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Reptiles/My bearded dragon Puff

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Question
My bearded dragon is getting extremely lazy, he's only a little over a year old, and he has water in his bowl everyday, bathe him every other day, spray him once a day, feed him trex vegetable mix, mealworms, and sometimes crickets or roaches, and I handle him at least once everyday. I still haven't swapped his UVB, I got his light when I got him, which was Jan 4 last year, his tank stays around 80-90 with a cool side of around 70. Now all I ever see him do is sleep, move and stay on his cool side, never eats, I have to keep force feeding him, he won't open his eyes, and when he rarely does he has his 2nd eyelid over his eyes, or he'll open only one eye. I just want to know of this is anything serious, and what I can do to get him to open his eyes, and moving and eating on his own again.

Answer
Hi Jacob

The first thing that stood out for me is that your temperatures are too low. You need to get his hot spot/basking area temperature right up around 100F. Their appetite is very temperature dependent as well as their immune system. Low temps will cause his whole metabolism to slow down as if he were operating on low battery.

Lack of appetite and remaining in the cool end is typical behaviour for brumation  however it is rather late in the season for that. Not opening his eyes when handled is also not typical. Brumating dragons act quite normal and alert when being handled but go back to sleep when placed back in the enclosure.

His reluctance to open his eyes is troubling. Are you using one of the compact (coiled) fluorescent UVB lights by any chance? Those put out a extremely concentrated and intense amount of light and have, in the past, been associated with eye irritation in reptiles. Consistently keeping his eyes closed and the visible presence of his inner membranes are typical signs of that problem.   The condition is similar to "snow blindness" in humans. Sore, irritated eyes would definitely put him off hunting.

If it is a coil bulb, remove it immediately and when you do replace it (sooner rather then later) use one of the long tube fluorescents instead. Zoomed is a reliable brand.

Just as an added precaution I would suggest not spraying him for a couple weeks in case the chlorine may be contributing to they eye irritation. Bathing him is quite sufficient to keep up his hydration. If he is on any type of fine sand that may be causing eye problems, switch it out for newspaper for now.

I hope it is not anything serious and wish I could assure you it was not. If you don't see any improvement in the next week or so after making these changes then a vet visit is always your best option. Good luck.

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Expertise

I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.

Experience

I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

Publications
A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Education/Credentials
Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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