Two updates in one day! Last month the three cats went in for their annual check ups and I found out Logan had a bad tooth. I should have just scheduled removal at the time, but the vet said to keep an eye on it.
Last week, I found Logan drooling. I called another vet figuring I’d get a second opinion on what was going on. I didn’t want to put her under anesthesia until I was certain that the removal was the right thing.
She had the tooth checked today, and it definitely needs to come out. The vet thinks the drooling was from something getting caught in her gum and irritating it near the bad tooth. We did a blood test today to make sure there isn’t anything going on that we should know about before we do the cleaning next week.
We also found a lump on Cali’s side last week, so she also went in for a check up today. Thankfully, they are 90% sure that it is just a fatty deposit. They took a quick sample of it to be sure, but it doesn’t seem like anything to worry about.
Time to try something new for Cali’s allergies. She’s been taking Apoquel for years, and sometimes it seems to help more than others. We are going to slowly wean her off the Apoquel and see how she does with just Cytopoint injections. She had one today, she’ll have another in 30 days, and then we will see how she does. I’m excited to have her off Apoquel. I hope the new plan works.
Seems that Cali has also put on a few pounds. She weighed over 15 lbs today! She’s usually about 11. Time for more exercise and a doggie diet! That’s fine. Just thankful that the lump doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Sometimes you do something and it is so awesome you wonder why the heck you didn’t do it X-number of years ago. This was definitely one of those projects for me. Yesterday, I turned my bearded dragon tank into a living, bioactive terrarium! I’m so excited! My dragon was so excited she was nibbling at the plants on the ground as I was prepping the tank!
So, let’s start at the beginning. This was my dragon tank:
This is kind of a stripped down messy version of the tank because I had already started pulling some decorations and changing things around to get ready to convert it.
Going bioactive means that my tank will help take care of itself. Tomorrow, I’ll be getting some isopods and springtails, affectionately known as my clean up crew. These little guys will live in the soil and will help keep the soil clean and aerated. They will help decompose dead plant matter, leftover lizard food, and even lizard poop.
Lots of research has gone into this project. It’s important to get the “dirt” just right. It needs to be the right combination of materials to help keep the right humidity for my species of lizard. Bearded Dragons like it dry, so I can’t have too moist of a substrate, but it needs to have a moist layer so that things can decompose properly, and the bugs can prosper. My hope is that my clean up crew will thrive and reproduce in the tank, so it is important for them to have the right environment as well as the lizard.
Besides holding just the right amount of water, it needs to be the right weight. You don’t want too heavy of a substrate that the insects can’t get around, and a light substrate will just collapse all the time.
There are many companies that make substrates for this purpose. If you want more details, check out Josh’s Frogs, or The BioDude. Both have great info, instructional videos, and they sell the products you need to create your tank.
I ended up buying my substrate from Josh’s Frogs. I like that the substrate they sell is basically one bag for me to pour in my tank. The basic set up was to add about an inch of substrate to my tank, then water it until it started sticking together, and then add another 2-3′ of substrate on top of that. I bought some live oak bark from the same website and made some perches for the dragon to climb, these will also help nourish the soil and provide nutrients for the clean up crew. I added some dried leaves for hideouts for the bugs, and also to help jump start the bioactive process with an easy thing to decompose. The next thing I did was add plants.
Lucky for me, I have many plants here. I figured I would buys some new plants for the tank at some point, but that I would start with what I had available. First I did research on every single plant I wanted to use in the tank to make sure it was lizard-safe. It turns out I had many plants that would be perfect!
The last few years I have been playing with succulents. I’ve planted a few terrariums, and restarted a bunch of plants. Succulents are such fun! You can break off a piece and plant it and grow a whole new plant. My succulents were honestly starting to over run my house. I gave a bunch away in the Fall, and I still had too many pots.
I also have many spider plants, like the succulents they are prolific! When my son was in nursery school, he came home with a bit of spider plant. He had it stuck in some dirt, but it didn’t have any roots and kept falling out of the pot. He was SO proud that he had planted that little plant for his Momma. I had to save it! I carefully rooted it and loved it, and it has now grown into a monster spider plant. To give you an idea of how long I’ve had this plant, my son is now in college! Over the years, I’ve given babies of this plant to friends and family, and I have many babies of my own that are doing well in their own pots.
Most of the succulents I have, and spider plants are lizard-safe! I tried to pick a nice variety, and also to consolidate some of my many, many pots. I ended up using about a dozen of my own plants, and the tank is pretty full! At some point, I’d like to add a nice big plant, maybe a jade or a big spineless cactus, but for now I’m very happy not to have to spend money on plants as I get this tank set up.
Here’s what the tank looked like when I first set it up yesterday. It still needs some work, but I’m really happy with it for now. I’d like to get rid of that green hammock in the corner and replace it with another branch that she could climb. I don’t love the artificial cave in the back corner, but I feel that it is important for the lizard to have a hide, and it will also help maintain the tank. I’m supposed to keep a protected/humid spot what I can water every week or so. I’ll soak that corner to help get water down to the lower layers of the substrate without having to soak the whole tank. I will also be lightly misting the entire tank once a day.
This morning there were a couple of plants with exposed roots, presumably from Wena running over them and uprooting them, but overall everything held out pretty well. I’m sure she will end up munching on some plants and replacements will be necessary in the future. I’m planning to add some herb plants which grow fast, and lizards are known to like to munch.
This is the tank this morning after I fed Wena and replanted the plants that needed it.
Tomorrow, the Clean Up Crew arrives! I’m really excited to see how this tank grows and develops over time. I plan to continue splitting and propagating my plants that aren’t in the tank in case I need to replace plants. Maybe tomorrow I can also find the right branch to replace the ugly green hammock.
I know how to have a fun weekend! Yes, pandemic is putting a damper on things, but I found a new pet project to brighten up my weekend!
Hector has been very entertaining lately. A couple of weeks ago she started coughing. I was really worried! Every time she coughed, I would get up and go check on her, but she seemed fine, breathing was good, no discharge, eyes looked good, eating, drinking, pooping normally, I was stumped! The next day she coughed and I ran to check on her and she started laughing. I realized she was coughing for attention! It’s developed into a new routine around here: Hector coughs, I ask if she is OK, “oh poor poor birdy! Is my baby bird OK?” She coughs again, maybe a couple of coughs in a row. “Poor Hector! what a terrible cough! Maybe you need a treat?” She laughs, I bring her a treat. This is what it is like to be owned by a parrot.
As I’m writing today, Wena the dragon is hanging out on the back of my chair. Bean is very concerned that she is going to eat me, or maybe he just wants to play with her, but here’s the look I’m getting.
The gliders are settling in really well. I’m still not sure they like me, but they don’t bite me, so it’s all good. I’ve been reading that a lot of glider owners use mosquito net bed tents to let their gliders run and play. While I think this sounds like an awesome idea, I also know how incredibly messy my boys are, and they believe the entire world is their bathroom. I wasn’t excited about the idea of cleaning up a tent, as well as not wanting to buy or store the tent.
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo have been hanging out with me in my glass shower stall. It’s a double stall, like bathtub size, and it works out really well. The boys can run around, and when it is over, I can just clean the shower. The problem is, other than the corner shelf unit, there isn’t much for them to climb on in the shower. This weekend, I had the best idea!
This pile of PVC was a homemade parrot stand I made for Hector years ago. She never liked it, so it has been up in the attic. Rebuilt, I was thinking I could convert it into a climber for the gliders!
I took the original structure and made sure it fit in the shower, and it did! Next I took a bunch of the fleece pieces I had for the gliders and hung them from the stand to give them more climbing options. I wasn’t sure if I would need to wrap the PVC in fleece or add something to make it easier for them to climb.
As soon as I let them out in the shower, two of them climbed right up the PVC pipe! They had no problems with it at all, especially Miney, the tiniest of the 4 by far. He is also the craziest! Every night Miney is the one running like a maniac in the wheel. Climbing this structure was definitely right up his alley. It took him maybe 2 seconds to figure out how to get from the structure I built up onto the shower head. At one point, he was running up one side of the fleece and down the other, over and over again.
Mo found himself a comfy spot on the 2nd layer and mostly hung out there.
Meenie enjoyed climbing, and went all the way to the top, but was a bit more cautious than crazy Miney. He explored carefully and checked out all the different parts.
My Eenie is my big boy. He’s chunky. He’s the one I most often find at the food bowl when he’s awake. He never left my body while they were out this time. His friends would come over and pester him, but he just hung out with me.
He sat in my lap, he hung out on my shoulder, he did some climbing, but only on me. At one point he tried to climb across my face, ouch! Thankfully the scratch is small. Not looking forward to trimming nails again, but it might be almost time.
Eventually, Miney really got into crazy mode, and just started running and leaping. He made his way to the shower head, then made the leap to the top of the shower doors. From there he was looking around and I knew I was in trouble. I put away the other three boys, and watched Miney leap about 8ft from the top of the shower doors to the towel rack. Scooped him up from there, and they all went back to their cage.
I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll be adding/changing toys to the climbing structure, but I’m so excited to have it! Now I don’t feel the need for a messy tent, and the boys have a great new play area. I just have to figure out how to keep Miney from the gap at the top of the shower!
Next project I’m working on is creating a BioActive terrarium for the Dragon! I’m learning all about substrates, clean up insects, and safe plants. I’ll update soon.
Last night Puck was sleeping happily on the couch next to us. Logan decided to leave my lap and take over Puck’s spot. This is Puck wondering what the heck she’s thinking!
I’ve been wondering what the Dragon is thinking. Wena is still awake, and she’s a bit crazy. I’m not sure what is going on, but she is super active. She’s scratching at the glass of her tank, climbing everything. Basically knocking everything in her tank around every day lately. She’s never laid eggs since I’ve had her, but she could. I’ve added a dig box to her tank to see if that calms her down, but so far she doesn’t seem very interested in it.
This is the dig box. Just a small area with some safe soil for her her to dig in and lay eggs if she wants to. So far she has been climbing in and out of it, but that’s about it.
Friday, I took her out while I was working. Sometimes letting her sit on my shoulder settles her down, not this time! She was sitting on my shoulder and all of a sudden she leaped about 8 feet across the room! I was horrified! She’s never done anything like that before and I was really worried she was hurt. She got right up and looked at me like “What?” I watched her walk and she seemed fine, so I put her back in her tank to warm up.
She’s eating and pooping fine, just very active. She doesn’t seem to be shedding, which has made her crazy in the past.
As you can see in the background, she’s taken down all the foliage that usually hangs near the top of her tank. I’ve gotten tired of constantly fixing it, so now I fix it in the morning, she messes it up all day, and I fix it again the next morning.
The free fridge I got is working out great! So nice to have all the animal food separate so I can just grab them and feed. The little built in freezer isn’t the greatest, but it works. Unfortunately, there is one control for the temp of the fridge and freezer, so I’ve had to play with it to keep the freezer as cold as possible without freezing everything in the fridge part. I’m using the freezer for things like glider fruits and veggies I’m currently using, and using our other freezer for anything I need to store long term.
Glider food is still an experiment around here. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and it seems that there are many theories on how to properly feed them, but three basic diets that most glider people recommend. The first is the BML diet. It’s a modified version of a zoo diet. My boys were on this diet when I got them, but it is kind of a pain. It uses many ingredients, and they are all very specific and you aren’t supposed to substitute any of them. I have yet to be able to find Gerber Mixed Fruit Baby juice anywhere. Every place within a 20 minute drive has been sold out, and Amazon wants about $40 for 4 bottles of it. I’ve been making it and substituting a mix of Gerber Apple and Pear juices, not perfect, but not sure what else to do.
The next diet is a brand called Critter Love. They make a powdered formula that can just be mixed with water and fed. MUCH easier than the BML, but it also has very specific salads that you are supposed to serve with the liquid blend, and my boys don’t seem to really like the liquid all that much.
The next diet is pellet based, Pet-Pro brand Happy Glider pellets. I think this is going to be my choice of diets. The pellets come in about 6 different flavors, and the boys have been eating it pretty well for the last couple of days. The pellets get fed with one fruit or veggie per night. Once a week you substitute yogurt instead of a fresh food, and twice a month they get protein such as chicken or egg with the pellets. I like the simplicity of this diet, and not feeding a messy liquid is also a bonus.
This is a picture of my pellet experiment. I made a bowl with the same amount of pellets in each of the six different flavors to see which they ate the best. The first night, they ate most of the Honey Peach pellets (green bowl), and barely touched the fruity pellets in the red bowl. Blue bowl was the Chicken flavor and they ate that one pretty well too. My plan was to refill bowls and change locations of the bowls for a couple of nights to see if it was bowl location or flavors that they were actually preferring.
Last night was night #2 of my experiment. I forgot to get a picture, but basically the boys spilled all the bowls everywhere. There was no way to tell what they ate. So much for my experiment!
It might not be the most recommended thing, but since I have so many BML ingredients and a big pouch of Critter Love powder, I’m rotating between all three diets right now. It gives me a feel for what they eat and what is working for me. As I run out of ingredients, I’ll transition to the pellet diet fully.
The other experiment with the gliders is figuring out best cleaning practices. I started out using giant pieces of paper on the bottom of the cage like I do for Hector D. Byrd, but it was a bit smelly. I bought some custom made fleece cage liners from Tootles Original Suggie Shack on Facebook, and they are really nice! They definitely seem to help with the smell, and I have been easily going 3-4 days before I switch it out. They are also easy to wash, I shake them off outside and then wash them with my other fleece Suggie things, like their pouches. I’m still going back and forth on advantages of fleece over paper. It is nice to be able to change the paper and just throw it away, and I buy the big craft paper rolls for Hector any way. Unless… I wonder how a fleece cage liner would work for Hector? Then I would be creating a lot less waste without using a paper liner. I might have to experiment!
The gliders still don’t seem to like me much. I keep reading amazing stories about people who keep their gliders in the hoodie all day, or in a pocket. Mine definitely haven’t bonded to me yet, but I’m working on it. Many people recommend getting a bed tent to put on the floor and sit in it with the gliders. I haven’t wanted to spend the money yet, so I’ve been bringing them in the shower stall to let them climb around with me. They seem to be spending a bit more time with me when I do that. Patience is key here I’m sure.
A few of the pets had a nice nap together the other day. Today the house is chilly, so everyone has found their own spots to cuddle up. The gliders are all snuggled on top of each other as usual, Wena is under her basking light, and Hector is currently remodeling some cardboard boxes. Bean looks pretty cozy.