Randall is a two-year-old central bearded dragon. Tamara took him into her care last September after receiving a call from a friend.
Knowing Tamara already had Chico, an eastern blue tongue lizard, they told her about a family member with a dragon that they no longer wanted. Tamara picked Randall up that same day. She was saddened to see him being kept in a small enclosure that reeked of faeces, with nothing but one rock, a tiny bowl of pallets and a few loose crickets.
“Randall looked underweight, had dehydrated skin, very long nails, smelt horrible, was not very alert and overall appeared miserable,” describes Tamara.
“I was actually a bit worried that he may have been too far gone and didn’t know if I could save him as I’ve never had a beardie before. I had done a lot of research and called vets to get information but it was still scary.”
Randall now resides in a four foot ‘mansion’ enclosure full of items to climb and has a soft coconut husk which he loves to dig in. He has lots of basking rocks and a leaf wall. Tamara also ensures he gets time out of his enclosure every day. Randall’s diet includes fresh green veggies, mealworms and kingworms, and he is looking much healthier. In addition to Chico, Randall has also made friends with Lucky the resident cocker spaniel cross.
When Tamara first got Randall, she noticed the tip of his tail was slightly curled and blackened. It was extremely stiff and he wasn’t able to flex it. She brought him to Lort Smith for x-rays and they showed his tail was completely fused. The vertebrae didn’t have any separation between them.
“Dr Esther said he may have metabolic bone disease in his tail. I put it down to his lack of care from his previous owners – poor diet and lack of calcium from the wrong UVB lighting – it makes me angry,” said Tamara.
“I chose to bring Randall to Lort Smith as I had tried a different exotic vet and wasn’t happy with my experience. I found they didn’t really have much information about bearded dragons or why his tail was the way it was. It seems very hard to find vets in Melbourne that will see exotic pets. Another vet clinic told me about Lort Smith’s exotic vets. And it’s also where I brought Lucky to be desexed!”
Not long after receiving his fused tail diagnosis, Randall got himself stuck inside one of his caves with both his head and tail sticking out of the same hole. With no flexibility in his tail, Randall struggled to get out and in the process dislocated his already damaged tail.
“His tail was bent to the side. He looked visibly uncomfortable. He turned black and he was hissing – which is very unlike Randall. I called Lort Smith right away,” explains Tamara.
Lort Smith relocated Randall’s tail and fashioned a custom splint for him to wear for two weeks. But after the splint was off, Tamara noticed a small gash on the side of his tail which she can only assume came from Chico when they spent time together in the same enclosure.
“No amount of cleaning the wound seemed to help as the infection looked to have been working its way up the tail! I had previously discussed the possibility of tail amputation with Dr Esther just to give him some more mobility, but now the infection was going to be the main reason for Randall losing his tail,” explained Tamara.
“Dr Esther said the bottom of the tail was already dying and she could smell the infection. She was confident that amputation was the best way to go and I felt confident in her decision. I just wanted his pain to go away so we did what we had to do!”
Randall’s surgery only took a few hours and he was able to go home that same day. Tamara was briefed on his post-surgery care including antibiotic injections, oral pain relief and Betadine spray.
“I was definitely happy with my experience at Lort Smith and will continue to bring both Randall and Chico there for exotic vet visits,” says Tamara.
“Randall seems to be slowly getting back to his old self – I’m not sure if he even realises that he’s missing half his tail!”
Follow the adventures of Randall, Chico and Lucky on Instagram @luckychicoandrandall