Shark the Bearded Dragon

On the way up to north the day that Grandpa died, both Little C and Big C caught miserable colds so the trip back home was filled with a lot of fevers and sniffles and coughing. Once we got back into town we immediately took Little C back to the doctor because her wheezing was getting worse and having tangled with pneumonia a few times with her we have learned that at the first sign of a problem it’s best to just go see the doc. Our pedi diagnosed her with asthma, which would explain why she is so susceptible to chest infections, and also brought up another possible cause for her constant sicknesses (something called Periodic Fever Syndrome PFAPA). We arrived home with a nebulizer and orders to give Little C the meds every 4 hours. The issue with this is that Little C was terrified of the vapor and the loud motor, and convincing her to come anywhere near the machine let alone put the thing in her mouth was just NOT happening. As parents, you know that reasoning with an almost-three year old doesn’t exist, so we went straight to bribery. Parents of the year 😉 In our blind panic to get her to just TAKE HER FREAKING meds we told her that if she would do her breathing treatments, she could go to the pet store and pick out any pet that she wanted. Yes, we told our toddler that she could go to the pet store and get WHATEVER she wanted. Not the smartest – but Little C had been sadly asking for Dorothy since she went on her permanent vacation, and it seemed like a win win. The good news is that the minute we told Little C that she would have free reign on the pet store she was grinning from ear to ear with the nebulizer mouthpiece in hand and happily did her breathing treatment. So. The next day when we picked her up from school, we drove to Petsmart. Little C wandered up and down the aisles, carefully inspecting each animal. I silently prayed that she would not pick out a snake, I seriously can NOT deal with feeding them mice. Ugh. She looked at the birds, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and turtles. She evaluated hamsters and mice and beta fish and a uber creepy tarantula. And then, her eyes lit up. Standing in front of a small glass terrarium, her little finger pointed out straight with the words “I want this one”.

Little C had picked out a tiny baby bearded dragon. I’ve owned just about every pet in the book but I have never been the owner of a bearded dragon, and so I did some quick google research while the gentleman helping us out fetched the tiny lizard from his cage. Great news: bearded dragons live for about 10-12 years (so no ‘vacation’ talks any time soon), and truly enjoy being held/petted, making them a wonderful addition to families with small children.  Check. More great news: bearded dragons don’t eat baby mice (insects as babies, vegetarians in adulthood). Check. Not so great news: bearded dragons grow to be about 2 feet long and need around a 55 gallon terrarium as adults (well shit – what were we going to do with a two foot long lizard and where in the world were we going to put his monstrous CAGE??). More bad news: Little C LOVED him. More good news: Little C LOVED HIM.

It really was love at first sight. Little C held the tiny lizard and instantly wanted to take him home. She became quite upset when he had to be put in a container for safe keeping until we could get him home, her super pouty face was in full-effect as we walked around the store grabbing various lizard necessities including 50 live crickets and a container of live mealworms to be stored in the fridge….yup. By the time that we were back in the car, we had one tiny but-soon-to-be-2-feet-oh-my-god-what-have-we-done lizard, 50 crickets in a “cricket keeper” cage of their own, cricket food, meal worms, lizard pellets, dehydrated veggies, a complete desert terrarium set-up, and one very happy little girl. And so began the saga of the aptly named “Shark” the beaded dragon. Little C named him and he has so far lived up to his name by eating an ungodly amount of insects. At 14 cents a cricket he may just eat us out of house and home 😉 Having Shark has been an amazing learning experience for Little C. Shark shed a few days ago for the first time (we had to give him a bath to help the process – yes, bearded dragons take BATHS), and Little C got to watch the skin gently fall away to reveal new and more vibrant colors. She loves feeding him crickets and cheers each time that he snags one with his little tongue. She had a decent fear of bugs before we got Shark but now she will grab a live mealworm out of the container and hold it wriggling in her palm for Sharky to eat. She is getting more confidant and truly enjoys having him as her pet. At night she says “Goodnight Sharky!” and orders the cats to get down if they are stalking his terrarium. While I’m not terribly excited for him to become two feet long, I am very very much looking forward to watching the two of them grow up together. So get ready for more adventures involving Shark the beaded dragon and Little C, I’m sure it’s going to be a love affair all the way.

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