Archive for ziggy

Construction Teaser

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 20, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

I’m rather busy with moving house this week, so not much time to even think about blogging. I do have for you, however, a little teaser: I’m taking the opportunity, while everything is chaotic and in a semi-moving state, to construct a new piece of furniture for my new apartment. It’s Ziggy’s new home, and so far all it consists of is some pieces of wood:

Tonight I’m going to start assembling the pieces, and in the next day or so I’ll get to staining and finishing everything. The finished piece should be very pretty, and will hopefully serve Ziggy’s needs for many years to come (he’s already growing out of the 30 gallon tank that he’s been living in).

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Bathtime for Ziggy! The Importance of Bathing Your Beardie

Posted in Animalia with tags , , , , on April 13, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

I took some cute photos during Ziggy’s bath last week, and decided to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the importance of bathing to beardie health.

D’awww, isn’t he a sweetie?

Anywhos.  Despite the fact that bearded dragons come from relatively arid parts of Australia, bathing is an important part of a captive beardie’s lifestyle, and should be made part of your regular routine.  A bath every week or two is a nice way to spend time together, and is beneficial to many aspects of your beardie’s health.

As you can see in the picture above, Ziggy was shedding and had some loose skin attached to his feet.  Just tugging off loose skin from your reptiles when they are shedding is generally considered to be a bad idea:  you can easily hurt them without realizing it.  So a bath is a great way to help loosen up that skin without the risk of inflicting injury — plus it helps to keep substrate and any other material from getting caught up in the loose skin, where it can cause irritation.  Humidity is very important to ensuring that your reptiles have healthy sheds (this is why I advocate keeping moist hide areas available to all of your herps), and baths serve the same purpose here.

In addition to the benefits during shedding, a nice warm bath is good for relaxing your beardie, and it helps with digestion.  Many beardies prefer to defecate in water, and so providing a bath facilitates that nicely (just be sure to remove your baby from the water once he or she has pooped, so they’re not swimming in their own filth).  Cleanliness is, of course, the third benefit of the bath:  many beardies are messy eaters and will end up with food smeared on their faces and stuck in their beards.  Bathing gets rid of that and makes them all squeaky-clean again (at least until the next feeding time).

Obviously, it’s VERY IMPORTANT to make sure that the bath water is neither too hot nor too cold for your beardie, since they are cold-blooded creatures who will change with their surroundings. Water that’s too hot carries the obvious risk of burns, while water that’s too cold can chill your beardie’s core temperature down to dangerously low levels.  You want the water to be just about body temperature — if you stick your fingers in the water and it feels comfortably warm, it’s probably good.  If you’re not sure, use a thermometer to determine the ideal temperature range (95-100 degrees Fahrenheit should be just about right).

Baths can either be had in the tub itself, or in a separate container.  The water shouldn’t come up higher than the level of your beardie’s chest — they’re not great swimmers and this should be considered a soak, not a swim.  On that note, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BEARDIE UNATTENDED IN THE TUB!  Accidents can happen even in a safe and shallow pool, so it’s best to be vigilant.

Baths should last about 10-20 minutes, although it should be noted that some beardies enjoy bathing more than others — it’s just a personality thing.  If your beardie finds bathing to be somewhat stressful, shorter baths are acceptable.  If your beardie seems to be having a really good time hanging out in the water, you can leave them a bit longer … but I really wouldn’t recommend going longer than a half hour, just because they can’t thermoregulate properly when in water.

Once bathtime is over, give your beardie a pat dry with a soft cloth (watch for rough towels that might catch on their toes and other spiky bits!) and then return your baby to their home.  After a nice, relaxing bath they’ll probably find a good spot to go to sleep for a while.

A few safety tips for you and your dragon:

  • Wash down the tub or bath container both before and after bathtime.  Soaps or cleaning products can injure your beardie, so you want to make sure the water is pure and clean before you put him in.  And after he’s done, there’s always the slight risk of salmonella being passed on to a human from a beardie’s feces, so you’ll want to give everything a good scrub and disinfection.
  • Be vigilant the WHOLE TIME your beardie is in the tub!
  • Monitor bath temperatures carefully so that your beardie doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
  • Keep the water shallow — chest-height is good.
  • If your beardie poops in the water, clean it up right away so that he’s not swimming in his own filth (and to reduce the risk of passing on salmonella).
  • If you’ve got other pets around (like cats or dogs), keep a good eye on them, or lock them out of the room entirely.

Wicker does not understand this “bathing” thing.  Wet paws are anathema to fuzzy kitties.  (Don’t worry, I was watching him very closely the whole time he was in the room … he just wanted to take a peek at what I was doing, and to be a little camera hog).

Meet the Menagerie: Ziggy

Posted in Animalia with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

Back in the summer, a co-worker of Kenneth’s got herself a bearded dragon (Esme).  Very exciting — until she figured out that Esme was pregnant!  Fortunately, Kenneth and I had already had success breeding our leopard geckos, and had the setup required to take care of some dragon eggs.  When Esme’s eggs were laid, we brought them home and put them in the incubator.  A few months later, we had babies!  They were tiny, and there were lots of them.

We ooh’ed and awww’ed over them for a while, but we couldn’t keep them all.  So we started finding homes for them, through pet stores, friends, and Craigslist.  It took a few months, but they’re all off to other homes now — except for one.

Meet Ziggy (yes, as in Ziggy Stardust — note the pretty orange face stripes).  Ziggy’s just about 6 months old now, and eating and growing fast.  Adults get to be anywhere from 1-1/2 to 2 feet long — Zig’s just about 8 inches now, so there’s still a ways for him to go.  In captivity, beardies can potentially live up to 20 years — but usually 10-15 is a more reasonable estimate.  Unfortunately, early death is a common thing among captive reptiles, as owners (either through having bad information, or through simple laziness) do not always provide proper care for their scaly pets.  Bearded dragons need high temperatures, UV light, and a good diet in order to live a long and happy life.

Bearded dragons are native to Australia, and are omnivorous.  As juveniles they eat a much higher percentage of insects than they do of plants, but as they get older they will develop more of a taste for salad.  At present, Zig’s eating mostly roaches, mealworms and silkworms, with a few leafy greens (dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 powder) thrown into the mix.

Beardies are known for being docile and for tolerating handling very well (especially if they’ve been handled often for their entire lives and are accustomed to it).  They’re very popular pets, and most are now captive-bred instead of wild-caught.  Many different colour morphs have been developed in captivity, and there are lots of exotic trade names for these different colours and patterns.  Ziggy is hypomelanistic — meaning that he lacks the dark pigments found on wild bearded dragons, and has clear toenails instead of dark.  He also has some pretty, orange highlights on his face and back.  But he’s not nearly as bright as some of the “red dragons” that are now being bred.  Based on my research, he could probably be called a “hypo-pastel”, or perhaps a “translucent”.  However, as I mentioned before, there are endless trade names out there for different colours and patterns, and different breeders would probably call him different things.  His colours may also develop further as he gets older, and he could become more (or less) orange as he matures.

As you can see in the picture above, I’ve recently put down sand as a substrate in Ziggy’s tank.  There are mixed feelings on sand-as-substrate in the bearded dragon world.  When they are babies, it’s a bad idea to keep them on sand — especially if you’re keeping many of them in the same tank and they are competing for food.  Babies can be clumsy eaters, and might get a mouthful of sand (which can cause digestive impaction, a potentially fatal and very painful condition).  Some owners feel that there is still a risk as their dragons get older, while others dismiss the risk as extremely minimal (an adult would have to eat quite a lot of sand before impaction would occur, and they’re less clumsy about eating).  I’ve decided that Zig is old enough (and a careful enough eater) to try the experiment, but I will be watching closely during mealtimes to be sure that there’s no sand-eating going on.  If I notice any troubles, I’ll switch the sand out for ceramic tiles, which are less nice-looking and don’t offer the same opportunities for scratching and digging about, but have no risk of being accidentally ingested.

Compared to many other reptile pets, bearded dragons are relatively high-maintenance.  As babies and juveniles, they require food at least once per day (and even more when they’re very small).  As adults they still need to be fed at least every other day, and offered a good variety of insects and vegetables.  Compared to a leopard gecko, which needs only a few insects once or twice a week, or a snake, which only needs to eat every week or two, it’s a lot of upkeep.  But beardies are very active and personable, which definitely makes up for the extra work involved.  And if you’re someone like me, who likes to eat their veggies, it’s not that difficult to buy things that can be shared with the dragon.

Expect more updates on Ziggy in the future, as I’m sure he’ll continue to be a source of interest and entertainment as he gets bigger.