R.I.P. Severus :( You Will Be Missed :'(

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On the 5th of February 2013, I shared with my fans and followers that I had acquired a pet.

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The pet in question was a gorgeous Bearded Dragon, bought at the pet store in Thatcham, not that far from the small rustic village of Woolhamton which was where we lived at the time. I had wanted a Bearded Dragon for quite a while, but was aware of the start-up cost, reg. tanks and lights and that many people put their Dragons up for sale or give them away when they move etc; as they aren’t too easy to carry around.

My brother and I had been going over to the pet store to look around and were fascinated by the two Beardies that we saw there. We found it heart breaking to see how they were “glass surfing”so much. They did this a lot in the pet store, in fact every time we saw them  so it looked like they wanted to get the  hell out of there.

On the 5th of February my mother and I walked into the local pet store to buy a gold-fish for the family, and ended up leaving the store with the two Beardies that no one seemed too keen on buying 🙂

It was a happy day for William my brother, who liked Konarik, the most active and dominant of the two and it was a very happy day for me, who picked Severus, the more docile and calm one 🙂

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We bought a typical starter kit, which included sand. Which is a HUGE no-no when it comes to keeping Dragons. I have no idea why pet stores sell them, but they do, even though it is potentially lethal for the reptiles. William found this out relatively quickly so all the sand was removed.

I remember that we used to feed them crickets for quite a while and even got one of those boxes with cylinders, that you keep the crickets in, using the cylinders to deliver the crickets into the Dragon tank. However the crickets smelled horrendous and were eventually abandoned for the more appealing locusts. Which are quite cool actually. You will get used to them easily and they are actually quite entertaining insects. We had one that ran off into our chimney once, but then he came back obviously. They can jump REALLY high and will do anything they can to escape. It’s a good idea to keep the locusts fed with salad etc; as you wait for the right time to feed your Dragon. An interesting observation is that if the Dragon isn’t interested, the locust can actually sit on the Dragon’s head or body, without him batting an eye lid. We tried to feed the Dragons lots of worms too, but they never appealed much to my Dragon, so they were eventually abandoned in favour of the waxworms. Which Dragons, looooove. We gave them mostly salad, lots of butternut squash and we tried to feed them everything from the dried flower mixes you get at the pet store, to the Dragon pellets that apparently are so good for them. My Dragon always had a preference towards red salad and showed no interest in either flowers or the Aloa Vera Plant that we had in his tank. The plant was mainly used for climbing purposes, whereas William’s Dragon would eat anything you put in front of him. Especially the entire Aloa Vera plant that was placed in his tank. My Dragon had a bit of an attitude in regards to food. Also, if you ever decide to get a Dragon yourself, remember that Dragon’s need their supplements!

Severus had an ongoing problem with constipation, we thought at first that this was because of the sand that they initially had in their tank. But even when the sand was removed it remained an ongoing issue through his life. I fed him Aloa Vera juice which was good for him I also tried to buy one of those “water drippers” since Dragon’s apparently don’t pay attention to water unless it drips from above. However, my Dragon payed no attention to this device, so that was also a wasted effort. I read online that giving your Dragon a bath will keep him hydrated and will also help if there are constipation issues, and this was correct.

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My Dragon was quite the swimmer, it was amazing to observe. I was planning on buying him a small baby pool for outside use, but I never got the chance to do that 😦

Dragon’s are also funny when they try to clean themselves and drag their bodies on the floor of their tank when they are done bathing, they really have some sort of “self-cleaning concept”, which is quite funny.

Severus and Konarik shared tank for quite a while, Konarik was always sitting on top of Severus, which is really bad, as the Dragon on the bottom, won’t get all the light that he or she needs. I kept on stressing that Severus needed his own territory as Dragon’s are solitary animals that shouldn’t share tank.

Konarik increasingly started attacking Severus, until he literally bit a part of his tale off. I actually witnessed it, and it was horrifying. Konarik held the tip of the other’s Dragons tail in his mouth, it looked like he was eating it, while the other Dragon tried to run for his life terrified.  I intervened and had to forcefully open up the mouth of the dominant Dragon to fish out the damaged tail of Severus. The tip of Severus tail, fell off and there was blood there as well. I was really upset and we finally got a separate Tank for him after that.

I even got a leash for Severus, because I wanted to take him with me outside. He reacted in a very paranoid way once he was out, and was only looking for shelter. He would “expand his body” becoming totally stiff and looking very fat all of a sudden, he would puff up his beard, doing anything to look intimidating. When a Dragon puff up his body he becomes almost impossible to handle, and it was obvious that neither him nor his former buddy were particularly keen on the British outdoors. As my Dragon got older though, his fear for fresh air, disappeared.

They run VERY fast, once they get going. They swim fast too.

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My Dragon must have been happy when his tank was situated in my music room, because when we tried to move him, he started acting up by increasingly vandalising his tank. At first I thought that it was an accident, when his “furniture” was falling down, etc; but my brother observed that he was pushing things around on purpose! It started to become increasingly obvious that something was making him upset. The horror of keeping a Dragon is that they cannot talk or make much of a sound, so you have to guess what’s upsetting them. Eventually it dawned upon me that Severus hated where his tank was, because when we moved him back down into my music room, his behaviour completely stopped.

When we eventually moved and his tank was placed in the hallway, outside my music room, he would walk over to my door and stand outside it while I was playing, according to my mother and brother. He certainly liked music and wanted to be placed near where I worked. Which brings a little tear in my eye as I write this now.

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Dragons are fascinating animals, apparently they can use their tongue to asses temperatures and they have a third eye on top of their head, to alert them when it comes to birds or threats from above. Talking about threats, I liked to let my Dragon run around in the living room where he first lived with me, on one occasion, I stood upright and at a certain point my Dragon stopped in front of my foot as he was promenading around and his eyes followed my figure from bottom up, when he realised how huge I was, he “skvatt” as we say in Norwegian, which is when you jump because you get scared of something, like someone saying BO and you get scared. It was kind of funny actually, as if thought he hadn’t realised what a giant I was until then. He got really scared and went into hiding, poor thing.

You need to take your pet to a proper vet, that actually knows how to deal with Reptiles, if that’s what you got. I took mine to a vet, because he had a “lump” in his mouth all of a sudden; a lump that eventually just disappeared on its own account. The vet was equally brutal (the Dragon got terrified) as she was incompetent, as she told me that my Dragon was a female. Both my brother and I, put clay into the tanks at a certain point, to make sure that our female Dragons would have a place to lay their eggs. It doesn’t matter if your female Dragon has mated or not, if they cannot lay their eggs somewhere, whether they are infertile or not, they can die from internal complications if the eggs remain in their bodies. Stressed out we kept a close eye on our female Dragons, only to discover that the eggs never materialised as these two were both male 😛

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As I am an artist I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with my pet, but my brother loves animals and is truly great. He did a great job looking after him when I couldn’t and is a great animal lover and a very competent pet owner.

This year I was happy to celebrate my Dragons 3rd birthday, one of what I thought would be one of very many as Dragons get quite old in captivity. My Dragon was far away though in February in “brumation land” and was impossible to connect with. However he came back to planet earth as they always do after their “hibernation” and I had some sweet moments with him and took lots of pictures of course.

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At the end of last month, beginning of this, I started to become worried for him when he started laying in very unusual positions in his tank, I was worried that he was seriously constipated again, as he seemed uninterested in food etc; there is nothing a good bath won’t solve I thought, as this was always the case before, but lo-and -behold, my Dragon was unable to close his vent after pooping due to what must have been a sperm-plug. It was scary to say the least and my brother removed it. There was no resistance of any sort and it was not attached to anything in his body either.

However, after being put back into his tank, he started to display a black beard non-stop. This worried me as Dragons have back beards when they are stressed or are experiencing discomfort, I believe they also blacken their beards during mating, so I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. He started pooping everyday all of a sudden, it was small, runny and beyond foul, even the pee, which is always solid white, was runny I started to wonder if he had an infection and collected a poop sample as you do and felt that a vet would be a good idea. I couldn’t really find anything useful online in terms of advice and decided to give him a bath, as I thought that this maybe would help him.

To my great horror and terror, I discovered the day after that he now had what appeared to be blood in his poop. I wasn’t quite sure at first, but he had not touched his food at all whatsoever, something that he hadn’t done in a while. and the red colour could only really be one thing. I got an appointment, with a vet, but as I live in the middle of nowhere and all reptile experts were on holiday except from one in the area, it was too late for my pet 😥

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He became increasingly worse leading up to his scheduled appointment. Loosing more and more blood each time he pooped on his own account 😦 I was worried that he would suffer from “his bowels/organs coming out of his vent” which is something that can happen to Dragons. It was absolutely terrifying to witness, I took him out to cuddle him, trying to comfort him, but as he only got worse the day after I was now worried that it was my fault and that I was only making him worse 😦 He would keep his body flat to the floor of his tank and shuffle away from his heat lamp. On his last day I woke up to find the most disgusting collection of blood, poop, etc; I was checking on him all the time and all of a sudden I saw a little ball of something that appeared to be un-digested salad, at first I was hopeful that it was his poop looking normal again, but I guess I was in denial, he was vomiting. The salad was old and not digested, there was also something white in there, which is probably why I thought it had come out of the vent 😦

The last thing I saw before I left home that day, was that he was sitting in his water bowl after releasing lots of blood, in fact I think it was only blood, I was convinced that he had either suffered a total prolapse or that he was bleeding to death 😦

After an hour I called back home to check on him fearing the worse, only to hear that he seemed alert and that it wasn’t as serious as it had seemed, some medication had arrived that the vet had recommended and my mother and brother were about to give him a bath, only 28 minutes after my call, my mother called me to tell me that Severus was dead 😦

The day before his scheduled vet appointment 😦

I didn’t quite believe it at first, but ran home as fast as I could (which included jumping over this, which our deranged neighbour recently set up) and there he was. My mom had put him on a towel after cleaning him that morning to comfort him and now he was laying there dead. Completely stiff and frozen in time, my brother saw his last cramps. It was obvious that he had been emptying his bowels prior to his final breath, and passed water and blood before his body shut down completely. It was really sad to see my pet dead. I don’t think I’ve cried that much and been that devastated in years. It was really tough and not exactly what I had had in mind. I thought that my pet would be around for many years and whenever there were any constipation issues or anything weird health wise, he, juts like the other Dragons in the family, had always recovered.

On the 2nd of August, we buried and said our last goodbyes to the music loving, sweet and calm, Bearded Dragon Severus 😦  Always sweet and calm.

 

 

 

 

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