Bearded Dragon - Bearded Dragons Care
Bearded Dragons are chosen as exotic pets not only for their personalities but also for many other reasons. One of the reasons is that they don’t grow as big as many other reptiles. The biggest the bearded dragon will get is 16-22 inches. The iguana can grow up to four to six feet long. The female bearded dragon normally has smaller heads than the males.
Iguanas also can be quite friendly. However, for my own personal needs I prefer a reptile where a mortgage isn’t required to house the reptile.
Bearded dragon information
Not that the Bearded Dragon isn’t already intriguing they also have a spectacular display. They got their name bearded because they have a spiky beard or pouch under their jaw. This pouch will puff up when they inhale air. They will also flatten out making themselves look bigger, push up their front legs, and bob their heads. This behavior is associated with aggression and mating. Both the female and male dragon can turn their beards black but this behavior is primarily associated with the male during his mating display.
The bearded dragon enjoys semi- arid to arid climates. Several breeds are found in Central Australia and Eastern Australia. Bearded dragons can range in color from mild earth tones to brilliant yellows, oranges; that look like a sun setting, to deep red. You will also find white, green, and blue.
Bearded dragons can be found in woodlands, on the ground, or up a tree. They primarily climb to find warm basking locations or to find prey. It isn’t that they can’t fall because they can.
Bearded dragons are opportunist eaters; a synonym for omnivorous. They will eat fruit, leaves, or flowers, as well as insects, small mammals, and vertebrates. Fireflies, some arachnids , and other living organisms have bioluminescence chemicals, and this can kill the bearded dragon.
Bioluminescence causes an animal to light up, like a jelly fish. This can cause a problem if you are catching wild prey. How many people know what a firefly looks like in the daytime? Besides you may be catching something the next door neighbor just sprayed with poison, or an insect that walked over a poison line left by the Orkin man. I strongly recommend raising your own food (prey) for your bearded dragon.
Since they also eat vegetation remember to remove any possible poisonous plants or toxic plants, and keep it out of a bearded dragon’s reach.
Eating vegetation made it easier for them to acclimate to dry climates. Much of the water they need to survive can come from the food they eat. Though, a pet dragon as with any pet needs their water changed daily. More often if their dish becomes dirty. They are inclined to go to the bathroom in their water dish.
Always, as with any pet make sure they have clean, fresh, filtered water.
Bearded dragons need ultraviolet light (UV) lighting as most reptiles do (pretty much other than snakes). They will need a UVB light. They will also have to have calcium supplemented to their diet. The bearded dragon spends much of his time basking in the sun in his natural habitat. The UV lighting will take the place of the sun and provide the vitamin D3 he would otherwise get from the sun. He will need 12-14 hours of exposure to the light. This is true of most animals (length of time will differ). They stress and can become ill if they don’t have some resemblance of day and night. Even nocturnal reptiles need some UV lighting. Captive animals do not get the same diet they would have chosen for themselves in the wild. The added calcium and UVB light will ward off MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). The distance of the light will change as the bearded dragon grows. This of course, depends on output of the light bulb; depend on a thermometer. Have the heat/light variables figured out before the bearded dragon comes home. Even then, always keep a digital thermometer on each end of the cage; one being close to the basking area (warmer end of cage).
Temperatures should range from 80F to 105F. The dragons warm basking area should be on the 95F side of the enclosure allowing the rock to warm to about 105 F. Keep a thermometer handy and check the enclosure often. Regulate the distance of his lighting to adjust the temperature. Make sure the dragon doesn't come in contact with the light. The bearded dragon should have dark at night and a temperature of around 80F. As with many reptiles the bearded dragon will not eat or will not be able to digest his food if he is too cool.
Don’t use a heat rock the dragon will be burned. An under the tank heating pad or tape can ensure the temperature stays around 80F. Place the pad under one third of the tank so that he can escape the heat if he needs to. It would be wise to keep the pad at the end where the basking rock is. You have a head start keeping the warmer side warm.
Bearded dragons need to be housed individually if housed together they could injure or kill each other. The enclosure should be good sized. I like glass aquariums with a screen top that is secure. If you have youngsters around make sure the top will lock. Ideally are the ready made vivariums which you can purchase in many reptile/insect supplies, pet stores, or Amazon.
Bearded dragons have a tendency to eat substrate especially like sand, corn cob, Repti Bark, wood chips, or ground up walnut shell. They will become impacted and die. Calcisand is especially bad because they have a tendency to like it therefore eating more of it, ending up becoming impacted and die. Pine shavings and cedar shavings should never be used for any pet. What has worked well for me is natural rock tiles meant for kitchen floors. Wheat bran works very well too.
Bearded dragons have gotten themselves crushed by tunneling under rocks and anything else heavy in the cage; an example would be a food dish. Make sure anything heavy is flush to the floor before adding any substrate.
Prey should be no bigger than the size of the space between their head and eye. Don’t leave the prey in the cage uneaten the prey could injure the bearded dragon. Young dragons need more animal protein than adults do. Adults should eat about 70 % vegetation. The beard dragon can be feed dubia roaches. They have 2 times the protein as crickets and the roaches don’t have the spines on the back legs as crickets do. The roaches are much quieter at night and they don’t stink as crickets do. They can have mealworms. (Larvae of a beetle)
Mealworms are lacking in many minerals and vitamins. Make sure you are using vitamin/ calcium powder. Mario worms (larval stage of the Zophobas beetle), or butter worms. When babies get closer to adults slowly change the animal protein proportional with vegetation eventually becoming 70% of the adult diet.
Babies should be fed 3 times a day, juveniles 2 times a day and adult dragons once a day. Experience will help you determine how much they need to eat. If they leave a lot of food you are feeding too much. If they pounce on their food like a Velociraptor they’re hungry.
Make sure the prey has had a good diet because what you feed your dragon is what the prey ate. Don’t use prey that you have just recently purchased. They have had little to eat if anything. When you hear the term gut loading this simply means you have fed the prey very well, therefore, your dragon will have nutritional prey to eat. Feed the prey vitamin and mineral rich foods. Dust the prey with calcium and multi vitamins. Two days calcium then one day multi vitamins works pretty well. RepCal and Herptivite are a good choice. You can also mix the two but only enough for one feeding as the calcium can damage the beta carotene in the Herptivite.
Vegetation should be of high nutritional value. Stay away from lettuce. Also, stay away from spinach it will mess up calcium absorption. Dragons can have most fruits (no citrus), veggies (no carrots), and stay completely away from cat or dog food; feeding these is a good way to make sure your dragon’s lifespan is short.
Bearded dragons will need to shed their skin. Never assist the dragon by pulling off the skin you will injure him. You can help by providing him with warm water, around 98 degrees, with either a shallow bath or a misting bottle.
As with any animal keep their cage and supplies clean. They do a lot of poo so you will need to clean their habitat daily. Always make sure they have filtered, fresh water supply. This you will need to change often – perhaps several times a day. They do poo in the water dish.
Above all else enjoy your bearded dragon.
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