Bearded Dragon Care: Essential Guide For Beginners

The docile reptile known as the bearded dragon or Pogona vitticeps, is generally considered one of the best lizard pets to own. Many have come to know these amazing peaceful creatures for being perky and hardy while being tame. Their keeps have come to love watching their lizards, whether they are having a feeding frenzy, while they are just basking or interacting with other bearded dragons.

These interesting reptiles exhibit unusual behaviors like the “arm waving.” This, in their language, means submission. That means they are ready to give up or make room for another who is also present in the area. You may also observe its spiny “beard” from which it got its common name to get extended. They usually do this when they are alarmed.

Hatchlings of these gentle lizards measure about 4 inches. Their large adults can grow to about 2 feet in length. They have an average captive lifespan of about 6 to 10 years. However, there are breeders who report of having cared for other dragons who have lived twice that long.

Bearded dragons have a unique health and maintenance requirements, so if you intend to keep one or more of these peaceful dragons, this will be an essential guide for you.

Where to buy bearded dragons

If you are considering a bearded dragon for a pet, you can start by choosing the right bearded dragon to buy. These reptiles are usually available at stores. You can also find them in reptile expos and breeders’ websites. It is highly recommended that you opt for captive-bred specimens since they are normally healthier. They are also more accustomed to captivity than wild-caught counterparts. You can also consider several color morphs as well, that is if you are not considering the price.

Bearded Dragon Caging Guide

While they are still young, these bearded dragons can live comfortably in a 20-gallon aquarium for a while. However, they will soon need a more space. A 75-gallon aquarium or equal-sized enclosure is just right for one or two adult dragons. When preparing the dragon’s cage, consider proper screening for adequate ventilation, either you decide to place it on top of the Best Bearded Dragon Enclosure or as a custom enclosure.

When the weather is warm, you can just keep your dragon in an outdoor cage. Just make sure that the outdoor enclosure will provide a sunny basking area, a place to sleep, and shelter from the rain. Sunny outdoors can provide some healthy UV for your pet. You may also install some sturdy branches within the enclosures as the dragon loves climbing.

Lighting and Temperature for Bearded Dragon

These docile dragons are accustomed to the draining heat of the dessert. To keep them happy, you need to give them the right temperature in their new habitat. They love to have a with a basking site with about 100 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. You can have a spotlight like a mercury vapor bulb placed over a rock, or anywhere in the enclosure. The best would be at one end of the cage as it will allow the dragon to move between ends of the enclosure when it needs to balance off either hot or cold body temperature. Keep the cooler end of the enclosure at about 80 degrees.

You may also need to install a full-spectrum UVB (ultraviolet) lighting over the other parts of the enclosure. Your pet needs these artificial heat and lighting sources as these to allow the beardie to synthesize vitamin D3, which crucial in calcium absorption. Check out with the dragon and accessories’ seller for the best setup for its cage. Always keep the temperature in the cage in  check.

Substrate for Bearded Dragon

There many options that you can use for your pet’s bedding and substrate. Many opt for sand for this purpose. However, there have been many issues that were reported concerning intestinal impaction that some of the pet dragons have experienced. This happens when the dragon accidentally consumes pieces of sand or any loose substrate.

Others consider these options: newspaper, paper toweling or reptile carpet. However, with the reptile carpets, the toenails of the dragon may accidentally get snagged to the carpet’s fibers.

As an alternative, you may use a digestible reptile sand. Whatever option you go with, make sure to regularly inspect your reptile as well as the substrate for cleanliness and for any possible hazard.

As an extra precautionary measure, feed your pet in a shallow dish instead of placing the food directly on the substrate.

Best Food for Bearded Dragon

These pet reptiles are omnivorous. They eat either animal-based or plant-based matter. If you feed them with insects, like crickets and mealworms, they will be eating these insects with gusto. This is the best food for Bearded Dragon. You can dust their meals with a vitamin/mineral supplement and calcium before tossing the food to your beardie.

Your dragon will also chomp on finely chopped veggies (carrots, romaine lettuce, zucchini, etc.) greens (collard, mustard, dandelion, etc.), as well as fruits (banana, mango, etc.). Try to offer your pet healthy and vitamin-rich food items.

Bearded dragons also like to gore pinky mice, as well as a great variety of enhanced diets that you may purchase online and at pet stores. As earlier mentioned, place the food matter/item on a food bowl before offering it to your pet. Make sure to offer water in a bowl as well.

Proper Handling of Bearded Dragons

Your pet dragon is normally gentle and quite docile. They can easily be handled without any problem. You just have to keep them clean and properly fed. Take note of their enclosure regularly to ensure that they are provided the right temperature that they need to synthesize the food that they eat.

In case your dragon displays unusual behavior, observe it first or change the heating. You may also need to check if there are any foreign objects in the enclosure. If it stopped defecating, eating, or has started releasing pus, or might have developed an unusual bump in any part of its body, bring it to a vet right away.

Your dragon lives for more than a decade, so if you can keep it healthy, you will have a long time to cherish memories with it.