Reptiles/Bearded dragon


QUESTION: My bearded dragons eyes are swollen shut, I just rescued him from a bad home where I have no idea of his past living conditions. He looks super dehydrated and one of his eyes in addition to being swollen shut has a giant bump on it. I dont know what to do. His tail is so hard it looks like the trunk of a baby spruce tree. Does he need a UVB light? And if so what kind? He has a heating pad in his new aquarium and a water dish. How often should I be feeding him? He is full grown. I just got him yesterday. Thank you

ANSWER: Hello Sophie,

Do you have any pictures of him?
It sounds like you have your hands full as he has been terribly neglected, poor thing.
There are several things that can cause his eyes to be swollen shut.  He could have a vitamin deficiency, a respiratory issue, or could have been under bad lighting, etc.  
You can get either the Reptisun 10 tube bulb or the Arcadia D3 12% tube bulb.  You can get either bulb from here:

It will need to be mounted on one end of the tank, alongside of a bright white basking light such as a regular household light bulb or a bright halogen.  Do not purchase any compact/coil UVB light, they are dangerous & ineffective lights. Don't purchase the Reptiglo lights either, they are poor quality as well.  The UVB can be 6-8 inches from him for maximum effectiveness & exposure.  
He needs a basking spot of around 95-105 for an adult, with a cooler end around 78-82 or so.
You will need to get some calcium for him also to help with his bones & overall health.  I am not sure if he has a calcium deficiency but you can assume that he probably does to an extent.  I would recommend using calcium 4-5 times per week to help.  You could consider liquid calcium, also.  
The heating pad is ok for overnight use, as long as there is something like a towel, separating him & the pad so he doesn't get burned.  He wont need it on during the day.  You can get a digital probe or temp gun to measure the temperatures for him.  
Use paper towels, a towel, non adhesive shelf liner or tiles for the bottom of his tank.  If he is not very mobile, you can use a nice soft towel for now.  
The overhead heating is best for the daytime use.

For an adult, he will need 40 or so feeders per week, or up to 50 of a mixed variety.  How long is he, or how much does he weigh?   He will need greens & veggies also.  Use mustard greens, collard greens, endive, escarole, turnip greens or dandelion greens for good choices.  They like squash as well as snow peas or green beans.  Start on the protein slowly, as he most likely is not used to protein much so you don't want to overload his system.  Monitor his urates to be sure he is excreting some to ensure his kidneys are working properly.     
The eye sounds like it could be a possible abscess, maybe from a cricket bite, I am not sure.  You can get some sterile saline solution to help clean it out.  Does it appear infected?

Let me know how he is doing.

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His left eye
His left eye  

HIs right eye
HIs right eye  
QUESTION: Thank you so much Tracie its a big relief to not be on my own. This is the first lizard I have ever owned. He is about a foot and a half long, and im not sure of his weight, but he looks skinner than the healthy lizards I have seen in photos and youtube clips. Im going to try to attach a picture at the end. His eye looks infected to me because of the pink and green coloration that seems just under his eyelid but there is no puss or any other secretion coming from the eyes.
Yesterday he willingly ate two grapes, but upon cleaning his cage I found that the meal worms that the owner had been feeding him were all still in there. Crawling around. So i force fed him one meal worm and then 2 more grapes, there is no poop in his cage though. Could he possibly have a blocked bowel? Or should I just assume that what i got him to eat yesterday was the first food hes had in a week? How fast does it take them to digest their food?
I will go to the store today and buy the UVB light, thermometer and also calcium. Currently I am giving him daily baths in hopes of rehydrating him, and will see if I can get him to eat some more food today. If he has respiratory problems what should I do? Thank you so much for your help.

Hello Sophie,  

Wow, poor thing & your first reptile, too!
I would give a slurry of mixed greens such as mustard or collard greens mixed with squash baby food with calcium powder, daily.  See if he will take a few crickets or butter or silkworms.  The mealworms are not real great feeders, they don't have much nutrition.
He may be impacted also, which wouldn't surprise me.  Try to get oral fluids into him daily along with baths, too.
Does he have any mucous in his mouth or nose that you can see?
His eyes may be caused from poor lighting along with nutritional deficiency.  
Be sure to get one of the UVB lights that I mentioned as soon as you can to help with his nutritional status.  
It is hard to know what he may have eaten previously before you got him.  Based on his pictures & what you have said he most likely has not had too much to eat.  It normally takes a couple of days for full digestion, but they start digesting within a few hours as long as they are at optimal temperatures.
Did you get some sterile saline solution for his eyes?  They may need some antibiotic eye ointment also to help if they don't start clearing up.  
I can help if he has a respiratory issue/infection if you need to medicate for that as well.  Baytril is the usual drug used for that.  Let's have him get settled first before getting too many meds into his system yet.  

Let me know how he is doing.


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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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