Dear Readers of The Dragon Doc Tales,
Congratulations to Margaret, the winner of The Dragon Doc’s holiday dragon giveaway! It’s been a couple weeks since the adorable hatchling was rehomed with her, and I hope all is going well. I’ve been checking the reports for house fires in her area daily, and I haven’t heard or read of any calamities, so I expect that means he’s settling in nicely. Fingers crossed, anyway.
If you’ve ever wondered what care and feeding instructions look like for a dragon, I’ve included the letter I sent to Margaret with the baby dragon. They require a lot of work! And for the veterinary-minded bunch (I know you’re out there) who are wondering HOW on earth one would write a health certificate for a dragon, well… I’ve attached that too!
It’s rare for me to “re-home” a baby dragon, but occasionally, the situation demands it. This little hatchling is orphaned, I’ve not found another dragon to take over his care, and I cannot take him home. My dog has PTSD from the last hatchling-raising attempt, and I just can’t put her through that again. The dragon is two weeks past hatch day, and doing well, other than a mild upper respiratory infection that I think he caught from my clinic cat.
He is no longer on antibiotics, and has a GREAT appetite. Dragons are obligate carnivores, so be sure to feed plenty of meat (including bones, tendons, etc.). My preference is chicken thighs, because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to feed. Alternatively, you could buy whole chickens and feed bit-by-bit. Baby dragons also make really good mousers, if your home is in need of that. But, as your tiny dragon grows older and bigger, watch out for your household pets.
Dragons prefer to nest in rocks. Provide your baby dragon with gravel and several larger stones, and you’ll find that he makes a very cozy “cave” in no time. To start, you may house your hatchling in a large terrarium. But, hatchlings grow quickly, so expect the terrarium to last only a few weeks. Beyond that, good luck keeping a dragon contained in any sort of enclosure.
Anticipate the need to clean your dragon’s environment frequently. The odor of dragon dung is seriously nasty.
Exercise is extremely important! Plenty of opportunity to run around is vital, as well as opportunity to fly once he’s able (see note below about releasing). A tired dragon is a, well, somewhat less challenging dragon. Also, be certain to provide objects for enrichment in his environment, such as new and different rocks (but don’t disturb his cave), plants, flowers, and toys. Do NOT, however, offer your dragon anything he might be tempted to swallow.
Speaking of enrichment, your dragon may or may not be interested in hoarding. You may provide a small, inexpensive shiny thing or two to see if this catches his attention.
Be sure to provide fresh water at all times. And watch out for fire-breathing! Dragons learn to breathe fire typically within hours of hatching, and this little guy is quite expert at it by now. I’ve gone through half a box of Bandaids already.
As the dragon grows older, I strongly encourage you to release him to the wild. Dragons are rather intelligent, resourceful, and resilient creatures. They are also endangered, and they don’t reproduce well in captivity. For that matter, they tend to be rather hazardous in captivity. Even without the benefit of being raised by dragons, your hatchling will do fine in the wild once old enough to fly and hunt for food. If he’s eyeing your house cat, it’s probably time to go.
If your baby dragon requires veterinary care, don’t hesitate to reach out via thedragondoc.com. Upcoming publications that may help with your dragon-raising endeavors:
— Dragon Doc Tales: Wings and Wounds, a novel, to be published in 2022
— Dragon Doc Tales: Squeaky Hatchling, a novelette, soon to be available for FREE to subscribers
Congratulations on your acquisition, and good luck! You’ll need it. As always, thanks for reading my tales.
Dr. S. K. Burkman, The Dragon Doc
P.S. Sculpture made by the talented Jaedynn Burkman, who also illustrates many of my tales. P.P.S. Know any fans of dragons, fantasy tales, veterinary medicine, or any combination of the above? Feel free to tell them about my upcoming books and website.
If you missed out on the dragon giveaway promo, and you’re bummed, I can’t blame you. But, take heart! There will be future promos, and to find out what/when/where/why, all you have to do is sign up to The Dragon Doc’s mailing list. Scroll down, it’s at the very bottom of this page, and for that matter, every page on my website.
Until next time, watch out for dragons. And thanks for reading my tales!
Dr. S. K. Burkman, The Dragon Doc