Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!

October is almost over, its insane!

Last week she was 652g, this week she is 681g.

Olympia is doing great! I bought her a size up in rats cause she is getting so big, she will start eating them once she finishes off the last few weaned rats she has. She has been wrapped up in her hide staying warm.

Previously 244g, now she's 243g.

You'd think shes dead the way she sleeps. I woke her up over the weekend to put a fleece blanket in her hide and she gave me such a stink eye, and this morning when she got up she was furious! Sat all black on her rock for a few hours then ran back in her hide. Poor thing!

Was 142g, today she was 150g.

Norberta has had a rough week, she stopped using three of her legs and  her tail but doesn't seem to be in much pain, just can't move except by dragging herself with one front leg. She is absolutely refusing her liquid calcium and I've had to force feed her that with a helper to hold her so I can pry open her mouth. She hasn't eaten in about three days either so force feeding her is next if she wont eat.

I got to go to a reptile show Saturday to get roaches and small rats for the girls. I love going! All the reptiles are gorgeous and I got to talk to several Ball Python breeders about possible pairings for Olympia.

Makayla R

Previous Weekly Weigh-In! posts

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Handling a Ball Python

"Ewww, snakes are gross. They eat little children, why do you keep one as a pet?!"

Just some of the comments you get from people who don't own Ball Pythons. Which is hilarious when you show them the snake and all it does is stick its tongue out. 

I have only one snake, Olympia, and she is the calmest noodle out there honestly. She is very active and curious and has never hissed or bitten me or her breeder. I don't think I've even seen her sitting in the strike position. I mean, this girl wont even strike her rats! 

Not all snakes are this chill, but Olympia makes a good example. 

I have held her almost every day since I bought her, giving her Sunday through Tuesday off because she is fed on Sunday.  The only time I have seen her strike something is the second day I had her and she struck the tongs when I was feeding her.
When I first got her she would sit balled up in my hands or my lap for the first few minutes, then she would come out and try to climb around. After the first two weeks she would start to crawl around as soon as I picked her up, and soon she was clambering all over my arms and across my bed.
I love taking pictures of all my girls so she had a camera shoved up her face half the time and was completely fine with it, coming closer than it could focus so she could figure out what it was, which gives you some adorable out-of-focus snout pictures.
I do avoid holding her when she is shedding, because she gets really jumpy and cranky when she is trying to get all that skin off.

Now I realize not all ball pythons are as soft as Olympia. I have personally met one little baby that struck at almost anything, even after a plastic bucket was put over him so we could reach behind him. He continued to try and bite us without hesitation.

So some of the things that can help with holding a snake that isn't very strike-happy:

  1. Stay calm!! That whole he-can-sense-my-fear thing is pretty real. If you are freaking out or really tense the snake is going to pick up on that and act accordingly.
  2. Be gentle but firm. If you don't want that snake anywhere near your face, don't let it. You are holding the snake, the snake isn't holding you. 
  3. Find a quiet room to hold him in. Ball pythons are a pretty shy breed that avoid loud sounds and things moving around them. They just want a peaceful environment. 
  4. Make sure you are supporting them. I know that's usually quite a few feet of snake but try to make sure you are holding most of them, more the midsection than the head. Most ball pythons are head shy and don't want anything near their face, it freaks them out because that is where a predator would come from. 
  5. Have fun! Show your snake off, share the noodle love. 

Makayla R

Weekly Weigh-In!

         Well, I can't think of a good opening line so lets just jump right in.

Was 668g, now she is 652g.

She shed!! Along with it came a huge poop so not surprised by the loss. Olympia is super bright now and just cruising along. She also got the opportunity to show off for a bunch of people and dealt with them fabulously!

Last week she was 245g, today she was 244g.

Not bad, she has lost about 10g from the start of her brumation. She has been so asleep, we only saw her nose at one point and that was it! Basking today and will get a bath later so she stays hydrated.

She was 138g, is now 142g!

Much better than last week! She has been trying to brumate, but I don't think she has enough weight to sleep for months so she isn't allowed, which is making her kinda grouchy!

I've been learning about Nile Monitors lately, they are gorgeous!!

Makayla R

Previous Weekly Weigh-In! posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Calcium Deficiency in Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragons need at least two different supplements on their bugs or salads; Vitamins + D3 and Calcium.

If they don't get enough of either of these then they can get Metabolic Bone Disease or just die from lack of these supplements. Sometimes bearded dragons can't use the calcium that they are being given and their bones slowly start to dissolve from lack of calcium. This can cause a large amount of swelling in their outer bones such as fingers and toes, ankles, and tails. They will often refuse to use the swollen limbs and just lie around with a black beard.
The reason for the swelling is the little calcium their bodies can take in if any is sent to the larger bones like the spine, causing what is called a Calcium Deficiency.
This is an ailment that you and your dragon will have to deal with for the rest of their life, but the good news is it is relatively easy to care for.
When you first find out give them serrepeptase twice a day. It is a natural medicine that will help if they are in pain from the swelling.
Since their bodies cannot absorb the powdered calcium you will have to give daily doses of liquid calcium so that your bearded dragon is getting the proper amounts. Use a syringe and give by mouth once a day. When using a syringe be careful not to break the dragons teeth since they are rather fragile! Pull open the bearded dragons mouth and put the tip of the syringe in and slowly push it out into their mouth. If you don't want to be prying open their mouth you can drip it on their nose and let them lick it off.
Try to avoid letting them jump a lot because of how fragile their bones will be. Keep the accessories in the tank as low as possible to prevent them taking a bone breaking leap.
Just be careful, use common sense and give them lots of snuggles! The swelling will go down after a few months of consistent liquid calcium and they will be able to walk and run around again, and will look a lot happier.

Makayla R

Weekly Weigh-In!

Another week, its just flying. Flying and cold, really cold.
Lets start at the top! 

Last week she was 628g, this week she is 668g.

Pretty good! Olympia is shedding! This is her second shed with me, and so far it looks great. She gets a bit shy when she is shedding and doesn't want to be held right now, so she is just taking it easy. 

Last week she was 247g, today she was 244g. 

Brumation is taking a bit of a tole. All I saw of Mufasa last week was her nose. As it gets colder she seems to sleep deeper, and she is loving it. Was not pleased when I woke her up today. 

Previously 137g, now she is 138g. 

Well, not great, but not bad. I don't think she likes how cold its been. She is walking on her ankle again and is getting liquid calcium every day. Norberta also has been trying to burrow in her corner to sleep at night, so I draped a blanket over her and she crashed! She also got a new basking rock. 

I'm just trying not to freeze, even though its not that cold. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!

Last week she was 631g, now she is down to 628g.
She certainly isn't showing having dropped three grams! You can feel the difference in her length and weight, Olympia is now about 3ft long as well as being close to 650g. Still as sweet as ever, and I got to watch her devour her rat. She still wont strike off of tongs, you have to leave it in her hide and she will eat as soon as your gone...

Previously she was 254g, today she is 247g.
Mufasa is going to be the death of me. I mentioned last week that she hadn't pooped in a weekish, and so after several doses of canned pumpkin mixed with mineral oil she did! Now she is sleeping, again. She is rather intent on actually sleeping, the pest. I did get to snuggle her a little so that was really nice. I missed my snuggler.

On the 28th she was 127g, she has gained ten grams and is now 137g.
Yes! Unfortunately she has started swelling up in her ankle and won't use it, which is entirely my fault. Baby Berta has a Calcium Deficiency, where her body does not absorb her powdered calcium, so she needs to take Liquid Calcium to make sure she is getting enough calcium for her to use. If she goes without the liquid then her joints swell up as her bones get weak. She had been doing great for so long that I stopped giving her that, so now this happened and she is getting it daily. I'm working on a post on Calcium Deficiency in bearded dragons so that'll pop up soon.

As for me, I've been daydreaming of Scotland. I mean, it snows less than a month of the year, rains all the time, and is almost always fall, my favorite season! Not to mention the amazing accent.

Makayla R

Previously Wednesday Weigh-In! posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!

Another week, and fall is here! Sitting in a sweater and jeans and I had hot chocolate for breakfast.

Last week she was 600g, today the scale said 631!

She even feels bigger! This girl is literally a puppy. This girl is so chill, lets anyone touch her or hold her, though she doesn't want to be restrained (so I don't even try), she just wants to use you as a tree.

So, last week she had lost two grams bringing her down to 248g, this week she was up to 254g.

So, Mufasa has been a trouble maker this week. She was up from brumation for a week about, and after making sure she was staying up I gave her some worms, and immediately after she went to sleep! And she hadn't pooped after almost daily baths. So now she is getting pumpkin and mineral oil a few times a day and hopefully we will get something out in the next few days.

Miss Crazy was 129g, today she was down to 127g.

Well, not great, but she still looks good. You put her food bowl down and she is flying across the tank to eat everything in about 10 seconds flat. Norberta has been snuggling her stuffed pig a lot, trying to bask on it, so I've moved it next to her log and she loves it.

As for me, I pre-ordered the second prequel to The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, called The Fever Code.

 It came yesterday, and I finished it yesterday. It was AMAZING!! Like, I read the first two pages and almost started crying, amazing.

Previous Wednesday Weigh-In! posts

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Breeding Dubia Roaches

You should know this before you ever even consider getting any type of reptile: THEY ARE EXPENSIVE! Really expensive. And one of the most expensive parts of them is the food.

Bearded Dragons need 80% protein and 20% greens when they are babies so they can grow. 80% equals up to 50 bugs a day, sometimes more. They are pigs, and they need it to grow to their full size. The only problem with that is it can empty your wallet fast. I mean I have spent up to $50 just for two weeks of bugs that my girls have cleaned out faster than I can buy them. Mufasa was practically eating me waiting for her bugs to come!
So with that problem, I started looking into breeding Dubia roaches. That was what I was ordering so much of and what wouldn’t last long enough. I asked some people who bred them and looked at tutorials and it looked easy (at least compared to superworms, which are super complicated)! What you do is easy, and once you pay the original price of getting the supplies you are all set after a few months!

First off you need a rubber tub or a glass tank. I had Mufasa and Norberta’s old 10gal sitting around so I grabbed that and a small heat lamp. To breed successfully they need to be kept at a near constant 85*-95*, and not drop bellow 70*ish. Rubber tubs are more complicated so I’m not going over them, you can find really great tutorials online though. For the tank all I needed to do was put it down next to a plug.

Next you need cardboard egg crates or drink carriers set up in the tank so that the roaches will have someplace to hide and such.  Place them in stacks in the tank covering most of the floor and then grab a small dish or jar lid and place it in a corner with some paper towels next to it. The lid will hold water gel, and the paper towels will hold the food. You can get water gel/crystals at most pet stores or on amazon for under $10. Feeding wise you can give them collard greens, roach chow, and oranges. The male’s LOVE oranges and they make them super active.

Now you need roaches! For a good colony you need 100 females and 30 males.
Male roaches are skinny and have the pretty wings that they don’t use:

Female roaches have the fat, plated bodies with wing stubs:

Once you have the roaches you plop them all in the tank together and LEAVE THEM ALONE! If you have feeding sized roaches already you may want to put them somewhere else for the first month or so just to let the adults get settled in. Female roaches will lay 40-50 live nymphs every month or so, and the babies will grow up eating the adults poop and the food in the tank. Within a few months, depending on the size of your bearded dragon, you will have feeding size roaches and more babies growing for them to eat later!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!

Another week, and this one had a big surprise!

Last week she was 587g, today she is 600g!

So glad she hit the halfway mark to 1,000g, been waiting for that number for the last few weeks. Olympia has been really curious and doesn't mind being handled at all, but she prefers to be able to "run" around without me.

Last week she was 250g, this week she dropped to 248g.

Well, it was bound to happen with the brumation. She has been sleeping like a rock in her hide, I shoved her blanket in there and she loves it. Mufasa has been up though for the last three days almost so she might get some bugs later, I don't want her to eat and go back to sleep right away.

Last week she had lost a gram and was 113g, today she was...129g!!

Super excited about this! She has been eating salad almost daily along with her bugs and basking like she should. You should have seen our faces when I saw the scale, I was shouting and Norberta gave me this look like "Yes I am getting chubby. Be proud." She has been spending more time with me too so that has been nice.

Nothing much happened this week, I saw Rose the hermit crab peek out once or twice, and Mufasa's light bulb died, giving me an excuse to oogle the lizards at the pet store. ;)

Previous Weekly Weigh-In! posts

Friday, September 16, 2016

Habitat-Bearded Dragon

Some of the major questions you get as a reptile owner are about the tank and set up. “What light does he need?” “How many hides?” “HELP!?”
That said, here is a step by step instructional on how to set up a Bearded Dragon tank, with sizes and things I do/don’t do.
1.       Tank size is super important. Bearded dragons grow to be a decent sized chunk of lizard, and they need a pretty big tank. The minimum unspoiled size for an adult is a 40 gallon breeder (40galB). The breeder part of the tank makes it slightly bigger than the fish tank 40gal.

Beardies need more floor space than height, and though some BD’s love to climb, they often jump off of their toys and end up hurting themselves, so get to know your dragon and how tall/short their main branches should be.
2.       Substrate is essential that it is done correctly. Never use a loose substance like sand or dirt.

Always use a one piece like newspaper, ceramic tiles or paper towels.
3.       You will need at least two different lights, a heat lamp and a UVB light. The heat lamp should be a dome with ceramic sockets, directly over the basking spot. The bulb should be a 50w-100w, depending on how tall the basking platform is. Use a bright white bulb, none of those crappy colored bulbs.

 The UVB for a 40galB should be a 24” long tube light. Spiral bulbs or just the normal bulbs cause eye problems and MBD (metabolic bone disease) instead of helping with those problems. One of the most popular UVB lights used is the 24” Reptisun 10.0 with a nice reflective hood, or you can go the cheaper route like me and get a 24” under cabinet light and pop the bulb in there.

4.       Cage Furnishings! Your going to need a log or a rock to use as a basking spot that will be warm enough for them to digest on.

Please do not EVER use an electric heating rock! The temperatures on those are not controlled and will burn your dragon. Some bearded dragons like to have a hide, some don’t even use them. You can get a fancy rock one, a nice plastic Reptile Basics hide, or just use a shoebox with a hole cut in the front.

 Climbing branches or fake plants are nice to look at and give your lizard somewhere to hide, just make sure there are no sharp parts or loose leaves they can bite off.
5.       Food will take 2-3 bowls. Good thing this is a big cage, right? One bowl will need to be heavy (preferably) and short, with super smooth sides. This one is for bugs, so you don’t have nasty things crawling free for all in the tank and possibly biting your dragon. Another bowl can be slightly bigger and rougher to hold their salads, making sure the BD can get into it still.

The third bowl is debatable. Bearded Dragons, though originally from a hot climate still need water or they will get dehydrated. You can use a small, shallow bowl or lid and put de-chlorinated water in it, or if you have more time on your hands you can skip the bowl and give the lizard a bath every few days or syringe feed water to them daily/every other day.
6.       Toys! The best part! Bearded Dragons need attention, and a way to entertain themselves when your gone for hours. Toys vary for the different personality types. For example, Norberta got a stuffed animal Minecraft pig when she was really sick and she would sleep next to it every night almost. She is doing great now and she still climbs all over it and snuggles under it. Mufasa on the other hand when she was given her stuffed unicorn in her favorite sleeping corner completely threw a fit and slept in the opposite corner of her tank for almost 3 days before she would except its presence. Now she is fine with it but prefers her blanket. Yes, they have blankets. Both of them. Not nice once, just a handkerchief that they burrow under and on top of. They have small balls in their tanks that are to big to fit in their mouths that they almost completely ignore, but they look cute.

7.       Put it all together and taadaa! You have a bearded dragon tank!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!

                  So, every Wednesday I weigh the reptiles, just so I have a record of how fast or slow they are growing and to make sure they are healthy and still gaining weight. I keep track of the three of them on paper currently, but I may switch to a computer graph later just so I have two copies.
I’ll do a weekly post on their weights and how each of them are doing other than weights, and a little about my life other than a furmom!
So, without further ado, here they are!


On 9/7/16 she was 573g. Now she is 587g

Olympia is doing fantastic. We've been bonding a little more and we are more comfortable around each other. She loves to climb or hide in blankets and lately she has been super pesty, climbing up bed posts and not letting go. 


On 8/31/16 she was 244g. Now she is 250g.

Not bad seeing as she is brumating, (bearded dragon version of hibernating) all she does is sleep in her hide all day long. Sad, seeing as she is my snuggler. 


On 9/7/16 she was 114g. Now she is 113g.

Does not make sense, seeing as she has been eating, but thankfully its just a gram. She has been super cheerful lately and is finishing up a full body shed. 

As for me, I'm having two of my wisdom teeth removed today… joy and rapture…

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Story of my Pets

Back in April 2005 my family got two sister kittens, who we named Butterscotch and Cookie.

They were the loves of my life, and I grew especially close, or as close as you can get to a cat, to Butterscotch. After some spraying issues around the house issues they became outdoor pets and two years after the move Cookie disappeared. I have never found out where she went or what happened to her.
Butterscotch has stayed with me for almost 10 years, sometimes wandering and other times stuck to my side like a thorn.
Through out the years I have owned a number of Hermit Crabs, my first coming soon after Butterscotch and Cookie. Her name was Pineapple and she lived for a little while, and since her death I have owned Hermies on and off for almost 10 years.
But as much as I love cats, all I’ve really wanted was a dog.
So in Feb 2015 I found a humane society with a gorgeous husky mix, and we went to go meet him and possibly, bring home a dog. But part way through meeting the dogs one of my family members started breaking out in hives wherever he had touched the dog or where the dog had licked him. So we left empty handed with an allergist appointment for three months later. When he came back from that we found out he was severely allergic to dogs, and we would not be getting one.
I was heartbroken. I moped for weeks and weeks, unable to have the dream dog I had, well, dreamed of for months.
Then on a day I was moping around one of my family members called me over to look at something.
It was a lizard called a Bearded Dragon, and apparently people kept it as a pet! I was curious! Who on earth would keep a lizard as a pet?
I started looking up pictures and looking at what they ate, and finally asked if I could get one, since they didn’t have fur. The answer was “Sure, you pay for it.” I started saving right away, learning and taking notes on how to care for them and what to buy. It wasn’t quite enough research.
I bought a 10gal tank kit with a heat lamp and a basking rock, and then went to the pet store on June 6th 2015. I had yet to learn about how bad most pet stores are about taking care of their animals, and went without fear. I talked with a lady who tried to be helpful, telling me I needed sand or reptile carpet, I would need to feed the Beardie two crickets a day, twice a day, and that was it! I grabbed some reptile carpet, a bag of ten crickets, and then chose my baby Bearded Dragon. I had already chosen a name out before hand, and the little baby was named Mufasa.

As I was setting up the tank I thought breifly, “Is this lightbulb UVB like the caresheets mentioned?” Then dropped it and feed Mufasa. He was so tiny, 4” from head to tail. He was missing a good chunk of his tail though, so that made him smaller. He ate his two crickets like a champ and even ate broccoli out of my hands! I was totally smitten with the little thing.
The first night I had a major heart attack. I had turned out the lights and peeked in with a flashlight to check on him and he was lying under his rock, not breathing. I panicked. How could I have killed it in the first day?! I ended up nudging it with a finger and it opened its eyes, confused as to why I wouldn’t let it sleep. That was when I found out they look like they aren’t breathing at first when they sleep unless you look really carefully.
So we went on. He was really good about being held, ate the food I gave him, and sat looking adorable all day long.
Then he stopped eating.
It was a struggle to get him to eat the two crickets, or any salad. I couldn’t understand it! He started getting really skinny, his hips jutting out and his head looking too big for his tiny body. I never thought to take him to a vet.
But I did think, hey, I love one this much, wouldn’t I love two? And after double checking I found out Mufasa was a she! So, on August 6th 2015 I brought home a dark looking Bearded Dragon I named Norberta.

They got along fine! Norberta was a few inches bigger than Mufasa (like, two), and they would lay next to or on top of each other on the basking rock or tree. Norberta was a pig compared to Mufasa, and after settling in her number of crickets doubled what Mufasa was eating, even that wasn’t much. I was worried, they just weren’t growing. I joined a helpful BD forum and had someone straight out tell me what was wrong.
A) I had no UVB light, which for those who don’t know is basically artificial sunlight and BD’s need that to absorb calcium.
B) I needed to be feeding them waaaayyyy more.
C) Separate them ASAP!
I ordered a UVB and started saving up for a separate, bigger tank, while still buying crickets and bugs for them to eat. When BD’s are babies they need a lot of protein so they can grow, and I wasn’t giving them that.
Once the light came they both became super active! Norberta started eating more food, and Mufasa would have her good days where up to ten crickets were being devoured. I was finally able to get a 40gal Breeder, and then realized I couldn’t separate them yet because I didn’t have two UVB lights. So they both went into the 40gal, giving them four times the space they had in their previous tank.
They stayed in that for a while and started filling out, looking rounder and brighter eyes. I felt so much better!
I was still saving up for a second tank. I had got the 40gal at a dollar per gallon sale and nobody wanted to have another, -_- so I saved and waited. I had some relatives build me a tank stand to hold both the 40galB’s, and set it up, still waiting for enough money or a sale.

Then in Feb 2016 Norberta’s legs started to swell up. Every time she tried to walk she was in too much pain, and she couldn’t move. She got lumps along her spine and shoulders, all her joints swelled up and she was as black as night. I panicked, and used all my saved money on a vet visit. The vet took an x-ray, a biopsy, and checked her out, and in the end of the hour drive visit he told me she had Yellow Fungus and a Bacterial Infection, plus very low calcium. For those who don’t know, Yellow Fungus is a disease that can be put off, but in the end will kill the reptile it infects.
I was horrified. I had heard in passing about YF and couldn’t believe that my baby girl had it.
I needed to separate Mufasa and Norberta ASAP, incase Mufasa hadn’t already caught it. The best I could do was a piece of cardboard in the middle of the 40gal, with the UVB light shining on both sides, after deep cleaning the tank.
Mufasa was thrilled with the arrangement and Norberta was in too much pain to care. The vet had sent us home several medicines: Liquid Calcium, Metacam (a painkiller), Baytril (for the bacterial infection), and then he sent us Itraconazole for the yellow fungus. All of those I had to give her daily.
She absolutely hated the medicine. HATED. But she had to have them. She also decided she wasn’t going to eat, so I had to try and force her to eat half the time.
After the vet visit I had ordered a second UVB light, and by some miracle a friend of mine had just a little before this given me a 30gal fish tank. As soon as the light came I officially separated Mufasa and Norberta, and we began the wait.
Another friend of mine who rescued BD’s told me to get Serrepaptase to help with Norberta’s swelling and Reptophilus to help her tummy feel better so she could eat something. She started to eat some more and took her medicine better, but she still looked horrible.
In April 2016 a vet office opened close to the pet store I had got the girls at. I ran into their office and asked if they by any chance would see Bearded Dragons. They said yes! I brought Norberta in and explained to the new vet what the first had said, and told her that by now I didn’t think she had Yellow Fungus, because she hadn’t broken out in sores or anything. The new vet agreed with me, and told me that Norberta had a Calcium deficiency, where her body wasn’t getting enough calcium or absorbing enough calcium so her bones were slowly disintegrating, and the blood vessels were getting irritated and dying, causing the swelling. She told me to keep giving her Liquid Calcium and the painkiller or anti-inflammatory. I left feeling better than I had in two months.
Within a few weeks of taking her off the other medications the swelling went down. She was limping along and then walking, eating her dubia roaches like a good girl and running around the house like crazy.
So, of course, when I found out for sure that she didn’t have a spread-able disease, on June 25th 2016 I welcomed in a new member I had been considering before Norberta got sick.

A female Ghost Ball Python named Olympia. She was fascinating, and so totally different than my Beardies that I fell completely in love with her. She ate every meal I fed her, let me hold her almost every day. She is the quietest of my pets along with my Hermit Crabs, Rose and a few other I care for.

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. That’s part of being human. But ever since Mufasa came I have learned and I will keep learning, and help other people learn and appreciate reptiles and all their scaly glory.
Thank you guys,