Paralysed Bearded Dragon Has New Lease Of Life With Custom Wheelchair
Life is no longer a drag for resilient bearded dragon Millie, who was unable to use her back legs until a helpful apprentice engineer made her a custom wheelchair.
Millie was left paralysed after contracting a debilitating Metabolic Bone Disease, caused by a lack of vitamin D.
The disease stripped poor Millie's bones of much-needed calcium and made her back so brittle it fractured when a previous owner tried to pick her up.
Needing specialist care, Millie was heartbreakingly listed on a pets for sale Facebook group as being "free to a good home" as her owner could not take proper care of her.
Reptile lover Amy Dobson, 20, who volunteers as an adopter for an animal sanctuary, took in the poorly bearded dragon and describes being "heartbroken" at the condition Millie was in.
Her spine was twisted and she could not move her back legs, so she was forced to try and drag herself along the floor - she also suffered with breathing difficulties due to being hunched over all the time.
But thanks to a specially-made wheelchair, created by an engineering apprentice, Millie is now on a roll and has a whole new lease of life. The tiny wheelchair is made of aluminium and upholstered with soft fabric for Millie's comfort, with two Velcro straps to keep her secure.
The device allows her to move along the floor with ease, using just her front legs and it also helps Millie to keep her chest off the floor, which Amy says has improved her breathing problems.
Restaurant worker and adopter Amy said: "The difference in Millie now is unbelievable. The wheelchair has been life-changing for her.
"It was really emotional for me to see her use the wheelchair for the first time because I had seen how much pain she was in when she tried to move using her own legs.
Discussing the extent of Millie's illness, Amy said: "She has a lump in her back from where it has fractured and tried to repair itself and she can't contract the muscles in her back legs. When we first got her, the best she could do was shuffle and move front legs very slowly.
"She gave up even trying to move in the end because she knew she couldn't.
Amy began caring for Millie in November 2018 after Emma Kelt from the Forever Friends Animal Sanctuary, where she volunteers, responded to the heartbreaking social media post. They were so concerned about the condition Millie was in that they booked her into the vets to be put to sleep.
But as they were waiting for their appointment, Amy noticed that Millie was fascinated by people moving around the room and would make eye contact with her, which gave her hope she could pull through. She was sent away with painkillers and a calcium supplement.
Amy added: "She is very small for a dragon. She's around 14 inches long, Bearded Dragons are usually 20 inches long. Her spine is twisted, we think because she hadn't moved for so long. She was in a really bad way when we got her."
Millie continued to recover at home with Amy and her parents Karen and Craig, but her lack of mobility was holding her back. In August last year the wheels were put in motion for Millie's new mobility aid, and an apprentice at training provider Energus made the wheelchair as part of her coursework leaving Amy thrilled with the results.
She added: "It took Millie a while to get the hang of it at first, but she has come on leaps and bounds. She is building so much muscle up in her front legs because she is moving them a lot more.
"She is able to keep her chest up a lot which will help prevent issues such as respiratory infections and food getting stuck in her beard. She can eat full-sized foods for the first time instead of me having to put her food into a blender."