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.

Olympia
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.

Mufasa
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.

Norberta
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.

Makayla
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!


Makayla

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Weekly Weigh-In!


Another week, and this one had a big surprise!

Olympia
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.

Mufasa
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.

Norberta
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. ;)
Makayla

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!



Makayla

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!

Olympia

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. 

Mufasa

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. 

Norberta

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,

Makayla