Popeye is probably our most heart moving rescue. We received Popeye along with Brutus, another rescue. We saw a local ad with Popeye and Brutus housed together in a tank. It was instantly clear that Popeye had severe metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Immediately, we reached out to the owners and explained Popeye’s condition and asked if we could please take him and help him get better. The owner obviously cared about the dragons. However, they were very misinformed about the proper care. So, they said we could take both Popeye and Brutus to give them a better life.
When we got Popeye we had no idea how bad he really was. He was so hungry and dehydrated. He was eager to try and eat anything. We offered him some salad to see if he would eat it. He tried to eat it right away. However, because of his MBD, his jaws are misaligned and weak, and he could not chew it. We immediately blended some food for him and fed him through a syringe.
It was clear then, how hungry he really was. He was desperate to eat. After a few syringes, he was finally able to eat calmly.
To the vet.
The next morning, we took Popeye to the vet. We knew he would need a lot of vet care. And, we were right. Popeye needed a week of calcium injections to replenish the calcium that was leeched from his bones. We found out that in his life, Popeye broke both of his arms, one of his legs and tail. Because of this, he also needed special daily care and environment.
Popeye’s enclosure has a soft bottom to help his weak bones. He cannot have a hammock or hide, like other dragons, at the risk of him falling and breaking more bones.
After a week of syringe feeding, calcium injections, and lots of love, Popeye started to gain strength. Then, Popeye started to be able to chew some! He was again able to hunt small Dubia roaches and eat them. The change in him was amazing to watch.
He was regulating his temperature while basking, for possibly his first time ever, after a week. He could walk and run around his enclosure. We could tell his bones are strengthening.
While Popeye will always look different, and we cannot fix the damage that has already been done to his bone structure, we can stop the progress of MBD.
Today, Popeye is still strengthening his bones and getting better each day. He is a bright part of our day. We hope everyone can learn from Popeye and Brutus’s stories. Please do not cohabit dragons. Always provide the proper UV and basking lights and calcium supplements.