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My Pet World: Take a pass on team logo for crab's shell

January 17, 2012|By Steve Dale

Question: My son, a New England Patriots fan, has three pet crabs. We are [Denver] Broncos fans. Will the crabs get along with one another if they have different team logos painted on their shells? — D.H., Denver

Answer: I may not be paid as much as Tom Brady or Tim Tebow, but I love my job more because of questions like yours.

Painting crabs' shells with sports team logos is a craze but not a healthy one.

"Crab shells need to breathe, and the paint interferes," says Carol Frischmann, author of "Animal Planet: Hermit Crabs" (TFH Publications, Neptune City, NJ, 2011; $8.95).

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"Crabs seem to require the natural characteristics of a shell, and painting it makes a difference which may be harmful to the crab inside," adds Frischmann, of Portland, Ore.

Divide your aquarium into two sections — a Patriots end and a Broncos end. You could even put up mini goal posts (use chopsticks), then see which "team" scores the most crab touchdowns.

Q: How can we tell if our 3-year-old bearded dragon (lizard) is overweight?

I've seen bearded dragons in pet stores, and they all seem to have round bellies. I asked our vet, but she doesn't know much about lizards. She did say that if Boris is overweight, it's probably as detrimental for him as it would for a dog, cat or person.

Can you help? — S.J., San Diego

A: "Determining if a round-shaped lizard is overweight isn't the easiest thing," says Thomas Mazorlig, author of "Animal Planet: Bearded Dragons" (TFH Publications, Neptune City, N.J., 2011; $10.95). "When a (bearded) dragon moves around the cage, the lizard shouldn't be dragging its belly on the floor (unless he's just eaten). Dragons love to eat and eat — and I've seen many obese dragons, which isn't healthy. I've even seen dragons with very fat legs, which isn't normal, either."

There are veterinarians with a special interest in cold-blooded pets, and your veterinarian should be able to offer a referral. Bearded dragons that are well-cared for can live 9 to 12 years. Appropriate veterinary care is important.

Mazorlig, of South Amboy, N.J., strongly suggests seeing a veterinarian to determine if Boris is overweight, and to create a weight-watchers plan for your pet.

He adds that if you're feeding Boris cat or dog food, cut it out. If you're feeding pinkie mice, cut them out temporarily, and much later you can offer one or two a month. The overall recommendation for feeding bearded dragons is half vegetable matter and half waxworms, mealworms and/or crickets.

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