I adore the newest addition to my pet family 😀 I currently have a cat (Oreo), a packrat (Rose Tyler), and now Madame Vastra. She was actually an impulse purchase LOL I was at PetCo getting cat litter (they have this really cool thing where you can refill a 5 gallon bucket for like $10) and this lady was there with a full-grown beardie on her shoulder. So adorable! she sang it praises, explaining how easy they are to care for, how affectionate they are. I left the store with my giant container of cat litter and thoughts of owning my very own bearded dragon.
I returned to the store a few hours later with my sister and bought my little Vastra. I was pretty excited as I loaded my cart with a desert terrarium, food dish, large water dish, climbing tree, UVB bulb, box of large crickets, meal worms…little did I know I was in for a bit of a rough ride…
The kid at the store “seemed” to know what he was talking about when he pointed me in the direction of the items I would need for my little beardie. But his knowledge was greatly lacking, as I found out a few days later. I got her cage all set up with the basking light and UVB, got her water dish all set up, dumped in a few crickets, put some meal worms in the little food dish, then went back to the computer to look up more info on bearded dragons.
I found out that they also need to have veggies as part of their diet and that adults should have more veggies compared to crickets. And that the material they eat shouldn’t be too big compared to the size of their heads. Well, the crickets the kid sold to me were the large ones and were actually bigger than her head. Crap…Rather than taking them out, I left them in the cage to see if she would somehow manage to eat them but she didn’t seem to show any interest. In fact, she would sit at the highest point on her basking branch right under the basking lamp and not come down to the bottom of the cage at all.
Back to Google I went. The forums I found mentioned this behavior as most likely being attributed to the temperature not being hot enough. Like a true scientist and biologist, I went to the experts in herpetology. I chatted with two faculty members who are experts in reptiles and who own many exotic species. They agreed about the temperature not being hot enough and recommended getting a higher wattage bulb, to get smaller crickets, to NOT give her mealworms (as apparently they are difficult to digest and can actually chew through the beardie’s stomach YIKES!), to not feed them tons of crickets every day (reptiles don’t need to be fed as much as mammals and it’s okay to skip one or two days of cricket feeding if you give them a nice mix of veggies), to NOT leave crickets in the cage overnight as they will nibble on the beardie while she’s cold and can’t move easily (crickets are omnivores), to get calcium powder to sprinkle on the crickets, and to get a power strip with a timer for the lights so she would have them on for 12 and off for 12 at night.
And I ended up going to a small pet store just right up the street from my house. The girls there confirmed the advice from the reptile experts and got me all hooked up with what I needed. The transformation in Vastra was amazing! She went from hanging out day and night at the tip of her basking branch to coming down to the middle level basking rocks most of the day and movie around the cage to eat her veggies. The best part was was was watching her snag up the tiny baby crickets and eat them. I ended up having to move her basking rocks out of the cage during cricket feeding as they can crawl between the rocks and the cage and come out only at night. With the rocks gone, they can’t hide and Vastra manages to eat every single one in just a few seconds.
She’s a pretty happy girl now and even likes to come out and ride on my shoulders every now and then 😀