Bad Bearded Dragon care @ PETCO needs to change
Hello, My name is Vicky Fradella and I am a concerned bearded dragon owner and handler. I have been caring for bearded dragons for a number of years and I would like to express some concerns on practices that I have witnessed PETCO using in their husbandry and care of bearded dragons that not only myself, but a number of other beardie owners feel are incorrect and would like to see adjusted. I recently visited your store and have noticed a number of things that need to be changed. I have been an avid researcher over the past few years and have been keeping as up to date as possible on the changes in the standards of care that have taken place in regards to bearded dragon husbandry. I was very disheartened to see on my last visit that the baby beardies were being kept on calci-sand which has been linked to causing major impactions especially in young bearded dragons. I truly believe that no baby or juvenile bearded dragon should be kept on particle substrates of any kind in order to reduce the risk of impaction. I also made notice that there was no food of any kind in the tank. The lighting in the tank was also in my opinion incorrect. There was an infrared heat bulb in the tank instead of a bright white basking bulb that is the current standard that many care sheets advise should be used. There was a uvb bulb, I don\'t know the exact specs on it however I do know that the beardies couldn\'t get within the 6-8 inch proximity that all fluorescent uvb bulbs require for proper exposure. When I expressed my concerns to the store personnel, I was advised that there was nothing they could do because it was company policy. I called the PETCO customer service hotline and was advised I would receive a call back to discuss their care and have yet to receive this return call. That is why I have created this petition on behalf of myself and other concerned bearded dragon owners. We respectfully and urgently request that PETCO change its continuing practice of what we consider outdated husbandry practices, specifically the use of calcium based sand or any other particle substrates. The only type of substrates acceptable for bearded dragons are solid substrates such as reptile carpeting, ceramic tile, papertowel or non-adhesive shelf liner. Anything other than solid substrates, is unacceptable and most certainly will increase the risk of impaction which is a major cause of bearded dragon fatalities. We also ask that PETCO change their policy on lighting and heating and commit to using bright white basking bulbs during daylight hours and ceramic heat emitters in the evening in place of infrared heat bulbs and strictly adhere to the use of linear fluorescent uvb bulbs that the animals can get to within 6-8 inches of. We ask that they also consider using a more accurate method of checking the temperatures in the tanks to ensure that the bearded dragons have an appropriate basking spot temperature of 95F-105F to ensure the proper digestion and growth of the animals as well as an available cool spot of 75F-80F to allow for proper thermoregulation. This can be simply accomplished by using a digital probe thermometer or an infrared temperature gun in lieu of stick on thermometers, such as the round gauge or strip type. On the topic of feeding, we ask that baby and juvenile bearded dragons, only be fed appropriate sized feeders specifically crickets that are no larger then the space between their eyes to avoid risks of impaction, that they be offered an adequate supply of such feeders and we also ask that they discontinue the use of mealworms as a feeder in the baby and juvenile animals for the same said risk. We ask that a fresh and continuous supply of appropriate dark leafy greens be made available to them on a daily basis such as Arugala, Collard Greens, Dandelion Greens,etc. In regards to supplements, we recommend that the bearded dragons are offered an appropriate amount of vitamins to ensure proper bone growth specifically a calcium vitamin with D3 and no phosphorous like Rep-cal, as well as a weekly multivitamin if this is not already a practice PETCO has in place. We have also viewed larger bearded dragons in with much smaller ones and are requesting that only babies be kept together as some adults have been known to eat smaller ones which is very upsetting.Please also consider upgrading your tank size as well as limiting the amount of baby beardies that are housed together.The current standard for an individual adult bearded dragon is a 40 breeder size tank and only 5-10 babies should be housed together in a tank of similar size. The practices we have requested above are the minimal standard of care that most experienced handlers use today and are used to simply ensure the health of the bearded dragon species. We believe the current husbandry practices of PETCO when it comes to bearded dragons, is sub-standard and needs to be changed in order to avoid any further animal losses, especially the use of any and all particle based substrates, including calcium based reptile sand and vita-sand as we believe that these substances are extremely hazardous and carry a very high risk of impaction and/or death. I would like to thank PETCO and its representatives for hearing our appeal and please ask that you take these recommendations under serious consideration. Thank you for your time.