) If you are in JHB, Reptilians petshops supply them or just go to www.reptilefeeders.co.za

On Vitamins: I think T-rex bone dust calcium supplement is a great supplement. I found that my beardie didnt eat the crickets if they were dusted in flavoured calcium but I suppose thats personal preferance.
Your beardies may not drink, even if you mist them, but if you give them a bath 3 times a week in lukewarm water up to their shoulders then they absorb water through their vents. (anal hole under their tails)

Are you keeping them together in the same enclosure? I suppose its fine while they're so tiny but you should get separate enclosures or at least a separator - beardies sometimes nip eachothers tails and toes and you might end up with bits of anatomy missing.

You can gutload the crickets with the mixture you suggested - as long as its nutritious and they eat it - go ahead. To subdue the crickets, I put 5-10 in a tupperware with calcium, put the lid on and shake hard. it stuns them for about 30 seconds, just enough time to get them in the beardies' change and close the door so they can hunt.

Scuse the long post - hope it helps. :)
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Postby swazi » Wed Sep 12, 2007 6:05 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice.

Are silkworms always available?

One dragon is not as active as the other 2, when he sleeps (which is most of the time) his head hangs as if he is dying, his legs are all floppy. The other 2 hold their heads up whilst basking / sleeping and are much more active. Last night I was sure he was on the verge of meeting his maker. Is this normal behavior?

Snowgoose: Thanks for responding. They are all together at the moment, they will be moving to the reptile park this weekend – or maybe not, getting quite attached and love the music from the crickets, feels as if we are camping! Should the uneaten crickets be removed immediately?
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Postby Bushviper » Wed Sep 12, 2007 6:48 pm

Swazi, uneaten crickets are nocturnal so they will not be eaten at night because the beardies are sleeping. As a result the crickets bother the beardies and can even nibble on their toes. That is not nice so remove all uneaten food before nightfall.

Silkworms are not available all year round but they are a nice treat when "in season".

The floppy dragon would do better if it was removed from the others and kept on its own. I would put him in the sun (with decent shade available when required) for a few hours each day. The sun must not be through glass and a nice mesh cage is good for this purpose. That seems to often give them a new will to live. They often feed better, have better colouration and generally become more active after some direct sunlight.
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Postby Trayton » Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:49 pm

pool filter sand strictly for adults otherwise you can use plaster sand,never had a problem with it for the babies...start enjoying the crickets...maybe take up opera,if you can't beat them,join them.

i've just started useing the sandfire gut loading formula...i have never felt more satisfied knowing that my herps are getting the most nutritous food around.

the calcium is a serious and obvious necessity,especially cos they're young...

think if covered all your questions.
please pm me if you have others.
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Postby swazi » Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:49 pm

Much appreciated.
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