“I advise you not to make any sudden movements, my squishy little nemesis.”
So, in August, this vicious little scrap of bones, teeth and attitude turned up in an old Xbox box.
I was told he is about two years old, and was called “Fred”. I could tell he was about half his ideal weight, badly starved and had serious personality problems. I promptly found out he was riddled with parasites and had only ever eaten crickets – most of which clearly escaped out of the massive hole in the back of his old vivarium.
For the Love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – what had I got myself into this time! I had enough to deal with – a new house, all the renovation works, moving, upgraded job, a big charity stunt upcoming and five current dragons… Did I need a dragon in this shape?
But I wasn’t going to turn the poor pile of rags away. He needed my help. And I swore he’d never hear the name “Fred” again.
Luckily, I’ve got plenty of experience with dragons acting out, and dragons with various health problems – but this one had all of them thrown in together – and my main problem was he was totally unhandleable and a truly vicious, determined biter. He bit right through a bamboo stick when I was sliding him out of range so I could clean up the poop in his (filthy) tank.
I needed Kevlar and Goretex gloves just to get hold of him, never mind get medicine through him. Frankly, I didn’t think he’d survive. I bunged on 24 hour heating, proper UV lighting for the first time in his life – and introduced him to a terrifying concept: the bath. (And towels.)
As I suspected, his poor belly rebelled against the good quality food I had to offer, causing him to vomit everywhere, so I quickly switched him to a very low protein diet – utilizing his “bite” reaction to get his belly full of nutritious Oxbow Small Herbivore mix with added calcium, Panacur for the parasites and then Avipro probiotic when the meds were finished.
Fresh greens were offered every day and, two weeks later, I slowly introduced a small amount of proper proteins in his diet with small locusts. His diet range has developed perfectly, and he now eats everything alongside the other dragons.
He particularly loves NatureZone Beardie Bites, blueberries and canned dragonfly larvae! This photo is just a month on:
It was around this time that his attitude problem started winding back – he began to realise that Rich and I weren’t going to hurt him (though even to this day, he still flinches if you move too quickly towards him. He’s definitely been hit at some point, poor chap).
I swore he’d never hear the name “Fred” again – I didn’t want him to associate his new life with his old one. He wasn’t going to be that dragon any more. And indeed, he is utterly unrecognisable from his early days.
Nine months on, he has turned out to be one of the most intelligent dragons I’ve had the privilege of caring for, cheeky and sweet and curious and getting EVERYWHERE.
In fact, he’s not afraid of anything. Even Tsam, who is literally three times his size. But that’s okay – Jac’s got his Orb of Invincibility! He’s completely at home in that thing, giving Tsam something to really think about. SQUISH!
Not to mention a corking colour under all that dirt!