Health

Cleaning

Your dragons’ papers need to be changed daily, for babies and adults. You do not want your dragon to walk through feces then walk on its salad. Ideally papers should be changed once you notice the dragon using the bathroom. If you are using sand, which I do not recommend, you will need to scoop feces out of the enclosure daily. The sand should be changed about once a month depending on the size of the enclosure and the number of dragons. A small enclosure with 2 dragons will have to be changed much more often then a large enclosure with one dragon. When emptied, the enclosure should be scrubbed with soapy water, or a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach to 5 parts water). It needs to be rinsed thoroughly and dried before dragon is returned. No matter what you use make sure you soak all rocks, branches, and other things in the cage in the cleaner and then rinse and dry well. Make sure the food bowls are washed in soapy water daily.

Health checks

A very useful purchase is a digital gram scale. Keeping track of weight and feeding records will alert you when something isn't right. This gives you the ability to correct the issue before it becomes life threatening. Good husbandry and frequent informal exams will keep your dragon happy and healthy for many years. Before brumation, which occurs typically during the dragon's second year, it is advisable to have a qualified reptile vet check a stool sample. Fecal checks can alert you to any parasites before the dragon goes to "sleep" and is most vulnerable to parasitic attacks. Just as you worm a puppy, you will probably need to worm your dragon at some point in its life.

Brumation

This is a natural hibernation period considered necessary for a dragon to sexually mature and to induce breeding activity. This is considered the “cool down”. Many dragons will slow down their eating and activity during the winter months even without any lighting or heating condition changes. One sign of your dragon wanting to brumate is it will stay on the cooler side of the tank, bask less, not eat much and stay in it's hide. You can winterize your dragon for approx. one to two months. Some dragons will brumate on their own for as long as 3-4 months during their brumation period.

Things to consider

Remember that your new dragon at any age will be afraid in his or her new environment. Make sure the dragon's cage is in a stress-free area, rather than a high traffic area. Don't play with, or pick up, your new dragon until he or she has completed adjusted, is eating and striations on underside are gone. Handle juveniles just a few minutes at a time working up to longer periods. Paper placed on the outside of a glass tank will block his view of the stress factors outside his cage. This will help, as your new dragon is already dealing with the stress of the move. After your dragon is eating well the paper can be removed. Too many crickets in the cage at one time will freak them out and the dragon will often refuse to eat. If the crickets are too big or too small, some will not eat and worse, the dragon can starve to death or become paralyzed (in the case of a prey item that is too large). If the dragon does not eat the first day, mist in the evening and try again the next morning. The most important thing is to keep the dragon hydrated. Striations or dark markings on a dragon's belly are a clear signal that the dragon is stressed. When color morphs are stressed, they can also go dark, losing their bright color temporarily. Check temps on the basking spot. Is it 100-105 degrees? Check out the cool side. Is the temperature there at 80 degrees or below? If the temps seem right, look for other causes and make adjustments. When the dragon's belly has returned to its normal white color and is free of markings your habitat has the correct temps and the dragon is adjusting to its new environment. Make sure your dragon's enclosure is at least 4' off of the ground. Temperatures near the ground can be significantly cooler. Do NOT buy a “hot rock”; they can badly burn your dragon. Dragons don’t sense heat well with their bellies, and can be lethally scorched. They use their “third eye” to detect light levels for basking and adjusting their circadian rhythms.

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