QUESTION: Hi Tracie,
We bought our sons both a bearded dragon from our local pestco store the day after Christmas - Dash & Digger. Dash passed away about a month later after he stopped eating. During that time we were calling the store's "expert" for advise. He told us that ultimately we did everything fine "but some lizard are just not hearty". Being discouraged about the advise we received after reading some information online (many of your posts), we went to a different store, petsmart, and bought a smaller much more active, healthy looking lizard- Splinter. Splinter did well at first but then started going down hill as well. After a visit to the vet we took him back to the store as we were told they would have their vet look at him. It took them 3weeks and a fit thrown by me before they took Splinter to the vet. The vet put him on antibiotics, he seemed to get better. When we got him home he was good for about a week then started going down hill again. Our vet says he has Atadeno/Adenovirus. He has been stargazing for a while. The uncontrollable rolling has recently started. He has been running with his head to one side for a while as well. Seems like stress brings on fits - when I give him medicine or force feed him. I'm thinking that maybe that Dash had the virus and that Splinter got it from being in the same cage we housed him in? I am wondering though about Digger. He has been in contact with both - housed with the Dash at the store and then occationally housed together here when we cleaned the cages. Digger is a good eater, has grown quite a lot and is pretty active. Should I get him tested - can I do it myself?
Thank you for your help

ANSWER: Hello Lynne,

I am so sorry to hear of Dash, that is so sad.  I am sure it was a hard time for your sons, after Christmas to deal with loss.  How old is Digger & Splinter?
What is your tank set up like, are you using a good UVB light?  If so, which UVB are you using?
How often do you use calcium for him?  
His symptoms do sound a lot like Adeno, as well as calcium issues, too.  
It is a possibility the virus' cells were still present in the tank, though if you cleaned it pretty well, it is not a high probability that he contracted it that way.

You can go to my adeno site here, to sign up for testing.  It is $18 to go through a lab in Dallas.

Do you have a steamer you could use for cleaning?
Is either one of them on antibiotics right now?


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you ~
guessing for both ages, Digger about 6months and Splinter MAYBE 3months.
Both tanks 20gls with 75wt heat black light for nite & 100wt ZooMed PowersunUV (uva & b w/heat). Both have rocks (not heated) directly under the UV light, water dishes, separate food & salad dishes. I believe Splinter had both the calcium issue & virus because he was unable to eat. I dust the meal worms daily that digger gets as well as sprinkle his salad and crickets that he gets about once a week. I was feeding Digger kale as I read it was a "good" green - HE LOVES IT - but then I read it blocks calcium absorption so I give him collard greens now. I am pretty certain that Digger is thriving - I am only concerned he may have been exposed. I will look in to the testing, $18 is WELL worth it.

BTW - we had to put Splinter down this morning. He was only sleeping when left alone, when picked up(to force feed or give meds) he would convulse and roll uncontrollably - I couldn't take watching him suffer.

ANSWER: Hello Lynne,

Oh I am so sorry you had to put Splinter down, that is terrible!  I am sorry for your loss.  He may have had calcium issues due to having adeno.
How is Digger doing today?  
Is he eating well & basking?
Yes, kale is not the best green.  Try endive, mustard or collard greens, or dandelion greens & arugula is fine, too.
Since he is younger than a year he needs more feeders, at least 50 a day.  The mealworms should not be given as a staple, as they are too fatty for daily use.  Crickets are the best, or roaches, along with phoenix worms, or butterworms for better sources of protein.  
Do you still have Splinter's tank around & is it cleaned out?  If it hasn't been cleaned out yet, you can test his environment in the tank, just to see.
How far is the Powersun MVB from him?
Let me know how he is doing.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Digger is doing well. He is eating and he IS fat. Meal worms have been his staple. We were told crickets should be only a treat. I just gave him 10 org crickets. His light is about 8" from the rock. We have the tank but I moved it out to the sun.
Digger doesn't exhibit any sign for Adeno right now, we are praying it stays that way.
Thank you for all of your help.

Hello Lynne,

No, actually that is the opposite for the insects which he should ingest.  The mealworms actually are not very nutritious, low in protein & have too much fat.  They can contribute to fatty liver if fed too much.  
Crickets, roaches, silkworms, hornworms, phoenix worms & butterworms are better feeders.  
The primary staples are crickets, roaches & phoenix worms that tend to be most cost effective.
Mealworms & waxworms are "ok" for occasional treats but not as a daily staple.

I am glad to hear Digger is doing well right now.  
The Powersun, if it is a 100 watt light, should be around 12 inches from him for safety being a Mercury vapor bulb.  Is he liking the light so far?



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.