Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Meet Gary

Today I thought I'd introduce the newest member of our crazy crew - Gary Patterson McAnally :)  Gary is a two-year old female bearded dragon and is literally Mason's dream come true.

Having a bearded dragon wasn't on my to-do-list but I feel like it's a great experience for my kids and I'm not naive enough to think that all of their interests/likes/dislikes are going to line up with mine and so sometimes supporting/encouraging those likes is going to put me a little out of my comfort zone - and that's ok!!!

Mason has always been a "creature" lover... geckos, frogs, etc. he loves them all.  For months Mason has been asking for a bearded dragon.  One of the teachers at school has one and he has been OBSESSED.  We told him that if he wanted one he needed to save his money and figured that after a couple of months his interest would wane but he only got more determined.   After several recent "bearded dragon encounters" :) at a friends house and at Playstreet he really started making his case and we started doing some research. 

From everything I read/was told - the first year or so is where health problems can arise and is when taking care of them can be a little more difficult.  As babies they have to get used to being handled and can be pretty active when they're out of their enclosures.  We were advised to try and find an adult since this was our first experience with a reptile and so that's what I set out to do.  

This is going to sound crazy but I started looking on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist.  Before we went to Colorado I found a family who was moving and parting with a two year old, female beardie who loved being handled AND came with her enclosure.  

I emailed back and forth with the lady several times and was reassured by how thorough her answers were to my questions as well as the kinds of questions she was asking me.  We were getting ready to leave for Colorado and so I told her to move on to the next person if need be because we wouldn't be prepared to pick her up until after we got back.  We got back on Sunday and Monday morning I had an email from her asking if we were still interested because it just "felt right".  YES MA'AM!  On Tuesday we drove 3 hours round trip to pick her up and Mason was BEAMING!

Here he is holding her for the first time and listening to all of her likes/dislikes/etc from her previous owner.

And the next thing we knew we were loaded and ready to head home!  (That's an IKEA box sandwiched in between them because before we went and picked her up we made a pitstop for a second desk since the enclosure is LARGE!)

Home!  and already friends!


He had the smaller desk (PAHL from IKEA) that we used for the enclosure and we picked up the larger one to use as his desk.  His room looks so different but he is LOVING it!!!

I put all of the books from his bookshelf into this bookcase that I had actually ordered a few weeks ago for Luke's room and was about to return since it didn't fit the way I wanted.  WIN!

Okay - so I'm going to answer the questions that I've been getting.  PLEASE keep in mind that we're total newbies!!!

1) Is she hard to take care of?
So far.. no!  Like any pet, there's maintenance... we've bathed her once (once to twice a week is what we've read is recommended), brushed her with a toothbrush and are about to trim her claws.

2) What does she eat? 
This has been a little bit of a learning curve for us.  The people who we bought her from told us that she preferred to eat theses "dragon diet" pellets BUT we couldn't get her to eat them so we went out and got crickets which she LOVED.  This has been a little bit of a learning curve for us because I'm not prepared to house 100 crickets in my house for her to have on hand so we've been making pit stops at Petco about every other day.  They're supposed to eat greens, fruits and veggies - but again... we haven't had great luck with her eating the "salad" we keep putting out.  We'll keep trying but for now we're doing calcium-coated crickets and the dragon diet when she'll eat them.

3) Are YOU okay handling her?
Yes! Reptiles (other than snakes!) don't really bother me and she actually feels really cool!  They're gentle and not at all aggressive so there's really nothing to be freaked out about.

All three kids are fine handling her and feeding her which I think is a great experience for them to have!

4) Does she come out of her enclosure?
Yes!  We only take her out for about 30 minute intervals because she likes to bask under her heat lamp and we don't want her to get too cold but she LOVES to be on your shoulder and Mason has had her out to read to her, color with her and she's hung out on his desk with him while he worked on Legos :)

5) Is she dirty?  Don't they smell?
No!  Like I mentioned earlier, we bathe her to keep her clean (and help keep her hydrated... they take in water through their vent (pretty much their hiney)) and while her poop does smell (that's to be expected) it was easy to clean up and once we disposed of it there was no smell. 

6) Can you get salmonella from handling lizards? 
Nope!  I'm assuming that if we handled her pool and then didn't wash our hands MAYBE but we're not doing that :)  And just holding her, feeding her, etc. isn't any cause for concern.

7) Why did he name her Gary Patterson? 
Gary Patterson is the coach of the TCU football team and Mason LOVES him some Gary :) hahaha

8) What do Jack and Jelly Bean think about Gary?
So far they're indifferent - but we're not having any unsupervised playtime either.  Jack Bauer doesn't even seem to notice that Gary is there and Jelly Bean is curious but doesn't get too close.

9) Does she bite?
Nope! She's very used to being handled and seems very social and we haven't had any issues with biting.  From what I've read they area really only aggressive if they're not used to being handled and you try to handle them... which makes sense since they'd just be trying to defend themselves.

So there you go!!! If you have experience with bearded dragons I'd LOVE your tips, tricks and advice!  Leave me a comment and let me know!

 I just reread/proofread this post and I'm laughing SO HARD because this is for sure a post I never thought I'd be writing!  Such is motherhood!

Happy Tuesday, friends!


  1. Oh my gosh! I love her. I love you too for being a "yes mom". xo

  2. My hands are sweating just reading this lol.

  3. Growing up in Puerto Rico, reptiles were a part of our everyday lives! We had plenty of lizards and iguanas and my son did have an iguana for many years whose name was Tozer (like A.W) It got to be huge.

  4. You are such a cool mom because I can assure you I stopped breathing through some this due to being so scared of reptiles! Ha! Mason is so funny, and I know he and Gary will be besties!

  5. Once again, you've impressed the socks off of me. GO MOM!

  6. Gary looks like a fun and sweet pet that will be well loved. Kids RULE our lives, don't they? At one point our house had 4 cats, a bunny, a bird, and a dog. All because my daughter LOVES pets (and so do I).......next you will get a goat- I'm sure of it. :)

  7. Such a cool mom! Enjoy your new family member! On another note, where did you get Mason's new bookcase that was going to be Luke's? Thx

    1. I was wondering the same! It looks like the Landry bookcase from Target.

  8. Keeping crickets for feeding is not for the faint of heart! When my son was about Mason's age, he had a collared lizard that ate live crickets. So we then had a cricket enclosure in our garage because they STINK.

  9. I love that you are a "yes" mom in regards to Gary and what a great way for Mason to learn some responsibility caring for Gary as well as having to save his money for her.

  10. You're better than I could be. I can't deal with reptiles.

  11. You are such a good "yes" mom...I just don't think I could do it. I have goosebumps just watching you guys hold him! and Crickets...no thank you! Glad Mason loves him though!

  12. Oh - beardies! This is going to sound gross, but if the crickets end up being too much of a hassle, we feed ours dubia roaches (from DubiaDeli.com but I'm sure there are other places). Right now, there is a shortage, so we haven't been able to get them, but there are so many more pros when compared to crickets. The main ones, for us, are that they don't chirp, the upkeep is minimal, and they reproduce, so you don't have to buy as often! We keep them in a giant rubbermaid bin that we have poked holes in the top of. I'd suggest looking into that!! :)

  13. My son had a Leopard Gecko and she was awesome!! I never knew I would have been a reptile mom! HA

  14. Is it a sign that as I was reading this post my Luke (who will be 6 on Friday) came down the stairs and asked if he could get a hamster for his birthday?! When I said no he said how about a turtle? Or mice?! A bunny? I said hmmmm maybe a fish?! But you're definitely making me reconsider being more of a yes mom. :)

  15. We feed our bearded dragon roaches also. We were told that they are higher in protein than crickets so you don't need to feed them as many (plus they don't jump :) We found a small, local pet store that has their own colony. Another favorite of ours is dried silk worms which are also high in protein. Also, you can try different greens: our dragon likes Collard greens better than Mustard greens. Good luck! Bearded dragons are such great pets!

  16. I have two questions...1. Is Gary full grown? 2. Do you have to keep the heat lamp on 24/7? I agree with others you are an amazing "yes" mom. I love it!

    1. I can't answer #1 fully, but I'm assuming yes, since she is 2 years old. For #2, you aren't supposed to keep the heat lamp (or the UV lamp, for that matter) on 24/7. We turn ours on when we wake up and off when we go to sleep. :)

  17. I'm so excited for Mason. I had a beardie for 8 years. I had the exact same enclosure. It works great, but I only notice her sun lamp for heat. She also needs a UVB bulb, otherwise she is at risk for metabolic bone disease she will stop thriving. Zoo Med makes a Reptisun 10.0 UVB that will need to be changed about every 6 months whether it burns out or not. It's really a must :)

  18. We have a beardie ("Spike"). It is so funny that Gary won't eat salad but loves crickets. Spike loves kale and blueberries but is too lazy for crickets! Spike did love Dubia roaches, which I got from another beardie owner who RAISED roaches (eek!)


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