Another question from my Tribune Media Services newspaper column
Q: How can you tell if our 3-year-old bearded dragon (lizard) is overweight? I've seen bearded dragons in pet stores and they all seem to have round bellies. I asked our vet, but she doesn't know much about lizards. She did say that if Boris is overweight, it's probably as detrimental for him as it would for a dog, cat, or person. Can you help? -- S.J., San Diego, CA
A: "Determining if a round-shaped lizard is overweight isn't the easiest thing," says Thomas Mazorlig, author of "Animal Planet: Bearded Dragons" (TFH Publications, Neptune City, NJ, 2011; $10.95). "When a (bearded) dragon moves around the cage, the lizard shouldn't be dragging its belly on the floor (unless he's just eaten). Dragons love to eat, and eat -- and I've seen many obese dragons, which isn't healthy. I've even seen dragons with very fat legs, which isn't normal, either."
There are veterinarians with a special interest in cold-blooded pets, and your veterinarian should be able to offer a referral. Bearded dragons that are well cared for can live 9-12 years. Appropriate veterinary care is important.
Mazorlig, of South Amboy, NJ, strongly suggests seeing a veterinarian to determine if Boris is overweight, and to create a dragon weight watchers plan.
He adds that if you're feeding Boris cat or dog food, cut it out. If you're feeding pinkie mice, cut them out temporarily, and much later you can offer one or two a month. The overall recommendation for feeding bearded dragons is half vegetable matter and half waxworms, mealworms and/or crickets. To bring Boris' weight down, cut down on the insect delicacies in favor of more veggies. Never put your lizard on a crash diet.
©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Services