There so many pet lovers have turned to some of the most amusing animals to keep as their pets. And one gentle and interesting breed that has been a favored choice for an exotic pet is the bearded dragon. A bearded dragon is a tiny cold-blooded reptile that is a native to the arid desert of Australia. For those who are looking for an easy to manage and less temperamental pet to keep, a bearded dragon would definitely be a good option. They do have some unique features that many most cold-blooded reptiles share, so you would really have to understand their behavior and nature to better provide them the proper care. This Bearded Dragon Care presents the basic requirements of this docile dragon. Read through this guideline so that you’ll be better prepared on what to expect and what to do with your bearded dragon.
Note that this unique reptile can live for more than a decade. Hence, you would want it to remain healthy and satisfied throughout its stay in its new habitat. A bearded dragon can be quite amusing to watch as it has interesting habits, but you need to make sure that its habitat is fit for the physical features that it has so it will be as active as it should be while in its new environment.
It can be challenging for beginners, but with a lot of research and constant communication with other reptile lovers, you will soon get used to handling and caring for a bearded dragon.
So, what are the basics that you need to provide for your new pet?
First, you have to understand its basic needs. An adult Bearded Dragon can reach up to 2ft in length (average dragon reaches about 17-21 inches). In captivity, these interesting reptiles can have an average lifespan of 10-12 years when provided the right husbandry. They often don’t live as long in the wild, however, compared with many other animals that live longer in their natural habitat.
Note that like many captive animals, bearded dragons may take a while before they get accustomed to their new environment. They may avoid eating for the first few days, even a few weeks. You may also find them shying away from people who would try to interact with them. By the 2nd week, you should see that your beardie is beginning to adapt. To speed up the bonding time, you may need to place a piece of your clothing inside your pet’s vivarium so that your beardie will get used to your scent.
Be sure not to startle your dragon. Approach it slowly and always from the side. Note that your bearded dragon has a “third eye”. You can find it at the top of its head. It can easily sense overhead predators, heat, and light. If you come from its side, you won’t alarm the dragon, so it will be easier for you to have a good hold of it.
Where exactly should you keep your beardie?
Like all other reptiles kept as a pet, your dragon will need a special place where it can stay and become its new home. You will have to recreate their natural habitat in its new housing so it will feel like it’s just their natural habitat they’d been staying the whole time. Make sure that you have the appropriate enclosure set up even before you bring a bearded dragon home. You can’t just place it inside a shoe box or any cardboard box. You will also need to be accustomed to the lighting and temperature set up within the enclosure as your dragon will need much of the artificial light and heat to regulate its body temperature just like how it does in the desert. Have your pet’s vivarium set up at least a week in advance, so that you will have enough time to play around, find, and maintain the appropriate temperature gradient and humidity level within your pet’s enclosure.
You will also need to make sure that you use the right substrate inside the vivarium, as well as have the necessary accessories in it. Note that not all beddings and substrates that may be available online and in local pet stores may be safe for your dragon. You will need to check for parts of the substrate that may be ingested or cause impaction to your dragon. Note that loose substrate may put your dragon’s health at risk if your pet ingests some of it by chance.
Some of the better options that you may consider for a substrate are tiles or slate, paper, newspaper, and reptile carpets. If you opt for reptile carpets, make sure there are no loose parts or threads that may trap your beardie’s feet or claws, or strangle it. One that is easy to clean or change will be your best pick. As your bearded dragon can also be a carrier of diseases and infection, you need to make sure that its enclosure, including its substrate, will be thoroughly washed and properly sanitized regularly.
Create an appealing living environment for your dragon. Rocks of appropriate sizes, branches (except pine and cedar), best bearded dragon hammock, and other props where your beardie can rest or bask near a heat lamp, and so rocks. Note that your pet dragon regulates its body temperature the temperature within its enclosure. While it needs much heat to synthesize its foods and get the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy and alert, it will also need to cool down when its body has already reached the appropriate heat level it needs.
Where should you place your beardie’s vivarium?
Although your pet dragon may need much heat, it is not a good idea to place its enclosure too close to sources of heat like radiators or windows, as you will have a difficult time maintaining the right temperature within its vivarium. You will also need to avoid placing your pet’s enclosure in the kitchen, bathroom, or any area where the humidity levels are high. Avoid placing your vivarium next to a home equipment or appliance that can stress your beardie out.
Here are the things that you would need to have inside your pet’s enclosure:
- Best UVB light for bearded dragons
- A controller to power the UV tube. Use one with the same wattage as the bulb that you will set up inside the viv.
- A reflector for the UV tube bulb (this will maximize the tube bulb’s output.
- Basking spotlight and ceramic holder
- An appropriate substrate
- Calcium supplement and multivitamin with D3
- A food dish or water dish
- Rocks and branches
- Artificial plants
- Digital temperature gauges (that you’ll need to place at both ends of the enclosure that will help you monitor the temperature gradient within the viv) and a best thermometer for bearded dragon if possible
- A hygrometer (this will measure the humidity level within the enclosure)
- A hide or shaded area
Note that your pet’s enclosure should also have plenty of ventilation so that it won’t get too humid and cause respiratory infections to your dragon.
You also need to make sure that your dragon’s enclosure is properly sealed so it won’t have any way of getting out of the cage.
What food can you offer your beardie?
Bearded dragons will love munching crickets, locusts, roaches and calci worms. You can also offer varied staple greens from an early age. However, you need to make sure that your pet will get about 80% live foods in its first year. As your pet gets older, you may replace the live food with staple greens.
You may also consider giving your pet pellet foods as they are prepared with some of the essential elements that your pet needs. They should not be used as a substitute to live foods and greens, however.
A thorough understanding of your beardie’s needs will allow you to provide the proper care that it requires. You will also need to consult other sources for more information on the different types of dragons that you may opt to have, as well as other related facts to proper reptile husbandry.